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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | February 17, 2021 at 1:53 a.m.
Skillet Shrimp With Tomatoes and Feta (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt/Linda Xiao)

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

SUNDAY: For family day, serve your own roasted turkey breast and gravy along with Apple Cinnamon Rice (see recipe) and green peas (frozen). Add a mixed green salad and crusty bread. For dessert, angel food cake and chocolate ice cream are a perfect pair.

Plan ahead: Save enough turkey and cake for Monday and enough turkey and ice cream for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Turkey Corn Chowder makes good use of leftover turkey. In a saucepan, heat together 2 (10 ¾-ounce) cans condensed cream of potato soup, 2 soup cans milk, 1 (11-ounce) can corn (rinsed), 1 ½ cups chopped cooked turkey and ½ teaspoon dried tarragon over medium heat. Ladle into bowls. Add a spinach salad with red onion rings on the side and sesame bread sticks. Serve leftover cake with sliced peaches for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough peaches for Wednesday.

TUESDAY: For a quick meal, Black Beans and Rice fits the bill. In a large skillet, heat 1 tablespoon canola oil on medium-high. Add 1 (10-ounce) package refrigerated chopped onions and cook about 4 minutes or until softened; drain. Add 1 cup quick rice and 1 cup water; bring to a boil. Cover, remove from heat and let stand 5 minutes. Return to low heat and add 1 (1.31-ounce) package sloppy Joe seasoning mix and 1 (15-ounce) can black beans (rinsed). Cook until hot. Stir in some (leftover) chopped cooked turkey and serve. Add a packaged Caesar salad and warmed corn tortillas. Leftover ice cream is good for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Italian Pot Roast With Red Wine Sauce (see recipe) is easy on the budget and packed with flavor. Serve with mixed greens and whole-grain rolls. Leftover peaches are a simple dessert.

THURSDAY: The kids will learn their letters with Alphabet Bean Soup. Add canned black beans (rinsed) to canned alphabet soup for extra fiber. Prepare according to soup can directions. Serve with peanut butter sandwiches on whole-grain bread. (Don't forget to cut off the crusts.) How about celery sticks with some dip to munch on, too? For dessert, enjoy animal cookies, of course!

FRIDAY: Try no-meat but "meaty" Mushroom Chili. Mix together 3 (8-ounce) packages sliced crimini mushrooms, 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans (rinsed), 2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce, 1 ½ cups hot water and 1 (1.25-ounce) package chili seasoning mix. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to low and simmer 15 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until mushrooms are tender and flavors are blended. Serve with a lettuce wedge with sliced hard-cooked eggs and cornbread. Slice some kiwis for dessert.

SATURDAY: Skillet Shrimp With Tomatoes and Feta (see recipe) will delight your family. Add a romaine salad and French bread to round out the meal. Buy fruit tarts for dessert.


Apple Cinnamon Rice

  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 medium apples, unpeeled, cored and chopped
  • 1 cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • ½ cup sliced celery
  • 3 cups cooked brown rice (cooked in equal parts water and apple juice)
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt

In a large skillet, heat butter and cinnamon on medium-high until butter is melted. Add apples, walnuts, onion and celery; cook 12 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Stir in cooked rice, salt and ¼ cup water. Heat through and serve.

Makes 10 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 175 calories, 4 g protein, 9 g fat, 21 g carbohydrate, 3 mg cholesterol, 114 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.5.

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Italian Pot Roast With Red Wine Sauce

  • 1 ½ pounds medium red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ½ pound baby carrots
  • 1 large onion, thickly sliced, separated into rings, divided use
  • 2 (0.87- to 1.2-ounce) packages brown gravy mix
  • 1 ½ tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 ½ teaspoons Italian seasoning
  • ½ teaspoon celery salt
  • 2 to 2 ½ pounds lean boneless beef chuck roast, well-trimmed
  • ½ cup dry red wine or unsalted beef broth
  • 1 tablespoon dried parsley flakes

In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, place potatoes, carrots and half the onion slices. Combine gravy mix, flour, Italian seasoning and celery salt in a small bowl. Sprinkle half of mixture over beef. Turn beef and sprinkle with remaining seasoning mixture; cut beef into 8 to 10 chunks. Place in cooker and top with remaining onion slices. Combine ½ cup water and the wine or broth and pour over all. Cover and cook on low for 8 hours or until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are tender. Add parsley flakes; stir. Remove beef and vegetables to serving platter. Spoon some sauce over all. Serve remaining sauce on the side.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 338 calories, 33 g protein, 7 g fat, 31 g carbohydrate, 58 mg cholesterol, 566 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.

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Skillet Shrimp With Tomatoes and Feta

  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
  • 2 pints grape tomatoes, halved (about 3 cups)
  • 1 (14 ½-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ pounds frozen medium shrimp, thawed, peeled and tails removed
  • 1 (8-ounce) block Greek feta cheese
  • Generous ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In a large skillet over medium heat, heat oil for 1 minute. Add garlic and crushed red pepper and cook, stirring frequently, for 30 seconds. Add tomatoes, oregano, salt and black pepper. Increase heat to medium-high and cook, stirring frequently, for 2 minutes to bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium and push down on grape tomatoes with the spoon to break them open further. Add shrimp and stir. With the spoon, clear an area in center of sauce and add feta. Cook, stirring shrimp a few times carefully around the feta (to keep cheese block intact), 5 to 6 minutes or until shrimp are cooked through and have just turned pink. Remove skillet from heat; break up feta with a serving spoon. Top with the parsley and serve. (Adapted from "Easy Everyday Mediterranean Diet Cookbook" by Serena Ball RD & Deanna-Segrave-Daly RD, Houghton Mifflin Harcourt)

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 264 calories, 23 g protein, 14 g fat, 12 g carbohydrate, 177 mg cholesterol, 776 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.

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


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