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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | April 7, 2021 at 2:21 a.m.
Chicken Stir-Fry With Yellow Rice (Courtesy of Perdue)

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

SUNDAY: Make family day fuss-free with your own roast chicken. Serve it with Mashed Potatoes With Cauliflower. Boil 2 pounds peeled and halved Yukon Gold potatoes with 1 pound cauliflower florets until tender. Mash them together and season as you would regular mashed potatoes. Add green beans with sliced almonds and poppy seed muffins (from mix). Strawberry ice cream is a great dessert for family day.

Plan ahead: Save enough chicken and muffins for Monday and enough ice cream for Thursday.

MONDAY: Use the leftover cooked chicken (or packaged cooked chicken breast strips) for Chicken Stir-Fry With Yellow Rice (see recipe). Add mixed greens and whole-grain rolls. Pears are your dessert.

TUESDAY: Pinch a few pennies with Penne Pasta With Tuna (see recipe) for dinner tonight. Serve the economical dish with a spinach salad and garlic bread. Enjoy plums for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: The kids will go for Chicken Meatballs. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil. In a large bowl, mix together 1 pound ground chicken breast, 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, ¼ cup thinly sliced green onions, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and ¼ teaspoon coarse salt. Form into 32 balls; place on baking sheet. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Remove from oven. Toss with a little hot pepper sauce according to the children's' taste. Serve on wooden picks alongside the kids' favorite dip. Add oven fries, celery sticks and soft rolls. How about sliced kiwis for dessert?

Plan ahead: Save enough meatballs for Friday.

THURSDAY: You can't go wrong with Chunky Vegetable Chili (see recipe) for a no-meat winner. Serve it with grilled-cheese sandwiches and a lettuce wedge. Scoop leftover ice cream for dessert.

FRIDAY: Make it a quick meal tonight with Meatball Tacos. Quarter and heat the leftover meatballs. Spoon into warmed taco shells. Top with salsa, shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and sliced avocado. Serve with a packaged green salad. Add tropical fruit for a simple dessert.

SATURDAY: Treat the family to Pesto-Crusted Salmon. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil. Place 4 (4- to 6-ounce) salmon filets on baking sheet. Spoon 2 teaspoons pesto onto each filet. Top each with 1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs. Bake 10 to 15 minutes according to thickness, or until fish turns opaque. Serve with couscous, snow peas, a bibb lettuce salad and a baguette. For dessert, buy fruit tarts.


Chicken Stir-Fry With Yellow Rice

  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided use
  • 2 eggs, lightly beaten
  • 2 (9-ounce) packages cooked chicken breast strips (or leftover chicken)
  • ½ medium onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, peas and cut green beans), thawed
  • ¼ cup hoisin sauce
  • 4 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 (10-ounce) package yellow rice mix

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add eggs, swirling to coat pan in a thin layer. Cook 2 minutes without stirring until eggs are set. Using a spatula, transfer eggs to a plate; chop finely and set aside. Heat remaining oil in same skillet. Add chicken. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned on both sides. Add onion. Cook 3 minutes or until softened. Stir in vegetables, hoisin sauce, garlic and soy sauce. Continue cooking 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften. Add yellow rice mix and 2 cups water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, about 25 minutes or until the rice is tender and water is absorbed. Remove skillet from heat and gently stir reserved eggs into rice.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 384 calories, 34 g protein, 7 g fat, 45 g carbohydrate, 134 mg cholesterol, 826 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

■ ■ ■

Penne Pasta With Tuna

  • 12 ounces penne pasta
  • 2 (5- or 6-ounce) cans tuna in olive oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes
  • ½ cup pitted green olives, halved
  • 2 tablespoons capers, rinsed
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions.

Meanwhile, pour 2 teaspoons oil from tuna into a large skillet and heat on medium. Add garlic and cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, olives, capers and pepper; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in tuna. Drain pasta; return to pot. Add sauce and parsley to pasta; toss and serve.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 375 calories, 23 g protein, 8 g fat, 52 g carbohydrate, 30 mg cholesterol, 912 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.

■ ■ ■

Chunky Vegetable Chili

  • 5 medium carrots, chopped
  • 2 medium potatoes, diced
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon cumin
  • 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with liquid
  • 1 (14-ounce) can unsalted vegetable broth
  • 1 (15- to 19-ounce) can reduced-sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 1 (15- to 19-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed
  • 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 1 medium zucchini, cubed

Microwave the carrots, potatoes, onion and bell pepper 5 minutes on 100% power; drain. Add microwaved vegetables to a Dutch oven along with the chili powder, cumin, tomatoes with liquid, vegetable broth, garbanzo beans, black beans and tomato sauce. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes. Add zucchini; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Serve warm.

Makes 14 cups.

Nutrition information: Each cup contains approximately 111 calories, 5 g protein, 1 g fat, 22 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 158 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

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


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