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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | June 15, 2022 at 1:58 a.m.
Flank Steak With Peppers (Courtesy of Cattlemen’s Beef Board)

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

SUNDAY: Celebrate Father's Day with Flank Steak With Peppers. In a small bowl, combine ½ cup Italian dressing, ¼ cup fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon honey and 1 ½ teaspoons ground cumin. Place 1 (1 ½-pound) flank steak in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour 1/3 cup marinade over steak; turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator 6 hours to 12 hours; refrigerate remaining marinade separately. When ready to cook, remove steak and discard its marinade. Brush 3 quartered yellow or green bell peppers with separately refrigerated marinade. Grill steak 17 to 21 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness. Grill peppers 12 to 15 minutes, turning occasionally. Brush steak and peppers occasionally with marinade; do not brush during last 5 minutes. Remove steak from grill; let stand 5 minutes; carve across grain into thin slices and serve with peppers. Add your roasted potatoes and carrots, a romaine salad and whole-grain rolls. Buy brownies for dessert and serve them with fresh strawberries. Don't forget to give Dad a big hug.

Plan ahead: Marinate the steak the day before. Save enough brownies for Tuesday.

MONDAY: No-meat Pineapple and Black Bean Enchiladas (see recipe) could win a prize for their flavor. Serve the enchiladas with a shredded lettuce salad and sliced avocado. Sliced kiwis are a light dessert.

Plan ahead: Prepare enchiladas the day before and refrigerate; add 10 minutes to baking time. Save enough enchiladas for Tuesday.

TUESDAY: Dinner is almost ready. Just heat the leftover enchiladas and serve with deli carrot salad. Leftover brownies are good for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough carrot salad for Friday. If time permits, prepare Wednesday's stuffed peppers the day before and refrigerate. Increase baking time by 10 minutes.

WEDNESDAY: Picadillo-Stuffed Peppers (see recipe) are good with red, green or yellow bell peppers; let your budget decide. Serve them with buttered egg noodles, a mixed green salad and whole-grain rolls. Pop a few grapes into your mouth for dessert.

THURSDAY: Why let the kids have all the fun? How about Adult Pizza for a change? Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place a baked 12-inch whole-grain thin pizza crust on a baking sheet. Bake 5 minutes or until hot and crisp. Spread crust with ½ cup whipped cream cheese, 4 ounces thinly sliced smoked salmon (cut into strips), 1 cup diced ripe tomato, 1/3 cup diced red onion, 2 tablespoons capers (rinsed) and 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. Season to taste with pepper. Slice and serve with a spinach salad. Enjoy pears for dessert.

FRIDAY: Make it Chili Dog night for the kids. In a whole-grain hot dog bun, top cooked hot dogs with hot canned vegetarian chili and shredded cheddar cheese. Serve with leftover carrot salad. For dessert, top fresh blueberries with whipped cream.

SATURDAY: Try something new tonight and invite guests for Pork Stir-Fry With Asparagus and Mint (see recipe). Serve it over jasmine rice. Add steamed baby bok choy and sesame bread sticks on the side. Make Thai Tapioca Pudding for dessert: Place ½ cup small pearl tapioca in a strainer and rinse under cold running water for 15 to 20 seconds. Meanwhile, bring 1 ½ cups water to a boil; stir in tapioca. Reduce heat to medium and cook about 10 to 12 minutes or until tapioca becomes translucent. Stir frequently to prevent sticking. Stir in 1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk, 1/3 cup sugar and 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt. Simmer 5 to 7 minutes, stirring frequently, until pudding becomes slightly thickened. Let cool 20 minutes. Serve warm or cold, topped with slices of mango.


Pineapple and Black Bean Enchiladas

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 (20-ounce) can pineapple tidbits in juice, drained, reserving 1/3 cup juice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, rinsed and well drained
  • 1 (4.5-ounce) can chopped green chiles
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ cup chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish
  • 3 cups (12 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese, divided use
  • 10 ounces enchilada sauce
  • 8 (8- or 9-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas
  • ½ cup sour cream

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

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil on medium. Add onion and bell pepper; cook 4 to 6 minutes or until softened. Stir in pineapple, beans, green chiles and salt. Cook and stir until thoroughly heated. Remove skillet from heat. Stir in ½ cup cilantro and 2 cups of the cheese. Spread 1 tablespoon enchilada sauce onto each tortilla. Spoon about ¾ cup vegetable mixture over sauce on each. Roll; place seam side down in baking dish.

In small bowl, mix reserved pineapple juice and remaining enchilada sauce; pour over entire surface of enchiladas. Sprinkle with remaining 1 cup cheese. Cover tightly with nonstick foil; bake 25 to 30 minutes. Remove foil; bake 5 to 10 more minutes or until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly. Top each enchilada with 1 tablespoon sour cream and 1 teaspoon cilantro. Serve immediately.

Makes 8 enchiladas.

Nutrition information: Each enchilada (prepared with reduced-sodium beans and reduced-fat cheese and sour cream) contains approximately 368 calories, 20 g protein, 11 g fat, 52 g carbohydrate, 30 mg cholesterol, 1,198 mg sodium and 8 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3 ½

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Picadillo Stuffed Peppers

  • 6 medium red, green or yellow bell peppers
  • 1 (25-ounce) jar mushroom-and-olive pasta sauce, divided use
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 2 small zucchini (12 ounces total), diced
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon cinnamon
  • ½ teaspoon cumin
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/3 cup raisins
  • 1/3 cup sliced green olives with pimentos
  • 1 tablespoon cider vinegar

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Cut off the top fourth of stem end of bell peppers; remove seeds. Stand peppers and tops in baking dish. Add ½ cup water, cover, and microwave on 100% power for 5 to 7 minutes or until peppers are softened. Stir 1 ½ cups pasta sauce into water in dish.

Meanwhile, cook beef, zucchini and onions in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high for 7 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are almost tender. Stir in garlic, cinnamon, cumin, salt and black pepper; cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Remove from heat; stir in raisins, olives, vinegar and remaining sauce.

Spoon beef mixture into peppers; replace tops. Coat peppers with cooking spray. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes or until sauce bubbles and pepper tops are lightly charred.

Makes 6 peppers.

Nutrition information: Each pepper contains approximately 287 calories, 19 g protein, 10 g fat, 30 g carbohydrate, 43 mg cholesterol, 778 mg sodium and 6 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2

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Pork Stir-Fry With Asparagus and Mint

  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 2 tablespoons roasted red chile paste (see note)
  • 2 tablespoons fish sauce or soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 medium onion, cut into ¼-inch slices
  • 3 cups asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • ¾ pound pork (pork loin or thin pork chops), cut into strips ¼ inch thick by 1 ½ inches long
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch-wide strips
  • 1/3 cup coarsely chopped fresh mint leaves

Heat oil in a wok or skillet on medium-high. Add chile paste, fish sauce (or soy sauce) and sugar; stir well to combine. Cook 1 minute. Add onion and asparagus; stir-fry 3 minutes. Cover and cook 3 to 5 more minutes or until vegetables are tender. Remove cover; add pork and bell pepper. Stir-fry 3 to 4 minutes or until pork is cooked through. Add the mint, toss to combine and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: Look for roasted red chile paste and fish sauce in the international section of your supermarket.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 183 calories, 18 g protein, 8 g fat, 43 mg cholesterol, 796 mg sodium and 4 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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