A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families.
SUNDAY: Use this simple marinade for Grilled Flank Steak. In a resealable plastic bag, combine ½ cup dry red wine, 2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce and ¼ teaspoon dried thyme. Add 1 (1 ¼- to 1 ½-pound) flank steak to bag, turn to coat and marinate overnight. Remove steak and discard marinade; pat steak dry. Grill 17 to 21 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness. Serve with Balsamic Roasted Onions: Heat oven to 300 degrees. In a shallow roasting pan coated with cooking spray, combine 2 large red onions cut into wedges, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, ¼ cup olive oil, ¼ teaspoon coarse salt, 2 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce and 2 tablespoons sugar. Toss to coat. Bake, stirring often, 40 minutes or until onions are softened and lightly browned. Add macaroni and cheese, a mixed green salad and apple turnovers to complete your meal.
Plan ahead: Grill an extra (unmarinated) flank steak and save enough macaroni for Monday.
MONDAY: There will be no fuss, no muss tonight with leftover flank steak, sliced thin and heated. Serve with leftover macaroni and cheese sprinkled with a little paprika. Add fresh broccoli and whole-grain bread. For dessert, fresh pineapple is refreshing.
TUESDAY: Save some pennies tonight and serve Curried Leek Vegetable Soup (see recipe). Serve the savory combination with a lettuce wedge and warm whole-grain rolls on the side. Kiwis are good for dessert.
WEDNESDAY: The kids can't resist Sloppy Chicken Pizza Joes (see recipe). Serve the kid favorite on toasted whole-grain sesame rolls and add a slice of provolone cheese to the bottom half of the bun. Add baked chips and cherry tomatoes alongside. For dessert, try plums.
THURSDAY: For a no-meat dinner, try Penne With Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives and Feta (see recipe). Serve with a spinach salad and garlic bread. Vanilla ice cream topped with fresh strawberries makes a good dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Saturday.
FRIDAY: For a super-quick meal, buy a rotisserie chicken. Serve it with corn on the cob (sprinkle the corn with fresh lime juice to perk up the flavor) And add a packaged green salad. Grapes are a simple dessert.
SATURDAY: Sesame Grilled Tuna is a family favorite. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine ¼ cup lower-sodium soy sauce, 2 tablespoons finely chopped green onions, 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds, 2 teaspoons sesame oil (dark, if you have it) and 1 teaspoon chile oil. Add 4 (6-ounce) tuna steaks (about ¾ inch thick). Toss to coat steaks; marinate at room temperature 10 minutes. Remove tuna; discard marinade. Grill on medium-high 2 to 4 minutes or until desired doneness, turning once. Serve the tuna with brown rice, asparagus, mixed greens and crusty rolls. Top leftover ice cream with butterscotch sauce for dessert.
Curried Leek Vegetable Soup
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 1 clove garlic, minced
- 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce
- 1 medium leek (green and white parts), chopped
- 1 medium carrot, sliced
- 2 ribs celery, sliced
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced
- 2 teaspoons curry powder
- ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
- 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
- Pinch coarse salt
- 1 (10- or 12-ounce) can chicken breast, drained
In a Dutch oven, combine broth, garlic, tomato sauce, leek, carrot, celery, zucchini, curry powder, crushed red pepper, cilantro and salt. Stir well; cover and bring to a simmer. Cook 40 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Stir in chicken; heat through and serve.
Makes about 9 cups.
Nutrition information: Each cup (prepared with reduced-sodium or unsalted broth and tomato sauce) contains approximately 70 calories, 7 g protein, 1 g fat, 7 g carbohydrate, 13 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 0.5.
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Sloppy Chicken Pizza Joes
- 2 tablespoons canola oil
- 2 to 2 ½ pounds ground chicken or turkey breast
- 2 (14-ounce) jars pizza sauce
- 2 cups frozen sweet pepper and onion stir-fry vegetables (or other combination), thawed, drained and chopped
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with liquid
Heat oil in a large skillet; add chicken or turkey and cook 5 minutes or until browned. Drain, if necessary. Spoon into a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Add pizza sauce, stir-fry vegetables and tomatoes. Cover and cook on low 6 to 8 hours. Serve warm on buns.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 211 calories, 26 g protein, 6 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, 73 mg cholesterol, 414 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 1.
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Penne With Tomatoes, Kalamata Olives and Feta
- 1 (13.25-ounce) box penne or other pasta
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 teaspoon minced garlic
- 1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes, drained
- 1/3 cup halved Kalamata olives
- ½ cup crumbled Greek feta cheese
- ½ cup chopped fresh parsley
- 2 teaspoons dried basil (or 2 tablespoons chopped fresh)
- ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
Cook pasta according to directions; drain and return to pot. Meanwhile, heat oil on medium in a large nonstick skillet. Add garlic and tomatoes and cook 3 minutes or until heated through. Stir occasionally. Add mixture to pasta along with the olives, feta, parsley and basil. Gently toss to mix. Sprinkle each serving with parmesan.
Makes 8 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 254 calories, 9 g protein, 7 g fat, 39 g carbohydrate, 11 mg cholesterol, 241 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 2.5.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: email@example.com