In today’s society, it is often hard to find time to get the family together around the table for a home-cooked meal.  Yet the health professionals tell us we Americans need to eat a lot less fast food.  And the psycologists tell us we need to spend more time together as a family around the dinner table.  So what’s a busy family to do?  Make time to eat a home-cooked meal, together as a family, at least three times a week.  Get the children to set the table.  It’s a good learning experience for them, they learn to feel like an important part of the family, it saves mom and dad some time, the family experiences together time, etc.  And remember, this is just a family dinner.  Everything doesn’t have to be perfect.  So what if the placemats and napkins don’t match…let the kids have some fun and feel important.  Make gentle suggestions and never be critical.

Following is an easy menu that can be made quickly, especially when everyone helps out and works together.    And it won’t break the bank with the skyrocketing grocery prices of today. Give it a try this week.


1 lb lean ground beef

1 egg

1/4 cup seasoned bread crumbs

1/4 tsp salt, optional

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper

1 tbsp Worcestershire sauce

1 1/2 tbsp butter

1 medium onion, thinly sliced

1 1/2 tbsp flour

1 1/4 cups low-sodium beef broth

1 tsp dried parsley

Preheat broiler.  Line broiler pan with foil and spray with a non-stick cooking spray.  Combine beef, egg, bread crumbs, salt, garlic, pepper and Worcestershire sauce in a large mixing bowl.  Mix well.  Shape into 4 patties.  Place patties on prepared broiler pan and broil, turning once, until no longer pink in the center; approximately 10 minutes.  Meanwhile, melt butter in a large skillet over medium heat.  Seperate onions into rings and add to skillet.  Saute about 4 minutes or until translucent.  Sprinkle in flour and cook, stirring continually, about 2 minutes.  Gradually stir in broth and cook, stirring continually until broth thickens; about 2-3 minutes.  Stir in parsley.  Pour onion gravy over the cooked patties and serve immediately.

Note:  Want to sneak in a vegetable?  Grate a carrot into the beef mixture before forming patties.

Make this 7-layer salad the night before and refrigerate.  When you get home from work, soccer games, music lessons or whatever, your salad is ready and waiting.


4 cups bite-sized mixed lettuce pieces

1 cup chopped green bell pepper

1/2 chopped mild or sweet onion

1 box frozen peas

6 hard-boiled eggs, sliced

1 pkg (8 oz) shredded low-fat cheddar cheese

6 slices crisp fried bacon, crumbled

1 pkg Ranch Dressing mix

1 cup mayonnaise

1 cup low-fat plain yogurt

In a clear salad bowl, layer the following ingredients in this order: lettuce, bell pepper, onion, frozen peas and eggs.  In a small mixing bowl, mix together the Ranch Dressing mix, mayonnaise and yogurt.  Add atop the layers in bowl.  Add cheese and bacon.  Cover tightly with a lid or aluminum foil, plastic wrap, etc.  Refrigerate overnight before serving.


2 medium zucchini

2 yellow squash

2 tbsp olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

1 tomato, peeled, seeded and chopped

1 tsp dried oregano

pinch of dried basil

Salt and pepper to taste, optional

Scrub zucchini and yellow squash; cut into 1/4-inch slices.  In a large skillet, heat the olive oil over medium heat.  Add the garlic and cook, stirring, for about 30-45 seconds.  Add the zucchini and yellow squash to skillet.  Cook, stirring occasionally, until tender–about 5-6 minutes.  Stir in the tomato and oregano.  Simmer 1-2 minutes longer.  Add salt and pepper, if desired.

For dessert, here is a quick and easy recipe for parfaits.


2 cups fat-free milk

1 pkg sugar-free instant chocolate pudding

1/2 cup nonfat dry milk powder

3/4 tsp grated orange peel + more for topping

1 cup evaporated skim milk

In a large bowl, combine skim milk, pudding mix, nonfat dry milk and 3/4 teaspoon orange peel.  Mix at low speed until just blended, 1 to 2 minutes.  Using a seperate, clean, chilled bowl and chilled beaters, beat evaporated skim milk until soft peaks form.  Fold into thickened pudding mixture. Spoon into dessert glasses and sprinkle with grated orange peel.  Top with sugar-free whipped topping if desired, reserving the topping grated orange peel to go on top of the whipped topping.

Note:  This recipe, without the topping, has 13 g protein and 26 g carbs

Source by Linda Wilson