Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Menus — September 2-6
Here, another week’s worth of fast, healthy, and tasty menus. It’s not the dread of cooking that deters so many of us from the kitchen each night; it’s actually deciding what to cook from the millions of options bombarding us from so many different places. Here, we’ve done the planning for you. Not just menus, but healthy menus that are fast – on the table in less than 45 minutes.
The PlanMonday: Loaded Nachos, Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches, Roasted Herb Potatoes, Cantaloupe SherbetTuesday: Chickpea Curry with Basmati RiceWednesday: Spaghetti and Turkey MeatballsThursday: Tuna Salad NiçoiseFriday: Pizza ArrabbiataBonus Dessert: Easy Peach Crisp
There’s something to be said for the satisfaction of making pizza crust or roasting a chicken from scratch. But the reality is that most of us have a small window of time to get dinner on the table, especially on weeknights. I love shortcuts—a faster route home to beat the traffic, or an ingredient or cooking technique that saves time in the kitchen. Here’s where our latest special edition, Cooking Light Super-Easy Recipe Shortcuts, that just hit the newsstand, comes in. It will be your new best friend in the kitchen, with more than 115 recipes using the top time-savers, including rotisserie chicken, bottled pasta sauce, fresh pizza dough, precut veggies, and more. This week’s meals are some of our weeknight favorites from this special edition.
Monday: Happy Labor Day! To celebrate the last official summer holiday, we’ve put together an easy menu for a casual get-together. Loaded Nachos (p. 15) is a healthier version of this always-popular scoop-it-up appetizer and is ready in less than 20 minutes—perfect for a small gathering. Instead of grilling burgers or brats, make Barbecue Chicken Sandwiches (p. 51) using delicatessen rotisserie chicken and prepackaged slaw so you don’t even have to heat up the grill. Roasted Herb Potatoes’ (p. 22) shortcut is refrigerated potato wedges. There’s minimal hands-on time—simply season the potatoes, arrange on a baking sheet, and pop in the oven for 30 minutes while you assemble the sandwiches. End your meal with a refreshing dessert that can be made in advance, Cantaloupe Sherbet. The recipe shortcut is precut melon from the produce section. Friends will know you made it from scratch because you can’t find this flavor of sherbet in your supermarket freezer section. It’s guaranteed to be on everyone’s wish list for next year!
Tuesday: If you keep the pantry and fridge stocked with shortcut ingredients, Chickpea Curry with Basmati Rice (p. 32) will come together in a snap. Calling for staples such as canned beans and tomatoes, boil-in-bag rice, Greek yogurt, and bagged fresh spinach, this satisfying, meatless, one-dish meal can be on the table in 20 minutes. Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro, if you have it on hand.
Wednesday: Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs (p. 73) sounds like a recipe that would take hours to prepare, but this comfort food is ready in 20 minutes with a few shortcuts: refrigerated fresh pasta (cooks in 2 minutes), jarred marinara sauce, and turkey sausage. The secret to homemade meatballs is one ingredient—sweet turkey Italian sausage links. Cut the links into 12 pieces and shape into meatballs; it’s that simple.
Thursday: The classic Tuna Salad Niçoise (p. 22) is a speedy main dish salad and makes a beautiful presentation. Two refrigerated ingredients—potato wedges and peeled hard-cooked eggs—are the time-saving shortcuts. Fresh seafood cooks quickly, too, and this cut of tuna provides all sorts of nutrients, including heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids. A warm, crusty whole-grain baguette is all you need to complete the menu.
Friday: Pizza Arrabbiata (p. 73) is a great way to end the week. In the roster of shortcut ingredients, a ball of fresh pizza dough from the supermarket deli is an all-star.
In less than 30 minutes you can make a fantastic pie with a crispy-chewy, browned crust that’s just as good as what you’d find at many pizzerias.
The chilled dough needs to rest at room temperature for a half-hour for easier handling, or you can speed up the process in the microwave at 50% power for 45 seconds. Prechopped pancetta and crushed red pepper punch up the flavor of a basic pizza. Serve mixed greens tossed with balsamic vinaigrette on the side.
Dessert Bonus: We’ve got dessert covered in this special edition, too. Fruit is always a healthy choice, and ripe peaches are even better topped with something crunchy. The shortcut? Store-bought low-fat granola. Easy Peach Crisp (p. 82) makes 4 individual fruit crisps in less than 15 minutes.