A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families.
SUNDAY: Roast a chicken and serve it with gravy for a special family meal. Add mashed sweet potatoes, brussels sprouts garnished with crumbled cooked bacon and dinner rolls. For dessert, coconut macaroons and orange sherbet are a perfect combination.
Plan ahead: Save enough chicken for Wednesday and enough sherbet for Friday.
MONDAY: Bacon and Beet Hash (see recipe) is a perfect low-cost dinner. Serve the savory dish with a lettuce wedge. Enjoy blueberries for dessert.
TUESDAY: Cannellini Beans With Sauteed Fennel and Blistered Tomatoes (see recipe) is a delicious no-meat dish. Serve with cheese soup. Add crusty bread on the side. How about mango chunks for dessert?
WEDNESDAY: Red Beans and Rice keeps the food budget in line. In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine 1 pound red kidney beans (rinsed and picked over), ½ pound andouille smoked chicken sausage (thinly sliced), 3 celery ribs (chopped), 1 green bell pepper (chopped), 1 medium onion (chopped), 3 cloves garlic (minced), 1 tablespoon Creole seasoning and 7 cups hot water. Cover and cook on high 7 hours or until beans are tender. Spoon over brown rice and garnish with sliced green onions. Serve with a (leftover) Chicken sandwich on whole-grain bread and coleslaw. For dessert, instant banana pudding will taste good.
THURSDAY: This is a good time of year for a Summer Salad Platter. Arrange pickled beets, marinated vegetables and deli potato-and-chicken salad on a platter lined with lettuce. Serve with whole-grain bread. Juicy peaches are a delicious summertime dessert.
FRIDAY: Treat the kids (and the adults!) with these Turkey Burgers. In a medium bowl, combine 1 1/3 pounds ground turkey, 2 green onions (chopped), 2 tablespoons white wine and herb chicken marinade, ½ teaspoon garlic powder and 1 teaspoon pepper. Divide into 5 (4-inch) patties. Heat a cast-iron skillet on medium-high. Cook patties 5 to 7 minutes per side or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Serve on whole-grain buns with sliced tomatoes, sliced avocados, lettuce and mayonnaise. Add oven fries and steamed carrots. Scoop leftover sherbet for dessert.
SATURDAY: Invite friends for Shrimp Piccata (see recipe) served over brown rice. Add sugar snap peas, a red-tipped lettuce salad and sourdough bread. Easy and elegant, Tropical Crepes are an impressive dessert: Combine 3 cups cut-up or sliced assorted fresh fruit (such as mangoes, papayas, kiwis or peaches) with 2 tablespoons apricot or peach preserves and 2 tablespoons orange brandy or almond liqueur. Let stand 30 minutes to several hours. To assemble, spread ¼ cup of fruit mixture on each of 4 or 5 ready-to-eat crepes; roll. Drizzle chocolate sauce over the crepes; serve immediately.
Tip: Look for the crepes in the produce department.
Bacon and Beet Hash
- 4 fresh beets, cut into ½-inch cubes
- 1 red onion, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 sprigs fresh rosemary, plus more for garnish
- 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
- Coarse salt to taste
- Freshly ground pepper to taste
- 8 slices bacon, cut into 1-inch pieces
- 1 pound lean ground beef
- 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese
- 8 eggs
- ½ cup sliced green onions
Heat oven to 450 degrees.
Toss beets and onion in a rimmed baking sheet with oil. Arrange in a single layer. Lay rosemary on top, then sprinkle with cinnamon, salt and pepper. Roast 15 to 20 minutes or until soft enough to pierce with a fork. Remove from oven; discard rosemary.
Meanwhile, cook bacon in a large oven-safe skillet on medium, 3 to 4 minutes or until crispy and browned. Drain on plate lined with paper towels.
In the same skillet, cook beef 6 minutes or until no longer pink; drain fat. Season beef with salt and pepper. Add roasted vegetables and cooked bacon to skillet and toss to combine. Sprinkle top of hash with cheese. Using a large spoon, make 8 indentations in mixture and carefully crack an egg into each, making sure not to break yolk. Season eggs with salt and pepper; bake about 8 minutes or until whites are set but yolks are runny. Remove from oven; spoon hash onto plates. Garnish with onions and rosemary sprigs. (Adapted from "Fresh Eggs Daily Cookbook," Lisa Steele, Harper Horizon)
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced-fat cheddar) contains approximately 354 calories, 35 g protein, 20 g fat, 10 g carbohydrate, 311 mg cholesterol, 495 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: ½
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Cannellini Beans With Sauteed Fennel and Blistered Tomatoes
- 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
- 1 pint grape tomatoes
- 1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided use
- Freshly ground black pepper
- 1 (1 ½-pound) bulb fennel
- 1 clove garlic, grated
- Pinch crushed red pepper
- 2 (19-ounce) cans cannellini beans, rinsed
- 4 tablespoons chopped fresh basil, divided use
- 1/3 cup freshly grated Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese, divided use
Heat a medium skillet on medium-high until hot. Add 1 tablespoon oil. Add tomatoes and cook, shaking the pan, 5 minutes or until tomatoes are blistered and beginning to brown. Add ½ teaspoon salt and a generous grinding of pepper; set aside.
Meanwhile, cut a thin slice from base of fennel. Remove any blemishes. Remove dark green stalks, but reserve enough leafy fronds to make ¼ cup chopped. Cut the bulb and white part of stalks into ¼-inch slices, then into ¼-inch pieces to make about 3 cups.
Heat remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet until hot. Add fennel, chopped fennel fronds, garlic, crushed red pepper and remaining salt. Cook, stirring constantly, on medium for 5 minutes. Cover and cook on low 15 minutes or until fennel is very soft. Add the beans, blistered tomatoes, 2 tablespoons basil and more black pepper. Cook 5 minutes, gently folding to combine, on medium-low heat or until heated through. Add ¼ cup of the grated cheese. Spoon into serving dish. Top with remaining basil and cheese; serve.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced-sodium beans) contains approximately 269 calories, 10 g protein, 9 g fat, 38 g carbohydrate, 4 mg cholesterol, 808 mg sodium and 11 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 2 ½
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- 3 tablespoons flour
- 1 teaspoon no-salt-added lemon-pepper blend
- 1 pound medium or large shrimp (tails on), cleaned and deveined
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 2 cloves garlic, minced
- ½ cup dry white wine
- ½ cup unsalted chicken broth
- 3 tablespoons lemon juice
- 2 tablespoons capers
- 2 tablespoons butter
- 1 tablespoon chopped parsley
Combine flour and pepper blend in a shallow dish. Toss shrimp in mixture until coated.
Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add shrimp and cook 2 or 3 minutes; turn and cook 1 more minute. Remove shrimp to a plate. Add garlic to skillet and cook 30 seconds. Stir in wine, broth, lemon juice and capers. Bring to a simmer. Add shrimp and cook 1 minute or until heated through. Remove from heat; whisk in butter and stir in parsley.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 226 calories, 24 g protein, 10 g fat, 6 g carbohydrate, 198 mg cholesterol, 420 mg sodium and no fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: ½
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: firstname.lastname@example.org