SUNDAY (Family) -- Start Mom's special day with a glass of tomato juice and caprese skewers (see recipe). After that, Mom will love this easy breakfast skillet hash. Heat 2 tablespoons canola oil in large nonstick skillet on medium. Add 4½ cups (¾ of 30-ounce package) partially thawed frozen shredded hash browns and 1 tablespoon bacon-and-chive seasoning. Coat back of large spoon with cooking spray and use it to make 4 indentations in potatoes. Break 1 egg into each indention. Sprinkle with ½ cup shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese and 2 tablespoons thinly sliced green onions. Cover and cook 5 minutes or until eggs are set.
Add biscuits to the meal. A bowl of blueberries, garnished with a mint sprig, is the perfect ending for Mom's special meal.
SHOPPING LIST: tomato juice, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, grape tomatoes, fresh baby mozzarella cheese balls, fresh basil, coarse salt, pepper, canola oil, frozen shredded hash browns, bacon-and-chive seasoning, eggs, shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese, green onions, biscuits, blueberries, fresh mint.
PLAN AHEAD: Save enough blueberries for Monday.
MONDAY (Express) -- For a fast meal, serve roast beef wrap with horseradish slaw. For 2 wraps: In a medium bowl, combine ¼ cup reduced-fat sour cream and 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish. Fold in 1 cup coleslaw mix. Dividing evenly, top 2 (10-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas with 2 cups baby spinach, 8 ounces deli sliced roast beef, 2 ounces sliced 50 percent light cheddar cheese and the slaw mixture. Roll tightly, folding the sides. Slice on the diagonal and serve. Add baked chips and grape tomatoes to the plate. Enjoy leftover blueberries for dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: reduced-fat sour cream, prepared horseradish, coleslaw mix, whole-grain flour tortillas, baby spinach, deli sliced roast beef, sliced 50 percent light cheddar cheese, baked chips, grape tomatoes.
TUESDAY (Meatless) -- Forget meat tonight when you serve grilled cheese and tomato paninis. Spread sliced Italian bread with pesto; layer with tomato and part-skim mozzarella cheese. Coat outside of bread with cooking spray; brown in a skillet on medium heat, pressing sandwiches with a spatula, until cheese melts. Add split pea soup.
Make the meal special and add your deviled eggs. For dessert, try plums.
SHOPPING LIST: Italian bread, pesto, tomatoes, part-skim mozzarella, cooking spray, split pea soup, ingredients for deviled eggs, plums.
WEDNESDAY (Kids) -- Serve the kids sweet and sour meatballs tonight. In a large pot, heat beef gravy (from can or jar) on medium with seedless red raspberry jam to taste. Add any prepared frozen meatballs (thawed); heat through. Stir in some reduced-fat sour cream and chopped fresh parsley. Spoon over cooked noodles to serve.
Add green peas (from frozen) and soft rolls. For dessert, how about a big bowl of fresh strawberries?
SHOPPING LIST: can or jar beef gravy, seedless red raspberry jam, frozen meatballs, reduced-fat sour cream, fresh parsley, noodles, frozen green peas, soft rolls, fresh strawberries.
THURSDAY (Budget) -- You'll save money, and you'll love the flavor of quinoa and black bean salad (see recipe). Serve it with chicken noodle soup and sesame bread sticks. Pears are an easy dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: quinoa, canned reduced-sodium black beans, red wine vinegar, coarse salt, black pepper, frozen corn, green bell pepper, pickled jalapeno peppers, fresh cilantro, limes, cumin, olive oil, chicken noodle soup, sesame bread sticks, pears.
PLAN AHEAD: Save enough quinoa and black bean salad for Friday.
FRIDAY (Heat and Eat) -- Dinner is almost ready when you use your leftovers to make chicken and quinoa. Toss carved, refrigerated cooked chicken breast pieces with the leftover quinoa salad. Moisten with a little olive oil. Serve with mixed greens and whole-grain bread. Sliced kiwis are dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: olive oil, mixed greens, whole-grain bread, kiwis.
SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining) -- Entertain your friends with chicken paprika (see recipe). Serve over noodles. Add a romaine salad and whole-grain rolls. Buy a carrot cake for dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, paprika, coarse salt, pepper, olive oil, onion, no-salt-added or regular fire-roasted diced tomatoes, half-and-half, fresh parsley, noodles, romaine, whole-grain rolls, carrot cake.
Caprese skewers (Sunday)
Servings: makes 30 skewers
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: none
¼ cup extra-virgin olive oil
1 garlic clove, minced to paste
10 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
Coarse salt and pepper to taste
1 cup fresh basil leaves
8 ounces fresh baby mozzarella cheese balls
Whisk oil and garlic together in small bowl. In separate bowl, toss tomatoes and season with salt and pepper. On short wooden skewers, lace tomatoes, basil leaves and mozzarella balls in this order from top to bottom: tomato half, basil leaf (folded if large), mozzarella ball, tomato half with flat side facing down. Use flat side of bottom tomato to stand each skewer upright on serving platter. Drizzle with remaining garlic oil and season with salt and pepper. Serve. (Adapted from "The Complete Small Plates Cookbook," American's Test Kitchen.)
Per skewer: 28 calories, 2 grams protein, 2 grams fat (73 percent calories from fat), 1.1 grams saturated fat, 1 gram carbohydrate, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 5 milligrams sodium, no fiber.
Carb count: 0.
Quinoa and black bean salad (Thursday)
Servings: makes about 10 cups
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: about 15 minutes
For the salad:
1½ cups quinoa
3 cups water
1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed
1½ tablespoons red wine vinegar
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1½ cups cooked frozen corn
¾ cup chopped green bell pepper
2 pickled jalapeno peppers, rinsed, seeded and minced
¼ cup chopped fresh cilantro
For the dressing:
5 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon coarse salt
1¼ teaspoons cumin
¼ cup olive oil
Rinse quinoa thoroughly in a fine mesh strainer, holding under cold water 2 minutes or until water is clear; drain well. In a 3-quart saucepan, bring water to a boil. Add quinoa; reduce heat to low. Cover; simmer 10 to 12 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, toss beans with vinegar, salt and pepper. Transfer cooked quinoa to a large bowl; let cool. Add bean mixture, corn, bell pepper, jalapenos and cilantro. Toss to mix.
Dressing: In a small bowl, whisk together lime juice, salt and cumin. Add oil, whisking. Drizzle dressing over salad. Toss to mix.
Per serving: 208 calories, 7 grams protein, 7 grams fat (30 percent calories from fat), 1 gram saturated fat, 30 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 114 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.
Carb count: 2.
Chicken paprika (Saturday)
Servings: makes 4 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 20 minutes
1 pound boneless skinless chicken breasts or thighs, cut into strips
2½ teaspoons paprika, divided
¼ teaspoon coarse salt
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 (14.5-ounce) can no-salt-added or regular fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid
1/3 cup half-and-half
Chopped fresh parsley for garnish (if desired)
Season the chicken with ½ teaspoon of the paprika, salt and pepper. Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add chicken; cook 3 minutes per side or until browned. Remove chicken from skillet. Add onion to skillet; cook and stir 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in tomatoes and remaining paprika; bring to a boil. Return chicken and accumulated liquid to skillet. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 8-10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Stir in half-and-half until well blended. When serving, sprinkle with parsley (if desired).
Per serving: 230 calories, 27 grams protein, 9 grams fat (35 percent calories from fat), 2.5 grams saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 90 milligrams cholesterol, 198 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Carb count: 0.5.
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.