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story.lead_photo.caption Green Ombre Cupcakes (Courtesy of McCormick)

Editor's note: Susan Nicholson is on vacation. A version of this column appeared March 11, 2015.

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

SUNDAY: Our extended family couldn't get enough of Chicken With Olives and Peas (see recipe). Serve the easy, flavor-packed entree over rice. Add a red-tipped lettuce salad and whole-grain rolls. Buy a Boston cream pie for dessert.

Plan ahead: Cook enough rice and save enough Boston cream pie for Wednesday.

MONDAY: The kids will be happy when you serve them Ranch Skillet Supper. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add 1 pound ground turkey and cook 4 minutes or until no longer pink. Stir in 1 (8-ounce) package seasoned rice and black beans, 1 (10-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green chiles, 2 cups frozen corn and 2 ¾ cups water. Bring to boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 20 minutes or until water is absorbed. Sprinkle with chopped fresh cilantro and 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese. Serve with carrot sticks and add cornbread. Make Ginger Ice Cream Sandwiches for dessert. Spread 1 ½ tablespoons vanilla ice cream on flat side of small (1 ¾-inch diameter) gingersnap cookies; top ice cream with second cookie. Roll sides in chopped, crystallized ginger or any finely chopped nuts. Wrap individually and freeze until firm.

TUESDAY: Celebrate St. Patrick's Day with friends and make Luck o' the Irish Stew (see recipe). Serve with a lettuce wedge and rye bread. Green Ombre Cupcakes top off your meal. Prepare 1 (2-layer size) box white cake mix as directed on package using whole eggs. Stir in 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract. Divide batter evenly into 2 bowls. Stir ¾ teaspoon green food color into one bowl, tinting to dark green. Stir 15 drops into second bowl for medium green. Spoon heaping 1 tablespoon dark green batter into 18 paper-lined muffin cups; spread gently. Repeat with medium green batter, spreading over dark batter. Bake as directed on package; cool on wire rack. For frosting, beat 2 sticks softened butter and 2 teaspoons vanilla until light and fluffy. Gradually add 1 (16-ounce) package confectioners' sugar, then 2 tablespoons (any) milk; beat until light and fluffy. Stir in 3 drops green food color. Frost cupcakes.

WEDNESDAY: Make this colorful Santa Fe Salad for your no-meat dinner. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add 1 medium green bell pepper (cut into thin strips) and 1 thinly sliced medium onion; cook 5 minutes or until softened. Add 1 cup salsa, 1 (15-ounce) can rinsed reduced-sodium kidney beans, 1 (11-ounce) can drained Mexican-style corn, and 1 ½ cups cooked (leftover) rice. Cook 5 minutes on medium-high or until thoroughly heated. For each serving, place 1 cup torn lettuce on 4 serving plates. Surround lettuce with baked tortilla chips. Top with the warm vegetable/rice mixture. Sprinkle each serving with 2 tablespoons shredded cheddar cheese. Serve with tomato broth (mix tomato juice with unsalted vegetable broth and heat). Slice the leftover Boston cream pie for dessert.

THURSDAY: Introduce the family to lower-fat bison with this easy Meatloaf. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together 1 (15-ounce) can white beans (rinsed and slightly mashed), 1 pound ground bison (or 95% lean ground beef), 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce, ½ cup dry bread crumbs, 1 finely chopped carrot and 1 egg. Shape into a loaf and place in a nonstick foil-lined shallow baking dish. Spread top 5 tablespoons drained salsa. Bake 1 hour or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees. Serve with baked potatoes, fresh broccoli with any shredded cheddar cheese and crusty bread. Fresh orange sections are dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough meatloaf and bake enough potatoes for Friday.

FRIDAY: Make Meatloaf Sandwiches tonight. Slice and warm the leftover meatloaf. Spread sliced bread with mayonnaise, add a slice of meatloaf and top with a lettuce leaf. Cut the leftover potatoes into potato wedges, coat with cooking spray, sprinkle with paprika and bake in a 425-degree oven until hot. Add deli coleslaw to the meal. Halve kiwifruit for dessert.

SATURDAY: Treat your guests to Citrus Lamb Chops (see recipe). Serve couscous and sugar snap peas alongside. Add a mixed greens salad and baguettes. For dessert, buy a coconut layer cake.


Chicken With Olives and Peas

3 medium baking potatoes, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces

1 large green bell pepper, cut into thin strips

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce

½ cup unsalted chicken broth

½ cup pimiento-stuffed olives

1 ½ tablespoons minced garlic

1 ½ tablespoons olive oil

1 tablespoon no-salt-added tomato paste

½ teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon pepper

2 small bay leaves, broken in half

3 to 3 ½ pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs and drumsticks (about 6 each)

1 ½ cups frozen green peas

In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine potatoes, bell pepper, onion, tomato sauce, broth, olives, garlic, olive oil, tomato paste, coarse salt, pepper and bay leaves; mix well. Add chicken and mix well. Cover and cook on low 6 hours; add peas and cook 1 hour on high or until chicken is cooked through and potatoes are tender. Discard bay leaves and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Luck o' the Irish Stew

1 pound boneless lamb or boneless beef chuck roast, well-trimmed and cut into ¾-inch pieces

4 cups lower-sodium beef broth

2 medium onions, cut into wedges

¼ teaspoon black pepper

1 bay leaf

4 medium potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters (about 1 ½ pounds)

6 medium carrots, cut into ½-inch slices

½ teaspoon dried thyme

¼ teaspoon dried basil

¼ cup all-purpose flour

Coarse salt to taste

In a large saucepan, combine meat, broth, onions, pepper and bay leaf. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 45 minutes; skim fat. Add potatoes, carrots, thyme and basil. Bring to boil; reduce heat. Cover and simmer 30 to 35 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Discard bay leaf.

In small bowl, stir together ½ cup cold water and flour. Add to stew. Cook and stir until thickened and bubbly. Season to taste with salt and additional pepper.

Makes 4 servings.

Citrus Lamb Chops

2 cloves garlic, chopped

1 tablespoon olive oil

4 loin lamb chops, ¾-inch thick

1 tablespoon butter

¼ cup minced shallots

5 ounces freshly squeezed orange juice

2 tablespoons dry white vermouth or unsalted chicken broth

1 orange, peeled and cut into sections

1 teaspoon dried Herbes de Provence

Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Heat broiler. In a small bowl, mix garlic and oil. Rub mixture evenly on both sides of chops. Broil 3 minutes per side for medium-rare.

Meanwhile, in a small skillet, melt butter on medium. Add shallots and cook 3 minutes. Stir in orange juice and vermouth or broth; bring to boil. Boil 10 seconds or until slightly reduced. Remove from heat. Stir in the oranges and Herbes de Provence. Return to heat briefly to warm the fruit. Season chops with salt and pepper to taste. Place each chop on dinner plate and spoon sauce over chop. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

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

Food on 03/11/2020

Print Headline: 7-day menu planner


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