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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy of Swirls of Flavor Baked Egg in Avocado

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

SUNDAY: Tell Mother to relax because her admirers made Baked Egg in Avocado for her on her special day. Heat oven to 425 degrees. For 4 eggs: Halve 2 avocados, leaving the peels on but discarding pits, and place on regular-size muffin tins to balance. Scoop out enough flesh from each half to make room for the egg. Crack 1 egg into each avocado half; bake 20 to 25 minutes or until egg is cooked to desired doneness. Sprinkle with paprika and season with coarse salt and pepper. (Adapted from To serve, place avocado on a bed of shredded lettuce; drizzle with lime juice. Serve with salsa. Add roasted asparagus, Canadian bacon and toasted English muffins. Mom will increase your allowance when she sees the Balsamic Strawberries (see recipe) you have prepared for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough asparagus and some fresh strawberries for Monday.

MONDAY: Take it easy tonight and stir some curry powder into deli chicken salad. Spread it on toasted whole-grain bread and add lettuce on top. Arrange sliced hard-cooked eggs and tomato wedges on each plate. Squeeze a lemon over the leftover asparagus and serve it cold. Some leftover fresh strawberries topped with light whipped cream are dessert.

TUESDAY: Do you remember your scouting days and treats like Campfire Hot Dogs? Brown ½ pound lean ground beef over medium-high heat for 4 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. Add 2 cups red pasta sauce and 1 (15- to 19-ounce) can vegetarian baked beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 8 hot dogs and arrange them in whole-grain hot dog buns. Spoon the beef mixture over the hot dogs and garnish with a little shredded cheddar cheese. Serve with baked chips and steamed carrots. Slurp a frozen fruit juice bar for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: We didn't miss meat when we ate Cheese Ravioli With Tomato Sauce for dinner. Cook 12 to 16 ounces refrigerated cheese ravioli according to package directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1 cup tomato sauce, 1 (16-ounce) can chickpeas (rinsed), 1 cup halved grape tomatoes, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 tablespoon dried basil, ½ teaspoon minced garlic and ⅛ teaspoon coarse salt; mix well. Add the cooked ravioli; toss gently to mix and coat, and serve immediately. Accompany it with a romaine salad and garlic bread. Fresh pineapple is good for dessert.

THURSDAY: You can't help saving money with Italian Vegetable and Beef Soup (see recipe). Serve the soup with a spinach salad topped with fresh sliced mushrooms. Add whole-grain rolls. For dessert, red and green grapes go down easy.

Plan ahead: Save enough soup for Friday.

FRIDAY: Take advantage of its even better day-after flavor and serve the leftover soup for dinner. Add crusty bread and mixed greens. Make a Chocolate Banana Parfait for dessert by layering chocolate pudding with bananas and vanilla wafers.

SATURDAY: Invite guests for Jerk-Seasoned Pork Chops (see recipe). Serve with packaged yellow rice and whole-grain rolls. Add Fiesta Beans and Corn: Mix together rinsed canned reduced-sodium black beans with canned Mexican-style corn. Add a splash of fresh lime juice and some chopped cilantro. Season to taste with coarse salt and black pepper. Dessert is Citrus Cookie Clouds: Top sugar cookies with a mixture of equal amounts of whipped topping and sour cream. Place half a fresh orange section on top.


Balsamic Strawberries

½ cup confectioner's sugar

½ cup balsamic vinegar

1 teaspoon cornstarch

⅛ to ¼ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

4 cups sliced strawberries

In a small saucepan, mix sugar, vinegar and cornstarch. Bring to a boil on medium-high, stirring frequently. Stir in pepper. Reduce heat to low; simmer 2 minutes or until syrup begins to thicken. Divide strawberries among dessert dishes. Drizzle with syrup.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 142 calories, 1 g protein, 1 g fat, 35 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 10 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.5.

Italian Vegetable and Beef Soup

1 pound beef stew meat, cut into ¾-inch pieces

½ teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

2 (14-ounce) cans unsalted beef broth, or more as needed

1 (15- to 19-ounce) can chickpeas, drained

1 (14 ½-ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, with liquid

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

1 cup ditalini or orzo or other small pasta

In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine beef, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, broth, chickpeas, tomatoes and 1 cup water; mix well. Cover and cook on low 8 hours or on high 5 hours. Stir in mixed vegetables and pasta. Cover and continue cooking on high for 1 hour or until beef and pasta are tender. Stir before serving. Thin with water or additional broth if needed.

Makes about 14 cups.

Nutrition information: Each cup (prepared with reduced-sodium chickpeas) contains approximately 118 calories, 10 g protein, 2 g fat, 14 g carbohydrate, 20 mg cholesterol, 270 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.

Jerk-Seasoned Pork Chops

1 ½ teaspoons allspice

¾ teaspoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon garlic powder

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

2 tablespoons canola oil

6 (4-ounce) boneless center-cut loin pork chops, about ½ inch thick

Combine allspice, salt, thyme, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and oil; mix well. Spread seasoning mixture on both sides of each chop. Place chops in a resealable plastic bag or baking dish and cover. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Place chops on rack in broiler pan; broil 4 to 5 inches from heat for 5 to 6 minutes per side or until browned and internal temperature reaches 145 degrees.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 172 calories, 19 g protein, 10 g fat, 2 g carbohydrate, 57 mg cholesterol, 279 mg sodium and 1 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0.

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

Food on 05/08/2019

Print Headline: 7-day menu planner


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