SUNDAY: Family day
Celebrate family time with grilled ancho-rubbed flank steak: In a small bowl, mix together 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar, 1/2 teaspoon ancho chili powder, 1/4 teaspoon cumin and 1/8 teaspoon of freshly ground black pepper. Rub mixture all over surface of one (1- to 11/2-pound) flank steak. Grill 17-21 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness. Remove from grill; let stand 5 minutes before carving across the grain.
Serve with roasted red potatoes, green beans, mixed greens and a baguette. Strawberry ice cream is good for dessert.
PLAN AHEAD: Prepare extra steak and save some ice cream for Monday.
SHOPPING LIST: coarse salt, brown sugar, ancho chili powder, cumin, black pepper, flank steak, red potatoes, green beans, mixed greens, baguette, strawberry ice cream.
MONDAY: Heat and eat
Make steak salad with the leftover steak: Mix a packaged green salad with rinsed canned reduced-sodium cannellini beans, sliced beets (from can or jar) and crumbled blue cheese; toss with a light vinaigrette and top with slices of leftover steak.
Add tomato basil soup and bread sticks. For dessert, scoop the leftover ice cream.
SHOPPING LIST: packaged green salad, canned reduced-sodium cannellini beans, sliced beets, crumbled blue cheese, any light vinaigrette, tomato basil soup, bread sticks.
TUESDAY: Budget dining
Enjoy chili-orange chicken (see recipe) for its flavor and lower cost. Serve it with brown rice, a lettuce wedge and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, try fresh tropical fruits.
SHOPPING LIST: mild enchilada sauce, barbecue sauce, chili powder, cumin, bone-in skinless chicken breasts and thighs, orange marmalade, cilantro, orange, brown rice, lettuce, whole-grain rolls, fresh tropical fruits.
WEDNESDAY: Kids favorite
Round up the children for cowboy casserole (see recipe). Serve with crunchy carrot sticks and soft rolls.
For dessert, serve your li'l pardners Nutella fruit tarts: Spread Nutella on graham crackers and top with sliced strawberries and peaches.
SHOPPING LIST: lean ground beef, onion, green bell pepper, canned reduced-sodium navy beans, mild salsa, cooking spray, bacon, 50 percent light cheddar cheese, carrots, soft rolls, Nutella, graham crackers, strawberries, peaches.
THURSDAY: Meatless meal
For a no-meat dinner, try caramelized onion stuffed potatoes. Bake four potatoes. Meanwhile, melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add two thinly sliced onions, 1/2 teaspoon brown sugar and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Cook, covered, about 20 minutes or until tender. Stir occasionally. Uncover, cook and stir over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes or until onions are golden. Slash potato tops; stuff with onions. Garnish with chopped parsley.
Serve with a spinach salad with hard-cooked egg wedges and whole-grain bread. Make instant chocolate pudding with 1 percent milk for dessert. Stir some sliced bananas into the pudding to boost the flavor.
SHOPPING LIST: potatoes to bake, butter, onions, brown sugar, coarse salt, parsley, fresh spinach, eggs, whole-grain bread, instant chocolate pudding, 1 percent milk, bananas.
FRIDAY: Express cooking
We're always in the mood for a quick turkey reuben sandwich: Heat broiler. Place eight slices rye bread on a baking sheet. Coat one side of each slice with cooking spray; turn slices. Top evenly with reduced-fat Thousand Island dressing. On four slices, divide and layer 1/2 pound deli sliced turkey, 1/2 pound reduced-fat sliced Swiss cheese and 1 cup refrigerated rinsed (squeezed dry) sauerkraut. Top with remaining bread, placing dressing side next to sauerkraut. Broil 2 minutes or until browned, turning once.
Serve with pickled beets. Munch on apple slices for dessert.
SHOPPING LIST: rye bread, cooking spray, reduced-fat Thousand Island dressing, deli sliced turkey, reduced-fat sliced Swiss cheese, refrigerated sauerkraut, pickled beets, apple slices.
SATURDAY: Easy entertaining
Invite your best friends for delicious crab Louis salad (see recipe). Serve the pretty salad with roasted asparagus and small red potatoes. Add whole-grain bread. Buy a cheesecake for dessert and top it with strawberry sauce.
