> Family Sunday
The whole family will enjoy roast chicken. Accompany it with Mediterranean herb potato salad. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar and 1 teaspoon each dried oregano and thyme. Add 1 pound cooked, warm red potatoes (cut into bite-size pieces), 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes and 2 tablespoons capers. Toss gently to coat. Serve with broccoli, a lettuce wedge and biscuits. For dessert, fat-free vanilla ice cream topped with toasted coconut is a fine finish. (To toast coconut, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes or until golden.)
Plan ahead: Save enough chicken, potato salad and coconut for Monday.
Shopping list: Chicken to roast, olive oil, white wine vinegar, dried oregano and thyme, red potatoes, cherry tomatoes, capers, broccoli, lettuce, biscuits, fat-free vanilla ice cream, coconut.
> Heat and eat Monday
Use the leftover chicken to make chicken salad. Spread it on whole-grain bread and add lettuce. Serve the sandwiches with leftover potato salad, celery sticks and pickles. Apricots topped with leftover toasted coconut are for dessert.
Shopping list: Whole-grain bread, lettuce, celery, pickles, apricots.
Plan ahead: Cook Tuesday's brown rice tonight.
> Meatless Tuesday
For an extra-special no-meat dinner, treat everyone to Greek stuffed peppers (see recipe). Serve the colorful peppers with sliced cucumbers in plain yogurt. For dessert, make instant banana pudding with 1 percent milk and add a sliced banana for a flavor boost.
Shopping list: Red, orange or yellow bell peppers, brown rice or orzo, canned chickpeas, extra-virgin olive oil, onion, packaged baby spinach, dried or fresh oregano, fat-free crumbled feta cheese, sun-dried tomatoes in oil, red wine vinegar, coarse salt, cucumbers, plain yogurt, instant banana pudding, 1 percent milk, bananas.
> Express Wednesday
Make "what's for dinner?" easy to answer with a refrigerated, ready-to-heat beef stew. Serve it with a packaged Caesar salad and whole-grain rolls. Dessert is fresh pineapple.
Shopping list: Refrigerated, ready-to-heat beef stew, packaged Caesar salad, whole-grain rolls, fresh pineapple.
> Kids Thursday
Let the kids help prepare grilled cheese sandwiches tonight. Serve with tomato soup, carrot salad and bread sticks. Munch on oatmeal cookies for dessert.
Shopping list: Bread and cheese for sandwiches, tomato soup, carrot salad, bread sticks, oatmeal cookies.
> Budget Friday
Catfish is always a lower-cost meal, so pan-fried catfish with Cajun tartar sauce (see recipe) is the star tonight. Serve with a cider mustard slaw. Combine half of 1 (16-ounce) package cabbage and carrot coleslaw mix, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard. Toss to mix. (Adapted from "The Cooking Light Gluten-Free Cookbook," Andrea Kirkland and Rachel Quinlivan West; Oxmoor House, $21.95.)
Add refrigerated hash-brown potatoes and cornbread (from a mix). Sprinkle some nutmeg over chunky applesauce for dessert.
Shopping list: Catfish fillets, Cajun seasoning, coarse salt, low-fat mayonnaise, sweet pickle relish, onion, capers, hot pepper sauce, dried oregano, packaged cabbage and carrot coleslaw mix, brown sugar, cider vinegar, stone-ground mustard, refrigerated hash-brown potatoes, cornbread mix, nutmeg, chunky applesauce.
> Easy entertaining Saturday
For a special meal for guests, lemon-lamb chops with couscous pilaf (see recipe) fills the bill. Serve the chops with sugar snap peas, romaine and sourdough bread. Buy fruit tarts for dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: Couscous, salt-free lemon pepper seasoning, cumin, shoulder lamb chops ( 3/4 -inch thick), olive oil, canned chickpeas, canned diced tomatoes with sweet onion, crumbled fat-free feta cheese, sugar snap peas, romaine, sourdough bread, fruit tarts.
GREEK STUFFED PEPPERS (Tuesday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: About 15 minutes
4 red, orange or yellow bell peppers, halved, seeds removed
1 (15.5-ounce) can rinsed chickpeas
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 medium chopped onion
6 ounces baby spinach, coarsely chopped
1 teaspoon dried or 1 tablespoon fresh oregano
2 cups cooked brown rice or orzo
3/4 cup fat-free crumbled feta cheese, divided
1/4 cup well-drained sun-dried tomatoes in oil, diced
1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
Place peppers cut-side down in a large baking dish; add 1 tablespoon water. Cover; microwave on high 6 minutes. Cool slightly; drain and set aside.
Meanwhile, mash chickpeas into a chunky paste with a fork; leave some whole. Set aside. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add onion; cook 6 minutes or until soft. Add spinach and oregano; cook 1 minute, stirring, or until spinach is wilted. Stir in rice or orzo, chickpeas, 1/2 cup feta, tomatoes, vinegar and salt; cook 2 minutes or until heated through. Divide filling among peppers; sprinkle with remaining feta and serve. (Adapted from Eating Well magazine.)
Per serving: 326 calories, 17g protein, 7g fat (19 percent calories from fat), 0.8g saturated fat, 52gs carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 897mg sodium, 10g fiber.
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PAN-FRIED CATFISH WITH CAJUN TARTAR SAUCE (Friday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: Less than 20 minutes
4 (6-ounce) catfish fillets
2 teaspoons Cajun seasoning
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon sweet pickle relish
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon rinsed capers
1 teaspoon hot pepper sauce
1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Sprinkle fish evenly with Cajun seasoning and salt. Add 2 fillets to pan; cook 4 minutes per side or until opaque throughout. Remove from skillet; keep warm. Wipe pan clean with paper towels; repeat procedure with remaining fillets.
Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine mayonnaise, relish, onion, capers, pepper sauce and oregano; mix well. Serve with fish. (Adapted from "The Cooking Light Gluten-Free Cookbook," Andrea Kirkland and Rachel Quinlivan West; Oxmoor House, $21.95.)
Per serving: 219 calories, 28g protein, 7g fat (29 percent calories from fat), 1.2g saturated fat, 10g carbohydrate, 99mg cholesterol, 511mg sodium, no fiber.
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LEMON-LAMB CHOPS WITH COUSCOUS PILAF (Saturday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: About 20 minutes
Cooking time: About 10 minutes, plus couscous
1/2 cup couscous
1 cup water
2 teaspoons salt-free lemon pepper seasoning
2 1/2 teaspoons cumin, divided
4 shoulder lamb chops ( 3/4 -inch thick; use loin chops if you can)
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 (15.5-ounce) can rinsed chickpeas
1 (14.5-ounce) can diced undrained tomatoes with sweet onion
1/2 cup crumbled fat-free feta cheese
Prepare couscous with water according to directions; set aside. Mix lemon pepper seasoning and 2 teaspoons cumin in a small bowl; rub on both sides of chops. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat; cook chops 3 minutes per side for medium doneness. Combine chickpeas, tomatoes and remaining cumin in a medium saucepan; heat to boiling. Stir into prepared couscous; toss to mix. Sprinkle feta over pilaf. Serve chops with pilaf. (Adapted from Woman's Day magazine.)
Per serving: 375 calories, 32 protein, 10g fat (25 percent calories from fat), 2.8g saturated fat, 37g carbohydrate, 65mg cholesterol, 802mg sodium, 5g fiber.