7 DAY MENU PLANNER: Stay on budget with beef and vegetable soup

America's Test Kitchen/Joe Keller
America's Test Kitchen/Joe Keller

SUNDAY (Family) -- Make family day special with baked turkey breast. To make preparation even easier, use a turkey roasting bag and follow the directions. Serve with garlic mashed potatoes, peas and carrots (from frozen), a mixed green salad and dinner rolls. Buy a chocolate meringue pie for dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough turkey, peas and carrots and pie for Monday. Save enough mashed potatoes for Tuesday.

SHOPPING LIST: turkey breast to bake, garlic mashed potatoes, frozen peas and carrots, salad greens, dinner rolls, chocolate meringue pie.

MONDAY (Heat and Eat) -- Have some fun and make turkey pierogi pot pie with the turkey leftovers. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 10-inch round baking dish (about 2 1/2 quarts) with cooking spray. In a large bowl, toss 1 1/2 cups leftover peas and carrots, 1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms and 1 1/4 cups chopped cooked (leftover) turkey with 1 cup Alfredo sauce until coated. Transfer to baking dish. Arrange 1 (14.1- to 16-ounce) package any variety frozen pierogies on top; coat with cooking spray and bake 35 minutes or until filling bubbles and pierogies turn golden. Serve with a lettuce wedge. Slice the leftover pie for dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough Alfredo sauce for Friday.

SHOPPING LIST: cooking spray, sliced fresh mushrooms, Alfredo sauce, any frozen pierogies, lettuce.

TUESDAY (Budget) -- What could be more economical and taste better on a cold night than quick beef and vegetable soup (see recipe below)? Serve with a green salad and a baguette. Cherry ginger crisp (see recipe below) is a special dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: ground beef, onion, dried oregano, coarse salt, pepper, lower-sodium chicken or beef broth, canned diced tomatoes, Yukon gold or red potatoes, carrots, frozen cut green beans, salad greens, baguette, frozen tart cherries, flour, sugar, orange, dried ginger, butter, rolled oats.

WEDNESDAY (Meatless) -- Skip meat for this creamy corn and potato chowder: In a large pan, combine 1 1/2 cups 1 percent milk, 1 (15- to 17-ounce) can no-salt-added cream-style corn, 8 ounces frozen O'Brien potatoes, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground pepper. Cover and bring to a boil on medium-high. Reduce heat to medium-low; uncover and stir to break up potatoes. Simmer, uncovered, 8 to 10 minutes or until thickened, stirring often. Sprinkle with 50 percent light cheddar cheese and fresh chopped chives. Serve the soup with deli egg salad sandwiches on whole-grain bread with sliced tomatoes and lettuce. Try plums for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: 1 percent milk, canned no-salt-added cream-style corn, frozen O'Brien potatoes, coarse salt, pepper, 50 percent light cheddar cheese, fresh chives, deli egg salad, whole-grain bread, tomatoes, lettuce, plums.

THURSDAY (Kids) -- Kids and grown-ups will like these sloppy joes: Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add 12 ounces lean ground beef; cook 1 minute. Add 1 large finely chopped onion and 2 cups finely chopped cremini mushrooms (about 4 ounces); cook 8 to 10 minutes or until vegetables are soft and moisture has evaporated. Add 5 diced plum tomatoes and 2 tablespoons flour; stir to combine. Stir in 1/2 cup water, 1/4 cup cider vinegar, 1/4 cup chili sauce and 1/4 cup ketchup; return to a simmer, stirring often. Reduce heat to low and cook 8 to 10 minutes, stirring occasionally until the sauce is thickened and the onion is tender. Spoon onto toasted whole-grain hamburger buns.

Serve with baked chips and a carrot salad. Kiwis are an easy dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: lean ground beef, onion, cremini mushrooms, tomatoes, flour, cider vinegar, chili sauce, ketchup, whole-grain hamburger buns, baked chips, carrot salad, kiwis.

FRIDAY (Express) -- Cook refrigerated pasta and top with alfredo sauce (leftover) for a fast dinner. Add a spinach salad and crusty bread. Fresh tropical fruit is good for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: refrigerated pasta, fresh spinach, crusty bread, fresh tropical fruit.

SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining) -- Your guests will enjoy an orange chicken and vegetable rice bowl (see recipe below). Serve with a boston lettuce salad and whole-grain rolls. Buy fruit tarts for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: canola oil, boneless skinless chicken breasts, broccoli florets, fresh carrots, onion, yellow bell pepper, red bell pepper, fresh ginger, unsalted chicken broth, orange, lower-sodium soy sauce, cornstarch, brown rice, Boston lettuce, whole-grain rolls, fruit tarts.




Servings: makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes


1 pound ground beef

1 onion, chopped

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

4 cups lower-sodium chicken or beef broth

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, with liquid

8 ounces Yukon gold or red potatoes, unpeeled, cut into 1/2-inch pieces

2 carrots, peeled and cut into 1/2-inch pieces

6 ounces frozen cut green beans

In a Dutch oven over medium-high heat, cook beef, onion, oregano, salt and pepper about 6 minutes or until beef is no longer pink. Add broth, tomatoes, potatoes and carrots. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer, covered, 10 to 15 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Add green beans and cook, uncovered, until beans are tender. Season with salt and pepper to taste. (Adapted from “The Complete Modern Pantry,” America’s Test Kitchen.)

Per serving: 337 calories, 25 grams protein, 12 grams fat (34 percent calories from fat), 4.1 grams saturated fat, 27 grams carbohydrate, 65 milligrams cholesterol, 714 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.



Servings: makes 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 35 to 40 minutes


4 cups frozen tart cherries (do not thaw)

1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour, divided

2 tablespoons plus 3/4 cup sugar

1 teaspoon orange zest

1/2 teaspoon dried ginger

1 teaspoon plus 4 tablespoons butter

1/3 cup rolled oats

Heat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, mix cherries, 1/2 cup flour, 2 tablespoons sugar, orange zest and dried ginger. Set aside. Coat inside of 10-inch ovenproof skillet with 1 teaspoon butter. Pour cherry mixture into skillet and spread into an even layer. Set aside. In a medium-size bowl, mix remaining flour and sugar with the rolled oats using a spoon. Use a pastry blender or two knives to mix 4 tablespoons softened butter into the flour mixture until butter is evenly incorporated and mixture resembles a coarse crumb. Spread topping evenly over cherries. Bake for 35-40 minutes or until topping is golden brown and cherries are bubbling. Serve warm or room temperature.

Per serving: 279 calories, 4 grams protein, 7 grams fat (22 percent calories from fat), 4.1 grams saturated fat, 52 grams carbohydrate, 17 milligrams cholesterol, 53 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Carb count: 3.5.



Servings: makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: less than 20 minutes


4 teaspoons canola oil, divided

1 pound boneless skinless chicken breast, cut into strips, or tenderloins

2 cups fresh broccoli florets

2 thinly sliced fresh carrots

1 medium onion, sliced

1 yellow bell pepper, sliced

1 red bell pepper, sliced

1 tablespoon grated fresh ginger

1 (14-ounce) can unsalted chicken broth

Juice from 1 orange (about 1/2 cup)

Zest (orange part only) from same orange

3 tablespoons lower-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons cornstarch

3 cups cooked brown rice

Heat 2 teaspoons oil on medium-high in a large nonstick skillet or wok. Stir-fry chicken about 5 minutes or until lightly browned; remove. In same skillet, heat remaining oil; stir-fry broccoli, carrots, onion, bell peppers and ginger for 4 to 5 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, combine chicken broth, orange juice, zest, soy sauce and cornstarch. Stir until smooth. Add to skillet, stirring constantly. Boil 1 to 2 minutes or until thickened. Stir in chicken and cook until heated through. Spoon over hot rice.

Per serving: 310 calories, 22 grams protein, 6 grams fat (19 percent calories from fat), 1 gram saturated fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, 55 milligrams cholesterol, 294 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

Carb count: 2.5.


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 7daymenuplanner.com. Read Susan’s blog: makingthemenu.com. And check out Susan’s book! “7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies” is on shelves now. Order yours on Amazon.com today!