Menu Planning Monday: My menu for the week of 1/2 (back on WW!)

Welcome to my first Menu Planning Monday post of 2011! One of my New Year’s “goals” was to eat healthier, and so I’m trying to incorporate healthier recipes all around into our menu plan. The plan listed here just includes our dinner menu and recipes. I have calculated Weight Watchers points values using the e-tools Recipe Builder, and points values this week are based on the new Points Plus program! You can see my spreadsheet with our lunch and breakfast foods here (recipes are not included, but points values are).  Both kids eat breakfast at home, but my son eats lunch at daycare, my daughter eats lunch at school, and my husband fends for himself!

Many of my recipes this week are coming from The Biggest Loser Cookbook: Budget Friendly Meals Your Whole Family Will Love.  The book really does have a lot of great, family friendly recipes and great pictures, too.  My kids had a great time helping me pick out menu options this week!  Whether you’re counting points or calories, this cookbook is awesome because it includes calories, carbohydrates, fat content, and protein.

If you’ve been reading my blog for awhile, then you know that for the past two years, I have done a $40 weekly budget.  With the changes to our eating habits, I’m going to increase our budget to $50 per week and I’m really going to try to stick to that, but I’m not even sure that will be enough.  This will be a trial and error experience, so stay tuned!

If you’re new to menu planning or would like tips for getting started, check out this post here.

SUNDAY:  Shredded lime tacos (slow cooker) – I got this recipe from Marci’s blog a few weeks ago.  We tried it and loved it, so it’s back again!

* 1 1/2 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast meat – cubed
* 1/8 cup red wine vinegar
* 1/2 lime, juiced
* 1 teaspoon white sugar
* 1/2 teaspoon salt
* 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
* 1/4 cup cilantro, chopped
* 1/2 white onion, chopped
* 2 cloves garlic, minced

Mix together vinegar, lime juice, sugar, salt, pepper, onion, garlic and cilantro. Put in crock pot with chicken and cook on low 6 hours. Shred chicken apart with forks and serve in tacos with toppings of choice!

WW points:  4 points per serving (makes 6 servings).  I serve with 1/2 cup fat free refried beans (2 points), a whole wheat, low carb tortilla (4 points)

MONDAY:  Provolone wrapped chicken – This is a recipe from my the “$5 Dinners” cookbook that I got for Christmas last year.

8-10 chicken tenderloins
2 T extra virgin olive oil (I’m going to try misting with a sprayer instead, which is a tip I got from the Biggest Loser cookbook!)
salt and pepper
4-5 slices provolone cheese (cut in half)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Place the chicken tenderloins in an 8X8 inch glass baking dish and drizzle the olive oil over the top. Sprinkle with salt and pepper (I will probably add garlic powder and onion powder, as well). Bake in the preheated oven for 25-35 minutes or until the chicken is cooked through. Remove the chicken from the oven. Carefully wrap half a piece of provolone cheese around each chicken tenderloin. The cheese will melt over the warm chicken strips.

WW points:  8 per serving  – makes 4 servings (this is with the 2 T of olive oil, so I’m thinking by spraying it on, it will be less points, but I don’t know how many)

TUESDAY:  Grilled chicken parmesan (from The Biggest Loser Cookbook: Budget Friendly Meals Your Whole Family Will Love)

4 boneless, skinless chicken breasts (approximately 4 oz each)
Olive oil (from a sprayer)
Salt, to taste
Ground black pepper, to taste
1/2 cup marinara sauce (preferably low fat, low sodium, low sugar)
6 T finely shredded low fat mozzarella cheese
2 tsp grated, reduced-fat parmesan cheese

Preheat over to 350 degrees.  Lightly mist both sides of the chicken with olive oil and season with salt and pepper.  Grill the chicken, turning meat once, for 3-5 minutes per side (or until no longer pink inside and juices run clear).  Transfer to a baking dish.

Heat the sauce on low in the microwave until warm.  Top each breast w/ 2 T marinara sauce followed by 1 1/2 T mozzarella and 1/2 tsp parmesan.  Bake for 3-5 minutes or until the cheese is just melted.

