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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | January 6, 2021 at 1:58 a.m.
Farro With Pesto, Tomatoes and Pecans (Courtesy of American Pecans)

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

SUNDAY: This simple Lemon Roast Chicken is just right for family day. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Squeeze the juice of half a lemon over a 4 ½- to 5-pound chicken; put rind in cavity. Place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Brush chicken with canola oil and sprinkle with coarse salt and dried thyme. Roast 1 ½ to 2 hours or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Remove from oven; let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Serve the juicy bird with your own mashed potatoes and gravy. Add fresh steamed brussels sprouts topped with crumbled bacon and a romaine salad on the side. Don't forget the dinner rolls. For dessert, chocolate ice cream is easy.

Plan ahead: Save enough chicken for Monday. Make 2 extra cups mashed potatoes and save enough ice cream for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Use that leftover chicken in Chicken and Chive Fettuccine (see recipe). Serve with a lettuce wedge with crumbled blue cheese along with bread sticks. For dessert, peaches are just fine.

TUESDAY: Salmon is delicious any way it's prepared, so this Salmon Chowder fits the bill. Cook 1 (10-ounce) package frozen Corn in Butter Sauce according to package directions. In a large bowl, combine the cooked corn, 1 (14 ¾-ounce) can drained salmon, 2 cups leftover mashed potatoes, 1 cup milk and ½ cup chopped red bell pepper. Microwave on 100% power for 3 or 4 minutes or until hot. Mix well; stir in 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice. Ladle into bowls and garnish with chopped fresh parsley. Serve with a deli carrot salad and crackers. For dessert, leftover ice cream is waiting.

WEDNESDAY: Give yourself a break and pick up some packaged barbecued beef for dinner tonight. Heat it and serve on toasted whole-grain sandwich buns. Top with sliced dill pickles. Stop by the deli for coleslaw. For dessert, make instant vanilla pudding and swirl in a little honey.

Plan ahead: Save enough barbecue for Thursday.

THURSDAY: Transform yesterday's barbecue into Barbecue Tacos. Heat and spoon the leftover meat into warmed taco shells. Add salsa, chopped lettuce and shredded cheddar cheese. The tacos go well with heated canned refried beans. For dessert, halve some kiwis and eat them with a spoon.

FRIDAY: Keep it simple tonight with open-face Broiled Pepper Jack Cheese and Roasted Red Pepper Sandwiches. Heat broiler. Drain red peppers (from a jar) on paper towels before placing on rye bread. Top with cheese slices. Broil until cheese melts. Serve with deli or canned vegetarian vegetable soup. Pears are dessert.

SATURDAY: This Shrimp Scampi (see recipe) couldn't be any easier to prepare for the family. Serve with angel hair pasta. On the side, Farro With Pesto, Tomatoes and Pecans is a special treat (see recipe). Add sourdough bread. For dessert, cheesecake with blueberries is always special.


Chicken and Chive Fettuccine

  • 8 ounces spinach-flavored or other fettuccine
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped cooked chicken
  • 1 cup halved grape tomatoes
  • 3 ounces chive-and-onion cream cheese, softened
  • 1 tablespoon Italian seasoning

Cook fettuccine according to package directions; reserve 1/3 cup of cooking liquid and drain fettuccine.

In pasta pot, heat oil on low. Add cooked fettuccine and toss with oil. Add chicken, tomatoes, cream cheese, Italian seasoning and reserved cooking liquid. Stir until cream cheese is melted. Serve immediately.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 373 calories, 20 g protein, 13 g fat, 44 g carbohydrate, 50 mg cholesterol, 144 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3.

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Shrimp Scampi

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 pound large shrimp, shelled and deveined with tails intact
  • 2 cloves garlic, pressed
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley leaves
  • Lemon wedges

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add shrimp, garlic, red pepper and salt. Cook 3 minutes or just until shrimp turn opaque throughout, stirring frequently. Sprinkle with chopped parsley; serve with lemon wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 130 calories, 23 g protein, 4 g fat, 1 g carbohydrate, 183 mg cholesterol, 258 mg sodium and no fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0.

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Farro With Pesto, Tomatoes and Pecans

  • ½ cup pecan halves
  • 1 cup farro, rinsed
  • 1/3 cup prepared basil pesto
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup drained, water-packed artichoke hearts
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, quartered
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • Ground black pepper to taste

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Scatter pecans on baking sheet; bake 8 minutes or until fragrant. Let cool enough to handle, then chop coarsely.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan combine farro and 3 cups water. Bring to a boil, stir, then reduce heat to low and simmer 20 minutes or until grains are tender but chewy. Drain excess water and fluff with fork. Transfer to a large bowl; cool slightly. Stir in pesto and stir to coat. Stir in parmesan, artichokes, tomatoes and pecans. Season to taste with salt and pepper.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 293 calories, 11 g protein, 15 g fat, 29 g carbohydrate, 9 mg cholesterol, 414 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.

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


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