SUNDAY: Family night
Celebrate family day with your favorite recipe for leg of lamb. Accompany it with colorful broccoli-walnut noodles (see recipe).
For more color and flavor, add lemony stewed tomatoes: With a vegetable peeler, remove a strip of the yellow part of a lemon peel. Add peel and a squeeze of lemon juice (to taste) to canned stewed tomatoes and heat. Remove peel and serve.
Add whole-grain rolls. For dessert, make or buy a red velvet cake.
PLAN AHEAD: Save enough lamb and cake for Monday.
SHOPPING LIST: leg of lamb, wide or medium curly no-yolk noodles, fresh broccoli, olive oil, walnuts, lemon, orange, coarse salt, pepper, canned stewed tomatoes, whole-grain rolls, red velvet cake.
MONDAY: Heat and eat
Make delicious Mediterranean lamb stew with Sunday's leftovers. In a saucepan, combine 1 tablespoon olive oil, 2 cups cooked chopped lamb, one (16-ounce) can rinsed reduced-sodium chickpeas, one (141/2-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with liquid, one (7-ounce) can caponata (eggplant appetizer). Mix well. Heat through and serve.
Add couscous, cucumber spears and flatbread. Leftover cake works for dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: olive oil, canned reduced-sodium chickpeas, canned no-salt-added diced tomatoes, canned caponata (eggplant appetizer), couscous, cucumbers, flatbread.
TUESDAY: Kids favorite
What child wouldn't like beany roll-ups? Mix one (16-ounce) can fat-free refried beans, 1/2 cup mild salsa and 1/4 teaspoon chili powder in a small saucepan. Heat on medium about 5 minutes or until warm. Spread about 1/4 cup mixture along center of each of eight (8- to 10-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas. Top with shredded lettuce and 1 tablespoon shredded Monterey Jack cheese. Fold over sides and ends and serve with additional salsa.
Add rice cooked with shredded carrots. The children can make celery boats with cream cheese and dried cranberries or cherries. Pears make a dandy dessert.
TIP: Adults may want chopped tomatoes and jalapeo peppers on their roll-ups.
SHOPPING LIST: canned fat-free refried beans, mild salsa, chili powder, whole-grain flour tortillas, lettuce, shredded Monterey Jack cheese, rice, shredded carrots, celery, cream cheese, dried cranberries or cherries, pears, tomatoes (if desired), jalapeo peppers (if desired).
WEDNESDAY: Express cooking
Little time to cook tonight? Here's where canned lentil soup and grilled chili-cheese sandwiches on whole-grain bread come to the rescue. Drain one (4-ounce) can whole green chilies. Put one chili between two slices (any) cheese on whole-grain bread. Coat both sides of bread with cooking spray and grill in skillet until cheese melts. Slice diagonally and serve with pickles. For dessert, strawberry ice cream is easy.
PLAN AHEAD: Cook Thursday's brown rice and lentils today. Save enough ice cream for Friday.
SHOPPING LIST: canned lentil soup, canned whole green chilies, any sliced cheese, whole-grain bread, cooking spray, pickles, strawberry ice cream.
THURSDAY: Budget dining
When the food budget is tight, cheesy lentils and rice (see recipe) will keep you afloat.
Serve with tomato and sweet onion salad: Slice 2 pounds ripe, cored tomatoes (any kind) into 1-inch chunks. Tear 20 fresh mint leaves into small pieces. Thinly slice a medium sweet onion. Place tomatoes, mint and onions in a medium bowl. Add juice of one lemon, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and some pepper. Combine, gently toss and serve.
Add toasted English muffins. Peaches are an economical dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: brown lentils, brown rice, unsalted chicken broth, canned diced tomatoes and green chiles, garlic, chili powder, cumin, dried oregano, coarse salt, pepper, shredded pepper jack cheese, cilantro, reduced-fat sour cream, tomatoes, mint, sweet onion, lemon, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic powder, English muffins, peaches.
