> Family Sunday
Make family-friendly Dijon-wine steak kebabs (see recipe). Serve them over mushroom wild rice. Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat until hot. Add 2 cups thinly sliced assorted wild mushrooms (oyster, crimini and shiitake); cook and stir until tender. Remove and keep warm.
Meanwhile, cook 1 (6-ounce) package long-grain and wild rice blend according to directions, omitting salt and butter. When done, stir in mushrooms. Top rice with the kebabs.
Add green beans and sourdough bread. For dessert, buy a blueberry cobbler and top it with light whipped cream.
Plan ahead: Save enough beef, vegetables, rice and cobbler for Monday.
Shopping list: Red wine vinegar, coarse-grain Dijon-style mustard, garlic, canola oil, black pepper, boneless beef round tip steak, red onion, zucchini, red or green bell pepper, assorted wild mushrooms, package long-grain and wild rice blend, green beans, sourdough bread, blueberry cobbler, light whipped cream.
> Heat and eat Monday
Make a quick beef stir-fry with Sunday's leftovers. Cut the beef into strips. Stir-fry beef and vegetables with a prepared (stir-fry) sauce. Serve your easy meal over leftover rice. Add a spinach salad and bread sticks. Heat the leftover cobbler for dessert.
Tip: If there's not enough leftover rice, use quick-cooking brown rice and add to leftovers.
Shopping list: Stir-fry sauce, fresh spinach, bread sticks.
> Budget Tuesday
Stretch the food budget with Moroccan chicken. In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine 1 (12-ounce) bag frozen or fresh cubed butternut squash; 1 (14.5-ounce) can drained, diced tomatoes; 1 medium chopped onion; 2 teaspoons minced garlic; 1 (15-ounce) can rinsed chickpeas; 1 cup fat-free chicken broth; and 1/2 cup raisins.
In a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons coriander, 1 teaspoon each cumin and cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon cayenne. Rub mixture on 2 1/2 to 3 pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs. Arrange chicken on top of vegetables. Cover and cook 4 hours on high or 8 hours on low.
Serve with couscous and sliced cucumbers in fat-free plain yogurt. Add flatbread. Strawberries are good for dessert.
Shopping list: Fresh or frozen butternut squash, canned diced tomatoes, onion, garlic, canned chickpeas, fat-free chicken broth, raisins, coriander, cumin, cinnamon, coarse salt, cayenne, bone-in skinless chicken thighs, couscous, cucumbers, fat-free plain yogurt, flatbread, strawberries.
> Meatless Wednesday
Skip meat today for savory cauliflower penne puttanesca (see recipe). Serve with a Caesar salad and garlic bread. Dessert is fresh pineapple garnished with shredded coconut.
Shopping list: Penne pasta, olive oil, fresh cauliflower, coarse salt, black pepper, garlic, canned whole peeled tomatoes, pitted kalamata olives, capers, crushed red pepper, flatleaf parsley, Parmesan, Caesar salad, garlic bread, fresh pineapple, coconut.
> Kids Thursday
Make it quick tonight and prepare chili pizza. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Brown 1 pound lean ground beef in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high; drain. Stir in 1 packet less-sodium chili seasoning mix (any brand), 1 (14.5-ounce) can undrained stewed tomatoes and 1 (14.5-ounce) can rinsed and drained pinto beans. Simmer 5 minutes. Arrange 8 large whole-grain, burrito-size flour tortillas in circle on a 12-inch pizza pan, overlapping edges where needed. Spoon beef mixture onto tortillas. Sprinkle evenly with 2 cups 50 percent reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese. Bake 5 to 10 minutes or until cheese is melted. Garnish with sliced black olives.
Serve with celery sticks. For dessert, make instant chocolate pudding with 1 percent milk and stir some miniature marshmallows into it just for fun.
Plan ahead: Save enough pizza for Friday. Shopping list: Lean ground beef, packet less-sodium chili seasoning mix, canned stewed tomatoes, canned pinto beans, whole-grain burrito-size flour tortillas, 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese, sliced black olives, celery, instant chocolate pudding, 1 percent milk, miniature marshmallows.
