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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | June 9, 2021 at 2:00 a.m.
French Country Beef Stew (Courtesy of Cattlemen’s Beef Board)

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

SUNDAY: You don't have to travel to France for French Country Beef Stew (see recipe). Serve the savory combination with green beans, a spinach salad and a baguette. For dessert, lemon sherbet is simple.

Plan ahead: Save enough stew and sherbet for Monday.

MONDAY: Heat the leftover stew and spoon it over egg noodles for a no-brainer dinner. Add a lettuce wedge and whole-grain bread. Scoop some leftover sherbet for dessert.

TUESDAY: Make this easy Mediterranean Wrap and forget about meat tonight. For each wrap: Place a burrito-size flour tortilla on flat surface. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup salad greens, ¼ cup halved cherry tomatoes, ¼ medium peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber, 2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives and 1 thin slice red onion; mix well and spread on tortilla. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons crumbled Greek feta cheese and 2 tablespoons light vinaigrette. Bring bottom of tortilla to top and fold sides over. Serve the vegetable combo with deli potato salad and hard-cooked egg wedges. Slice Asian pears for a crunchy dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Kids can have a spelling bee with Chicken Alphabet Soup With Peas (see recipe). Serve the fun soup with celery sticks stuffed with peanut butter. Add cheese toast. Slices of seedless baby watermelon make a slurpy dessert.

THURSDAY: Make a Barbecue Pizza for a quick meal: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spoon refrigerated barbecue shredded pork from a 20-ounce container onto a large, ready-to-heat pizza crust. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese and arrange 6 green bell pepper rings on top. Bake according to pizza crust directions. Serve with a packaged green salad and peaches.

Plan ahead: Save 1 cup shredded pork for Friday.

FRIDAY: Combine and heat 1 cup leftover shredded pork with 1 (15-ounce) can chili beans for Pork-Bean Burgers. Spoon onto toasted sesame seed buns. Top with dill pickle slices. Serve with oven potato wedges (from frozen) and a lettuce and tomato salad. Plums are dessert.

SATURDAY: Treat your guests to Sea Scallops With Pineapple Salsa. For the salsa: Combine 1 cup diced (small) fresh pineapple, ½ cup chopped red bell pepper, 2 tablespoons diced red onion, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, 1 tablespoon minced gingerroot and 1 tablespoon olive oil; mix well and season with coarse salt and pepper to taste. Chill at least one hour. For the scallops: Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Coat 1 pound sea scallops with cooking spray and then with coarse salt and pepper to taste. Add half the scallops to skillet; sear 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove from skillet and keep warm. Repeat with remaining scallops. Serve warm with salsa. Add Lemon Orzo With Peas and Mint (see recipe), a Boston lettuce salad and crusty rolls to your meal. Buy a coconut cake for dessert.


French Country Beef Stew

  • 2 ½ pounds beef for stew, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 package (about 1 ounce) dry vegetable soup mix
  • 1 pound baby red-skinned potatoes, cut into quarters
  • 8 ounces white mushrooms, halved
  • 1 pound asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in ¼ cup water
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper

In a stockpot, combine beef, 2 cups water and soup mix; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover tightly and simmer 1 ¾ to 2 ¼ hours or until beef is fork-tender. Add potatoes and mushrooms to stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in asparagus; continue cooking, covered, 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in cornstarch mixture; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 289 calories, 31 g protein, 10 g fat, 18 g carbohydrate, 88 mg cholesterol, 430 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1

■ ■ ■

Chicken Alphabet Soup With Peas

  • 1 ½ cups alphabet pasta
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 3 medium carrots, finely chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, finely chopped
  • 6 cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 1 ½ cups cooked chicken, chopped
  • ½ cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain and set aside. In a medium pan, melt the butter; add carrots and celery and cook on medium 7 to 10 minutes or until softened. Stir in broth, chicken, cooked pasta and peas; bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve warm.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 258 calories, 15 g protein, 5 g fat, 34 g carbohydrate, 31 mg cholesterol, 216 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.5

■ ■ ■

Lemon Orzo With Peas and Mint

  • 1 ½ cups orzo
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons grated lemon zest
  • 1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Stir in orzo and salt; cover, reduce heat to medium and cook 10 minutes. Add peas and cook 5 more minutes or until water is absorbed and pasta is tender. Add butter, lemon juice and lemon zest; stir to blend. Sprinkle with mint. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 209 calories, 7 g protein, 5 g fat, 35 g carbohydrate, 10 mg cholesterol, 381 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.5

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


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