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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | January 12, 2022 at 2:12 a.m.
Cajun Sausage and Rice (Courtesy of Christy Denney)

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

SUNDAY: Treat the family to Chicken and Potatoes With Pearl Onions and Carrots (see recipe) for a perfect comfort meal. Serve the combo with a mixed green salad and biscuits. Buy a Boston cream pie for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough chicken with vegetables and Boston cream pie for Monday.

MONDAY: Heat the leftover chicken and vegetables and serve it over couscous for an easy meal. Add a romaine salad and bread sticks. Slice the leftover Boston cream pie for dessert.

TUESDAY: Cajun Sausage and Rice (see recipe) won't break the food budget bank. Enjoy it with a spinach salad and a baguette. How about vanilla ice cream with caramel topping for dessert?

WEDNESDAY: Kids will come running for Chili Dogs. Spoon some chili over the kids' favorite hot dogs on a whole-grain bun. Crunch on celery sticks alongside. Make a special dessert, S'more Puffs, for lots of fun: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place 12 round buttery crackers on a baking sheet. Top each with 1 milk chocolate kiss (of 12 total) and half of 1 large marshmallow (6 marshmallows total). Bake 8 minutes or until marshmallows just begin to melt. Let cool on a wire rack 5 minutes before eating.

THURSDAY: Buy some deli tuna salad and make Tuna Salad Sandwiches. Before you spread it on whole-grain bread, stir in some halved grapes. Add a lettuce leaf to the sandwich, too. Serve with bean soup. Add plums for dessert.

FRIDAY: For a delicious no-meat dinner, try Mediterranean Bulgur With Chickpeas: In a large serving bowl, combine 1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat), 2 plum tomatoes (diced), 1 small zucchini (diced) and 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. Pour 1 ½ cups boiling water over all; cover with foil. Let stand 12 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and bulgur is tender. Stir in 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas (rinsed), 2 cups cooked broccoli florets, ¾ cup crumbled feta cheese, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil; mix well and serve. Add sliced cucumbers and flatbread to round out the meal. Orange sorbet is good for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough sorbet for Saturday.

SATURDAY: Make dinner special with Pork Roast With Apples and Sage (see recipe). Serve with brown rice, green beans, a Boston lettuce salad and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, serve the leftover sorbet with butter cookies.


Chicken and Potatoes With Pearl Onions and Carrots

  • 6 bone-in skinless chicken breasts
  • 1 tablespoon herbes de Provence
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Freshly ground pepper to taste
  • 2 pounds small red potatoes
  • ¾ cup frozen pearl onions, thawed
  • 2 cups baby carrots
  • 8 ounces crimini mushrooms
  • 1 cup chicken broth

Place chicken in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Sprinkle with herbs de Provence, garlic powder and pepper. Add potatoes, onions, carrots and mushrooms. Pour broth over all. Cover and cook on low 6 to 7 hours or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Remove bones and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 220 calories, 24 g protein, 3 g fat, 24 g carbohydrate, 65 mg cholesterol, 185 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1 ½

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Cajun Sausage and Rice

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 14 ounces andouille sausage, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 1 green bell pepper, sliced
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 4 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 ½ cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 5 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1 cup long-grain white rice
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • Ground black pepper to taste
  • Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add sausage and cook until browned on both sides. Add bell pepper and onion. Cook 2 to 4 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in broth, paste, rice, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduced heat to medium-low; simmer 15 to 20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Garnish with parsley and serve. (Adapted from "Scrumptious" by Christy Denney, Shadow Mountain Publishing.)

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 523 calories, 17 g protein, 30 g fat, 46 g carbohydrate, 62 mg cholesterol, 1,254 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3

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Pork Roast With Apples and Sage

  • 4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground pepper
  • 1 (2 ¾- to 3-pound) boneless pork loin roast, well-trimmed
  • 1 (12-ounce) jar pork gravy or au jus
  • 4 medium gala apples, divided use

Mix sage, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Spread over top of pork. Place gravy in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Core 2 apples and coarsely chop; add to gravy. Place pork on top. Cover and cook on low 5 to 7 hours. Core and cut remaining apples into 8 wedges each; add to cooker the last hour of cooking. Remove pork and apple wedges to a tray; tent with foil. Let stand. Remove chopped apples with slotted spoon to food processor; puree. Add 1 cup cooking liquid to apple puree; heat. Slice pork; serve with apple wedges and apple gravy.

Makes 10 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 247 calories, 28 g protein, 9 g fat, 12 g carbohydrate, 74 mg cholesterol, 464 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1

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


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