SUNDAY: Family day
Bring the family together for a marinated flank steak dinner: In a small bowl, mix together 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, 11/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard, 1 clove minced garlic and 1/2 teaspoon sugar; pour into a resealable plastic bag along with a 11/2 pound flank steak. Refrigerate 6 hours to overnight, turning occasionally. Remove steak; discard marinade. Grill 17-21 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness. Carve crosswise into thin slices.
Serve the sizzling steak with corn on the cob, any grilled vegetables, mixed greens and whole-grain rolls.
Fresh berry cream tart is a pretty and delicious dessert: Bake a refrigerated pastry crust in a 9- or 10-inch tart pan according to package directions; cool. Blend 8 ounces softened reduced-fat cream cheese, 1/3 cup sugar and 1 tablespoon orange juice with an electric mixer; spread over the cooled pie crust. Top with 4-5 cups mixed berries, such as blueberries, raspberries or small strawberries. Spread fruit with melted red currant jelly or all-fruit blueberry spread. Refrigerate 2 hours before slicing.
PLAN AHEAD: Save enough steak, grilled vegetables and tart for Monday.
TIP: If using a 10-inch tart pan, stretch dough to fit and add more berries.
SHOPPING LIST: balsamic vinegar, olive oil, fresh basil, Dijon mustard, garlic, sugar, flank steak, corn on the cob, any vegetables to grill, mixed greens, whole-grain rolls, refrigerated pastry crust, reduced-fat cream cheese, orange juice, mixed berries, red currant jelly or all-fruit blueberry spread.
MONDAY: Heat and eat
Make a beef stir-fry for a quick meal using the leftover steak and vegetables drizzled with stir-fry sauce. Serve over brown rice. Add a mixed green salad and bread sticks. Slice the leftover tart for dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: stir-fry sauce, brown rice, mixed greens, bread sticks.
TUESDAY: Kids favorite
Treat the children to taco casserole (see recipe). Serve with guacamole and celery sticks. A juicy nectarine is a welcome dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: 93-95 percent lean ground beef, onion, garlic, mild salsa or taco sauce, canned diced green chilies, ripe olives, packet less-sodium taco seasoning mix, cooking spray, baked tortilla chips or taco shells, shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese, tomatoes, guacamole, celery, nectarines.
WEDNESDAY: Express cooking
How about a French onion burger for a quick meal? Combine 11/2 pounds lean ground beef with one (1-ounce) packet onion soup mix in a small bowl. Form into four patties. Grill 5-6 minutes; turn. Divide 1/2 cup roasted red peppers among the burgers; top each with 1/2 slice Swiss cheese. Cook 4 more minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Place burgers on sesame seed buns to serve.
Add oven fries (from frozen) and green beans. Cherries are a fun dessert.
PLAH AHEAD: Save enough green beans for Thursday.
SHOPPING LIST: lean ground beef, packet onion soup mix, roasted red peppers, Swiss cheese, sesame seed buns, frozen oven fries, green beans, cherries.
THURSDAY: Budget dining
Tuna Nicoise is a perfect summer meal: Drain and flake a 12-ounce can albacore tuna in water in a medium bowl. Mix tuna with 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar and 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard. Toss tuna mixture with nine cooked bite-size new potatoes, leftover green beans, three or four sliced hard-cooked eggs and 3/4 cup Kalamata olives. Serve on a bed of red-tipped lettuce.
Add a chilled glass of tomato juice and a baguette. Enjoy a slice of cantaloupe for dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: canned albacore tuna in water, red wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, new potatoes, eggs, Kalamata olives, red-tipped lettuce, tomato juice, baguette, cantaloupe.
FRIDAY: Meatless meal
Skillet tortellini supper (see recipe) is a simple no-meat dinner. Serve it with mixed greens and garlic bread. How about mangos for dessert?
SHOPPING LIST: dried cheese tortellini, table salt, olive oil, garlic, half-and-half, pepper, frozen green peas, parmesan cheese, lemon, mixed greens, garlic bread, mangoes.
SATURDAY: Easy entertaining
Turmeric-spiced chicken with tomato- avocado salsa (see recipe) is a dish you'll be proud to serve company. Serve it with Basmati rice, fresh or frozen green peas and sourdough bread.
For dessert, cherry ice cream pie with chocolate cookie crust will further wow your guests. Gently combine 3 cups softened vanilla ice cream and 1 cup pitted fresh or frozen cherries in a bowl. Transfer to a 9-inch chocolate cookie pie crust. Garnish with chopped cherries and mini chocolate chips. Freeze until firm. Soften to slice.
