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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | November 2, 2022 at 2:05 a.m.
Garlicky Spaghetti With Clams (America’s Test Kitchen/Joe Keller)

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

SUNDAY: The whole family will enjoy your roast chicken. Accompany it with Mediterranean Herb Potato Salad: Boil 1 pound red potatoes; drain and cut into bite-size pieces. In a large bowl, whisk together 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon white wine vinegar, 1 teaspoon dried oregano and 1 teaspoon dried thyme. Add the still warm potatoes, 1 cup halved cherry tomatoes and 2 tablespoons capers. Toss gently to coat. Serve with broccoli and biscuits. For dessert, vanilla ice cream topped with toasted coconut is a fine finish. To toast coconut, spread on a baking sheet and bake at 350 degrees for 5 to 8 minutes or until golden.

Plan ahead: Save enough chicken, potato salad and coconut for Monday.

MONDAY: Use the leftover chicken to make your favorite chicken salad. Spread it on whole-grain bread and add lettuce. Serve the sandwiches with leftover potato salad, celery sticks and pickles. Dessert is apricots topped with leftover toasted coconut.

Plan ahead: Cook Tuesday’s brown rice tonight.

TUESDAY: For an extra-special no-meat dinner, treat everyone to Greek Stuffed Peppers (see recipe). Serve the colorful peppers with sliced cucumbers in plain yogurt, and add some flatbread. For dessert, make instant banana pudding and add a sliced banana for a flavor boost.

WEDNESDAY: Make the “what’s for dinner” question easy to answer with a refrigerated ready-to-heat beef stew. Serve it with a packaged Caesar salad and whole-grain rolls. Dessert is fresh pineapple.

THURSDAY: Let the kids help prepare grilled-cheese sandwiches tonight. Serve with deli tomato soup and carrot salad. Munch on oatmeal cookies for dessert.

FRIDAY: Canned clams are always a lower-cost meal, so Garlicky Spaghetti With Clams (see recipe) is the star tonight. Serve with Cider Mustard Slaw: Combine half of 1 (16-ounce) package cabbage-and-carrot coleslaw mix, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, 2 tablespoons cider vinegar and 1 tablespoon stone-ground mustard. Toss to mix. Add cornbread on the side. Sprinkle some nutmeg over chunky applesauce for dessert.

SATURDAY: As a special meal for your guests, Lemon Lamb Chops With Couscous Pilaf (see recipe) fit the bill. Serve the chops with sugar snap peas, romaine salad and sourdough bread. Buy fruit tarts for dessert.


Greek Stuffed Peppers

  • 4 red, orange or yellow bell peppers, halved and seeds removed
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 (6-ounce) package baby spinach, coarsely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano or 1 tablespoon fresh
  • 2 cups cooked brown rice or orzo
  • ¾ cup crumbled Greek feta cheese, divided use
  • ¼ cup sun-dried tomatoes in oil, drained and diced
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt

Place peppers cut side down in a large baking dish; add 1 tablespoon water. Cover; microwave on high 6 minutes. Cool slightly; drain and set aside.

Meanwhile, mash chickpeas into a chunky paste with a fork; leave some whole.

Heat oil in a large skillet on medium. Add onion; cook 6 minutes or until soft. Add spinach and oregano; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until spinach is wilted. Stir in cooked rice or orzo, chickpeas, ½ cup feta, tomatoes, vinegar and salt; cook 2 minutes or until heated. Divide filling among peppers; sprinkle with remaining feta and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 387 calories, 15 g protein, 13 g fat, 54 g carbohydrate, 25 mg cholesterol, 704 mg sodium and 10 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choice: 3 ½

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Garlicky Spaghetti With Clams

  • 2 tablespoons PLUS ½ teaspoon minced garlic, divided use
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 1 pound raw spaghetti
  • 2 teaspoons coarse salt, plus more to taste
  • 2 (6 ½-ounce) cans whole clams, drained and chopped
  • 4 anchovy filets, rinsed, patted dry and minced
  • 2 teaspoons lemon juice
  • 1 ½ ounces parmesan cheese, grated (¾ cup), plus more for serving
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
  • Freshly ground black pepper to taste

Cook 2 tablespoons garlic and the oil in small nonstick skillet on low heat, stirring occasionally, until garlic is pale golden brown, 9 to 12 minutes. Off heat, stir in red pepper; set aside.

Bring 2 quarts water to a boil in large pot. Add pasta and 2 teaspoons salt; cook, stirring frequently, until al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water; drain pasta and return it to pot. Add remaining ½ teaspoon garlic, clams, anchovies, lemon juice, reserved garlic-oil mixture and reserved cooking water. Stir until pasta is coated with oil and no water remains in bottom of pot. Add parmesan and parsley; toss to combine. Season with coarse salt and black pepper to taste. Serve, passing additional parmesan separately. (Adapted from “Foolproof Fish,” America’s Test Kitchen)

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 644 calories, 26 g protein, 19 g fat, 93 g carbohydrate, 43 mg cholesterol, 769 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 6

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Lemon Lamb Chops With Couscous Pilaf

  • ½ cup couscous
  • 2 teaspoons salt-free lemon and pepper seasoning
  • 2 ½ teaspoons cumin, divided use
  • 4 shoulder lamb chops (¾ inch thick, see note)
  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas, rinsed
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with sweet onion, with liquid
  • ½ cup crumbled Greek feta cheese

Prepare couscous with water according to directions; set aside.

Mix lemon pepper seasoning and 2 teaspoons cumin in a small bowl; rub on both sides of chops.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Cook lamb 3 minutes per side for medium doneness. Combine chickpeas, tomatoes and remaining cumin in a saucepan; bring to a boil. Stir tomato mixture into prepared couscous; toss to combine. Sprinkle feta over pilaf and serve with chops.

Makes 4 servings.

Note: If your budget can afford it, use loin lamb chops.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 399 calories, 30 g protein, 14 g fat, 36 g carbohydrate, 79 mg cholesterol, 727 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2 ½

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


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