7-Day Menu Planner

Southwestern Turkey Chili (Flickr/cyclonebill)

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

SUNDAY: Buy a smoked turkey breast for an easy family meal and pair it with this Spinach Feta Rice: In a large microwave-safe dish, combine 1 medium chopped onion, 1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms and 2 cloves garlic (minced). Microwave for 7 minutes on 100% power or until onion is softened; drain. Combine mushroom mixture, 1 tablespoon fresh lemon juice, 1 ½ teaspoons fresh oregano (or ½ teaspoon dried), 1 (5-ounce) package baby spinach leaves (shredded), 4 ounces crumbled feta cheese and freshly ground pepper to taste with 3 cups hot cooked brown rice. Microwave 1 to 2 minutes until spinach is wilted; toss to mix and serve. Add a red-tipped lettuce salad and dinner rolls. Make Peach Shortcake for dessert, using store-bought individual sponge cakes, vanilla ice cream and sliced fresh or frozen (thawed) peaches.

Plan ahead: Save enough turkey and peaches and soak beans for Monday. Save enough ice cream for Saturday.

MONDAY: Use some of the leftover turkey for Southwestern Turkey Chili (see recipe). Add a lettuce wedge and corn tortillas. Leftover peaches are your dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough chili for Tuesday

TUESDAY: Enjoy the fruits of yesterday's labor and heat Monday's chili for dinner. Top it with a dollop of sour cream. Add a spinach salad and cornbread. How about plums for dessert?

WEDNESDAY: Delicious without meat, Huevos Rancheros (see recipe) is a meal you'll enjoy. Serve the spicy egg dish with refried beans and toasted whole-wheat English muffins. Fresh pineapple is a light dessert.

THURSDAY: Make the kids happy with Italian Sauce Over Spinach Spaghetti for dinner: Cook 12 ounces spinach spaghetti as directed on package. In a large nonstick skillet, cook 1 medium onion (chopped) in 2 teaspoons olive oil for 5 minutes or until softened. Add 1 (28-ounce) can Italian-style stewed tomatoes (with liquid) and 3 tablespoons fresh basil (or 1 tablespoon dried). Mix well and cook uncovered until the liquid is reduced by one-third, stirring occasionally. Spoon sauce over spaghetti and serve. Add carrot sticks and garlic bread. Make banana pudding for dessert.

FRIDAY: Make your own Salad Pizza tonight: Toss a package of green salad with light Italian dressing and top a hot deli pizza with the salad. Cut into wedges and serve. Deli brownies are a delectable dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough brownies for Saturday.

SATURDAY: Invite friends for Pan Roasted Cod (see recipe). Serve the fish with scalloped potatoes and an arugula salad tossed with extra-virgin olive oil and fresh lemon juice and garnished with pumpkin seeds and hard-boiled egg wedges. Add whole-grain rolls. For dessert, Caramel Sundaes are divine: Top leftover vanilla ice cream with crumbled leftover brownies and drizzle with caramel sauce.


Southwestern Turkey Chili

  • 1 pound dried black beans
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • ½ red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 fresh jalapeño peppers, seeded and chopped
  • 2 ribs celery, thinly sliced
  • 1 large yellow onion, chopped
  • 1 medium red onion, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons minced garlic
  • 2 tablespoons fresh or dried oregano
  • 2 tablespoons chile powder
  • 2 tablespoons ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon cumin
  • 1 ½ teaspoons coarse salt
  • 3 (14-ounce) cans unsalted chicken broth
  • 2 cups fresh or frozen (thawed) whole-kernel corn
  • 2 cups diced smoked turkey
  • 2 tablespoons mashed potato flakes (optional)
  • Sour cream, fresh cilantro and red onions for garnish, if desired

Soak beans in water overnight and cook according to package directions. Drain and set aside.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Cook peppers, celery, onion and garlic, stirring occasionally, 8 to 10 minutes or until softened. Add the vegetable mixture to the black beans along with the oregano, chile powder, coriander, cumin, salt, broth, corn and turkey. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer uncovered 45 minutes to an hour. For a thicker chili, add the optional dehydrated potatoes during the last 15 minutes of cooking. Garnish as desired and serve.

Makes 10 cups.

Nutrition information: Each cup (without garnishes) contains approximately 285 calories, 18 g protein, 4 g fat, 44 g carbohydrate, 22 mg cholesterol, 600 mg sodium and 7 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3

Huevos Rancheros

  • 4 (6- or 7-inch) flour tortillas
  • ½ teaspoon chile powder
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • 8 eggs
  • 2/3 cup salsa
  • ½ cup sliced pimento-stuffed green olives
  • ¼ cup ketchup
  • ½ cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese
  • ¼ cup chopped cilantro

Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat both sides of tortillas with cooking spray and sprinkle with chile powder; place on a baking sheet. Bake 4 minutes; turn. Continue baking 4 more minutes or until golden and crisp.

Meanwhile, heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Cook eggs as desired. Transfer tortillas to serving plates; top with eggs. Keep warm in turned-off oven. In same skillet, add salsa, olives and ketchup. Cook and stir on medium-high until very hot. Spoon sauce over eggs; top with cheese and cilantro.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 359 calories, 18 g protein, 19 g fat, 28 g carbohydrate, 385 mg cholesterol, 1,177 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2

Pan-Roasted Cod

  • For the cod:
  • 4 (6- to 8-ounce) skinless cod filets, 1 inch thick
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon canola oil
  • For the relish:
  • 2 red grapefruit
  • 1 small shallot, minced
  • 2 tablespoons chopped fresh basil
  • 2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • Additional salt, pepper and sugar to taste

Heat oven to 425 degrees.

Pat cod dry with paper towels; sprinkle with salt and pepper on both sides; sprinkle sugar lightly over one side of each filet.

Heat oil in 12-inch oven-safe nonstick skillet on medium-high until just smoking. Lay filets sugared side down in skillet; using spatula, lightly press filets for 20 to 30 seconds to ensure even contact with skillet. Cook 1 to 2 minutes or until browned on first side. Using 2 spatulas, flip filets; transfer skillet to oven. Roast 7 to 10 minutes or until fish flakes apart when gently prodded with paring knife and internal temperature is 135 degrees. Transfer cod to platter.

Serve with Grapefruit-Basil Relish: Cut peel and pith from grapefruit. Cut each grapefruit into 8 wedges; slice crosswise into ½-inch pieces. Place grapefruit in strainer set over bowl; let drain 15 minutes. Reserve 1 tablespoon juice. Combine reserved juice, shallot, basil, lemon juice and olive oil. Stir in grapefruit and let stand 15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper and sugar to taste. Relish can be refrigerated for up to 2 days. (Adapted from "Foolproof Fish," American's Test Kitchen.)

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving of fish contains approximately 173 calories, 30 g protein, 5 g fat, no carbohydrate, 73 mg cholesterol, 332 mg sodium and no fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0

Nutrition information: Each serving of relish contains approximately 64 calories, 1 g protein, 2 g fat, 11 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 1 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1

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