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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | June 23, 2021 at 1:50 a.m.
BLTP Sandwich (HMH/Robert Bredvad)

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

SUNDAY: For family day, grill pork chops your way.This Summer Potato Salad is a great accompaniment: Gently toss together cooked, quartered small red potatoes with cooked tiny green peas, refrigerated/prepared pesto and lemon juice. Sprinkle with crumbled cooked bacon. Add tomato wedges, deviled eggs and whole-grain bread. Finish with blackberry cobbler.

Plan ahead: Save enough cobbler for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Chicken Stuffed Potatoes (see recipe) are easy on the food budget and the cook. Serve the spuds with a spinach salad and bread sticks. Enjoy cherries for dessert.

Plan ahead: Bake extra potatoes and save some of the chicken mixture for Tuesday.

TUESDAY: Tonight's Chicken Wraps are easy. Heat the leftover chicken and spoon onto each of 4 warm flour tortillas. Fold ends and sides of each tortilla; garnish with sour cream and chopped chives. Cut the leftover baked potatoes into wedges. Coat with cooking spray and a little chile powder and bake in a 425-degree oven until hot. Add fresh steamed zucchini. For dessert, heat the leftover cobbler and top it with vanilla ice cream.

Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Saturday.

WEDNESDAY: For all the sandwich lovers, this BLTP Sandwich (see recipe) is sure to please. Serve with chips. How about blueberries for dessert?

THURSDAY: Kids will love Stovetop Penne Pasta, and so will you. Cook 12 ounces penne pasta according to package directions; add 1 (12-ounce) package fresh broccoli florets the last 4 minutes of cooking. Mix 1 (26-ounce) jar marinara sauce and ½ cup (of 1 cup total) part-skim ricotta cheese in a large pan; cook on medium-low until hot. Drain pasta and broccoli; return to pot. Add sauce mixture to pasta and mix well. Immediately add 4 ounces diced part-skim mozzarella, 3 tablespoons fresh chopped parsley and ¼ cup freshly grated parmesan. Stir until mozzarella melts. Transfer to serving bowl; sprinkle with more chopped parsley and more parmesan. Top with dollops of remaining ½ cup plain ricotta. Serve with carrot salad and soft rolls. Popsicles are a cool dessert.

FRIDAY: Make Peppery Egg Heroes for a quick no-meat meal. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet on medium. Add 1 large sweet onion (chopped) and cook, covered, 8 minutes or until lightly browned, stirring occasionally. Meanwhile, in a bowl, whisk together 8 eggs, ¼ teaspoon coarse salt and ¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper. Add 1 red bell pepper (chopped) to onion in skillet. Pour eggs over vegetables; cover and cook 8 minutes or until almost set, stirring occasionally. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded provolone cheese; cover and cook 2 minutes or until cheese melts. Spoon mixture into 4 split hero or sandwich rolls. Serve with corn on the cob and a lettuce wedge. Slice honeydew melon for dessert.

SATURDAY: Greek-Style Shrimp With Cannellini Beans (see recipe) is perfect for guests. Serve it with mixed greens and a baguette. Baked Bananas make an excellent finish to a wonderful meal: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Cut 4 medium bananas crosswise in half; cut each half lengthwise in half. Place cut sides up in a 9-inch square baking dish. Combine 2 tablespoons melted butter, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice and ½ teaspoon allspice; brush mixture over bananas. Sprinkle with 1/3 cup packed brown sugar. Bake, uncovered, 15 minutes or until bananas are hot. Spoon into dessert dishes. Top with vanilla ice cream.


Chicken Stuffed Potatoes

  • 4 baking potatoes (6 to 8 ounces each)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 bunch green onions, sliced, ¼ cup dark green tops reserved
  • 1 teaspoon fennel seeds
  • 1 pound ground chicken breast
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 teaspoons Sriracha or other hot sauce
  • ½ cup sour cream

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Pierce and microwave potatoes on folded paper towels 5 minutes per pound total weight.

Place potatoes in oven (to crisp skins) and bake 5 to 8 minutes or until potatoes are tender. Remove from oven.

Meanwhile, in a large skillet, heat oil. Add onion and fennel seeds and cook 2 minutes, stirring frequently. Add chicken, red pepper and sauce. Cook 8 minutes or until chicken is no longer pink throughout; stir occasionally. To assemble: Split each potato and fill with chicken mixture. Top with sour cream; garnish with sliced green onion tops.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (with reduced-fat sour cream) contains approximately 375 calories, 30 g protein, 10 g fat, 39 g carbohydrate, 88 mg cholesterol, 220 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.5

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BLTP sandwich

  • 4 ounces Neufchatel cream cheese, room temperature
  • 2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese
  • ¼ cup mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons diced pimento peppers (from jar)
  • Coarse salt and black pepper
  • 8 slices toasted brioche
  • 1 heart of romaine, halved, leaves separated
  • 4 thick slices tomato
  • 8 slices cooked bacon

In a medium bowl, combine cream cheese with cheddar and mayonnaise. Using a spatula, stir until smooth and combined. Stir in pimento peppers. Salt and pepper to taste.

To assemble each sandwich, spread a portion of pimento cheese mixture on one slice of bread. Top with romaine and a slice of tomato. Sprinkle tomato with salt and pepper and arrange 2 slices of bacon on top. Add the top piece of bread, cut sandwich in half and repeat for other 3 sandwiches. (Adapted from "The Secret Ingredient Cookbook," Kelly Senyei, HMH.)

Makes 4 sandwiches.

Each sandwich (prepared with reduced-fat cheddar and low-fat mayonnaise) contains approximately 325 calories, 15 g protein, 16 g fat, 31 g carbohydrate, 60 mg cholesterol, 695 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2

■ ■ ■

Greek-Style Shrimp With Cannellini Beans

  • 1 pound medium peeled and deveined uncooked shrimp
  • 1 (15- to 19-ounce) can cannellini beans (rinsed)
  • 1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 6 ounces fresh or frozen green beans, thawed and halved
  • ¼ cup sliced Kalamata olives
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon dried oregano
  • Crumbled feta cheese and lemon wedges for garnish

Heat oven to 450 degrees.

In a large bowl, combine all ingredients except feta and lemon wedges; toss to coat.

Lay 4 (16-inch) pieces heavy-duty foil on counter. Divide shrimp mixture evenly and spoon onto foil. Bring opposite sides together, double-fold foil in middle. Repeat with other sides. Place packets, sealed side up, on a large rimmed baking pan. Bake 15 minutes; open one pack to check doneness of shrimp. If shrimp are not opaque throughout, reseal packet and bake 5 more minutes or until cooked through. Transfer contents to plates; sprinkle with feta and serve with lemon wedges.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (with reduced-sodium beans) contains approximately 290 calories, 22 g protein, 11 g fat, 26 g carbohydrate, 143 mg cholesterol, 633 mg sodium and 7 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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