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story.lead_photo.caption Chicken parmesan pasta bake is kind on the wallet and full of flavor the family will love. As a bonus, it makes enough for leftovers. Photo by Courtesy of Perdue

SUNDAY: Family day

Mark family day with a feast of Italian roasted pork tenderloin. Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a small bowl, mash together (with the back of a spoon) 1 teaspoon olive oil, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon crushed fennel seeds, 1/4 teaspoon pepper and 1 clove minced garlic. Rub over two pork tenderloins (about 3/4-1 pound each). Bake on a rack, coated with cooking spray, placed in a shallow roasting pan. Bake 30-35 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let stand 10 minutes. Slice pork and garnish each plate with orange slices if desired.

Serve with parsley buttered spaghetti, steamed baby carrots, a romaine salad and crusty bread. Buy a Boston cream pie for dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough pork and pie for Monday.

SHOPPING LIST: olive oil, coarse salt, fennel seeds, pepper, garlic, pork tenderloins, cooking spray, oranges (if desired), parsley, butter, spaghetti, baby carrots, romaine, crusty bread, Boston cream pie.


MONDAY: Heat and eat

Use the leftover pork for pork paninis. Spread 1 tablespoon pesto on each of eight slices Italian bread. Top four slices bread with sliced leftover pork and sliced provolone cheese; top with remaining bread. Coat outer surfaces of bread with cooking spray. Grill on medium-high in nonstick skillet or panini pan until browned on each side. Serve with bean soup and mixed greens. Leftover pie is your dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: pesto, Italian bread, provolone cheese, cooking spray, bean soup, mixed greens.


TUESDAY: Budget cooking

We really liked the flavor of chicken parmesan pasta bake (see recipe) and its low cost. Add a spinach salad and a baguette. Pears are the perfect dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: orecchiette pasta, ground chicken, olive oil, onion, garlic, dried Italian seasoning, coarse salt, can diced tomatoes, bay leaf, cooking spray, mozzarella cheese, parmesan cheese, fresh parsley, fresh spinach, baguette, pears.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough chicken parmesan pasta for Thursday.


WEDNESDAY: Meatless meal

Black beans and rice (see recipe) has lots of flavor and no meat. Serve it with a lettuce wedge with hard-cooked egg slices and Cuban rolls. Sliced kiwis are an easy dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: brown rice, onion, green bell pepper, carrots, orange juice, paprika, ground coriander, crushed red pepper, garlic, canned diced fire-roasted tomatoes, canned reduced-sodium black beans, reduced-fat sour cream, lime, lettuce, eggs, Cuban rolls, kiwis.


THURSDAY: Express dining

Make it a quick meal tonight with leftover chicken parmesan pasta. Serve with packaged salad greens and whole-grain rolls. Fresh pineapple chunks are good for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: packaged salad greens, whole-grain rolls, pineapple.


FRIDAY: Kids favorite

Children will come running for meatball sandwiches. Heat canned condensed tomato soup (thin with water, if desired) with 1/4 teaspoon each garlic powder, Italian seasoning and pepper; add a package of precooked meatballs (thaw first if frozen). Divide among hero rolls or other sandwich rolls and top with shredded part-skim mozzarella. Broil until the cheese is melted. Serve with carrot sticks. For dessert, how about some apple slices?

SHOPPING LIST: canned condensed tomato soup, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, pepper, packaged precooked meatballs, hero rolls, shredded part-skim mozzarella, carrot sticks, apples.


SATURDAY: Family entertaining

Your family will enjoy delicious fire-roasted tomato shrimp veracruz (see recipe). Serve it over rice. Add sliced avocados garnished with reduced-fat sour cream. For dessert, enjoy mango sorbet and butter cookies.

SHOPPING LIST: olive oil, uncooked medium shrimp, green onions, fresh jalapeno pepper, orange, dried thyme, canned fire-roasted diced tomatoes, rice, avocados, reduced-fat sour cream, mango sorbet, butter 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 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: 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes, plus pasta

12 ounces orecchiette pasta

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 pound ground chicken

1 chopped onion

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon dried Italian seasoning

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes

1 bay leaf

1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese

1/4 cup shredded parmesan cheese

1/4 cup finely chopped fresh parsley

Cook orecchiette according to package directions. Heat oil in a deep straight-sided skillet on medium. Crumble the chicken; cook 5 minutes or until no longer pink. Add onion, garlic, Italian seasoning and salt. Cook, stirring often, 5 minutes or until softened. Add tomatoes and bay leaf; bring to boil. Simmer, stirring occasionally, 30 minutes or until reduced. Toss the cooked pasta with the tomato mixture. Transfer to a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Toss the mozzarella with the parmesan and parsley, sprinkle over pasta. Broil 5 minutes or until cheese is melted and lightly browned.

Per serving: 386 calories, 26 grams protein, 8 grams fat (19 percent calories from fat), 1.7 grams saturated fat, 52 grams carbohydrate, 51 milligrams cholesterol, 574 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber. Carb count: 3.5.



Makes: 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 50 minutes

1 1/4 cups uncooked brown rice

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium green bell pepper, chopped

2 medium carrots, chopped

1 cup orange juice

2 teaspoons paprika

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1/4-1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, with liquid

1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed

Reduced-fat sour cream for garnish

Lime wedges for garnish

Cook rice according to directions without salt. Meanwhile, in a 2-quart sauce pan, heat onion, bell pepper, carrots, juice, paprika, coriander, crushed red pepper, garlic and tomatoes to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer about 45 minutes or until thickened, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat. Stir in beans. In blender or food processor, blend 1 cup of mixture until smooth (see Note). Stir blended mixture into bean mixture in pan. Cook on medium 3 minutes or until hot. Serve over rice; garnish with sour cream. Sprinkle with additional paprika, if desired. Serve with lime wedges.

Note: If you have an immersion blender, use it instead of blender or food processor for easier cleanup.

Per serving: 411 calories, 14 grams protein, 2 grams fat (5 percent calories from fat), 0.4 gram saturated fat, 86 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 287 milligrams sodium, 11 grams fiber. Carb count: 5.5.



Makes: 4 servings

Preparation time: 10 minutes, plus cleaning shrimp

Cooking time: about 12 minutes

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 pound uncooked medium shrimp, deveined and tails removed

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, seeded and finely chopped

1 teaspoon orange zest (orange part only)

1/2 teaspoon dried thyme

1 (14.5-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, with liquid

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil. Add shrimp; cook 3 minutes or until opaque. Remove to a plate; keep warm. Add onions and jalapeno; cook 2 minutes. Add orange zest and thyme; cook 1 minute. Stir in tomatoes; heat to a boil. Reduce heat to low; simmer uncovered about 4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add shrimp; cook 2 more minutes or until heated through.

Per serving: 146 calories, 17 grams protein, 5 grams fat (28 percent calories from fat), 0.6 gram saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 143 milligrams cholesterol, 510 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber. Carb count: 0.5.

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