SHOPPING LIST: olive oil, garlic powder, coarse salt, turmeric, crushed red pepper, chicken cutlets, ripe tomatoes, ripe Hass avocados, red onion, fresh cilantro, lime, basmati rice, fresh or frozen green peas, sourdough bread, vanilla ice cream, fresh or frozen cherries, chocolate cookie pie crust, mini chocolate chips.
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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TACO CASSEROLE (Tuesday)
Servings: makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: about 30-35 minutes
1 pound 93-95 percent lean ground beef
1 small onion, minced
1 clove garlic, minced
1 cup water
1/2 cup mild salsa or taco sauce
1 (4-ounce) can diced green chilies, drained
1/2 cup sliced ripe olives, divided
1 (1.25-ounce) packet less-sodium taco seasoning mix
3 cups baked tortilla chips or taco shells, broken
2 cups shredded 50% light cheddar cheese
1/2 cup chopped tomatoes
Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium. Cook beef, onion and garlic 7 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and onion is softened; drain if necessary. Stir in water, taco sauce, chilies, 1/4 cup olives and seasoning mix. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 3 to 4 minutes. In a 7-by-11-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray, layer half the broken chips and half the meat sauce: sprinkle with 1 cup cheese. Repeat with remaining chips, meat sauce and cheese. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until bubbly and cheese is melted. Top with remaining olives and the tomatoes.
Per serving: 392 calories, 30 grams protein, 16 grams fat (36% calories from fat), 6.6 grams saturated fat, 33 grams carbohydrate, 63 milligrams cholesterol, 1,078 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Carb count: 2.
SKILLET TORTELLINI SUPPER (Friday)
Servings: makes 6 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes
Cooking time: Less than 10 minutes, plus pasta
12 ounces dried cheese tortellini
Table salt for cooking pasta
1 teaspoon olive oil
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup half-and-half
1/2 teaspoon pepper
2 cups frozen peas, thawed
1/2 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, plus more for garnish
1 teaspoon lemon zest
2 teaspoons lemon juice
Bring 4 quarts water to a boil in large pot. Add pasta and 1 tablespoon salt and cook, 8 minutes, stirring frequently until not quite al dente. Reserve 1 cup cooking water, then drain; set aside. Heat oil; add garlic and cook about 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in half-and-half, pepper, pasta and 1/2 cup reserved cooking water and bring to a simmer over medium. Cook 4 to 7 minutes, stirring often, until tortellini is al dente and sauce has thickened and coats pasta. Stir in peas, parmesan, lemon zest and lemon juice and cook 1 minute until warmed through, adjusting consistency with remaining reserved cooking water as needed. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve, passing additional parmesan separately. (Adapted from "The Ultimate Meal Prep Cookbook," America's Test Kitchen.)
Per serving: 329 calories, 15 grams protein, 12 grams fat (33% calories from fat), 6.5 grams saturated fat, 40 grams carbohydrate, 48 milligrams cholesterol, 435 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Carb count: 2.5.
TURMERIC-SPICED CHICKEN WITH TOMATO-AVOCADO SALSA (Saturday)
Servings: makes 8 servings
Preparation time: 15 minutes; marinating time: 30 minutes to 2 hours
Cooking time: less than 10 minutes
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1 teaspoon turmeric
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
8 (4- or 5-ounce) chicken cutlets
FOR THE SALSA
6 medium ripe tomatoes, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 2 1/2 cups)
2 ripe Hass avocados, cut into 1/2-inch pieces (about 1 1/2 cups)
1/2 cup chopped red onion
1/4 cup chopped fresh cilantro
2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
1/2 teaspoon turmeric
In a small bowl, combine oil, garlic powder, salt, turmeric and red pepper; mix well. Pour into a resealable plastic bag; add chicken. Turn to coat; marinate in refrigerator 30 minutes to 2 hours. Meanwhile, for the salsa, in a medium bowl, mix salsa ingredients. Cover; refrigerate until ready to serve. Remove chicken; discard marinade. Grill 2 to 3 minutes per side or until internal temperature is 165 degrees. Serve with salsa.
Per serving: 236 calories, 26 gram protein, 11 grams fat (41% calories from fat), 1.8 grams saturated fat, 9 grams carbohydrate, 73 milligrams cholesterol, 380 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber. Carb count: 0.5.