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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | December 8, 2021 at 2:11 a.m.
Broccoli and Goat Cheese Frittata (Courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen)

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

SUNDAY: Perk up family day with Spicy Pork Tenderloin With Green Beans (see recipe). Serve the combo with roasted potatoes, a romaine salad and sourdough bread. Buy a lemon pie for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough pie and prepare an extra pork tenderloin for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Prepare this economical Chili for tonight: In a large nonstick skillet, cook 1 ½ pounds lean ground beef, 1 onion (chopped), 1 small red bell pepper (chopped) and 2 cloves garlic (minced) on medium heat 8 minutes or until beef is no longer pink; drain. Spoon into a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Stir in 2 (16-ounce) cans red kidney beans (rinsed), 2 (14.5-ounce) cans no-salt-added diced tomatoes (with liquid), 2 tablespoons chili powder, ¼ teaspoon coarse salt, ½ teaspoon black pepper and 1 teaspoon cumin. Cook on low 4 to 5 hours. Serve over brown rice. Add a lettuce wedge and cornbread. Enjoy blueberries for dessert.

TUESDAY: Heat and slice the leftover pork tenderloin along with your favorite barbecue sauce and spoon it into whole-grain tortillas. Wrap and garnish with sour cream. Serve with canned pinto beans and sliced avocado on lettuce. Slice the leftover pie for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Call it a funny name like Spaghetti With Orange and Green Stripes, and the kids will like it. Cook 1 pound spaghetti according to package directions. Cut 1 pound zucchini and 1 pound carrots into ribbons (see tip) and add to pot 1 minute before pasta is done. Drain, reserving 1 cup pasta water. Melt 3 tablespoons butter in same pot. Add 1 clove minced garlic; cook 30 seconds. Remove from heat. Return pasta and vegetables to pot. Add 1 teaspoon lemon zest, 1 teaspoon lemon juice, ¼ teaspoon coarse salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper; toss. Add reserved water as necessary. Serve with cherry tomato halves, dip and bread sticks. Peaches are a simple dessert.

Tip: Use a vegetable peeler to make the vegetable ribbons.

THURSDAY: For an easy meal, look for packaged spices with a recipe card, such as McCormick's Recipe Inspirations. We liked the chicken marsala, but other flavors are good, too. Alongside, try mashed sweet potatoes (from frozen or instant prepared as directed on package), a green salad and whole-grain bread. Buy tapioca pudding for a sweet treat.

FRIDAY: You won't miss meat with Broccoli and Goat Cheese Frittata (see recipe) tonight. Serve it with a mixed green salad and whole-grain rolls. Strawberry ice cream is an easy dessert.

SATURDAY: For an elegant meal, enjoy Filet of Sole With White Grape and Chardonnay Sauce (see recipe). Serve it with rice, green beans and a baguette. For dessert, citrus sorbet and butter cookies are perfect.


Spicy Pork Tenderloin With Green Beans

  • 2 tablespoons stir-fry sauce
  • 2 tablespoons spicy barbecue sauce
  • 2 tablespoons honey
  • 1 (1- to 1 ¼-pound) pork tenderloin
  • 3 cups fresh or frozen green beans, thawed
  • ¼ cup sliced almonds

Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed shallow roasting pan with nonstick foil.

In small bowl, mix stir-fry sauce, barbecue sauce and honey until well-blended. Place pork in pan, tucking under small end. Brush pork with sauce. Bake 10 minutes; remove from oven. Arrange green beans around pork; drizzle with any remaining sauce. Sprinkle beans with almonds. Bake 10 to 15 minutes more, brushing pork occasionally with drippings. Remove from oven when internal temperature reaches 145 degrees; tent pork with foil. Let stand 5 minutes. Serve pork with green beans.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 235 calories, 27 g protein, 6 g fat, 20 g carbohydrate, 74 mg cholesterol, 234 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1 ½

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Broccoli and Goat Cheese Frittata

  • 12 large eggs
  • ¼ cup whole milk
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, divided use
  • 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
  • 12 ounces broccoli florets, cut into ½-inch pieces
  • ½ teaspoon grated lemon zest
  • ½ teaspoon fresh lemon juice
  • 4 ounces (1 cup) crumbled herbed goat cheese

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs, milk and ¼ teaspoon coarse salt until combined.

Heat olive oil in a 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet on medium-high until shimmering. Add broccoli and ¼ teaspoon salt; cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring frequently until broccoli is crisp-tender and spotty brown. Add 3 tablespoons water, the lemon zest and juice; cook 1 minute, stirring constantly, until broccoli is just tender and skillet is dry. Add goat cheese and egg mixture to skillet; cook 30 seconds, using rubber spatula to stir and scrape bottom of skillet, until large curds form and spatula leaves a trail through eggs but eggs are still very wet. Transfer skillet to oven and bake frittata 6 to 9 minutes, or until frittata is slightly puffy and surface bounces back when lightly pressed. Using rubber spatula, loosen frittata from skillet and transfer to cutting board. Let rest 5 minutes; slice and serve. (Adapted from "Five-Ingredient Dinners" from America's Test Kitchen)

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each of 4 servings contains approximately 359 calories, 27 g protein, 26 g fat, 7 g carbohydrate, 590 mg cholesterol, 594 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choice: ½

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Filet of Sole With White Grape and Chardonnay Sauce

  • 1 leek, trimmed and thoroughly rinsed
  • 10 ounces white (green) grapes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons butter, divided use
  • 1 ½ teaspoons sugar
  • ¾ cup chardonnay wine
  • ¾ cup half-and-half
  • Chopped fresh dill to taste
  • 4 (4- to 6-ounce) sole filets (or flounder or tilapia)

Dice white part of leek into small cubes; peel and quarter grapes; set aside.

In a large nonstick skillet, heat 1 tablespoon oil and 1 tablespoon butter on medium. Add leek and sugar; cook 4 minutes or until browned. Stir in wine. Bring to a boil; simmer 10 minutes to reduce liquid. Stir in half-and-half, grapes and dill to taste. Meanwhile, in another nonstick skillet, heat remaining oil and butter on medium. Add fish filets; cook 1 minute on each side or until browned. Serve the fish with the sauce.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 344 calories, 16 g protein, 20 g fat, 20 g carbohydrate, 82 mg cholesterol, 417 mg sodium and 1 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1 ½

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


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