7-Day Menu Planner

Gwynn Galvin, SwirlsOfFlavor.com

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

SUNDAY: Treat the family to Italian Marinated Steak (see recipe). Serve it with roasted rosemary red potatoes, bell peppers and mushrooms. Add mixed greens and crusty bread. Lemon pie is dessert.

Plan ahead: Prepare enough beef and vegetables for Monday; save enough pie for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Use the leftover beef for Roast Beef Sandwiches on mini baguettes. Spread this Horseradish Sauce over split mini baguettes: Mix 3 tablespoons prepared horseradish, ¼ cup sour cream, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1 teaspoon mayonnaise and 1 tablespoon chopped chives or the greens of a green onion. Top with sliced leftover beef and thin slices of brie cheese. Heat the leftover vegetables and add a lettuce wedge salad. For dessert, fresh pineapple is good.

TUESDAY: Have fun and save money with Rice Bowls With Fried Eggs and Avocado for dinner: Mix 4 thinly sliced green onions and 2 cups cooked brown rice in a small bowl; season to taste with coarse salt and pepper; mix well and divide into 4 individual bowls. Meanwhile, heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in a large skillet on medium high. Crack eggs into a small bowl and pour into skillet; season with salt and pepper and cook until desired doneness. Transfer each egg to the outside edge of each bowl. Divide 1 avocado into slices and place on other side of bowl. Serve with hot sauce at the table. Add a green salad and toasted whole-grain English muffins. Dessert is leftover pie.

WEDNESDAY: This Layered Salad (see recipe) is a quick meal and tastes great before the fall weather is with us. Add baked corn chips. Try Asian pears for dessert.

THURSDAY: The kids (and adults) will drool over Three-Cheese Pasta for dinner: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Boil 2 ½ cups penne or rigatoni pasta according to package directions; drain. In a medium bowl, microwave, covered, 1 medium orange bell pepper (chopped) and 2 green onions (sliced, including 3 inches of the green tops), on 100% power for 3 minutes. Drain and set aside. Place 3 tablespoons butter in a 2-quart container; microwave on 50% power for about 1 minute or until melted. Stir in 3 tablespoons flour, ½ teaspoon coarse salt and ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper. With a whisk, mix in 2 cups milk. Cover and microwave on 100% power for about 5 minutes. Stir after the first 2 minutes and then stir again occasionally until thickened. Mix in 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, ½ cup shredded Swiss cheese and ½ cup shredded Monterey Jack cheese until melted. Add the cooked pasta and vegetables; mix well. Pour mixture into baking dish. Top with panko crumbs; bake 30 minutes or until hot and slightly brown on top. Serve with fresh green beans and soft rolls. Dip apple slices in a little caramel sauce for dessert.

FRIDAY: Keeping up the easy meal idea, Caprese Ravioli (see recipe) is perfect for dinner tonight. Add whole-grain rolls to the meal. Fresh blueberries topped with whipped cream are good for dessert.

SATURDAY: Invite some guests to enjoy grilled chicken. Add sliced cucumbers and red onion in cider vinegar along with flatbread to round out your meal. Coconut macaroons are a simple dessert.


Italian Marinated Steak

  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • ¼ cup dry white wine
  • 1 ½ teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon pepper
  • 1 beef top round steak, cut 1 inch thick (about 1 ½ pounds)

Combine marinade ingredients in a small bowl. Place marinade and steak in a resealable plastic bag; turn to coat. Marinate in refrigerator at least 6 hours or overnight, turning occasionally. Remove steak from marinade; discard marinade. Grill steak over medium heat 12 to 14 minutes for medium-rare doneness, turning occasionally. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes before slicing across the grain in thin slices.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 189 calories, 34 g protein, 5 g fat, no carbohydrate, 85 mg cholesterol, 163 mg sodium and no fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0


Layered Salad

For the dressing:

  • 1 (10-ounce) can no-salt-added tomatoes with green chiles
  • 8 ounces reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3 ounces Neufchatel cream cheese, softened
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 clove garlic, minced

For the salad:

  • 6 cups chopped romaine or other lettuce, divided use
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese, divided use
  • 1 (6-ounce) can sliced black olives, drained, divided use
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans
  • 1 ½ cups fresh or frozen (thawed) whole kernel corn
  • 2 Haas avocados, diced and sprinkled with fresh lemon juice
  • ¾ cup roasted red pepper strips
  • ¼ cup sliced green onions

Mix together all dressing ingredients; set aside.

Reserve some lettuce, cheese and olives for garnish, if desired.

In a large, straight-sided salad bowl, layer 4 cups lettuce, black beans, corn, avocados, red pepper, 2 more cups lettuce, cheese and olives. Cover top with dressing. To garnish, top with reserved shredded lettuce, cheese, olives and green onions. Cover; refrigerate up to 2 hours.

Makes about 12 cups.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced-fat sour cream, reduced-sodium black beans and light cheddar cheese) contains approximately 200 calories, 8 g protein, 12 g fat, 18 g carbohydrate, 20 mg cholesterol, 360 mg sodium and 7 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1


Caprese Ravioli

  • 12 ounces mini cheese ravioli
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved lengthwise
  • 12 ounces marinated mozzarella bocconcini or ciliegine, halved PLUS 1 tablespoon marinade reserved
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic glaze
  • ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil leaves
  • Coarse salt, pepper and grated parmesan to taste

Cook the ravioli according to package directions and drain. Transfer cooked ravioli to a serving dish and top with grape tomatoes, bocconcini and reserved marinade oil. Drizzle with balsamic glaze and top with sliced basil. Season with coarse salt and pepper to taste; serve with grated parmesan.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving approximately 539 calories, 27 g protein, 33 g fat, 37 g carbohydrate, 115 mg cholesterol, 352 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2 ½

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: susan@7daymenu.com