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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | January 25, 2023 at 1:57 a.m.
Chicken Paprikash (America’s Test Kitchen/Steve Klise)

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

SUNDAY: Make family day extra-special with Roasted Lamb on the menu. Heat oven to 325 degrees. Crush or finely chop 1 tablespoon fennel seeds. Combine seeds with 1 teaspoon minced garlic, 2 teaspoons finely chopped lemon zest (yellow part only), 1 teaspoon coarse salt and ½ teaspoon ground black pepper; mix well. Rub mixture on 1 (4- to 5-pound) boneless leg of lamb. Place on rack in roasting pan. Bake 1 ¼ to 1 ½ hours or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Remove from oven; cover loosely with foil and let stand for 10 minutes. Slice and serve. Add your own rosemary roasted potatoes, green beans, mixed greens and whole-grain bread. Buy chocolate eclairs for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough lamb for Monday.

MONDAY: Be money-wise by using the leftover lamb for Lamb Chili (see recipe). Top it with tangy plain yogurt and serve with a lettuce wedge and cornbread (from mix). For dessert, sprinkle peaches with cinnamon.

Plan ahead: Save enough chili for Friday.

TUESDAY: Make a delicious no-meat dinner, Ravioli With Pesto, in no time. Toss pesto with hot cheese ravioli (from refrigerated or frozen) and garnish with freshly grated parmesan. Add a spinach salad and garlic bread. Enjoy pears for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Call your little heroes for Super Dogs With Avocado Relish (see recipe). Serve with baked tortilla chips. Try fresh orange sections for dessert.

THURSDAY: Make it quick and tasty with a New Orleans-style dirty rice mix. Serve with deli coleslaw and a baguette. Chunky applesauce is a light dessert.

FRIDAY: Heat the leftover chili and serve it over couscous. (Thin chili with water or broth, if desired.) Add a mixed green salad and whole-grain rolls. Sliced kiwis make a simple dessert.

SATURDAY: Treat your guests to Chicken Paprikash (see recipe). Serve the entree over buttered noodles. Add a romaine salad and crusty rolls on the side. For dessert, mint chocolate cookies and chocolate ice cream are a chocolate lover's dream.

THE RECIPES

Lamb Chili

  • 2 teaspoons canola oil
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 1 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 2 cups chopped cooked lamb
  • 1 (15-ounce) can kidney beans, with liquid
  • 2 (8-ounce) cans tomato sauce
  • 1 tablespoon chile powder
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon dried oregano
  • ¼ teaspoon dried basil
  • 2 teaspoons sugar
  • 1 cup salsa or picante sauce


Heat oil in a large skillet or saute pan on medium-high. Add onion and celery; cook 6 minutes or until softened. Drain. Add lamb, beans, tomato sauce, chile powder, salt, oregano, basil, sugar and salsa or picante sauce; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer 20 to 30 minutes. Serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced-sodium beans and no-salt-added tomato sauce) contains approximately 168 calories, 15 g protein, 5 g fat, 18 g carbohydrate, 34 mg cholesterol, 364 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1

■  ■  ■

Super Dogs With Avocado Relish

  • ¾ cup chopped red bell pepper
  • 2 tablespoons finely chopped onion
  • 2 tablespoons cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sugar
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • Dash ground red (cayenne) pepper, if desired
  • 1 ripe Hass avocado, diced (about 8 ounces)
  • 8 hot dogs or bratwurst
  • 8 whole-grain hot dog buns
  • Brown mustard, if desired


In a small bowl, combine bell pepper, onion, vinegar, sugar, salt and cayenne pepper, if uaing; mix well. Gently stir in avocado. Meanwhile, cook hot dogs according to package directions. Spread cut sides of buns with mustard, if desired. Place hot dogs in buns; spoon relish on top.

Makes 8 hot dogs with buns.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with low-sodium, low-fat hot dogs) contains approximately 277 calories, 9 g protein, 15 g fat, 29 g carbohydrate, 20 mg cholesterol, 837 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2

■  ■  ■

Chicken Paprikash

  • ¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced
  • 1 red bell pepper, stemmed, seeded and thinly sliced
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, drained
  • 5 cloves garlic, finely chopped
  • 1 teaspoon coarse salt, divided use
  • 8 (5- to 8-ounce) bone-in chicken thighs, skin removed, trimmed
  • ¾ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 ½ cups unsalted chicken broth
  • 2 tablespoons Hungarian paprika, plus extra for serving
  • ¼ teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper
  • 1/3 cup sour cream, plus more for serving
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley


Heat oil in a Dutch oven on medium-high until shimmering. Add onion, bell pepper, tomatoes, garlic and ½ teaspoon salt; cook about 10 minutes, stirring often, until fond (brown bits of food remaining in pan after browning or sauteing) begins to develop. Sprinkle chicken with black pepper and remaining salt. Stir broth, paprika and cayenne pepper into pot, scraping any browned bits. Submerge chicken in broth mixture; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat to medium-low; cover and simmer until chicken is tender and internal temperature reaches at least 195 degrees, about 30 minutes, stirring and flipping chicken halfway through simmering. Whisk sour cream and flour together in bowl. Slowly whisk ½ cup cooking liquid into sour cream mixture. Stir mixture into pot until fully incorporated. Continue to simmer 5 minutes longer or until thickened. Off heat, season with salt and black pepper to taste. Let stand 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley and serve with additional sour cream. (Adapted from "The Chicken Bible," American's Test Kitchen)

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 373 calories, 30 g protein, 20 g fat, 16 g carbohydrate, 151 mg cholesterol, 616 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: susan@7daymenu.com

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