7-Day menu planner

Credit: 7-Day Menu Planner

Credit: 7-Day Menu Planner

Sunday (Family)

Tell mom to relax because her admirers made Curried Chicken Salad for her special day: in a medium bowl, mix together 1/2 cup low-fat mayonnaise, 1/4 cup mango chutney (from jar) and 1 teaspoon curry powder until blended. Add 2 cups cooked chicken breast chunks (or 1 (12-ounce) drained can), 1 cored, chopped, unpeeled apple, 1 cup halved seedless green grapes, 1/4 cup minced red onion and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts. Toss gently to mix and coat. Spoon onto a bed of salad greens.

Serve with steamed fresh asparagus and breadsticks. She’ll increase your allowance when she sees the Lemon Cheesecake Cupcakes (see recipe) you have prepared for dessert.

Plan ahead: Give mom a bonus and make enough Chicken Salad and asparagus for Monday.

Monday (Express)

Take it easy tonight and enjoy Chicken Salad Sandwiches. Spread the leftover salad on whole-grain bread and add lettuce on top. Arrange sliced hard-boiled eggs and tomato wedges on each plate. Squeeze a lemon over the leftover asparagus and serve it room temperature or cold. Buy some fresh strawberries and top with light whipped cream for dessert.

Tuesday (Kids)

Do you remember your scouting days and treats like Campfire Hot Dogs? Brown 1/2 pound lean ground beef on medium-high heat for 4 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. Add 2 cups red pasta sauce and 1 (15- to 19-ounce) can vegetarian baked beans. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes. Meanwhile, cook 8 hot dogs (with the least sodium and fat you can find) and arrange them in whole-grain hot dog buns. Spoon the beef mixture over the hot dogs and garnish with a little shredded cheddar cheese.

Serve with baked chips and steamed fresh carrots. Slurp a frozen fruit juice bar for dessert.

Wednesday (Meatless)

We didn’t miss meat when we ate Cheese Ravioli with Tomato Sauce for dinner: cook 12 to 16 ounces refrigerated cheese ravioli according to directions. Meanwhile, in a large bowl, combine 1 (16-ounce) can rinsed and drained reduced-sodium garbanzo beans, 1 cup halved grape tomatoes, 1 Tablespoon olive oil, 1 Tablespoon dried basil, 1/2 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/8 teaspoon coarse salt; mix well. Add the cooked ravioli. Toss gently to mix and coat; serve immediately.

Accompany the pasta with a Romaine salad and garlic bread. Fresh pineapple is good for dessert.

Thursday (Budget)

You can’t help saving money with Italian Vegetable and Beef Soup (see recipe). Serve the soup with a Spinach salad topped with fresh sliced mushrooms. Add whole-grain rolls. For dessert, red and green grapes go down easy.

Plan ahead: Save enough soup for Friday.

Friday (Heat and Eat)

Take advantage of the blended next-day flavors and serve leftover soup for dinner. Add a packaged green salad and crusty bread. Make a Chocolate Banana Parfait for dessert by layering chocolate pudding with bananas and vanilla wafers.

Saturday (Easy Entertaining)

Invite guests for Jerk-Seasoned Pork Chops (see recipe). Add some fiesta beans and corn: mix together canned (rinsed and drained) reduced-sodium black beans with canned Mexican-style corn. Add a splash of fresh lime juice and some chopped cilantro. Season to taste with coarse salt and black pepper.

Serve with yellow rice (from mix) and pass whole-grain rolls. Dessert is Citrus Cookie Clouds: top sugar cookies with a mixture of equal amounts of whipped topping (thawed from frozen) and reduced-fat sour cream. Put fresh orange sections on top.


Servings: makes 12 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 30 minutes; cooling time: 10 minutes

12 gingersnap cookies

2 (8-ounce) packages reduced-fat cream cheese, room temperature

1 cup sugar

1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 Tablespoon lemon zest

6 Tablespoons prepared lemon curd or lemon pie filling

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Line a 12-cup cupcake tin with cupcake liners. Press a gingersnap cookie in bottom of each liner. With mixer on medium-high, beat cream cheese, sugar and sour cream until light and fluffy, about 3 minutes. Add eggs and vanilla and beat, scraping sides of bowl occasionally, until blended, about 2 minutes. Stir in lemon zest. Divide batter evenly among prepared liners. Bake 25 minutes or until centers are set. Cool 10 minutes in pan. Remove from pan and cool completely on wire rack. Top each cupcake with 2 teaspoons lemon curd. Refrigerate or serve at room temperature.

Per serving: 264 calories, 6 grams protein, 12 grams fat (41% calories from fat), 7.1 grams saturated fat, 33 grams carbohydrate, 77 milligrams cholesterol, 221 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Carb count: 2.


Servings: makes about 14 cups

Preparation time: 10 minutes

Cooking time: 6 hours on low, or 1 hour on high

1 pound beef stew meat, cut into 3/4-inch pieces

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans low-sodium beef broth

1 (15 to 19-ounce) can reduced-sodium garbanzo beans, drained

1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, with liquid

1 cup water

2 cups frozen mixed vegetables

1 cup ditalini or orzo or other small pasta

In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine beef, salt, pepper, Italian seasoning, broth, beans, tomatoes and water; mix well. Cover and cook 6 hours on low or 1 hour on high. Stir in mixed vegetables and pasta. Cover and continue cooking on high for 1 hour or until beef and pasta are tender. Stir before serving.

Note: Thin with extra broth or water if desired.

Per serving: 124 calories, 10 grams protein, 3 grams fat (20% calories from fat), 0.9 gram saturated fat, 14 grams carbohydrate, 20 milligrams cholesterol, 264 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Carb count: 1.


Servings: makes 6 chops

Preparation time: 10 minutes; marinating time: 2 hours to overnight

Cooking time: 6 to 10 minutes

1 1/2 teaspoons allspice

3/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1 teaspoon dried thyme

1 teaspoon ground coriander

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

1 teaspoon garlic powder

1/4 teaspoon cayenne pepper

2 Tablespoons canola oil

6 (4-ounce) boneless, center-cut loin pork chops, about 1/2 inch thick

In a small bowl, combine allspice, salt, thyme, coriander, cinnamon, nutmeg, garlic powder, cayenne pepper and canola oil; mix well. Spread paste mixture on both sides of each chop. Place chops in a resealable plastic bag or baking dish and cover. Refrigerate 2 hours or overnight. Place chops on rack in broiler pan; broil 3 to 5 inches from heat 5 minutes until top is browned; turn and broil 5 to 8 minutes until other side is browned.

Per serving: 172 calories, 19 grams protein, 10 grams fat (53% calories from fat), 1.9 grams saturated fat, 2 grams carbohydrate, 57 milligrams cholesterol, 279 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber.

Carb count: 0.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: susan@7daymenu.com. 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.

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