SHOPPING LIST: low-fat mayonnaise, reduced-fat sour cream, green bell pepper, green onions, pitted green olives, chili sauce, lemon, fresh tarragon, coarse salt, black pepper, cayenne pepper, bibb lettuce, grape tomatoes, eggs, avocado, fresh crabmeat, asparagus, small red potatoes, whole-grain bread, cheesecake, strawberry sauce.
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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CHILI-ORANGE CHICKEN (Tuesday)
Makes: 8 servings (3 ounces cooked weight each)
Preparation time: 10 minutes
Cooking time: 5-7 hours
3/4 cup mild enchilada sauce
1/4 cup barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon chili powder
1 teaspoon cumin
1 pound bone-in skinless chicken breasts
2 to 2 1/2 pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs, well-trimmed
3 tablespoons orange marmalade
1/2 cup chopped cilantro
2 teaspoons orange zest
In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, mix together enchilada sauce and barbecue sauce. In a small bowl, mix together chili powder and cumin. Rub all over chicken. Add chicken to slow cooker and turn to coat. Cover and cook on low 5 to 7 hours or until chicken is cooked through. Turn off cooker; remove chicken to serving platter (discarding bones). Skim fat from sauce. Stir marmalade into sauce until blended. Stir in cilantro and zest. Pour over chicken on platter.
Per serving: 195 calories, 26 grams protein, 5 grams fat (24 percent calories from fat), 1.1 grams saturated fat, 10 grams carbohydrate, 108 milligrams cholesterol, 338 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber. Carb count: 0.5.
COWBOY CASSEROLE (Wednesday)
Makes: 8 servings
Preparation time: less than 10 minutes
Cooking time: about 50 minutes
1 pound 93-95 percent lean ground beef
1 small onion, chopped
1 small green bell pepper, chopped
2 (15-ounce) cans reduced-sodium navy beans, rinsed
1 cup mild salsa
4 slices cooked crumbled bacon, divided
1 cup shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese
Heat oven to 375 degrees. In a large nonstick skillet, cook beef, onion and bell pepper for 10 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and vegetables are softened; drain well. Stir in beans and salsa. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 10 minutes or until slightly thickened. Spoon half the mixture into a 2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Sprinkle with half the bacon and half the cheese. Pour remaining bean mixture over cheese. Top with remaining bacon and cheese. Bake, uncovered, 30 minutes or until bubbly; serve immediately.
Per serving: 269 calories, 26 grams protein, 7 grams fat (24 percent calories from fat), 3.3 grams saturated fat, 26 grams carbohydrate, 43 milligrams cholesterol, 750 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber. Carb count: 2.
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CRAB LOUIS SALAD (Saturday)
Makes: 6 servings
Preparation time: 20 minutes
Cooking time: for the eggs
1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup reduced-fat sour cream
1/4 cup finely chopped green bell pepper
4 thinly sliced green onions
2 tablespoons chopped pitted green olives
2 tablespoons chili sauce
5 teaspoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon
1/4 teaspoon coarse salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
2 heads bibb lettuce (1 pound), leaves separated and torn into 1 1/2-inch pieces
8 ounces grape tomatoes, halved
3 hard cooked eggs, sliced
1 ripe avocado, halved, pitted, quartered and sliced thin
1 pound fresh crabmeat, picked over for shells and pressed dry between paper towels
Whisk together in bowl mayonnaise, sour cream, bell pepper, onions, olives, chili sauce, lemon juice, tarragon, salt, black pepper and cayenne pepper; set aside. In another bowl, gently toss crabmeat with 1/2 cup dressing. Mound lettuce in center of serving platter; arrange tomatoes, sliced eggs, and avocado over top. Top with dressed crab and serve, passing remaining dressing separately. (Adapted from "Foolproof Fish," America's Test Kitchen.)
Per serving: 255 calories, 22 grams protein, 12 grams fat (40 percent calories from fat), 2.5 grams saturated fat, 16 grams carbohydrate, 156 milligrams cholesterol, 769 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber. Carb count: 4.