> Express Friday
Dinner will be quick tonight after reheating the leftover pizza. Add a packaged green salad. Munch on apple slices for dessert.
Shopping list: Packaged green salad, apple slices.
> Easy entertaining Saturday
"Delicious!" will be what your guests say when you serve them honey-sesame scallops (see recipe). Serve with angel-hair pasta, green beans, a red-tip lettuce salad and baguettes. Buy fruit tarts for dessert. Shopping list: Reduced-sodium soy sauce, rice vinegar, honey, fresh ginger, sesame oil, sea scallops, angel-hair pasta, green onions, sesame seeds, green beans, red-tip lettuce, baguettes, fruit tarts.
DIJON-WINE STEAK KEBABS (Sunday)
Makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes; marinating time: 6 hours to overnight
Cooking time: 8 to 11 minutes
3 tablespoons each water and red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons coarse-grain Dijon-style mustard
3 cloves minced garlic
1 tablespoon each canola oil and coarsely ground black pepper
1 1/2 pounds boneless beef round tip steak (cut 1-inch thick and then into 1-inch cubes)
1 medium red onion, cut into 3/4 -inch wedges
1 medium zucchini, cut lengthwise in half then crosswise into 1-inch slices
1 medium red or green bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces
In a small bowl, combine water, red wine vinegar, mustard, garlic, oil and pepper. Place marinade in a resealable plastic bag; add beef and turn to coat. Marinate beef in refrigerator 6 hours to overnight, turning occasionally. Remove beef; discard marinade. Alternately thread beef, onion, squash and bell pepper evenly onto metal skewers. Grill, covered, 8 to 11 minutes on medium-heat grill for medium-rare to medium doneness, turning occasionally. Per serving: 177 calories, 25g protein, 6g fat (33 percent calories from fat), 2g saturated fat, 4g carbohydrate, 66mg cholesterol, 87mg sodium, 1g fiber. ** ** **
CAULIFLOWER PENNE PUTTANESCA (Wednesday)
Makes 5 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: less than 20 minutes, plus pasta
12 ounces penne pasta
3 tablespoons olive oil
1 small head (about 1 1/2 pounds) cauliflower, cut into small florets
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
2 cloves minced garlic
1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes
1/2 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
2 tablespoons rinsed capers
1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper
2 tablespoons chopped fresh flatleaf parsley
Freshly grated Parmesan for garnish
Cook pasta according to directions; drain and return to pot. Meanwhile, heat the oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add cauliflower, salt and pepper. Cook 4 to 6 minutes, tossing occasionally until golden. Add garlic and cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Add tomatoes with juice, olives, capers and crushed red pepper. Cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally and breaking up tomatoes with a spoon, until cauliflower is tender. Toss the pasta with sauce. Serve topped with parsley and Parmesan. (Adapted from Real Simple magazine.)
Per serving: 423 calories, 12g protein, 13g fat (28 percent calories from fat), 1.8g saturated fat, 64g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 839mg sodium, 5g fiber.
HONEY-SESAME SCALLOPS (Saturday)
Makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes; marinating time: 30 minutes
Cooking time: Less than 10 minutes
3 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce
2 tablespoons rice vinegar
2 tablespoons honey
2 tablespoons chopped ginger
2 teaspoons sesame oil
1 pound sea scallops
8 ounces angel-hair pasta
2 thinly sliced green onions
2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds
In a large bowl, whisk together soy sauce, vinegar, honey, ginger and sesame oil. Add scallops and toss to coat. Cover and refrigerate 30 minutes.
Meanwhile, cook pasta according to directions; drain and set aside. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add scallops, reserving marinade; cook scallops 3 minutes per side. Remove; place on a plate. Pour reserved marinade into same skillet; boil 1 minute. Return scallops to skillet; heat through, coating with sauce. Divide cooked pasta among 4 plates. Divide and top pasta with scallops. Garnish with green onions and sesame seeds.
Per serving: 365 calories, 22g protein, 5g fat (12 percent calories from fat), 0.7g saturated fat, 57g carbohydrate, 27mg cholesterol, 884mg sodium, 2g fiber.