FRIDAY: Meatless meal
Skipping meat tonight couldn't be easier with savory bean and pasta salad (see recipe). Serve with a lettuce wedge and garlic bread. Scoop the leftover ice cream for dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: medium shell or penne pasta, canned three-bean salad, grape tomatoes, provolone cheese, dried oregano, garlic, pepper, lettuce, garlic bread.
SATURDAY: Entertain the family
The family will love pepper-lime chicken. Place 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breast halves (flattened to an even thickness) on unheated rack (coated with cooking spray) of broiler pan. Broil 4-5 inches from heat about 6 minutes or until lightly browned, turning once. Meanwhile, mix together 1/2 teaspoon lime zest (green part only), 1 tablespoon canola oil, two cloves minced garlic, 1 teaspoon dried thyme, 1/2 teaspoon cracked black pepper and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Brush both sides of chicken with glaze. Broil 5-15 minutes more, until chicken is tender or internal temperature reaches 165 degrees, brushing often during the last 5 minutes.
Serve with brown rice tossed with toasted pistachio nuts, French green beans and sourdough bread. Make dessert light with orange sorbet and chocolate wafer cookies.
SHOPPING LIST: boneless, skinless chicken breast halves, cooking spray, lime, canola oil, garlic, dried thyme, black pepper, coarse salt, brown rice, pistachio nuts, French green beans, sourdough bread, orange sorbet, chocolate wafer 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 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!
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BROCCOLI-WALNUT NOODLES (Sunday)
Makes: 8 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 5 minutes, plus noodles
6 ounces wide or medium curly no-yolk noodles
1 pound fresh bite-size broccoli florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1/2 cup chopped walnuts
Zest and juice of 1/2 lemon
Juice of 1/2 orange
Coarse salt and pepper to taste
Cook noodles according to directions; drain. Microwave broccoli on high (100% power) 4 minutes or until tender. In a small skillet, heat oil on medium-high and add walnuts; cook 1 minute. In a large bowl, combine cooked noodles and cooked broccoli. Add walnut-oil mixture to broccoli mixture; toss to mix. Add lemon zest, lemon juice, orange juice, and salt and pepper to taste; toss again. Serve immediately.
Per serving: 161 calories, 5 grams protein, 7 grams fat (37% calories from fat), 0.7 gram saturated fat, 21 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 26 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Carb choices: 1.5.
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CHEESY LENTILS AND RICE (Thursday)
Makes: about 10 cups
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: 40 minutes; standing time: 5 minutes
2 cups uncooked brown lentils
1 cup uncooked brown rice
1 cup unsalted chicken broth
2 (10-ounce) cans diced tomatoes and green chiles, with liquid
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoons chili powder
2 teaspoons cumin
2 teaspoons dried oregano
1 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
8 ounces shredded pepper jack cheese, divided
Chopped cilantro for garnish
Reduced-fat sour cream for garnish
Heat oven to 375 degrees. Cook lentils and rice. In a large bowl, combine lentils, rice, broth, tomatoes and green chilies, garlic, chili powder, cumin, oregano, salt, pepper and half the cheese. Mix well and spoon into a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining cheese. Cover with nonstick foil; bake 40 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 5 minutes; garnish with cilantro and sour cream before serving.
Per serving: 319 calories, 19 grams protein, 8 grams fat (23% calories from fat), 5 grams saturated fat, 45 grams carbohydrate, 20 milligrams cholesterol, 616 milligrams sodium, 8 grams fiber. Carb choices: 3.
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SAVORY BEAN AND PASTA SALAD (Friday)
Makes: 5 servings
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: for the pasta
6 ounces medium shell or penne pasta
2 (15-ounce) cans three-bean salad, lightly drained
1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
3/4 cup provolone cheese, cut into 1/2-inch cubes (about 3 ounces)
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
Cook pasta according to directions; drain and rinse. In a large bowl, combine cooked pasta and all remaining ingredients; toss to mix. Cover and chill until serving time.
Per serving: 310 calories, 13 grams protein, 6 grams fat (16% calories from fat), 2.8 grams saturated fat, 54 grams carbohydrate, 12 milligrams cholesterol, 811 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber. Carb choices: 3.5.