A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families
SUNDAY: Surprise the family with Cajun Baked Turkey Breast: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Loosen skin from a 4- to 7-pound bone-in turkey breast to form a pocket. In a small bowl, combine 4 tablespoons canola oil, 2 tablespoons Worcestershire sauce, 2 cloves garlic (minced) and 2 tablespoons Cajun seasoning. Rub half the mixture under skin and remaining mixture on outside of breast. Place breast on rack in a roasting pan. Roast 1 ¼ to 1 ¾ hours, or until a thermometer inserted in thickest part of breast registers 165 degrees. Remove from oven; loosely tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes before slicing (discard skin). Serve with packaged black beans and rice, coleslaw and a baguette. Buy a coconut cake for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough turkey and cake for Monday.
MONDAY: Use the turkey leftovers for Grilled Turkey and Provolone Cheese Sandwiches on whole-grain bread. Serve with baked chips and a lettuce wedge. Slice the leftover cake for dessert.
TUESDAY: It's fast and fragrant, so Baked Curried Jasmine Rice and Lentil Pilaf Over Spinach (see recipe) will please everyone. Add whole-grain rolls. For dessert, fresh grapes are easy.
WEDNESDAY: Try veggie burgers (from frozen) for a quick meal tonight. We eat them on toasted whole-grain buns with all the trimmings of lettuce, tomatoes, pickles, mayonnaise and mustard. You could top them with blue cheese crumbles (or use another cheese). Serve with oven fries (from frozen). Scoop lime sherbet for dessert.
Plan ahead: Save enough sherbet for Saturday.
THURSDAY: The kids will thank you for preparing Chicken Orzo tonight. In a medium bowl, combine ¼ cup mayonnaise and 1 (7/8-ounce) packet onion gravy mix. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium. Use tongs to coat both sides of 1 ½ pounds chicken breast cutlets in mixture and place in skillet. Add remaining mixture to pan and cook 1 minute on each side until chicken begins to brown. Stir in 1 ½ cups water, 1 (10-ounce) can mild diced tomatoes and green chiles (with liquid) and 8 ounces orzo until all ingredients are well blended. Reduce heat to medium; simmer 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until most of the liquid is absorbed and orzo is tender. Serve immediately. Add celery sticks stuffed with shredded cheese and soft rolls. For dessert, apple slices are juicy and crisp.
FRIDAY: For a low-cost, easy dinner, try One-Dish Beef Stroganoff (see recipe). Serve it with mixed greens and crusty bread. Strawberries are your dessert.
SATURDAY: Serve your guests Pasta With Shrimp and Asparagus in Tarragon Cream Sauce (see recipe) for a special treat. On the side, add an arugula salad and sourdough bread. Leftover sherbet and pirouettes (rolled cookies) are good for dessert.
Baked Curried Jasmine Rice and
Lentil Pilaf Over Spinach
1 tablespoon butter
1 cup jasmine rice
1 cup brown lentils
4 cloves garlic
1 cinnamon stick
4 (1/8-inch-thick) slices peeled fresh ginger
1 to 2 teaspoons red curry paste (see note)
½ teaspoon coarse salt
8 cups fresh baby spinach leaves
4 sliced green onions
Place rack in lower third of oven; heat to 350 degrees.
On stovetop, melt butter over medium-high heat in a large oven-safe Dutch oven; add rice and cook, stirring 2 minutes or until lightly toasted. Add 4 ¼ cups water. Stir in lentils, garlic, cinnamon stick, ginger, curry paste and salt; bring to a boil, stirring to dissolve curry paste. Cover pot tightly with lid or foil. Transfer to oven and bake 20 to 25 minutes, or until rice and lentils are tender and all the water is absorbed. Fluff with fork, removing the cinnamon stick and ginger slices. Serve on a bed of spinach; garnish with green onions.
Makes 4 servings.
Note: Red curry paste is a blend of chile peppers, garlic, lemon grass and galangal (a root with a flavor similar to ginger). Look for it in jars or cans in the Asian section of supermarkets.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 391 calories, 19 g protein, 3 g fat, 73 g carbohydrate, 8 mg cholesterol, 346 mg sodium and 10 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 5
One-Dish Beef Stroganoff
1 pound very lean ground beef
½ pound sliced button or crimini mushrooms
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme (or 1 teaspoon dried)
2 cups uncooked whole-grain wide noodles
1 (14 ½-ounce) can reduced-sodium beef broth
1 cup frozen peas
¼ cup sour cream, plus additional for topping
1 tablespoon regular or coarse-grain Dijon-style mustard
Salt and ground black pepper to taste
Heat large nonstick skillet on medium. Add ground beef, mushrooms, garlic and thyme; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking beef into ¾-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. Pour off drippings, if necessary. Stir noodles and broth into beef mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover and cook 9 to 10 minutes or until noodles are tender, stirring twice. Stir in peas; continue cooking, uncovered, 3 to 5 minutes or until peas are heated through, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat; stir in sour cream and mustard. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with additional sour cream, if desired.
Makes 4 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 311 calories, 33 g protein, 9 g fat, 25 g carbohydrate, 70 mg cholesterol, 419 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 1 ½
Pasta With Shrimp
in Tarragon Cream Sauce
8 ounces uncooked linguine
2 tablespoons butter
½ pound asparagus, trimmed and sliced diagonally into 1 ½-inch pieces (2 cups)
1 medium leek, white and pale green parts only, cleaned and thinly sliced (1 ½ cups)
1 cup half-and-half
1 tablespoon tarragon
1 teaspoon grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1 pound large shrimp, peeled and deveined
Cook pasta as directed on package. Drain, reserving ¼ cup of the pasta water.
Meanwhile, melt butter in large deep skillet on medium heat. Add asparagus and leek; cook and stir 5 minutes or until asparagus is tender-crisp and leek is softened. Stir in half-and-half, tarragon, lemon peel, lemon juice and salt. Bring to a boil. Stir shrimp into skillet. Reduce heat to low; simmer 5 minutes or just until shrimp turn pink. Add pasta and reserved pasta water; toss to coat well. Serve immediately.
Makes 6 servings.
Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 298 calories, 18 g protein, 9 g fat, 35 g carbohydrate, 119 mg cholesterol, 550 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.
Carbohydrate choices: 2 ½
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: