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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | July 7, 2021 at 1:47 a.m.
Chicken BLT Salad (Courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen)

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

SUNDAY: Buy a spiral-sliced ham for family day and accompany it with deli potato salad. Add delicious Green Beans With Feta alongside: In a large serving bowl, place 1 pound just-cooked and drained green beans. Add 2 tablespoons olive oil, 2 tablespoons chopped red onion, 1 tablespoon tarragon vinegar, ¼ teaspoon coarse salt, ¼ teaspoon pepper and 1 clove garlic (minced). Toss to coat. Garnish with ½ cup crumbled Greek feta cheese. Serve the beans warm with whole-grain rolls. For dessert, spoon raspberries over sliced pound cake and garnish the combo with light whipped cream.

Plan ahead: Save enough ham and green beans for Monday; save enough cake for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Use some of the leftover ham for always popular Grilled Ham and Cheese Sandwiches on rye bread. Serve with the leftover green beans. Keep dessert light with chunky applesauce.

Plan ahead: Save enough bread for Thursday.

TUESDAY: Instead of a sandwich, try this delicious Chicken BLT Salad (see recipe). Baked chips and some sliced pickles are perfect accompaniments. Drizzle chocolate sauce over the leftover cake for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Make Tuna Stuffed Tomatoes with deli tuna salad; spoon it into hollowed ripe tomatoes and garnish with paprika for a pretty entree. Serve it on lettuce and add deli coleslaw and crusty rolls on the side. Sliced mangoes are an easy dessert.

THURSDAY: Try these Vegetarian Reuben Sandwiches (see recipe) on the leftover rye for a no-meat meal. Garnish the plate with mixed fresh fruit. Serve with dill pickles and deli (or your own) broccoli salad. For dessert, enjoy blueberries.

FRIDAY: Make Peachy Mustard Chicken Fingers for the kids tonight. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Combine ¼ cup mayonnaise, 2 teaspoons Dijon mustard and 2 teaspoons peach all-fruit spread; stir until blended. Coat 1 pound chicken fingers in mixture; roll coated chicken in 2/3 cup panko breadcrumbs. Place on foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake 10 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees. Serve with frozen oven fries and cherry tomatoes. A slurpy slice of watermelon is a kid-friendly dessert.

SATURDAY: We enjoyed this Glazed Salmon (see recipe), and you and your guests will, too. Serve it with brown rice tossed with toasted walnuts. Add Roasted Sesame Balsamic Asparagus: Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread 2 teaspoons sesame oil in a foil-lined baking pan. Trim 1 pound fresh asparagus and roll in oil. Arrange in a single layer and sprinkle with 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seeds. Roast 10 minutes or until tender-crisp. Meanwhile, in a small bowl, combine 2 teaspoons balsamic vinegar, 2 teaspoons sugar, 2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce and 1/8 teaspoon crushed red pepper. Remove asparagus from oven; place on serving platter and drizzle with soy sauce mixture. Add sourdough bread. For dessert, buy a cheesecake.

Tip: You can buy toasted sesame seeds in the spice section, or toast them yourself in a small skillet on medium for 2 minutes or until fragrant. Immediately remove from skillet to avoid over-toasting.


Chicken BLT Salad

  • ¾ cup mayonnaise, divided use
  • 4 (1-inch) slices Italian bread
  • 1 pound bacon, chopped
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
  • 1 ½ pounds cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 2 romaine lettuce hearts (12 ounces), torn into bite-size pieces
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oven to 475 degrees.

Spread ¼ cup mayonnaise over both sides of bread and lay on baking sheet. Bake 8 to 10 minutes or until golden, flipping halfway through. Let cool 5 minutes; then cut into 1-inch croutons.

Meanwhile, cook bacon in 12-inch skillet on medium-high 5 to 7 minutes or until crisp. Transfer bacon to paper-towel-lined plate and pour off all but 1 tablespoon fat. Pat chicken dry with paper towels; sprinkle with salt and pepper.

Heat fat in skillet on medium-high until just smoking. Cook chicken 4 to 6 minutes, stirring often, until browned on all sides; transfer to plate. Whisk remaining mayonnaise and vinegar together in serving bowl. Add tomatoes, lettuce, croutons, bacon and chicken and toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste and serve. (Adapted from "The Chicken Bible," American's Test Kitchen.)

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with low-fat mayonnaise) contains approximately 563 calories, 43 g protein, 27 g fat, 38 g carbohydrate, 117 mg cholesterol, 1,515 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.5

■ ■ ■

Vegetarian Reuben Sandwiches

  • 1 cup sliced onion
  • 8 slices rye bread
  • ¼ cup Thousand Island dressing
  • 8 strips (about 2 inches by 1 inch) roasted red pepper from jar, drained
  • ½ cup sauerkraut, rinsed and drained
  • 4 slices Swiss cheese

Heat a large nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray on medium. Add onion; cook 3 to 5 minutes, stirring frequently, until softened. Remove onion from skillet. Spread 4 bread slices with dressing. Top each with ¼ of the onion, 2 strips pepper, 2 tablespoons sauerkraut and 1 cheese slice. Top with remaining bread slices. Heat same skillet over medium-low heat. In batches, coat outsides of sandwiches with cooking spray and place in skillet. Cook 4 to 5 minutes, turning after 2 minutes until cheese is melted and bread is toasted.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with low-fat dressing) contains approximately 241 calories, 12 g protein, 4 g fat, 39 g carbohydrate, 4 mg cholesterol, 820 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.5

■ ■ ■

Glazed Salmon

  • 3 tablespoons honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 4 (6-ounce) salmon filets

In a small bowl, whisk together honey, soy sauce, lime juice and mustard. Marinate salmon in a large resealable bag in refrigerator 2 hours. Remove salmon; reserve marinade.

Coat a nonstick skillet coated with cooking spray. Cook salmon, skin side down, 3 minutes. Turn, remove skin and cook 3 to 4 more minutes (according to thickness). Transfer salmon to platter; cover with foil. Add reserved marinade to skillet; boil 1 minute. Add salmon to skillet; heat through. Serve salmon with sauce.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 284 calories, 36 g protein, 8 g fat, 15 g carbohydrate, 80 mg cholesterol, 398 mg sodium and no 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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