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story.lead_photo.caption Photo courtesy of Gwynn Galvin Black Cherry Garlic Shredded Chicken

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

SUNDAY: No need to go to the islands for Caribbean Chicken and Rice Salad (see recipe). Serve the entree salad with lemon poppy seed muffins (from a mix). Make this easy Blueberry Pie for dessert: Bake a frozen pie crust according to package directions; cool. Combine 1 (16-ounce) jar blueberry jam or spread and ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon; microwave on 100% power for 1 minute or until mixture liquefies. Stir in 2 cups fresh blueberries. Spoon mixture into shell. Chill; slice and garnish with light whipped cream and serve.

Plan ahead: Make an extra pie for Monday (Labor Day).

MONDAY: Use your slow cooker and celebrate Labor Day with Black Cherry Garlic Shredded Chicken (see recipe) on whole-grain toasted buns. Serve with potato salad and coleslaw. For dessert, slice the extra blueberry pie and top it with vanilla ice cream.

Plan ahead: Save enough pulled chicken, buns and potato salad for Tuesday. Save enough ice cream for Tuesday and Saturday. Save some coleslaw for Thursday.

TUESDAY: No one will mind eating leftover pulled chicken on buns for dinner. Add the leftover potato salad along with pickles, olives and carrot sticks to munch on. Top the leftover ice cream with fresh peaches.

WEDNESDAY: No kid can resist Spaghetti and Meat Sauce. Make it super-easy: Buy a jar of their favorite meat sauce and spoon it over cooked spaghetti. Top with a little freshly grated parmesan, and dinner is ready. Add a chopped lettuce salad and whole-grain rolls, and serve pineapple chunks for dessert.

THURSDAY: With the swiftness of a superhero, you'll have Reuben Wraps on the table. Spread burrito-size flour tortillas with Russian dressing. Top with leftover coleslaw, thinly sliced deli corned beef and Swiss cheese. Roll, halve and eat. Serve with deli three-bean salad. Nectarines are dessert.

FRIDAY: With its good flavor and simplicity, you can't go wrong serving Macaroni Soup With Beans and Cabbage. Cook 1 ½ cups elbow macaroni according to package directions; drain. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil on medium-high. Add 1 medium onion (thinly sliced), 1 pound thinly sliced Savoy cabbage, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and ¼ teaspoon pepper; cook 6 to 8 minutes or until cabbage begins to wilt, stirring often. Add 4 (14-ounce) cans unsalted vegetable broth, 2 (16-ounce) cans cannellini beans (rinsed) and 1 ½ cups water; heat to boiling. Add macaroni; heat through and serve. Cut a lettuce wedge and top it with sliced hard-cooked eggs and tomato wedges. Serve with crusty bread. For dessert, try fresh plums.

SATURDAY: This Baked Grouper (see recipe) was a hit with our guests. Serve it with rice tossed with petite green peas (from frozen). Add a bibb lettuce salad and sourdough bread. For dessert, a dab of leftover ice cream over brownies and drizzled with chocolate sauce will cap off a fine meal.

THE RECIPES

Caribbean Chicken and Rice Salad

½ cup slivered almonds, divided use

1 ½ teaspoons olive oil, divided use

12 ounces chicken breast tenders, cut into bite-size pieces

1 (8-ounce) package yellow rice (discard seasoning packet)

½ cup chopped cilantro, divided use

½ cup finely chopped sweet onion (such as Vidalia)

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon jerk seasoning

1 ¼ cups fresh orange juice, divided use

1 teaspoon arrowroot (see note)

¼ teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon orange zest (orange part only)

1 cup orange sections

4 cups fresh baby spinach

Heat a large skillet on medium-high. Add almonds and cook, stirring, until golden; set aside.

In same skillet, heat half the oil and cook chicken 4 minutes, stirring, or until cooked through. Remove to a warm plate and cover.

Meanwhile, cook the rice according to package directions. Toss hot rice with ¼ cup cilantro; set aside to keep warm.

For the dressing: Heat the remaining oil in a pan. Add onion, jalapeno pepper and jerk seasoning; cook 5 minutes or until onions are softened. Add 1 cup of orange juice and boil 5 minutes to reduce. Combine the arrowroot and remaining ¼ cup orange juice and stir into sauce to thicken. Add the salt and orange zest. Toss the cooked chicken, orange sections, half the almonds, remaining ¼ cup cilantro and spinach together. Add the hot rice and the dressing and toss again to mix thoroughly. Serve topped with remaining almonds.

Makes 6 servings.

Note: Arrowroot is a flavorless thickening agent. Look for it in the spice aisle or near the flour.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 305 calories, 19 g protein, 7 g fat, 43 g carbohydrate, 36 mg cholesterol, 166 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3.

Black Cherry Garlic Shredded Chicken

2 pounds boneless skinless chicken breasts

½ cup packed brown sugar

½ cup black cherry cola soda

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

2 tablespoons less-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons cornstarch

6 large cloves garlic, minced

¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 tablespoons chopped cilantro

Arrange chicken in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker.

In a medium bowl, combine sugar, soda, vinegar, soy sauce, cornstarch, garlic and red pepper; stir until blended and pour over chicken. Cover; cook 7 to 8 hours on low. Shred chicken; garnish with cilantro as you serve. (Adapted from www.Swirlsofflavor.com by Gwynn Galvin.)

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 219 calories, 22 g protein, 3 g fat, 27 g carbohydrate, 63 mg cholesterol, 254 mg sodium and no fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.

Baked Grouper

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 small onions, each cut into 6 wedges

1 green bell pepper, cut into strips

¾ cup canned crushed tomatoes

5 tablespoons tomato paste (see note)

Water (if needed)

½ teaspoon coarse salt to taste

¼ teaspoon black pepper to taste

1 ½ pounds skinless grouper filet, cut into 3-inch pieces

1 teaspoon lemon pepper seasoning

2 to 3 pinches cayenne pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium. Add onions and bell pepper; cook and stir 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in crushed tomatoes and tomato paste; cover. Reduce heat to low and simmer. Cook 10 minutes, stirring often, or until onions are soft. (If mixture becomes too thick, thin with some water.) Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Put filets in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, folding under thin ends. Season with lemon pepper seasoning and cayenne pepper. Add sauce and bake 20 to 25 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout.

Note: For convenience, look for tomato paste in a tube.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 186 calories, 23 g protein, 6 g fat, 10 g carbohydrate, 42 mg cholesterol, 367 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0.5.

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

susan@7daymenu.com

Food on 08/28/2019

Print Headline: 7-day menu planner

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