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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | March 3, 2021 at 4:00 a.m.
Sloppy Joes (Courtesy of Cattlemen’s Beef Board)

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

SUNDAY: Your family likes your pot roast with potatoes, carrots and celery best, so make them happy and serve it for family day. Add a spinach salad and whole-grain rolls. Buy a cherry cobbler for dessert and top it with a little vanilla ice cream.

Plan ahead: Save enough beef, vegetables and cobbler for Monday; save enough ice cream for Saturday.

MONDAY: Slice and heat the leftover beef and layer it on dense white bread. Top with beef gravy for Open-Faced Beef Sandwiches. Serve the leftover vegetables on the side along with a mixed green salad. Warm the leftover cobbler for dessert.

TUESDAY: Full-flavored and meatless, Mushroom Risotto With Peas (see recipe) is a delicious dinner. Add a romaine salad and garlic bread on the side. Slice kiwis for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Make the kids happy with Sloppy Joes (see recipe). Serve with buttered and roasted red potato wedges. Halved red and green grapes are good for dessert.

THURSDAY: Perk up ordinary chicken breasts and turn them into Santa Fe Chicken. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Place 1 pound of boneless skinless chicken breasts in a baking dish coated with cooking spray. In a small bowl, mix together 1 tablespoon melted butter, 1 tablespoon Southwestern seasoning and 1 teaspoon lemon juice. Brush mixture on both sides of chicken and bake 20 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Serve with canned black beans, yellow rice (from mix) and sourdough bread. Sliced peaches are good for dessert.

FRIDAY: Buy or make egg salad for sandwiches and spread on whole-grain toast. Add a little dill to the egg salad for flavor. Garnish the sandwich with leaf lettuce. Accompany the sandwiches with deli (or canned) tomato soup. (If you have any leftover rice from Thursday, add it to the soup.) Finish with plums.

SATURDAY: Treat the family with Italian-Style Halibut With Tomatoes and White Beans (see recipe). Serve with steamed broccoli, salad greens and a baguette. Top leftover ice cream with hot fudge sauce for dessert.


Mushroom Risotto With Peas

  • 3 tablespoons butter
  • 3 cups (about 8 ounces) assorted sliced fresh mushrooms (such as button, crimini, shiitake)
  • 1/3 cup sliced onions or shallots
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 ¾ cups Arborio rice
  • 4 cups unsalted vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup dry white wine
  • ½ teaspoon cracked black pepper
  • 2/3 cup frozen peas, thawed
  • Asiago cheese shards and fresh Italian parsley leaves for garnish

In a large skillet, melt butter on medium. Add mushrooms, onions and garlic; cook 5 to 7 minutes or until mushrooms are lightly browned and liquid is evaporated, stirring occasionally. Stir in rice; cook and stir 1 more minute. Transfer mixture to a 3 ½- or 4-quart slow cooker. Stir in broth, wine and pepper. Cover and cook on low 2 ¾ hours or high 1 ¼ hours or until rice is tender. Stir in peas. Garnish each serving with cheese and parsley.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 297 calories, 6 g protein, 6 g fat, 50 g carbohydrate, 15 mg cholesterol, 203 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3.5.

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Sloppy Joes

  • 1 cup minced sweet onion
  • 1 pound very lean ground beef
  • 1 cup minced green bell pepper
  • 1 (14 ½-ounce) can unsalted tomato sauce
  • ¼ cup barbecue sauce
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce
  • 2 teaspoons packed brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon dry mustard
  • Coarse salt to taste
  • 4 whole-grain hamburger buns
  • Dill pickle slices, coleslaw, American or cheddar cheese slices (if desired)

Heat large skillet over medium heat. Add onion; cook 3 to 5 minutes until golden brown. Add ground beef and bell pepper; cook 8 to 10 minutes, breaking beef into ½-inch crumbles and stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato sauce, barbecue sauce, ketchup, Worcestershire sauce, brown sugar and mustard; increase heat to medium-high. Bring to a boil; cook 5 to 10 minutes or until sauce is thickened, stirring occasionally. Season with salt to taste. Divide mixture among buns. Garnish with dill pickles, coleslaw and cheese, if desired; serve.

Makes 4 sandwiches.

Nutrition information: Each sandwich (without garnishes) contains approximately 264 calories, 27 g protein, 6 g fat, 26 g carbohydrate, 62 mg cholesterol, 412 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.5.

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Italian-Style Halibut With Tomatoes and White Beans

  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ cup sliced green onions
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (14 ½-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with basil, onions and oregano, lightly drained
  • 1 (15-ounce) can Great Northern or cannellini beans (rinsed)
  • 2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
  • ¼ cup sliced fresh basil leaves or 1 tablespoon dried basil
  • 4 (4- to 6-ounce) halibut or cod filets
  • Coarse salt and pepper to taste

In a medium pan, heat oil on medium. Add onions and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, 3 minutes or until vegetables are softened but not browned. Add tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cook 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add beans, vinegar and basil. Bring to a boil; simmer 2 minutes. Remove tomato-bean mixture from heat.

For the fish: Season filets with salt and pepper and coat with cooking spray. Place on rack of broiler pan coated with cooking spray and lined with foil. Broil 5 to 7 minutes, turning once, or until opaque throughout. Serve fish over tomato and bean mixture.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 315 calories, 29 g protein, 8 g fat, 29 g carbohydrate, 56 mg cholesterol, 915 mg sodium and 5 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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