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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | July 21, 2021 at 1:54 a.m.
Simple Tomato Salad (Courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen)

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

SUNDAY: Use your favorite recipe to make grilled pork chops for family day. Serve them with roasted red potatoes and this delicious Simple Tomato Salad (see recipe). Add whole-grain rolls. For dessert, top angel food cake with strawberry ice cream.

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

MONDAY: Pasta Pesto Salad (see recipe) is just right for an easy, no-meat, summer dinner. Serve it with a spinach salad with hard-cooked egg slices and garlic bread. Leftover cake with hot fudge sauce is your dessert.

TUESDAY: Here's a perfect time to use some more of those garden-fresh tomatoes for Grilled Cheese and Tomato Sandwiches. Use brie cheese and sourdough bread for a change. Buy or make white bean soup to go with the sandwiches. Leftover ice cream is a cool dessert.

WEDNESDAY: It's easy and tastes great, so why not enjoy Mexican Chicken (see recipe) tonight? Serve with brown rice, guacamole and warm corn tortillas. How about a fresh peach for dessert?

Plan ahead: Save some brown rice for Friday.

THURSDAY: Treat the kids to Turkey Roll-Ups. For each serving: Spread 1 tablespoon Thousand Island dressing on a multigrain wrap flatbread; layer with 2 ounces deli sliced turkey, 2/3 cup shredded lettuce and 2 thin slices tomato. Roll; place seam side down on a cutting board and slice on the diagonal. Serve with baked chips and petite green peas. Kiwis are a fun dessert.

Plan ahead: Save some peas for Friday.

FRIDAY: For a quick dinner, try Stuffed Tomatoes: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Hollow out large tomatoes and fill with a mixture of leftover brown rice, finely chopped red onion, leftover green peas, crumbled feta cheese and chopped parsley (all ingredients to taste). Drizzle with canola oil and bake 20 to 30 minutes or until heated through. If you don't want to heat your oven, cover the tomatoes with waxed paper and microwave 1 to 2 minutes per tomato on high. (Start with 1 minute per tomato.) Serve with a packaged Caesar salad and whole-grain rolls. Make instant vanilla pudding for dessert.

SATURDAY: Invite vaccinated friends for Parmesan Herb-Crusted Flounder: Heat oven to 450 degrees. Mix 1/3 cup sliced almonds, ¼ cup plain panko breadcrumbs, 3 tablespoons parmesan herb seasoning blend and ½ teaspoon paprika in a shallow dish. Brush 4 (4- to 6-ounce) flounder filets with olive oil. Coat evenly with almond mixture. Place fish on nonstick foil-lined shallow baking pan. Bake 10 to 12 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout. Serve with o'brien potatoes, asparagus, a bibb salad and a baguette. Buy a carrot cake for dessert.

Tip: Substitute tilapia or red snapper for the flounder, if desired.

THE RECIPES

Simple Tomato Salad

  • 1 ½ pounds mixed ripe tomatoes, cored and sliced ¼ inch thick
  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced shallot
  • 1 teaspoon lemon juice
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts
  • 1 tablespoon fresh basil leaves

Arrange tomatoes on large, shallow platter.

Whisk oil, shallot, lemon juice, salt and pepper together in a bowl. Spoon dressing over tomatoes. Sprinkle with pine nuts and basil. Serve immediately. (Adapted from "The Complete Summer Cookbook," America's Test Kitchen.)

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 142 calories, 3 g protein, 12 g fat, 8 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 300 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0.5

■ ■ ■

Pasta Pesto Salad

  • 6 ounces rotini pasta
  • ½ cup toasted walnut pieces
  • ½ cup coarsely chopped fresh basil
  • 1 cup chopped ripe tomatoes or halved cherry tomatoes
  • 1 6-ounce jar quartered artichokes, rinsed and drained
  • 1/3 cup prepared pesto
  • 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions; rinse and drain.

In a large serving bowl, combine walnuts, basil, tomatoes and artichokes. Stir in pasta. Add pesto and cheese and toss to cover and mix. Refrigerate until serving time.

Makes about 6 1/2 cups.

Nutrition information: Each cup contains approximately 237 calories, 7 g protein, 13 g fat, 26 g carbohydrate, 5 mg cholesterol, 215 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.5

■ ■ ■

Mexican Chicken

  • 4 (4- to 6-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • 3/4 cup drained salsa
  • 3/4 cup shredded cheddar cheese

Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Flatten chicken to an even thickness. Rub chicken with garlic, salt, pepper and cumin.

Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium high. Cook chicken 3 or 4 minutes per side or until browned. Transfer chicken to a shallow, rimmed nonstick foil-lined baking pan. Divide salsa and top each breast. Divide cheese and sprinkle over salsa. Bake 15 minutes or until cheese is melted and internal temperature of chicken reaches 165 degrees.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 200 calories, 30 g protein, 6 g fat, 4 g carbohydrate, 84 mg cholesterol, 578 mg sodium and no fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: susan@7daymenu.com

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