SUNDAY (Family) -- Forget the same old same old for family day and enjoy pork chops with sauerkraut and apples: Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium. Brown four well-trimmed pork loin chops (about 1 pound total) on both sides for four or five minutes. In a medium bowl, mix together 2 cups refrigerated, rinsed and drained sauerkraut, 2 tablespoons finely chopped red onion, 2 teaspoons caraway seeds, two chopped Granny Smith apples and ¼ cup unsalted chicken broth. Add sauerkraut mixture to skillet; cover and simmer about 20 minutes or until apples and pork are tender.
Add a pecan berry green salad: On a large platter, spread 7 to 8 ounces salad greens. Next, sprinkle on 6 ounces fresh blueberries (see NOTE). Layer in 8 ounces sliced fresh strawberries. Using your fingers, crumble 6 ounces goat cheese in medium-large crumbles. Finally, spread 1 cup pecans. Toss with your favorite dressing. Serve chilled.
NOTE: For an elegant presentation, you may optionally arrange toppings in sections instead of layering. If so, toss before serving.
Add mashed sweet potatoes and rye rolls. Coconut cake is your dessert.
PLAN AHEAD: Prepare brown rice for Monday. Save enough cake for Wednesday.
SHOPPING LIST: pork loin chops, refrigerated sauerkraut, red onion, caraway seeds, Granny Smith apples, unsalted chicken broth, salad greens, fresh blueberries, fresh strawberries, goat cheese, pecans, favorite dressing, sweet potatoes to mash, rye rolls, coconut cake.
MONDAY (Budget) -- Southwestern rice and beans on leaf lettuce (see recipe) is a great-tasting way to save food dollars. Serve it with sliced avocados and baked tortilla chips. Cool lime sherbet is your dessert.
PLAN AHEAD: Save enough rice and beans and sherbet for Tuesday.
SHOPPING LIST: brown rice, canned reduced-sodium red kidney beans, canned reduced-sodium pinto or black beans, frozen green peas, celery, canned no-salt-added diced tomatoes with green chilies, sweet onion, parsley, red wine vinegar, canola oil, garlic, coarse salt, pepper, leaf lettuce, avocados, baked tortilla chips, lime sherbet.
TUESDAY (Heat and Eat) -- There won't be any heat, but there will be lots of flavor in stuffed tomatoes using the leftover rice and beans. Choose medium or large tomatoes and scoop out seeds and pulp. Stuff with the rice and beans and serve. Add a bowl of beef barley soup, a spinach salad and crusty rolls. Scoop the leftover sherbet for dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: tomatoes, beef barley soup, fresh spinach, crusty rolls.
WEDNESDAY (Meatless) -- Skip meat tonight and be bowled over with quinoa taco salad bowls (see recipe) for dinner. Serve with hard-boiled egg wedges. Slice leftover cake for dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: romaine, quinoa, black beans, mango, plum tomatoes, blue corn chips, Haas avocados, salsa, eggs.
THURSDAY (Express) -- Not your mother's stroganoff (see recipe) makes good use of convenience products, has a great flavor and is so easy. Add a green salad and whole-grain rolls. Fresh tropical fruits make a refreshing dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: butter, onion, red bell pepper, sliced cremini mushrooms, extra-wide no-yolk noodles, packaged fully cooked beef pot roast, plain Greek yogurt or reduced-fat sour cream, black pepper, salad greens, whole-grain rolls, fresh tropical fruits.
FRIDAY (Kids) -- Let the kids choose their favorite: lean beef, turkey or veggie for burger night. Serve on whole-grain buns and add lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard and whatever other toppings the kids will love. Add a carrot salad and veggie chips. Sliced kiwis are a perfect dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: kids' favorite burgers, whole-wheat buns, lettuce, tomatoes, ketchup, mustard, other toppings as desired, carrot salad, veggie chips, kiwis.
SATURDAY (Easy entertaining) -- Invite guests for simple and tasty honey lime tuna. In a glass dish, combine ¼ cup canola oil, 1 tablespoon Old Bay seasoning, 1 tablespoon fresh lime juice, 1 tablespoon honey and 1½ teaspoons dried basil. Add 1 pound tuna steaks. Cover and refrigerate 20 minutes, turning occasionally. Remove tuna, reserving marinade. Grill each side for two to 2½ minutes, basting with marinade. Remove from heat; allow to rest for five to 10 minutes before serving.
Serve the tuna with brown rice with toasted slivered almonds, grilled zucchini, a Boston lettuce salad and a baguette. Cheesecake with fresh strawberries is dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: canola oil, Old Bay seasoning, limes, honey, dried basil, tuna steaks, brown rice, slivered almonds, fresh zucchini, Boston lettuce, baguette, cheesecake, fresh strawberries.
Southwestern rice and beans (Monday)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 20 minutes for rice
For the salad:
3 cups cooked brown rice, cooled
1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium red kidney beans, rinsed
1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium pinto or black beans, rinsed
1½ cups frozen green peas, thawed
1 cup sliced celery
1 (10-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with green chiles, drained
½ cup chopped sweet onion
¼ cup chopped parsley
For the vinaigrette:
1/3 cup red wine vinegar
¼ cup canola oil
¼ cup water
1 clove garlic, minced
½ teaspoon coarse salt
¼ teaspoon freshly ground pepper
For the salad: In a large salad bowl, combine rice, beans, peas, celery, tomatoes, onion and parsley. Set aside.
For the vinaigrette: In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, oil, water, garlic, salt and pepper. Pour over the salad and toss to mix. Cover and chill. Serve on a bed of lettuce.
Per serving: 371 calories, 13 grams protein, 11 grams fat (26 percent calories from fat), 1.1 grams saturated fat, 56 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 256 milligrams sodium, 11 grams fiber.
Carb count: 4.
Quinoa taco salad bowls (Wednesday)
Servings: Four bowls
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: for the quinoa
8 cups chopped romaine lettuce
1 cup cooked quinoa
1 cup cooked black beans
1 cup chopped mango
4 plum tomatoes, diced
2 cups crushed blue corn chips
2 small Haas avocados, diced
In each serving bowl, layer romaine. Arrange quinoa, beans, mango, tomatoes, corn chips and avocados in rows. Serve with salsa.
Per serving: 430 calories, 12 grams protein, 20 grams fat (39 percent calories from fat), 2.4 grams saturated fat, 57 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 82 milligrams sodium, 16 grams fiber.
Carb count: 4.
Not your mother's stroganoff (Thursday)
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 10 minutes
1 tablespoon butter
¼ cup chopped onion
½ red bell pepper, sliced into 1/4-inch strips
8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms
1½ cups water
6 ounces extra-wide no-yolk noodles
1 (17-ounce) package fully cooked beef pot roast
¼ cup plain Greek yogurt or reduced-fat sour cream
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
In a Dutch oven or large pot, combine butter, onion, bell pepper, mushrooms, water and noodles. Cover and bring to a boil on medium-high. Remove cover when mixture begins to boil. Boil five or six minutes or until most of the liquid is absorbed. Meanwhile, remove meat from packaging, reserving gravy and cut into bite-size pieces. To noodle mixture, stir in pot roast and gravy. Cook, uncovered, two to three minutes or until hot, stirring often. Remove from heat; stir in yogurt or sour cream and season with black pepper. Serve.
Per serving: 314 calories, 28 grams protein, 8 grams fat (22 percent calories from fat), 3.5 grams saturated fat, 32 grams carbohydrate, 63 milligrams cholesterol, 348 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.
Carb count: 2.
Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: [email protected].