7-Day Menu Planner

Curried Chicken and Rice (Courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen)
Curried Chicken and Rice (Courtesy of America’s Test Kitchen)

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

SUNDAY: A juicy turkey breast for family day is perfect for lower fall temperatures. Keep it simple and follow the directions on the package. Serve it with Sweet and Spicy Sweet Potatoes: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Peel, halve and cut 2 pounds sweet potatoes into wedges. Line a rimmed baking pan with nonstick foil. In a large bowl, microwave 2 tablespoons butter until melted; stir in 1/3 cup sugar, ¼ cup orange juice, ¼ teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper and ¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon. Microwave 1 to 2 minutes until syrupy. Add potatoes to bowl; pour syrup over potatoes and toss to coat evenly. Spread evenly on pan. Bake 40 to 45 minutes, stirring once, until tender and glazed. Serve with fresh zucchini, a romaine salad and crusty bread. For dessert, treat the family to a slice of warm apple pie.

Plan ahead: Save enough turkey for Monday and enough pie for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Use the leftover cooked turkey for Turkey Enchiladas: Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix together 3 cups shredded cooked turkey, ½ cup sour cream, ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, 1 red bell pepper (chopped), 1 ½ teaspoons garlic, 1 teaspoon cumin and ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese. Stir in 2 cups green salsa. Spread 1 cup mixture over bottom of a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Spoon about 1/3 cup turkey mixture down center of 8 (6-inch) flour tortillas. Roll and place seam side down in dish. Pour remaining mixture over top; bake, uncovered, 35 minutes. Sprinkle with ½ cup more cheese and bake 15 minutes longer or until cheese is melted and bubbly. Serve with rice and mixed greens. Strawberry ice cream is your dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough enchiladas for Wednesday; save enough ice cream for Saturday.

TUESDAY: For a change of pace, try no-meat Moroccan Vegetable and Pasta Soup (see recipe). Accompany the flavor-packed soup with a grilled cheese sandwich on whole-grain bread. How about leftover pie with light whipped cream for dessert?

WEDNESDAY: Don't you love it when you open the refrigerator and find tonight's dinner, leftover enchiladas, in there waving at you? Enjoy the fruits of your earlier labor along with pinto beans and guacamole. Make flan from a mix for dessert.

THURSDAY: I'm the frugal type, so Unstuffed Cabbage (see recipe) caught my eye. Serve it with mashed potatoes, steamed carrots and whole-grain rolls. Plums are tonight's dessert.

FRIDAY: Oh, to be a kid again and munch on Crunchy Nacho Dogs! Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a cookie sheet with cooking spray. Unroll 1 (8-ounce) can refrigerated crescent dinner rolls; separate dough into 4 rectangles. Firmly press perforations to seal. Place 4 slices American cheese on rectangles. Place 4 hot dogs on cheese. Fold short sides of dough over hot dogs; roll up each one. Press edges to seal. Brush rolls with milk; roll in ½ cup crushed baked tortilla chips. Place rolls seam side down on cookie sheet. Bake 15 to 22 minutes or until deep golden brown. Serve with ketchup, salsa and sour cream. Add celery sticks. For dessert, tropical fruits are good.

SATURDAY: Serve your guests easy and delicious Curried Chicken and Rice (see recipe), a bibb lettuce salad and naan. For a special dessert, top chocolate cake with leftover ice cream.


Moroccan Vegetable and Pasta Soup

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, cut into thin wedges
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 (1-pound) package frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 (14.5-ounce) cans diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1 (15- to 19-ounce) can chickpeas/garbanzo beans, rinsed
  • 2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons ketchup
  • ½ cup uncooked whole-wheat rotini pasta or elbow macaroni

In a Dutch oven, heat oil on medium high. Add onion; cook and stir 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook one more minute. Stir in 3 cups water, mixed vegetables, tomatoes, beans, basil, turmeric, paprika, pepper, cinnamon and ketchup. Bring to a boil; reduce heat; cover and simmer 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add rotini; cook, uncovered, 15 minutes or until rotini is tender. Thin with additional water if desired.

Makes 8 cups.

Nutrition information: Each cup (prepared with reduced-sodium tomatoes and beans) contains approximately 150 calories, 6 g protein, 3 g fat, 28 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 347 mg sodium and 7 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2

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Unstuffed Cabbage

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 pound ground turkey breast or very lean ground beef
  • 1 medium onion, thinly sliced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 (28-ounce) can stewed tomatoes
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste
  • 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sugar
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (10-ounce) package shredded cabbage

Heat oil in a Dutch oven on medium. Add turkey or beef; cook 6 minutes or until no longer pink, stirring occasionally. Drain, if necessary. Stir in onion; cook 4 minutes. Add garlic; cook 1 minute. Add tomatoes and tomato paste. Stir in 1 ½ cups water, parsley, salt, oregano, sugar and pepper. Simmer 5 minutes. Mix in the cabbage; cook, covered, 6 to 8 minutes or until cabbage is tender, stirring occasionally.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with unsalted tomato paste) contains approximately 187 calories, 21 g protein, 3 g fat, 18 g carbohydrate, 43 mg cholesterol, 622 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1

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Curried Chicken and Rice

  • ½ cup flour
  • 4 (6- to 8-ounce) boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt, divided use
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided use
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into ¼-inch pieces
  • 1 onion, finely chopped
  • 1 ½ cups rice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon curry powder
  • 4 cup chicken broth
  • ½ cup light coconut milk
  • 1 cup frozen peas
  • ¼ cup fresh cilantro
  • 2 tablespoon toasted sliced almonds

Spread flour in shallow dish. Pound chicken to uniform thickness. Pat dry with paper towels; season with ¼ teaspoon salt and the pepper. Working with one breast at a time, dredge chicken breasts lightly with flour; shake off excess.

Heat 2 tablespoons oil in a large skillet on medium-high until shimmering. Cook chicken 8 to 10 minutes or until lightly brown on both sides. Transfer to plate. Heat remaining oil in same skillet. Add carrots, onion and remaining salt and cook about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in rice, garlic and curry powder and cook 30 seconds. Stir in broth, scraping up browned bits. Nestle chicken into skillet along with juices. Reduce heat to a gentle simmer, cover and cook 8 minutes or until internal temperature of chicken reaches 160 degrees. Transfer chicken to serving platter, brushing any rice sticking to chicken back into skillet. Tent chicken with foil when finishing rice. Add coconut milk to skillet, cover, cook 12 to 15 minutes or until liquid has been absorbed. Off heat, sprinkle peas over rice, cover and let stand about 2 minutes. Gently fold in cilantro and almonds. Serve chicken with rice. (Adapted from "The Chicken Bible," American's Test Kitchen.)

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced-sodium broth) contains approximately 466 calories, 32 g protein, 12 g fat, 54 g carbohydrate, 83 mg cholesterol, 343 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3 ½

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: susan@7daymenu.com

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