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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | November 24, 2021 at 1:53 a.m.
Garden Herb Strip Steaks (Courtesy of Cattlemen’s Beef Board)

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

SUNDAY: Make family day special with your own roast lamb. Serve it with Couscous and Raisins (toss in some raisins when you're boiling the water for the couscous) and these Baked Artichokes: Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a pie plate with cooking spray. Drain, quarter and pat dry quartered artichokes from 2 (14-ounce) cans. Place in plate; sprinkle with 1 tablespoon lemon juice. In small bowl, combine 3 tablespoons chopped walnuts, 2 tablespoons parmesan cheese, 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning, 1 clove garlic (minced) and 1 teaspoon olive oil. Sprinkle mixture over artichokes. Bake 15 minutes or until golden. Add mixed greens and sourdough bread to round out the meal. Top apple cobbler with vanilla ice cream for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough cobbler for Monday, enough lamb for Tuesday and enough ice cream for Saturday.

MONDAY: With winter just around the corner, Cuban Beans (see recipe) will hit the no-meat-tonight spot. Serve over brown rice. Add sliced avocados and Cuban bread (or soft Italian loaf). Warm the leftover cobbler and garnish it with light whipped cream.

Plan ahead: Prepare enough rice for Tuesday and Friday.

TUESDAY: Enjoy the leftover lamb in Barbecue Lamb Pita Pizza. Heat oven to 400 degrees. In a bowl, mix together 2 cups finely chopped cooked leftover lamb, 1 cup any barbecue sauce and ¼ teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper. Divide and spread mixture on 4 whole-grain pitas (5 to 7 inches); top each pita with ½ slice pineapple and shredded provolone cheese. Bake until hot and cheese is melted. Cut each pita into wedges. Serve with leftover rice and sliced cucumbers. Enjoy peaches for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: It's not expensive, but you'd never know that with the good flavor of Chicken With Potatoes, Carrots and Pearl Onions (see recipe). Serve with a lettuce wedge and whole-grain bread. For dessert, how about pears?

THURSDAY: Make it quick tonight with tuna salad from the deli on whole-grain bread sandwiches and serve with baked chips. Add a lettuce and tomato salad. For dessert, try red and green grapes.

FRIDAY: Make the kids happy and prepare one of their favorites, Mexican Burritos. Heat 1 teaspoon canola oil in a medium skillet on medium heat. Add ½ cup finely chopped onion; cook 3 minutes or until tender. Stir in 2 cups cubed cooked chicken or turkey breast, 1 packet any less-sodium taco seasoning mix and ½ cup salsa. Bring to boil. Cook 2 minutes, stirring occasionally. Stir in ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese and 1 cup cooked leftover rice. Divide mixture among 8 (8-inch) warm whole-grain tortillas. Roll to close. Top with shredded lettuce and more salsa. Serve with pinto beans and carrot sticks. For dessert, plums are easy.

SATURDAY: No matter the season, every one will enjoy Garden Herb Strip Steaks (see recipe). Serve with roasted red potatoes, a romaine salad and whole-grain rolls. Scoop the leftover ice cream and top it with chocolate sauce and toasted coconut for dessert.


Cuban Beans

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed
  • 1 ½ teaspoons cumin
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon smoked or regular paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 pound frozen stir-fry peppers with onion

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds. Stir in beans, 1 cup water, cumin, oregano, paprika, pepper and vegetables. Bring to boil; cover and reduce heat. Cook 10 minutes until vegetables are tender and flavors have blended.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced-sodium beans) contains approximately 232 calories, 12 g protein, 3 g fat, 45 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 217 mg sodium and 15 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3

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Chicken With Potatoes, Carrots and Pearl Onions

  • 8 bone-in skinless chicken thighs, well-trimmed
  • 2 teaspoons herbs de Provence
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 ½ to 2 pounds small red potatoes, halved
  • 1 cup frozen pearl onions
  • 1 cup baby carrots
  • 8 ounces sliced crimini mushrooms
  • ¾ cup unsalted chicken broth

Rub chicken with herbs de Provence, garlic powder and pepper. Place chicken in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Top with potatoes, onions, carrots and mushrooms. Pour broth over all. Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours or until chicken is 165 degrees and vegetables are tender.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 331 calories, 31 g protein, 11 g fat, 27 g carbohydrate, 96 mg cholesterol, 130 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2

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Garden Herb Strip Steaks

  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano
  • 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 boneless beef strip steaks, cut 1 inch thick (about 10 ounces each)
  • Coarse salt to taste

Prepare grill for medium heat.

Combine thyme, oregano, lemon zest, garlic and black pepper in small bowl; reserve 2 teaspoons for garnish. Press remaining seasoning evenly onto beef steaks. Place steaks on grid over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 11 to 14 minutes for medium rare (145 degrees) to medium (160 degrees) doneness, turning occasionally. Carve steaks into slices. Sprinkle with reserved seasoning and salt, as desired.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 202 calories, 29 g protein, 8 g fat, no carbohydrate, 90 mg cholesterol, 61 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:


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