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story.lead_photo.caption Courtesy of Cattlemen’s Beef Board

SUNDAY: Family day

You don't have to travel to France for French country beef stew (see recipe). Serve the savory combination with green beans, a spinach salad and a baguette. For dessert, lemon sherbet is simple.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough stew and sherbet for Monday.

SHOPPING LIST: beef for stew, dry vegetable soup mix, baby red-skinned potatoes, white mushrooms, fresh asparagus, cornstarch, coarse salt, pepper, green beans, fresh spinach, baguette, lemon sherbet.

MONDAY: Heat and eat

Heat the leftover stew and spoon it over no-yolk noodles for a no-brainer dinner. Add a lettuce wedge and whole-grain bread. Scoop some leftover sherbet for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: no-yolk noodles, lettuce, whole-grain bread.

TUESDAY: Meatless meal

Make this easy Mediterranean wrap and forget about meat tonight. For each wrap: Place a burrito-size flour tortilla on flat surface. In a medium bowl, combine 1 cup salad greens, 1/4 cup halved cherry tomatoes, 1/4 medium peeled, seeded and chopped cucumber, 2 tablespoons chopped kalamata olives and 1 thin slice red onion; mix well and spread on tortilla. Sprinkle with 2 tablespoons crumbled Greek feta cheese and 2 tablespoons light vinaigrette. Bring bottom of tortilla to top and fold sides over.

Serve the vegetable combo with deli potato salad and hard-cooked egg wedges. Slice Asian pears for a crunchy dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: burrito-size flour tortillas, salad greens, cherry tomatoes, cucumber, kalamata olives, red onion, crumbled Greek feta cheese, light vinaigrette, deli potato salad, eggs, Asian pears.

WEDNESDAY: Kids favorite

Children can have a spelling bee with chicken alphabet soup with peas (see recipe). Serve the fun soup with celery sticks stuffed with reduced-fat peanut butter. Add cheese toast. Slices of seedless baby watermelon make a slurpy dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: alphabet pasta, butter, carrots, celery, unsalted chicken broth, cooked chicken, frozen peas, coarse salt, pepper, reduced-fat peanut butter, cheese and dense white bread for cheese toast, seedless baby watermelon.

THURSDAY: Express cooking

Make a barbecue pizza for a quick meal: Heat oven to 400 degrees. Spoon refrigerated barbecue shredded pork from a 20-ounce container onto a large, ready-to-heat pizza crust. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese and arrange 6 green bell pepper rings on top. Bake according to pizza crust directions.

Serve with a packaged green salad and peaches.

PLAN AHEAD: Save 1 cup shredded pork for Friday.

SHOPPING LIST: refrigerated barbecue shredded pork, ready-to-heat pizza crust, shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese, green bell pepper, packaged green salad, peaches.

FRIDAY: Budge dining

Combine and heat 1 cup leftover shredded pork with one (15-ounce) can chili beans for pork-bean burgers. Spoon onto toasted sesame seed buns. Top with dill pickle slices.

Serve with oven potato wedges (from frozen) and a lettuce and tomato salad. Plums are dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: canned chili beans, sesame seed buns, dill pickle slices, frozen potato wedges, lettuce, tomatoes, plums.

SATURDAY: Easy entertaining

Treat your guests to sea scallops with pineapple salsa. For the salsa: Combine 1 cup diced (small) fresh pineapple, 1/2 cup chopped red bell pepper, 2 tablespoons diced red onion, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil, 1 tablespoon minced gingerroot and 1 tablespoon olive oil; mix well and season with coarse salt and pepper to taste. Chill at least one hour.

For the scallops: Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Coat 1 pound sea scallops with cooking spray and then with coarse salt and pepper to taste. Add half the scallops to skillet; sear 2 minutes on each side or until golden. Remove from skillet and keep warm. Repeat with remaining scallops. Serve warm with salsa.

Add lemon orzo with peas and mint (see recipe), a Boston lettuce salad and crusty rolls to your meal. Buy a coconut cake for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: fresh pineapple, red bell pepper, red onion, fresh basil, gingerroot, olive oil, coarse salt, pepper, sea scallops, cooking spray, orzo, frozen petite green peas, butter, lemon, fresh mint, Boston lettuce, crusty rolls, coconut cake.

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 Read Susan's blog:

And check out Susan's book! "7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies" is on shelves now. Order yours on today!

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Makes: 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 2 1/2 hours

2 1/2 pounds beef for stew, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 cups water

1 package (about 1 ounce) dry vegetable soup mix

1 pound baby red-skinned potatoes, cut into quarters

8 ounces halved white mushrooms

1 pound asparagus, cut into 2-inch pieces

2 tablespoons cornstarch dissolved in 1/4 cup water

Coarse salt and pepper

Combine beef, water and soup mix in stockpot; bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover tightly and simmer 1 3/4-2 1/4 hours or until beef is fork-tender. Add potatoes and mushrooms to stockpot and bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and simmer 10 minutes. Stir in asparagus; continue cooking, covered, 8-10 minutes or until vegetables are tender, stirring occasionally. Stir in cornstarch mixture; bring to a boil. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Per serving: 289 calories, 31 grams protein, 10 grams fat (31% calories from fat), 3.7 grams saturated fat, 18 grams carbohydrate, 88 milligrams cholesterol, 430 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Carb count: 1.


Makes: 6 servings

Preparation time: about 10 minutes

Cooking time: less than 10 minutes

1 1/2 cups alphabet pasta

1 tablespoon butter

3 medium carrots, finely chopped

2 ribs celery, finely chopped

6 cups unsalted chicken broth

1 1/2 cups cooked chicken, chopped

1/2 cup frozen peas, thawed

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions; drain and set aside. Melt butter in a medium pan. Add carrots and celery and cook on medium 7-10 minutes or until softened. Stir in broth, chicken, cooked pasta and peas; bring to a boil. Season with salt and pepper to taste; serve warm.

Per serving: 258 calories, 15 grams protein, 5 grams fat (19% calories from fat), 2.1 grams saturated fat, 34 grams carbohydrate, 31 milligrams cholesterol, 216 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Carb count: 2.5.


Makes: 6 servings

Preparation time: less than 15 minutes

Cooking time: 15 minutes

1 1/2 cups orzo

1 teaspoon coarse salt

1 cup frozen petite green peas, thawed

2 tablespoons butter

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons grated lemon zest

1 tablespoon minced fresh mint

In a large saucepan over high heat, bring 3 cups water to a boil. Stir in orzo and salt; cover, reduce heat to medium and cook 10 minutes. Add peas and cook 5 more minutes or until water is absorbed and pasta is tender. Add butter, lemon juice and lemon zest; stir to blend. Sprinkle with mint. Serve immediately.

Per serving: 209 calories, 7 grams protein, 5 grams fat (20% calories from fat), 2.5 grams saturated fat, 35 grams carbohydrate, 10 milligrams cholesterol, 381 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber. Carb count: 2.5.

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