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7-day menu planner

by Susan Nicholson | May 20, 2020 at 1:47 a.m.
Spinach and Artichoke Two-Potato Casserole (Courtesy of USA Potatoes)

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

SUNDAY: Present delicious Cinnamon-Pineapple Pork (see recipe) for today's family meal. Accompany it with brown rice. This Jicama-Orange Salad With Lime is just the right flavor to go alongside: Peel 1 medium jicama (about 1 pound), then halve and slice ¼ inch thick; cut slices in half diagonally. In a large bowl, toss jicama with 2 small cucumbers (peeled, halved, seeded and sliced), 3 oranges (peeled, halved, seeded and sliced), 8 radishes (thinly sliced) and 5 tablespoons fresh lime juice. Season to taste with coarse salt. Arrange on a serving platter and sprinkle with ½ to 1 teaspoon chile powder and a heaping ¼ cup chopped cilantro leaves. Serve with dinner rolls. For dessert, spoon fresh strawberries over vanilla ice cream.

Plan ahead: Buy enough strawberries and save half the salad for Monday; save enough ice cream for Monday and Saturday.

MONDAY: Treat the family to a Memorial Day celebration and serve Mesquite Beef Skewers. In a large resealable plastic bag, combine 2/3 cup mesquite marinade with lime juice (or another flavor) and 1 pound trimmed top sirloin steak cut into chunks; seal and turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes; remove steak and discard marinade. Meanwhile, core, seed and cut 1 green bell pepper into 1-inch pieces and cut 1 red onion into similar-size chunks. Alternately thread steak, bell pepper, onion and 16 whole fresh mushrooms on 8 (12-inch) skewers. Grill or broil 8 to 10 minutes, turning once and basting often with additional marinade. Serve with deli potato salad and leftover jicama salad. Add sourdough rolls. For dessert, get in the spirit of the day with Three-Berry Pie (see recipe) and top with leftover ice cream.

Plan ahead: Save beef from 2 skewers and enough pie for Tuesday.

TUESDAY: Make a steak salad tonight using leftover beef. Chop the meat into bite-size pieces and toss with a packaged green salad, 1 cup fresh sliced mushrooms, 2 hard-cooked eggs, ½ cup halved grape tomatoes and your favorite vinaigrette. Serve with crusty bread and leftover pie.

WEDNESDAY: Peppers and Pasta are on the menu tonight. Cook 12 ounces rotini pasta according to package directions; drain and reserve ¼ cup pasta water. Meanwhile, in a Dutch oven, heat 2 tablespoons olive oil on medium. Add 2 red, 2 orange and 2 yellow bell peppers (cut into thin strips), 1 medium onion (chopped), 1 cup shredded carrots, ½ teaspoon coarse salt and ½ teaspoon black pepper; cook vegetables, stirring several times, 20 minutes or until softened. Stir in 1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach leaves, 4 ounces crumbled Greek feta cheese and ¼ cup reserved hot pasta water; toss 1 or 2 minutes or until spinach is wilted. Add rotini to sauce and toss to coat. Serve immediately. Accompany the tricolored pepper combo with Dressy Cucumbers: In a large bowl, combine 3 cucumbers (peeled, seeded and sliced) and a heaping ¼ cup finely chopped onion; toss with 2 tablespoons vinaigrette. Add garlic bread. Serve cantaloupe wedges for dessert.

THURSDAY: The kids always come running for Chicken Fingers. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Cut 1 ½ pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts into wide strips. In a large bowl, beat together 2 egg whites, ¼ cup skim milk and ¼ teaspoon pepper; soak the chicken in the egg mixture 5 minutes. Open the corners of 2 (6-ounce) bags baked potato chips and crush chips with a rolling pin as finely as possible. Pour chips into a shallow baking dish and turn the chicken in the chips until well-coated. (Discard milk.) Place chicken on cookie sheet and bake 10 minutes; turn and bake 5 more minutes or until cooked through. Serve with ranch dressing or any other dipping sauce. Add mashed potatoes, green peas (from frozen) and whole-grain rolls for a pretty plate. For a drippy dessert, let the kids slurp on their favorite popsicles.

FRIDAY: Stretch a buck and make Sausage Gumbo for dinner. Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil in a large skillet on medium-high. Add 2 chopped green bell peppers and 1 chopped medium onion and cook 5 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in 1 ½ cups water, 1 cup long-grain rice, 1 teaspoon dried thyme and 1 teaspoon coarse salt. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in 1 (10-ounce) package frozen chopped kale (thawed), 1 (10-ounce) package frozen cut okra (thawed), 1 (14 ½-ounce) can chopped stewed tomatoes with liquid and 7 or 8 ounces kielbasa (sliced and halved). Return to simmer, cover and cook 10 more minutes or until rice is tender. Ladle into bowls and serve. Add a mixed green salad and crusty rolls. Serve pears for dessert.

