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7-DAY MENU PLANNER: Cajun rice dish is full of flavor, won't break the bank

by Andrews McMeel Syndication | January 12, 2022 at 4:00 a.m.
Photo by Christy Denney

SUNDAY: Family day

Treat the family to chicken and potatoes with pearl onions and carrots (see recipe) for a perfect comfort meal. Serve the combo with a mixed green salad and biscuits. Buy a Boston cream pie for dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough chicken with vegetables and pie for Monday.

SHOPPING LIST: bone-in skinless chicken breasts, herbes de Provence, garlic powder, pepper, red potatoes, frozen pearl onions, baby carrots, cremini mushrooms, reduced-sodium chicken broth, mixed greens, biscuits, Boston cream pie.

MONDAY: Heat and eat

Heat the leftover chicken and vegetables and serve it over couscous for an easy meal. Add a romaine salad and bread sticks. Slice the leftover pie for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: couscous, romaine, bread sticks.

TUESDAY: Budget dining

Cajun sausage and rice (see recipe) won't break the food budget bank. Enjoy it with a spinach salad and a baguette. How about vanilla ice cream with caramel topping for dessert?

SHOPPING LIST: olive oil, andouille sausage, green bell pepper, onion, garlic, unsalted chicken broth, tomato paste, long-grain white rice, paprika, dried oregano, coarse salt, black pepper, fresh parsley, fresh spinach, baguette, vanilla ice cream, caramel topping.

WEDNESDAY: Kids favorite

Children will come running for chili dogs. Spoon some chili over the children's favorite hot dogs (lowest-sodium lowest-fat dogs) on a whole-grain bun. Crunch on celery sticks alongside.

Make a special dessert, s'more puffs, for lots of fun: Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place 12 round buttery crackers on a baking sheet. Top each with one milk chocolate kiss (of 12 total) and half of one large marshmallow (six marshmallows total). Bake 8 minutes or until marshmallows just begin to melt. Let cool on a wire rack 5 minutes before eating.

SHOPPING LIST: chili, hot dogs (lowest-fat, lowest-sodium dogs), whole-grain hot dog buns, celery sticks, round buttery crackers, milk chocolate kisses, large marshmallows.

THURSDAY: Express cooking

Buy some deli tuna salad and make tuna salad sandwiches. Before you spread it on whole-grain bread, stir in some halved grapes. Add a lettuce leaf to the sandwich, too. Serve with bean soup. Add plums for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: deli tuna salad, whole-grain bread, grapes, lettuce, bean soup, plums.

FRIDAY: Meatless meal

For a delicious no-meat dinner, try Mediterranean bulgur with chickpeas: In a large serving bowl, combine 1 cup bulgur (cracked wheat), two diced plum tomatoes, one small diced zucchini and 3 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley. Pour 11/2 cups boiling water over all; cover with foil. Let stand 12-15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and bulgur is tender. Stir in one (15.5-ounce) can rinsed chickpeas, 2 cups cooked broccoli florets, 3/4 cup reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese, 1 teaspoon grated lemon zest, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and 2 tablespoons olive oil; mix well and serve.

Add sliced cucumbers and flatbread to round out the meal. Orange sorbet is good for dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough sorbet for Saturday.

SHOPPING LIST: bulgur (cracked wheat), plum tomatoes, zucchini, fresh parsley, canned chickpeas, broccoli, crumbled feta cheese, lemon, olive oil, cucumbers, flatbread, orange sorbet.

SATURDAY: Easy entertaining

Make dinner special for your guests with pork roast with apples and sage (see recipe). Serve with brown rice, green beans, a Boston lettuce salad and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, serve the leftover sorbet with butter cookies.

SHOPPING LIST: fresh sage, garlic, coarse salt, pepper, boneless pork loin roast, jar pork gravy or au jus, gala apples, brown rice, green beans, Boston lettuce, whole-grain rolls, butter cookies.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: [email protected] Follow Susan on Twitter: @7DayMenu. The Menu Planner is also accessible at

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Makes: 8 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 6 to 7 hours

6 bone-in skinless chicken breasts

1 tablespoon herbes de Provence

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

Freshly ground pepper to taste

2 pounds small red potatoes

3/4 cup frozen pearl onions, thawed

2 cups baby carrots

8 ounces cremini mushrooms

1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth

Place chicken in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Sprinkle with herbs de Provence, garlic powder and pepper. Add potatoes, onions, carrots and mushrooms. Pour broth over all. Cover and cook on low 6-7 hours or until chicken is cooked through and vegetables are tender. Remove bones and serve.

Per serving: 220 calories, 24 grams protein, 3 grams fat (12% calories from fat), 0.6 gram saturated fat, 24 gram carbohydrate, 65 milligrams cholesterol, 185 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Carb count: 1.5.


Makes: 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 20-25 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil

14 ounces andouille sausage, cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 green bell pepper, sliced

1/2 cup chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

2 1/2 cups unsalted chicken broth

5 tablespoons tomato paste

1 cup long-grain white rice

1 teaspoon paprika

1/2 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

Ground black pepper to taste

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high. Add sausage and cook until browned on both sides. Add bell pepper and onion. Cook 2-4 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Add garlic and cook another minute. Stir in broth, paste, rice, paprika, oregano, salt and pepper. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduced heat to medium-low; simmer 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until rice is tender and liquid has been absorbed. Garnish with parsley and serve. (Adapted from "Scrumptious" by Christy Denney, Shadow Mountain Publishing.)

Per serving: 523 calories, 17 grams protein, 30 grams fat (52% calories from fat), 9.4 grams saturated fat, 46 grams carbohydrate, 62 milligrams cholesterol, 1,254 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Carb count: 3.


Makes: 10 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 5-7 hours

4 teaspoons chopped fresh sage

1 tablespoon minced garlic

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 (2 3/4- to 3-pound) boneless pork loin roast, well-trimmed

1 (12-ounce) jar pork gravy or au jus

4 medium gala apples, divided

Mix sage, garlic, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Spread over top of pork. Place gravy in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Core 2 apples and coarsely chop; add to gravy. Place pork on top. Cover and cook on low 5-7 hours. Core and cut remaining apples into eight wedges each; add to cooker the last hour of cooking. Remove pork and apple wedges to a tray; tent with foil. Let stand. Remove chopped apples with slotted spoon to food processor; puree. Add 1 cup cooking liquid to apple puree; heat. Slice pork; serve with apple wedges and apple gravy.

Per serving: 247 calories, 28 grams protein, 9 grams fat (35% calories from fat), 3.8 grams saturated fat, 12 grams carbohydrate, 74 milligrams cholesterol, 464 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber. Carb count: 1.

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