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story.lead_photo.caption Cheddar and Pear Panini

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

SUNDAY: Prepare your own leg of lamb and serve it with Herb Roasted Dijon Potatoes. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Mix together 5 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 clove garlic (minced) and 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning. Add 2 pounds red potatoes (cubed); toss to coat. Spoon into a rimmed baking sheet coated with cooking spray. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until fork-tender; stir occasionally. Make a Grape Tomato and Broccoli Floret Salad (halve the tomatoes) tossed with a light vinaigrette and add dinner rolls. For dessert, top slices of angel food cake with strawberries.

Plan ahead: Save enough lamb, tomato-broccoli salad and cake for Monday. Save enough strawberries for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Make Lamb Sandwiches on Rosemary Bread. Brush the bread with olive oil and layer it with leftover lamb slices, roasted red peppers, goat cheese and arugula. Serve with leftover tomato-broccoli salad. Drizzle chocolate syrup over the leftover cake for dessert.

TUESDAY: Cheddar and Pear Panini is a great no-meat sandwich. For 2 sandwiches: Heat panini press or countertop grill (such as a George Foreman) to medium. Mix 2 tablespoons mango chutney and 1 tablespoon mayonnaise in a small bowl. Spread mixture over 4 slices whole-grain bread. Top with 3 ounces sharp cheddar cheese (thinly sliced and divided). Divide and top with thinly sliced pear or apple, and remaining cheese and bread slices, chutney side down. Coat outside of slices with cooking spray. Place on panini press or grill, coated side down; cook 4 to 8 minutes or until cheese has melted. Cut in half; serve with deli coleslaw. Add oven fries. For dessert, scoop some vanilla ice cream and top it with leftover strawberries.

Plan ahead: Save leftover ice cream for Friday.

WEDNESDAY: The Really Good Tuna Casserole (see recipe) went over big-time at our house. Serve this update of a family favorite with a spinach salad and crusty bread. Any tropical fruit is good for dessert.

THURSDAY: Pick up a rotisserie chicken and serve it with baked potatoes topped with broccoli and cheese sauce (from frozen). Add whole-grain rolls. Stop by the bakery for brownies for something sweet.

Plan ahead: Save 2 cups chopped chicken and enough brownies for Friday.

FRIDAY: Let the kids help prepare Tex-Mex Chicken Pot Pie with the leftover chicken (see recipe). The whole family will enjoy it with celery sticks and dip. Everyone will line up for warmed leftover brownies topped with leftover ice cream and chocolate sprinkles.

SATURDAY: Our guests enjoyed Thai Shrimp With Angel Hair Pasta (see recipe). Add a bibb lettuce salad and baguette. For dessert, fruit tarts are easy.

THE RECIPES

Really Good Tuna Noodle Casserole

6 ounces medium egg noodles

2 teaspoons butter, divided use

1 small red bell pepper, chopped

1/2 medium onion, chopped

1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms

2 tablespoons flour

1 1/4 cups milk

1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese

2 (5-ounce) cans water-packed albacore tuna, drained and flaked

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

5 tablespoons panko bread crumbs

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray; set aside.

Cook noodles according to package directions; drain.

Meanwhile, combine 1 teaspoon of the butter, the bell pepper, onion and mushrooms in a large microwave-safe container and microwave on 100 percent power for 30 seconds; drain. Whisk together flour and milk until smooth. Stir into vegetable mixture; cover and microwave for 2 minutes. Stir, re-cover and cook for 1 minute. Stir and continue cooking in 30-second increments until thickened. Remove from microwave, add cheese and stir until melted. Stir in tuna, cooked noodles, salt and pepper, and spoon into baking dish. Bake, covered, 25 minutes. Mix together panko crumbs and the 1 teaspoon remaining butter (melted); sprinkle over casserole and bake 5 more minutes or until bubbly. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with no-yolk noodles, 1 percent milk and reduced fat cheese) contains approximately 365 calories, 30 g protein, 7 g fat, 46 g carbohydrate, 48 mg cholesterol, 521 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3.

Tex-Mex Chicken Pot Pie

2 burrito-sized flour tortillas, warmed

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed cream of mushroom soup

2 cups cooked chicken OR 1 (12-ounce) can chicken breast, drained

1 (16-ounce) package frozen vegetables for soup, thawed and drained

1 (4 1/2-ounce) can mild chopped green chiles

Generous handful chopped cilantro

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Line the bottom of a 9-inch pie plate with 1 warmed tortilla.

In a large bowl, mix soup, chicken, vegetables, chiles and cilantro. Spoon into lined pie plate. Top with the other warmed tortilla. Coat with cooking spray. Cover with foil and bake 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 25 more minutes or until top is golden and filling is hot. Cut into 6 wedges and serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 200 calories, 17 g protein, 5 g fat, 23 g carbohydrate, 39 mg cholesterol, 623 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.5.

Thai Shrimp With Angel Hair Pasta

3 (3-inch) dried lemongrass stalks

3 cups hot water

1/2 cup dry white wine

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon garlic powder

2 teaspoons Sichuan seasoning

2 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons tepid water

1 pound fresh or frozen large shrimp, thawed, peeled, deveined and tails removed

6 ounces angel hair pasta

5 cups torn fresh spinach leaves

1/4 cup salted nuts (such as cashews or almonds)

Place lemongrass and hot water in a 1-quart glass measure; cover and microwave on 100 percent power for 5 minutes; cool. Remove lemongrass to cutting board. Reserve water. Slice lemongrass lengthwise, then finely chop.

In a large nonstick skillet, combine lemongrass, reserved water, wine, salt, garlic powder and Sichuan seasoning; bring to a boil. Mix cornstarch with tepid water and stir into lemongrass mixture; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until mixture thickens slightly. Add shrimp and cook 3 to 4 minutes or until it turns pink. (If using frozen shrimp, cook 2 minutes.)

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions; drain and rinse. Return to cooking pan. Add spinach and shrimp mixture to pasta; toss. Garnish with nuts.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 325 calories, 28 g protein, 5 g fat, 40 g carbohydrate, 159 mg cholesterol, 451 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.5.

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

susan@7daymenu.com.

Food on 04/03/2019

Print Headline: 7-day menu planner

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