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story.lead_photo.caption Photo by Jack Dykinga

SUNDAY: Express cooking

Make it a relaxed Sunday and buy a deli meat-and-cheese platter; serve it with assorted sandwich breads. Serve the variety of sliced meats and cheeses with deli coleslaw on the side. Add baked chips, low-fat mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce and pickles. Try this peach and tomato salad (see recipe) on the side. Don't forget deli brownies for dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: Buy enough coleslaw for Monday and enough brownies for Wednesday.

SHOPPING LIST: deli meat-and-cheese platter, assorted sandwich breads, deli coleslaw, baked chips, low-fat mayonnaise, mustard, lettuce, pickles, ripe tomatoes, table salt, extra-virgin olive oil, cider vinegar, lemon, pepper, ripe peaches, shallot, fresh mint, deli brownies.

MONDAY: Family meal

You won't overexert yourself on Labor Day if you use your slow cooker and a seasoning packet for barbecue pulled pork. Stir in ketchup, light brown sugar and cider vinegar as directed on packet, and serve it on whole-grain hamburger buns. Add South-of-the-border potato salad (see recipe), a favorite at our house, and leftover coleslaw.

Celebrate further with blue angel cake: slice an angel food cake, top with vanilla ice cream and garnish with blueberries and fresh mint.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough barbecue, potato salad and cake for Tuesday.

SHOPPING LIST: pork loin, slow cooker barbecue pulled pork seasoning, ketchup, light brown sugar, cider vinegar, whole-grain hamburger buns, small red potatoes, olive oil, sugar, chili powder, seasoned salt, hot sauce, canned shoe peg corn, fresh carrots, red bell pepper, black olives, red onion, angel food cake, vanilla ice cream, fresh blueberries, fresh mint.

TUESDAY: Heat and eat

Use your leftover pork for barbecue tacos. Heat the barbecue meat and spoon into taco shells; top with jalapeno peppers. Serve with leftover potato salad, pickles and canned reduced-sodium pinto beans. Slice the leftover cake for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: taco shells, jalapeno peppers, pickles, canned reduced-sodium pinto beans.

WEDNESDAY: Meatless meal

Forget meat tonight and enjoy chili-walnut egg puff: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat an 8-by-8-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Pour 1 cup egg substitute and one whole egg into large bowl. Over eggs, sift combined 1/4 cup flour and 1/2 teaspoon baking powder. Whisk together until completely blended. Mix in 1 cup fat-free cottage cheese, 1/2 cup shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese, 1/2 cup chopped and toasted walnuts and one (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies. Pour into baking dish. Bake about 35 minutes or until puffy and set, and knife inserted near center comes out clean.

Serve with hash-browned potatoes (from frozen) and add a spinach salad and whole-grain rolls. Sweeten the finish with leftover brownies for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: cooking spray, egg substitute, eggs, flour, baking powder, fat-free cottage cheese, 50% percent light cheddar cheese, walnuts, canned chopped green chilies, frozen hash-browned potatoes, fresh spinach, whole-grain rolls.

THURSDAY: Kids favorite

Children will like the flavors of Mexican chicken bake (see recipe). Serve with guacamole on shredded lettuce with reduced-fat sour cream. How about a strawberry ice cream cone for dessert?

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough ice cream for Saturday.

SHOPPING LIST: cooking spray, canola oil, onion, cooked shredded chicken breast, canned chopped green chilies, mild or regular less-sodium taco seasoning mix, corn tortillas, canned reduced-sodium pinto beans, 50 percent light cheddar cheese, mild or medium chunky salsa, guacamole, lettuce, reduced-fat sour cream, strawberry ice cream, ice cream cones.

FRIDAY: Budget cooking

Hold down the food budget with canned corned beef hash. Serve with hard-cooked egg wedges, deli carrot salad and rye bread. Fresh nectarines are a juicy dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: canned corned beef hash, eggs, deli carrot salad, rye bread, nectarines.

