7-Day Menu Planner

One-Pot Taco Beef and Rice

(Courtesy of Gwynn Galvin, SwirlsOfFlavor.com)
One-Pot Taco Beef and Rice (Courtesy of Gwynn Galvin, SwirlsOfFlavor.com)

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

SUNDAY: Don't let the goblins scare the family from enjoying Mustard-Crusted Pork Roast for dinner. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Season 1 (2-pound) trimmed boneless pork loin roast with coarse salt and pepper to taste. Place in a shallow pan and roast 20 minutes. Meanwhile, place 1 cup garlic croutons in a resealable plastic bag; roll with rolling pin or bottle until crushed. Remove roast from oven; spread surface with 2 tablespoons spicy mustard and sprinkle with crouton crumbs. Return to oven; roast 10 to 15 minutes longer or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let stand 5 minutes; slice and serve. Add vegetarian baked beans, zucchini squash and whole-grain bread. For dessert, Ghostly Graveyard Cakes (see recipe) will keep the howling monsters away.

Plan ahead: Save enough cakes for Monday and enough pork for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Tonight, prepare economical One-Pot Taco Beef and Rice (see recipe) for dinner. Serve the Mexican treat with a romaine salad and cornbread (from mix). For dessert, enjoy the leftover cakes.

TUESDAY: Use the leftover pork and make Barbecue Pork Wraps. Shred the pork; stir in some barbecue sauce and heat in the microwave. Spoon into warm corn tortillas and top with salsa, sour cream, shredded lettuce and sliced jalapeno peppers (from jar). Serve with deli coleslaw. Peaches are a light dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Buy deli chili and serve it over brown rice for a quick meal. Garnish with chopped green onions. Add mixed greens and whole-grain rolls to round out the meal. For dessert, top vanilla ice cream with chocolate sauce.

Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Saturday.

THURSDAY: Who could miss meat when you serve delicious Spaghetti With Beans and Greens (see recipe)? Add a lettuce wedge and Italian bread. How about pears for dessert?

FRIDAY: Kids will be in the mood for Turkey Cheese Wraps With Honey Mustard. In a small bowl, mix 2 cups plain hummus, 3 tablespoons honey and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. For each wrap: Spread ¼ of the mixture over one large whole-grain flour tortilla, leaving ¼ inch space around the edge. Sprinkle ½ cup shredded cheese on each wrap. Place 2 slices deli turkey and 1 lettuce leaf on top of the cheese. Roll each wrap and wrap in waxed paper like a burrito. Serve with chips. For dessert, try fresh pineapple spears.

SATURDAY: Invite special friends for Roasted Salmon With Fresh Salsa. Heat oven to 425 degrees; line a rimmed baking pan with foil. Mix together 2 teaspoons chile powder, 1 teaspoon cumin, ¼ teaspoon coarse salt, ½ teaspoon ground coriander and ¼ teaspoon chipotle chile powder. Rub spice mixture over 4 skinless salmon filets. Place fish on baking sheet. Bake 12 to 15 minutes or until cooked through. Meanwhile, combine 1 cup chopped red bell pepper, ¼ cup chopped tomato, 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onion, 1 tablespoon chopped cilantro, 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice. Serve salmon with salsa. Add long-grain and wild rice (from mix), broccoli florets, a Boston lettuce salad and crusty rolls. Buy a cherry pie and top with leftover vanilla ice cream for dessert.


Ghostly Graveyard Cakes

  • 9 drops neon blue food coloring, divided use
  • 9 drops neon yellow food coloring, divided use
  • 1 (16-ounce) can ready-to-spread white frosting
  • 1 ½ cups flaked coconut
  • 10 cream-filled snack cakes (such as Twinkies)
  • Chocolate frosting
  • 10 oval-shaped cookies (such as Pepperidge Farm Milanos)
  • Crushed chocolate sandwich cookies (if desired)

In a medium bowl, mix 3 drops blue and 3 drops yellow food coloring into frosting. Set aside.

Shake coconut in a large plastic bag with 6 drops blue and 6 drops yellow coloring until coated.

Cover cakes (Twinkies) with green frosting. Sprinkle with green coconut to create a grasslike finish. To make "tombstones": Place chocolate frosting in small plastic bag. Snip off a tiny corner of the bag. Squeeze out the letters "RIP" onto each oval cookie. Place one cookie into one end of each cake. Arrange cakes on a serving platter to create a graveyard. If desired, surround with crushed chocolate cookies to make "dirt."

Makes 10 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 468 calories, 3 g protein, 19 g fat, 72 g carbohydrate, 21 mg cholesterol, 357 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 5

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One-Pot Taco Beef and Rice

  • 1 ¼ pounds lean ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons taco seasoning mix
  • 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • 1 cup salsa
  • 1 cup uncooked instant brown rice
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar-jack cheese blend
  • 1 cup chopped lettuce
  • Sour cream
  • 1 small tomato, chopped
  • Sliced jalapenos
  • Cilantro
  • Taco shells or tortillas, if desired

Heat a large nonstick skillet (with deep sides) over medium-high heat. Add beef, onion, garlic and taco seasoning; cook 6 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. Add tomato sauce, salsa, rice and 2/3 cup water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; cover and cook 10 minutes or until rice is tender and most of the liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and fluff with a fork. Add your favorite toppings, such as shredded cheese, lettuce, sour cream, tomatoes, jalapenos and cilantro. Serve dish on its own or in taco shells or tortillas.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (without toppings or tortillas) contains approximately 361 calories, 28 g protein, 12 g fat, 35 g carbohydrate, 69 mg cholesterol, 906 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2 ½

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Spaghetti With Beans and Greens

  • 8 ounces whole-grain spaghetti
  • ¾ teaspoon coarse salt, divided use
  • 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 2 cups grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 (16-ounce) can cannellini beans, rinsed
  • 1 (5-ounce) package arugula
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Cook pasta according to package directions. Drain; reserve ½ cup pasta water. Place pasta in a bowl, add ¼ teaspoon salt and toss. Cover and set aside.

Return pan to medium heat. Add oil, garlic and pepper; cook 2 minutes or until garlic is softened, stirring occasionally. Stir in remaining salt, tomatoes and beans; cook 2 minutes. Add reserved pasta; cook 4 minutes, stirring frequently. Add reserved water and arugula, tossing gently to combine. Remove from heat. Stir in lemon juice and cheese. Serve immediately.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 286 calories, 11 g protein, 8 g fat, 44 g carbohydrate, 6 mg cholesterol, 518 mg sodium and 8 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3

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

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