Seven-Day Menu Planner

Sunday’s leftover chicken works perfectly for Monday’s Chicken and Ham Roll-ups. Contributed by Caitlin Bensel
Sunday’s leftover chicken works perfectly for Monday’s Chicken and Ham Roll-ups. Contributed by Caitlin Bensel


Family Sunday

Enjoy family day with your own Roast Chicken (5 to 7 pounds), mashed potatoes, gravy, peas with pearl onions (from frozen) and mixed greens. For dessert, drizzle creme fraiche or half-and-half over bread pudding.

Plan ahead: Save enough chicken for Monday; save enough pudding for Tuesday.

Tip: Look for creme fraiche in the dairy section.


Heat-and-Eat Monday

Take it easy and enjoy Sunday's leftover chicken in your Chicken and Ham Roll-ups (see recipe). Add some oven fries (from frozen) on the side. For dessert, how about pears?


Budget Tuesday

For a low-cost meal, try Rustic Lentil Minestrone. In a 4-quart pan, cook 3 slices chopped bacon on medium until browned and crispy. Remove and set aside. Drain all but 1 to 2 tablespoons bacon drippings. Add 1 cup thinly sliced carrots, 1 cup thinly sliced celery, 1/2 cup chopped onion and 3 cloves minced garlic to pan. Reduce heat to low and cook 5 minutes or until onion is softened, stirring occasionally. Add 4 cups unsalted chicken broth, 2 cups water, 1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and oregano, and 1 package lentil pilaf mix (such as Near East), including seasoning packet. Bring mixture to a boil. Reduce heat, cover pan and simmer 30 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons dry red wine, if desired, reserved bacon and 1/4 cup minced fresh parsley. Serve with a lettuce wedge and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, warm the leftover bread pudding.


Kids Wednesday

The kids will come quickly for Tamale Pie. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 7-by-11-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium and cook 1 pound lean ground beef for 5 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. In a large bowl, combine beef, 1 cup shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese, 1 (8 1/2-ounce) package cornbread mix, 2 eggs, 1 cup frozen corn (thawed), 2 cups water and 1/2 teaspoon chili powder; mix until well-blended. Spoon mixture into baking dish. Bake 20 minutes; sprinkle with 1/2 cup more cheese. Bake 5 more minutes or until cheese is melted. Let stand 10 minutes. Serve with carrot sticks. For dessert, tempt the kids with blue floats. Blend any fruit juice with frozen or fresh blueberries until smooth. Pour into tall glasses and add a little club soda; top with a scoop of frozen yogurt. Slurp away!


Meatless Thursday

For a perfect no-meat dinner, prepare Peanut Sesame Noodles (see recipe). Serve with a spinach salad and crusty rolls. Enjoy coconut pudding for dessert.


Express Friday

Glazed Ham Steaks make a quick meal. Heat a large nonstick skillet to medium-high. Add a ham steak; cook 3 minutes or until lightly browned on both sides. Brush with 2 tablespoons honey mustard. Turn and cook 30 seconds until glazed. Divide ham into individual portions and serve with O'Brien potatoes (from frozen), fresh broccoli and biscuits. Chunky applesauce is good for dessert.


Easy Entertaining Saturday

For a festive fall meal, serve Grilled Pork Tenderloin Chimichurri (see recipe). On the side, add roasted sweet potato wedges, green beans and sourdough bread. Buy a carrot cake for dessert.

** ** **


Chicken and Ham Roll-ups (Monday)

1 cup garlic-and-herb cheese spread (such as Boursin)

1/2 cup chopped roasted red bell peppers

6 (8-inch) flour tortillas

3 cups baby spinach leaves, firmly packed

12 ounces sliced deli ham (see NOTE)

12 ounces leftover sliced chicken or turkey breast

In a small bowl, mix together the cheese spread and peppers until smooth. Spread the mixture evenly over each tortilla. Place 1/2 cup spinach on each tortilla. Top evenly with ham and chicken or turkey. Roll, jelly-roll fashion, and cut in half on the diagonal. Secure each half with a wooden pick. (Adapted from “Quick-Fix Dinners,” Oxmoor House.) Makes 6 roll-ups.

Note: To lower sodium, use all chicken and no ham.

Per roll-up: 540 calories (percent calories from fat, 27), 54 grams protein, 44 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 16 grams fat )7 grams saturated fat), 159 milligrams cholesterol, 1,611 milligrams sodium (the ham contributes 900 mg; the tortillas, 500 mg).

** ** **

Peanut Sesame Noodles (Thursday)

1 pound linguine

3/4 cup smooth peanut butter

1/3 cup unsalted vegetable broth

1/3 cup water

1/4 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons dark sesame oil

2 teaspoons peeled, finely chopped fresh ginger

1/2 teaspoon garlic powder

1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper

3 tablespoons sesame seeds

2 green onions, trimmed and sliced on the diagonal

Cook linguine according to directions; drain and plunge into ice water; set aside. Meanwhile, in a medium pan, whisk together peanut butter, broth, water, rice vinegar, soy sauce, sugar, sesame oil, ginger, garlic powder and red pepper. Cook on medium-high heat about 10 minutes or until thickened. Remove from heat. While sauce simmers, toast seeds over medium heat for 5 minutes, shaking pan to keep from burning. Rinse and drain noodles again. Toss with half the dressing and allow to soak for a few minutes. Add remaining dressing and sesame seeds; toss until well-combined. Top with sliced green onions and serve cold. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving: 404 calories (percent calories from fat, 35), 14 grams protein, 53 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 16 grams fat (2.9 grams saturated fat), no cholesterol, 226 milligrams sodium.

** **

Grilled Pork Tenderloin Chimichurri (Saturday)

1 cup flatleaf parsley leaves, lightly packed

4 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste

1/3 cup white vinegar

2/3 cup extra-virgin olive oil

1/3 cup water

2 pork tenderloins (1 1/2 to 2 pounds total)

Place parsley, garlic, salt and pepper in food processor and process until finely chopped. Add vinegar and process to combine. Slowly add oil and water in a thin stream with machine running. Place pork in a large resealable plastic bag. Pour half of sauce over pork; close and turn to coat pork. Refrigerate 30 to 60 minutes, turning bag occasionally. Transfer remaining sauce to serving bowl and refrigerate. Remove pork and discard marinade. Place tenderloins diagonally on grill rack. Grill, uncovered, on direct heat for 15 to 25 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, turning every 3 or 4 minutes with tongs. Transfer pork to cutting board; tent with foil and let stand 3 minutes. Cut pork into thin slices and arrange on dinner plates. Serve with reserved sauce. Makes 8 servings.

Per serving (pork): 112 calories (percent calories from fat, 32), 18 grams protein, no carbohydrate, no fiber, 4 grams fat (1.3 grams saturated fat), 56 milligrams cholesterol, 53 milligrams sodium.

Per serving (sauce): 85 calories (percent calories from fat, 97), no protein, no carbohydrate, no fiber, 9 grams fat (1.3 grams saturated fat), no cholesterol, 33 milligrams sodium.