SATURDAY: Entertain the family

Caribbean spiced cod with brown rice is just as delicious as it is easy for a family event: In a large nonstick skillet, melt 1 tablespoon butter on medium. Add one medium diced red bell pepper and 11/2 teaspoons jerk seasoning; cook 8 minutes or until tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in 2 cups quick-cooking brown rice, 2 cups boiling water and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Place four (6-ounce) cod fillets on top of rice mixture. Sprinkle cod with 1/2 teaspoon more jerk seasoning and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer 10-12 minutes or until cod is opaque throughout and rice is tender.

Add steamed fresh green beans, a Boston lettuce salad and a baguette alongside. Top leftover ice cream with toasted coconut.

SHOPPING LIST: butter, red bell pepper, jerk seasoning, quick-cooking brown rice, coarse salt, cod fillets, fresh green beans, Boston lettuce, baguette, coconut.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: [email protected] Follow Susan on Twitter: @7DayMenu. The Menu Planner is also accessible at 7daymenuplanner.com.

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PEACH AND TOMATO SALAD (Sunday)

Makes: 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes; draining tomatoes: 30 minutes

1 pound ripe tomatoes, cored, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges and wedges halved crosswise

1 teaspoon table salt, divided

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, plus extra for drizzling

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/2 teaspoon lemon zest

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 pound ripe peaches, halved, pitted, cut into 1/2-inch-thick wedges and wedges halved crosswise

1 shallot, sliced into thick rings

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/3 cup mint leaves, torn

Combine tomatoes and 1/2 teaspoon salt in bowl and toss to coat; transfer to colander and let drain in sink 30 minutes. Into same bowl, whisk oil, vinegar, zest and juice. Add peaches, shallot and drained tomato to dressing and toss gently to coat. Season with remaining salt and pepper to taste. Spoon onto serving platter and sprinkle with mint. Drizzle with extra oil if desired. (Adapted from "The Complete Summer Cookbook," America's Test Kitchen.)

Per serving: 109 calories, 2 grams protein, 7 grams fat (55 percent calories from fat), 1 gram saturated fat, 11 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 395 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber. Carb choices: 1.

SOUTH-OF-THE-BORDER POTATO SALAD (Monday)

Makes: 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 10 minutes; refrigeration time: 1 hour

2 pounds small red potatoes, halved or quartered according to size

3 tablespoons olive oil

1/4 cup cider vinegar

1 tablespoon sugar

1 1/2 teaspoons chili powder

1 teaspoon seasoned salt

1/8 teaspoon hot sauce

1 (8 3/4-ounce) can shoe peg corn, rinsed

1 medium carrot, shredded

1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper

1/2 cup sliced black olives

1 small red onion, thinly sliced

Cook potatoes in boiling water 10 minutes or until tender; drain and place in a large bowl. In a small bowl, combine oil, vinegar, sugar, chili powder, seasoned salt and hot sauce. Pour over potatoes; toss gently. Cover with foil. Refrigerate 1 hour. Remove from refrigerator; add corn, carrot, red bell pepper, olives and onion; toss gently. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 186 calories, 3 grams protein, 7 grams fat (30 percent calories from fat), 0.9 gram saturated fat, 29 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 381 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Carb choices: 2.

MEXICAN CHICKEN BAKE (Thursday)

Makes: 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 40 minutes

1 tablespoon canola oil

1/2 cup minced onion

2 1/2 cups cooked shredded chicken breast

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies

1 (1.25-ounce) package mild or regular less-sodium taco seasoning mix

8 corn tortillas

1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium pinto beans, rinsed

2 cups shredded 50% light cheddar cheese, divided

2 cups mild or medium chunky salsa

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add onion and cook 4 minutes or until softened. Remove from heat; stir in chicken, chilies and seasoning mix. Set aside. Layer half the tortillas in baking dish. Top with chicken mixture, beans and 1 cup cheese. Layer with remaining tortillas. Top with salsa and remaining cheese. Bake 30-35 minutes, or until heated through and cheese is melted; serve.

Per serving: 266 calories, 25 grams protein, 9 grams fat (29 percent calories from fat), 3.7 grams saturated fat, 23 grams carbohydrate, 52 milligrams cholesterol, 820 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber. Carb choices: 1.5.

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