SATURDAY: Enjoy your grilled chicken with the family. Serve it with Spinach and Artichoke Heart Two-Potato Casserole (see recipe). Add a Boston lettuce salad and whole-grain rolls. Serve an oxymoron for dessert: Snowballs in Summer. Scoop leftover vanilla ice cream into balls; roll in toasted sweetened flaked coconut. Store airtight in freezer. To serve, drizzle dessert plates with caramel syrup, add a snowball, and top each one with crushed chocolate chips.


Cinnamon-Pineapple Pork

1 pound pork tenderloin, cut into 8 crosswise pieces

¼ teaspoon coarse salt

2 tablespoons butter, divided use

1 medium red bell pepper, julienned

1 (8-ounce) can pineapple chunks in natural juice, with liquid

½ cup dry white wine

1 tablespoon peeled and finely chopped fresh ginger

1 tablespoon minced fresh jalapeno

Generous pinch ground cinnamon

1 tablespoon chopped cilantro

Sprinkle each pork piece with salt; press each piece to 1-inch thickness with the heel of your hand. Heat 1 tablespoon of butter in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add pork; cook 2 to 4 minutes per side or until internal temperature is 145 degrees; let stand 3 minutes. Place on serving platter; keep warm. To same skillet, add remaining butter and bell pepper; cook 3 minutes or until softened. Reduce heat to low. Stir in pineapple and juice, wine, ginger, jalapeno pepper and cinnamon; simmer until liquid is reduced to ¼ cup. Spoon mixture over cooked pork; sprinkle with cilantro.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 223 calories, 22 g protein, 9 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, 75 mg cholesterol, 224 mg sodium and 1 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0.5.

Three Berry Pie

1 (2-crust) package refrigerated pie crusts, softened

1 ¼ cups PLUS 2 teaspoons sugar, divided use

5 tablespoons cornstarch

2 tablespoons quick-cooking tapioca

¼ teaspoon fine table salt

3 cups fresh or frozen blackberries, thawed and drained

2 cups fresh or frozen raspberries, thawed and drained

2 cups fresh or frozen blueberries, thawed and drained

1 tablespoon any milk

Place large foil-lined cookie sheet on lower oven rack to catch possible spills. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Make crusts as directed for 2-crust pie, using 9-inch pie plate.

In a large bowl, stir together 1 ¼ cups sugar, cornstarch, tapioca and salt; add all berries and toss gently. Let stand 15 minutes. Spoon into crust-lined plate.

Cut second crust into ½-inch-wide strips. Arrange in lattice design over filling. Trim; seal edges. Brush lattice with milk; sprinkle with remaining sugar. Place pie on middle rack (above rack with cookie sheet); bake 15 minutes. Reduce heat to 375 degrees. Cover crust edge with strips of foil to prevent over-browning; bake 40 to 45 more minutes or until crust is golden and filling is bubbly. Cool at least 2 hours before serving.

Makes 10 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 346 calories, 3 g protein, 12 g fat, 62 g carbohydrate, 5 mg cholesterol, 281 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 4.

Spinach and Artichoke Heart Two-Potato Casserole

1 pound red potatoes, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced

1 pound yellow potatoes, halved lengthwise, thinly sliced

1 ¼ cup unsalted chicken broth

½ cup shredded parmesan cheese

½ teaspoon garlic powder

4 ounces cream cheese

½ cup shredded cheddar cheese

1 (7 ½-ounce) jar marinated artichoke hearts, drained and chopped

1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach, coarsely chopped

½ cup sliced green onions

Heat oven to 425 degrees; coat a 9-inch square baking dish with cooking spray.

Place potatoes in large bowl; set aside.

In a medium saucepan, heat broth, parmesan, garlic powder, cheeses and artichoke hearts on medium until cheeses are melted. Stir in spinach; cook until wilted. Stir mixture and green onions into potatoes, mixing well to coat potatoes as evenly as possible. Spread into prepared pan and bake 30 minutes, uncovered. Reduce heat to 375 degrees; cover loosely with foil and cook 1 more hour or until potatoes are tender when pierced with a fork.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced-fat cheeses) contains approximately 184 calories, 8 g protein, 8 g fat, 22 g carbohydrate, 18 mg cholesterol, 323 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.5.

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

Food on 05/20/2020

Print Headline: 7day menu planner


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