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story.lead_photo.caption Kona Pineapple Chicken Kebabs Courtesy of Perdue

A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families

SUNDAY: What better way to enjoy family time than with Kona Pineapple Chicken Kebabs (see recipe) on the menu? Serve the summer combo with rice and a spinach salad. Add biscuits. For dessert, buy or make a carrot cake.

Plan ahead: Double the kebab recipe and save half for Monday; also save some rice for Monday.

MONDAY: Make a Chicken, Rice and Pineapple Salsa Wrap using Sunday's leftovers. Chop and heat the chicken and add some rice. Spoon onto a whole-grain flour tortilla and top with the chopped pineapple mixed with red salsa; roll and eat. Serve with fresh corn-on-the-cob and deli coleslaw. A cantaloupe wedge makes a refreshing dessert.

TUESDAY: Make dinner easy tonight and enjoy Spaghetti With Creamy Tomato Sauce. Heat 2 cups tomato-basil pasta sauce with ¾ cup half-and-half. Toss with cooked and drained spaghetti. Garnish with freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve with a packaged green salad and Italian bread. How about a brownie from the deli for dessert?

WEDNESDAY: Keep food costs down with grilled cheese and tomato sandwiches for dinner. Serve with lentil soup and a lettuce wedge. For dessert, peach ice cream is what summer is all about.

Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Friday.

THURSDAY: Serve the kids burritos for dinner, found in the frozen food case. Packaged Spanish rice goes well with the burritos. Increase the vitamin C and add some crunch with red bell pepper rings. For dessert, fresh pineapple with shredded coconut is good.

Plan ahead: Save enough coconut for Friday.

FRIDAY: Easy Crustless Spinach Quiche (see recipe) gives you a healthy dose of calcium along with great flavor. Serve with couscous, a mixed green salad and whole-grain rolls. Top leftover ice cream with leftover toasted coconut.

SATURDAY: The family will welcome Margarita Beef (see recipe). Serve it with this Orange Salsa: In a medium bowl, combine 2 peeled and diced oranges, 1 small chopped red onion, 1 seeded and minced jalapeno pepper, ¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro, 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons olive oil, ½ teaspoon coarse salt and ½ teaspoon dried oregano; mix well. Cover and refrigerate 1 hour before serving. On the side, add brown rice, a baby romaine salad and sourdough bread. Buy a chocolate meringue pie for dessert.

THE RECIPES

Kona Pineapple Chicken Kebabs

1 ½ pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

1 (6-ounce) can pineapple juice

2 tablespoons canola oil

Zest and juice of 1 lime

1 tablespoon sugar

1-inch piece fresh ginger, grated

½ teaspoon crushed red pepper

½ fresh pineapple, cut into 16 chunks

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and cut into 16 (1-inch) pieces

Cut chicken into 16 bite-size chunks.

In a medium bowl, whisk together the pineapple juice, oil, lime zest and juice, sugar, ginger and red pepper until sugar dissolves. Add chicken; cover and marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes.

Thread alternating pieces of chicken, pineapple and bell pepper onto 4 metal skewers. Discard marinade. (Remember: Chicken will cook faster on metal skewers because metal will conduct heat).

Heat your lightly greased grill or grill pan to medium-high. Grill kebabs 10 to 12 minutes, turning every 3 to 4 minutes. Chicken is done when it feels firm to touch and internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Remove kebabs from grill; let stand 2 to 3 minutes before serving.

Makes 4 kebabs.

Nutrition information: Each kebab contains approximately 261 calories, 37 g protein, 5 g fat, 17 g carbohydrate, 109 mg cholesterol, 200 mg sodium and 1 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.

Crustless Spinach Quiche

2 teaspoons canola oil

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and well-drained

1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese

2 whole eggs PLUS 4 egg whites

5 tablespoons cottage cheese

¼ teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper

Coarse salt, to taste

Pinch nutmeg, or to taste

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a 9-inch pie pan with cooking spray.

In a medium nonstick skillet, heat canola oil on medium-high. Add onion and cook 5 minutes or until softened. Add spinach and stir 3 more minutes or until spinach is fully cooked; set aside.

Sprinkle cheese in pie pie pan. Top with spinach mixture.

In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, egg whites, cottage cheese, cayenne pepper, salt and nutmeg. Pour mixture over spinach. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until set. Let stand 5 minutes. Cut into wedges and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced-fat cheeses) contains approximately 225 calories, 24 g protein, 12 g fat, 9 g carbohydrate, 116 mg cholesterol, 537 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0.5.

Margarita Beef

2/3 cup frozen orange juice concentrate, thawed

½ cup tequila or water

5 tablespoons fresh lime juice

2 tablespoons chopped fresh ginger

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon dried oregano

¼ teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper

1 (1 ½- to 1 ¾-pound) beef top-round steak, cut 1 inch thick

In a small bowl, combine the orange juice concentrate, tequila or water, lime juice, ginger, oil, garlic, salt, oregano and cayenne pepper; mix well.

Place beef in a resealable plastic bag; add marinade and turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 6 hours to overnight; turn occasionally. Remove steak; discard marinade.

Grill steak, uncovered, 16 to 18 minutes for medium-rare doneness (145 degrees), turning occasionally. Carve into thin slices and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 185 calories, 25 g protein, 8 g fat, 1 g carbohydrate, 71 mg cholesterol, 370 mg sodium and no fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email:

[email protected]

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