A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families
SUNDAY: Gather the family for a roast turkey breast (follow package directions). Add mashed potatoes, fresh broccoli au gratin, a mixed-greens salad and dinner rolls. Buy a cherry crisp for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough mashed potatoes for Monday; save enough crisp for Tuesday.
MONDAY: Kids and adults alike will enjoy Mini Meatloaves (see recipe). Serve with leftover mashed potatoes and frozen tiny green peas. Add soft breadsticks. For dessert, munch on peanut butter cookies.
Plan ahead: Save 2 meatloaves for Tuesday.
TUESDAY: The family will be amazed at how you turned leftover meatloaf into Apple-Raisin Pizza. Crumble the 2 leftover meatloaves over a ready-to-bake large pizza crust. Sprinkle with 1 thinly sliced Granny Smith apple (peeled and cored), golden raisins, some chopped celery and shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese. Bake according to crust package directions. Serve with a green salad. Warm the leftover crisp and top with vanilla ice cream.
Plan ahead: Save extra ice cream for Friday.
WEDNESDAY: It's easy and delicious, so Vidalia Onion and Rice Casserole (see recipe) works for a no-meat entree. Add a spinach salad with egg wedges and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, enjoy banana pudding.
THURSDAY: When your food budget needs a little help, Tuna Melts can come to the rescue. Top both halves of whole-grain English muffins with deli (or your own) tuna salad and a slice of American cheese. Add a slice of tomato if desired. Broil until the cheese melts. Serve with oven fries and bell pepper rings. Peaches are a simple dessert.
FRIDAY: For a quick meal, pan-fried ham steaks are hard to beat, especially when you accompany the ham with heat-and-serve polenta (follow the package directions). Pick up deli Waldorf salad and biscuits, and you're almost home. Leftover ice cream makes a cool dessert.
SATURDAY: Roasted Salmon Filets will be a treat for the family (see recipe). Serve with packaged long-grain and wild rice and sugar snap peas. Add a mixed lettuce salad and sourdough bread. The family will love these easy Fruit Tarts. Mash or puree 1 cup fresh strawberries until saucy. In a medium bowl, stir 4 ounces softened, Neufchatel cream cheese until smooth; gradually blend in mashed strawberries. Stir in 1 tablespoon honey. Divide mixture among 6 purchased graham cracker crumb tart shells. Top with 1 ½ cups assorted fresh fruit (blueberries, kiwifruit, strawberries and/or raspberries).
¼ cup milk
1 pound lean ground beef
¼ cup dry bread crumbs (any flavor)
1 (0.4-ounce) package ranch dressing mix
1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
Shredded cheddar cheese, if desired
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Beat milk and egg with fork in large bowl. Mix in beef, bread crumbs and ranch dressing mix (dry). Shape into 6 small loaves. Place on an ungreased rimmed baking sheet. Brush loaves with Worcestershire sauce. Bake, uncovered, 35 to 45 minutes or until meatloaves reach an internal temperature of 160 degrees. Let stand 5 minutes. Garnish with cheese, if desired.
Makes 6 mini loaves.
Nutrition information: Each loaf (prepared with reduced-fat milk, reduced-sodium Worcestershire sauce and without cheese) contains approximately 213 calories, 17 g protein, 9 g fat, 5 g carbohydrate, 75 mg cholesterol, 326 mg sodium and no fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: .5
Vidalia Onion and Rice Casserole
1 cup uncooked brown rice
2 tablespoons butter
5 medium Vidalia or other sweet onions, chopped
1 ½ cups milk
8 ounces grated Swiss cheese
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Cook rice according to package directions.
Heat butter in a Dutch oven; add onions. Cook, stirring occasionally, 12 minutes or until softened. Add cooked rice, milk and cheese. Combine thoroughly. Spoon into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, 50 minutes or until bubbly.
Makes about 10 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with 1% milk) contains approximately 216 calories, 9 g protein, 10 g fat, 23 g carbohydrate, 30 mg cholesterol, 87 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 1.5
Roasted Salmon Filets
4 (6- to 8-ounce) skin-on salmon filets
2 teaspoons canola oil
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
Adjust oven rack to lowest position and place foil-lined rimmed baking sheet on rack. Heat to 500 degrees.
On salmon skin, make 4 or 5 shallow slashes, about 1 inch apart on each filet (be careful not to cut into flesh). Pat dry with paper towels, rub with oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper. Reduce oven temperature to 275 degrees; use oven mitts to remove pan from oven. Carefully place salmon skin side down on hot sheet. Return to oven and roast until center is translucent when checked with tip of paring knife and registers 125 degrees (8 to 12 minutes for medium-rare). Transfer salmon to platter and serve.
(Adapted from "Foolproof Fish," America's Test Kitchen Staff; ATK, $35.)
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 242 calories, 36 g protein, 10 g fat, no carbohydrate, 80 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium and no fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 0
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: