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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | November 30, 2022 at 2:03 a.m.
Grape and Feta Quinoa (Shadow Mountain Publishing/Ty Mecham)

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

SUNDAY: Make today's family meal as simple as possible with a smoked turkey breast. Alongside, enjoy Grape and Feta Quinoa (see recipe), steamed green beans, a red-tipped lettuce salad and sourdough bread. Slice angel food cake and top the slices with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough turkey and strawberries for Monday.

MONDAY: Turn leftover smoked turkey into economical and flavor-packed Smoked Turkey Tetrazzini (see recipe). Serve it with a spinach salad and garlic bread. For dessert, enjoy leftover strawberries.

Plan ahead: Save enough tetrazzini for Tuesday.

TUESDAY: Don't you love it when a delicious leftover like turkey tetrazzini is ready to reheat for a fast dinner? To round out the meal, add a lettuce wedge and whole-grain rolls. Refreshing peach sorbet is dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Please invite me for dinner when you have BLT Pasta: Cook 12 ounces rigatoni pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer pasta to a large bowl. Meanwhile, cook 4 slices Canadian bacon on medium-high in a large skillet; remove from skillet and set aside. Using the same skillet, lower heat to medium (leaving any drippings); add 1 (5- to 7-ounce) package arugula and stir 45 seconds or until wilted. Transfer to pasta bowl. Return skillet to medium heat; add 1 pint halved grape tomatoes and 2 tablespoons olive oil; cook 2 minutes. Add to pasta and arugula; toss. Chop the bacon and sprinkle over top. Season with pepper, toss again and serve. Add whole-grain bread alongside. For a simple dessert, fresh tropical fruit works well.

THURSDAY: Be a hero and serve the kids Chicken Ranch Tacos: Heat 10 to 12 taco shells (from a 5- to 5.5-ounce package) in oven as directed on package. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, place 3 cups diced cooked chicken breast. Sprinkle with 1 (1.25-ounce) package taco seasoning mix; toss to coat. Microwave chicken, uncovered, on 100% power for 2 to 3 minutes or until hot. Stir in ½ cup prepared ranch dressing. Spoon warm chicken mixture into heated shells. Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomato and shredded cheddar cheese. Add a kid-favorite, carrot sticks, for munching. For dessert, have a slurp fest with Popsicles.

FRIDAY: Mushroom burgers (from frozen) are an easy no-meat dinner. Serve on whole-grain buns with such favorite toppings as lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and mustard. Add oven fries on the side. Grapes are good for dessert.

SATURDAY: Invite guests for Easy Paella (see recipe), which lives up to its name. Add a romaine salad and sourdough bread. For dessert, top vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and toasted pecans.

Tip: Look for sofrito sauce in the international food section.


Grape and Feta Quinoa

  • 1 cup quinoa
  • Coarse salt
  • Zest from 1 lemon
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 small clove garlic, minced
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 cup grapes
  • 2/3 cup Greek feta cheese, crumbled
  • 1/3 cup toasted and broken walnuts
  • 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley

Rinse quinoa in a fine mesh strainer under faucet until the water runs clear. Transfer to a medium saucepan; add 2 cups water and a pinch of salt. Bring to a boil; lower heat and simmer, uncovered, 15 minutes or until quinoa is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat and cool.

Meanwhile, whisk together zest, lemon juice, garlic and oil. Set aside.

When quinoa is cool, add grapes, feta, walnuts and parsley. Toss with dressing and serve. (Adapted from "Delicious Gatherings" by Tara Teaspoon, Shadow Mountain Publishing)

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 189 calories, 6 g protein, 11 g fat, 19 g carbohydrate, 11 mg cholesterol, 178 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1 ½

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Smoked Turkey Tetrazzini

  • 12 ounces fettuccine
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 2 tablespoons chicken broth
  • 1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 medium onion, coarsely chopped
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ¼ teaspoon hot sauce
  • 3 cups milk
  • 2 to 3 cups diced smoked turkey
  • 1 cup dry white wine or chicken broth
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided use

Heat oven to 400 degrees.

Cook pasta according to package directions; drain.

In a large nonstick skillet on medium-high, melt butter. Add broth, mushrooms and onion; cook 7 to 10 minutes or until softened. Gradually stir in flour, pepper and hot sauce until smooth. Add milk; cook, stirring constantly, 6 to 8 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat; stir in turkey and wine. Layer a 9-by-13-inch baking dish, coated with cooking spray, with half of the pasta, half of the turkey mixture and half of the cheese. Repeat layers. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and golden.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with 1% milk and unsalted broth) contains approximately 335 calories, 21 g protein, 8 g fat, 43 g carbohydrate, 45 mg cholesterol, 463 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2

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Easy Paella

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 8 ounces kielbasa, sliced
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 1 cup rice
  • 1 (14-ounce) can chicken broth
  • 12 large uncooked shrimp, peeled and deveined
  • 2/3 cup sofrito sauce
  • ¾ cup frozen tiny green peas, thawed
  • ¼ cup chopped fresh parsley

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add sausage and onion; cook 4 minutes or until onion is golden. Add rice, broth and ½ cup water; bring to a boil. Cook, covered, 17 minutes or until rice is almost tender. Add shrimp; cook, covered, 2 minutes. Stir in sofrito sauce and peas; cook, stirring constantly, 1 minute or until rice is tender and shrimp are pink. Remove from heat; stir in parsley and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced-fat sausage and unsalted broth) contains approximately 330 calories, 20 g protein, 5 g fat, 58 g carbohydrate, 92 mg cholesterol, 1058 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 4

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


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