Prepare your own roast chicken today with a 5- to 7-pound oven-roaster-type bird. On the side, make cornbread stuffing (from a mix). Add gravy, mashed potatoes and parsley-buttered carrots. Buy a blueberry cobbler for dessert. Plan ahead: Save enough chicken for Monday; save enough cobbler for Tuesday.
MONDAY (Heat and Eat)
Use some of the leftover chicken in chicken-vegetable pita pockets (see recipe). Add deli bean soup on the side, along with some celery sticks. For dessert, tropical fruit is simple.
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This Italian vegetable stew makes a no-meat night extra-special. In a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon olive oil on medium. Add 3 cups diced potatoes, 2 cups diced onions and 1 teaspoon minced garlic; cook 10 minutes or until potatoes are lightly browned and onions are softened. Add 2 cups sliced zucchini, 1 (14.5-ounce) can undrained diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, 1 cup unsalted vegetable broth and 1 teaspoon dried basil. Cover and simmer 10 minutes; add coarse salt and pepper to taste. Serve with (deli) egg salad sandwiches on whole-grain bread with lettuce. Warm the leftover cobbler for dessert and top with light whipped cream.
Mexican meat and cheese bake (see recipe) has all the kids’ favorite ingredients. Serve the layered dish with baby carrots and hummus. For dessert, make flan from a mix.
Barbecue pulled chicken is certainly budget- and flavor-friendly. In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine 1 (14.5-ounce) can drained no-salt-added diced tomatoes, 1/4 cup apple cider vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon smoked paprika, 1 tablespoon soy sauce, 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard and 1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper; mix well. Add 2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts. Season with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Cover; cook 5 hours on low or until chicken is falling apart. Remove from cooker; shred with forks and serve on whole-grain hamburger buns. (Adapted from Lighten Up, Y’all, Virginia Willis; Ten Speed Press, 2015.) Add baked potato chips and your coleslaw on the side. Sprinkle PEACHES with cinnamon for dessert. Plan ahead: Cook rice for Friday. Save enough coleslaw for Friday.
Make Manhattan seafood chowder in no time. Prepare 2 (10 1/2-ounce) cans vegetarian vegetable soup according to directions. Add 12 ounces imitation crabmeat and 2 cups cooked rice. Heat on medium-low and serve with a packaged green salad and cheese toast. For dessert, stir sliced bananas into chocolate pudding.
SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining)
Serve your guests elegant maple mustard pork tenderloin (see recipe). Add your mashed sweet potatoes on the side. brighten the plate with fresh broccoli florets with a squeeze of fresh lemon juice over them. Add a mixed greens salad and biscuits. Buy or make an old-fashioned pineapple upside-down cake for dessert.
CHICKEN-VEGETABLE PITA POCKETS
1/2 cup plain yogurt
2 tablespoons low-fat mayonnaise
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/4 teaspoon cumin
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 cups cooked (leftover) chopped chicken breast
1/2 cup seeded, chopped cucumber
2 green onions, sliced
2 cups shredded fresh spinach
4 whole-grain pita pockets, halved
Heat oven to 250 degrees. In a large bowl, whisk together yogurt, mayonnaise, mustard, cumin and cayenne pepper; add chicken, cucumber, onions and spinach, tossing to coat. Meanwhile, bake pita halves 3 to 4 minutes (do not toast). Divide and spoon filling into pita halves and serve.
Per serving: 326 calories, 30 grams protein, 6 grams fat (15 percent calories from fat), 1.2 grams saturated fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, 60 milligrams cholesterol, 558 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.
Yield: 4 servings
MEXICAN MEAT AND CHEESE BAKE
1 medium onion, chopped
1 pound lean ground beef
1 pound ground turkey breast
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed less-sodium, less-fat cream of mushroom soup
1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed less-sodium, less-fat cream of chicken soup
5 ounces water
1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies
8 (6-inch) corn tortillas
2 cups shredded 50 percent reduced-fat jalapeno or cheddar cheese
Shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes and reduced-fat sour cream for garnish
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium; add onion and cook 3 minutes. Add beef and turkey and cook 7 minutes or until meat is no longer pink and onion is softened; drain. Add both soups, water and chilies; mix well. Line bottom of dish with 4 tortillas, torn into pieces. Cover tortillas with half the meat mixture and half the cheese. Repeat layers. Bake 25 to 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly. Serve with lettuce, tomatoes and sour cream.
Per serving: 316 calories, 35 grams protein, 13 grams fat (37 percent calories from fat), 5.7 grams saturated fat, 16 grams carbohydrate, 73 milligrams cholesterol, 726 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Yield: 8 servings
MAPLE MUSTARD PORK TENDERLOIN
1 pound pork tenderloin
2 tablespoons honey mustard
2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 tablespoons maple syrup
2 teaspoons canola oil
2 ripe pears, cored and cut into 8 wedges each
Cut pork crosswise into 8 pieces. In a small bowl, mix together mustard, juice and syrup; coat pork with mixture. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Remove pork (reserve marinade) and cook 2 to 3 minutes on both sides or until browned. Add pears to skillet and stir well to coat; cook 2 to 3 minutes or until pears are tender. Spoon remaining marinade over pork and simmer 2 minutes, until heated through. Serve pork with pears.
Per serving: 237 calories, 24 grams protein, 5 grams fat (19 percent calories from fat), 1 gram saturated fat, 23 grams carbohydrate, 74 milligrams cholesterol, 70 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.
Yield: 4 servings