WW points:  4 points per serving, serve with whole wheat pasta (1/2 cup = 2 points) and green beans (0 points)

WEDNESDAY:  BBQ Bacon Meatloaf (from The Biggest Loser Cookbook: Budget Friendly Meals Your Whole Family Will Love)

Olive oil spray
1 cup chopped red onion
4 slices extra lean turkey bacon
2/3 cup old fashioned oats
1/2 cup fat free milk
1 lb extra-lean ground chicken breast
2 large egg whites, lightly beaten
1 clove fresh garlic, minced
1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
1/8 tsp salt
1/3 c. BBQ sauce (<7 g carbs per 2 T)

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  Lightly mist a 9X5X3 nonstick loaf pan with the olive oil spray.

Place a medium nonstick skillet over medium high heat.  Lightly spray the pan and add onions and bacon.  Cook, stirring, for 6-8 minutes, or until the onion is tender and the bacon is crisped.  Remove the pan from the heat and allow the mixture to cool.

Combine the oats and milk in a medium mixing bowl and stir to mix.  Let the mixture stand for 3 minuets, or until the oats begin to osften.  Add the cooled onion and bacon mixture, the chicken,e gg whites, garlic, Worcestershire sauce, and salt.  With a fork (or clean hands) mix the ingredients until combined.

Transfer the mixture to the prepared pan and spread so the top is flat.  Spread the BBQ sauce evenly over the top.  Bake for 35-40 minutes, or until the chicken is completely cooked through and no longer pink.  Let the loaf sit for 10 minutes before cutting into slices.

NOTE:  I think I’m going to let this one cook in my slow cooker on low all day.  I’ve done several other meatloaf recipes in there and I’m guessing it will be fine.

WW Points:  6 points per serving (2 slices), makes 4 servings

THURSDAY:  Braised pork chops – I got this recipe from my mother in law awhile ago – I think she may have gotten it from a Martha Stewart magazine (or online)

2 T. veg. oil (to lower the points value, I’m misting the pan with olive oil…points reported reflect this change)
6 boneless center cut pork chops trimmed of fat are preferable (but any will do)
1 teas. Dijon Mustard
1T red-wine vinegar
2 T. light brown sugar
1teas. garlic salt
1 T. worcestershire OR soy sauce

Heat oil in a lg. heavy skillet over med. high heat.
Brown chops on each side 2 to 3 minutes.

Meanwhile, in a bowl, site together all other ingredients with 1/3 cup water. Pour over chops. Reduce heat, cover and cook until tender, about 1 hour.

Transfer chops to a serving dish. Raise heat to med. high and cook sauce until thickened….about 5 minutes. Pour over chops and serve.

WW points:  4 per serving (6 servings total)

FRIDAY:  Baked Ziti (from The Biggest Loser Cookbook: Budget Friendly Meals Your Whole Family Will Love)

olive oil spray
1 box fiber-enriched ziti or penne pasta
1 15 ounce container fat free ricotta cheese
2 large egg whites
8 ounces (4 cups) finely shredded reduced-fat mozzarella cheese
1/4 tsp garlic powder
salt, to taste
pepper, to taste
3 1/2 cups marinara sauce (low fat, low sugar, low sodium)
2 T grated, reduced-fat parmesan cheese

Preheat oven to 450.  Lightly mist a 13X9 glass baking dish with olive oil spray.  Cook the ziti according to the package directions until al dente and drain.

In a large mixing bowl, mix the ricotta, egg whites, and all but 1 cup of the mozzarella until well combined.  Add the garlic powder and season with salt, pepper and red pepper flakes (I’m omitting this).  Stir in the cooked pasta until well combined.

Spread 1 cup of the marinara sauce on the bottom of the prepared dish.  Add half of the pasta in an even layer over the sauce.  Top the pasta evenly with another 1 cup sauce.  Layer the remaining pasta over the sauce.  Spoon the remianing 1 1/2 cups sauce evenly over the top of the pasta, then sprinkle with the remaining mozzarella and teh Parmesan over the top.

Cover the dish with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes.  Remove the foil and bake for 10 minutes longer, or until the mozzarella is melted.  Let stand 5 minutes.  Cut into 8 pieces or spoon among 8 bowls and serve.

WW points: 9 points per serving (makes 8 servings)

SATURDAY:  Pizza (we’re going to try out Papa John’s whole wheat crust pizza, which is 7 points per slice)

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