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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | November 17, 2021 at 2:01 a.m.
Pecan Apple Dressing (Courtesy of American Pecan Council)

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

SUNDAY: There's nothing like a pot roast for family day, and this Southwest Beef Pot Roast (see recipe) will be enjoyed by all. Serve it with brown rice, a romaine salad and whole-grain bread. Buy a lemon pie for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough pot roast and pie for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Get the kids home for dinner with a Pizza Pita Buffet on the menu. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Set out pita bread, pizza sauce, shredded mozzarella cheese, sliced turkey pepperoni and sliced mushrooms. Stuff the pitas with everyone's favorites; bake until hot and cheese melts. Serve with celery sticks and dip. Make instant banana pudding for dessert.

TUESDAY: Use the leftover beef for Tex-Mex Tacos. Dice and heat the beef; spoon into warm taco shells. Top with any shredded cheese, salsa, sour cream and diced avocado. Serve with pinto beans. Enjoy leftover pie for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: For a delicious no-meat meal, Linguine in Lemon Cream Sauce (see recipe) is just what you're looking for. Serve with a spinach salad and garlic bread. For dessert, tropical fruits are simple.

THURSDAY: Wish everyone a happy Thanksgiving with your own roast turkey display. Serve with Pecan Apple Dressing (see recipe), along with petite green peas (from frozen), cranberry sauce and dinner rolls. Pumpkin pie with light whipped cream is a Thanksgiving must.

Plan ahead: Save enough turkey and pie for Friday.

FRIDAY: Use some of the leftovers for Turkey Bean Salad. Mix 2 cups chopped turkey with a can of black beans (rinsed and well drained), halved sections from 1 fresh orange and ½ cup thinly sliced green onions. Toss with a light vinaigrette. Serve with onion soup, a lettuce wedge and leftover pie.

SATURDAY: Everyone will welcome your grilled salmon for a taste change. Add roasted red potatoes and carrots. Serve with green beans tossed in olive oil and balsamic vinegar. Add a Boston lettuce salad and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, chocolate ice cream with strawberries is a treat.

THE RECIPES: Southwest Beef Pot Roast

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 1 (1 ½- to 2-pound) beef bottom round roast
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups chunky salsa
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans (rinsed)
  • 1 cup frozen corn

Heat oil in a Dutch oven on medium until hot. Press cumin into beef. Place in pan; brown evenly on all sides (about 5 minutes total). Pour off any drippings. Season beef with salt and pepper; add salsa. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and cover tightly. Simmer until roast is fork-tender, about 2 hours. (Add water if it becomes too dry). Remove roast; keep warm. Skim fat from cooking liquid. Stir in beans and corn; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes or until liquid is slightly thickened. Carve beef into thin slices; serve with bean mixture.

Makes 4 to 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced-sodium beans) contains approximately 411 calories, 43 g protein, 12 g fat, 32 g carbohydrate, 99 mg cholesterol, 777 mg sodium and 8 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2

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Linguine in Lemon Cream Sauce

  • 8 ounces linguine
  • 4 ounces light cream cheese
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon lemon zest
  • ½ cup chopped parsley
  • Coarse salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • Toasted chopped walnuts for garnish

Cook linguine according to package directions. Drain; reserve ½ cup pasta water and return pasta to pot.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan on low, heat the cheese, oil and lemon juice. Stir reserved pasta water into mixture along with lemon zest and parsley. Add to pasta; toss to coat. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with walnuts.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 315 calories, 11 g protein, 10 g fat, 44 g carbohydrate, 20 mg cholesterol, 130 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3

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Pecan Apple Dressing

  • 1 pound mild Italian sausage
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil or pecan oil
  • 1 onion, chopped
  • 3 ribs celery, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 12 ounces herb-seasoned cubed stuffing such as Pepperidge Farm
  • 2 cups chopped tart apples, such as Granny Smith (about 3 small apples)
  • 1 ½ cups pecan halves
  • 1 ½ cups unsalted chicken broth, divided use
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Set aside.

In a large skillet, brown Italian sausage, breaking it up into crumbles. Drain on paper towels. Discard excess grease.

In the same pan, heat oil on medium. Cook onions, celery and garlic for 2 to 3 minutes or until slightly softened and fragrant.

In a large bowl, stir together cooked sausage, cooked onion mixture, stuffing cubes, apples and pecans. Add 1 cup of broth and stir to combine. If stuffing mixture is too dry, add additional ½ cup of broth or more if desired. (Be careful not to add too much liquid.) Season with salt and pepper and stir to combine. Transfer stuffing to prepared baking dish. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes. Remove foil and bake for an additional 15 minutes. Serve immediately.

Makes 18 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 210 calories, 6 g protein, 12 g fat, 20 g carbohydrate, 9 mg cholesterol, 505 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1½

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


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