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story.lead_photo.caption Baked Brown Rice With Roasted Red Peppers and Onions (Courtesy of America's Test Kitchen)

A week's worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families

SUNDAY: Make family day special and prepare Broiled Steak With Cheesy Polenta and Pasta Sauce (see recipe). Serve it with steamed sugar snap peas and Italian bread. Buy or make cherry cobbler for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough beef and cobbler for Monday.

MONDAY: Use Sunday's leftover beef for Thai Beef Salad. Whisk together ¼ cup fresh lime juice, 2 tablespoons canola oil, 2 teaspoons sugar, 1 ½ teaspoons minced jalapeno pepper, ½ teaspoon minced garlic and ½ teaspoon coarse salt. Add thinly sliced leftover steak, 4 cups fresh bean sprouts, 1 ½ cups thinly sliced red bell pepper, 1 ½ cups thinly sliced seeded cucumber and ¼ cup fresh mint leaves (chopped); toss to mix. Line serving platter with 8 cups lettuce; spoon meat mixture on top and sprinkle with chopped peanuts. Serve with any deli soup and crusty rolls. For dessert, heat the leftover cobbler and add a small scoop of vanilla ice cream on the side.

TUESDAY: Pretty Baked Brown Rice With Roasted Red Peppers and Onions (see recipe) is perfect for a no-meat dinner. Add a spinach salad with egg wedges and whole-grain rolls. Stir sliced bananas into banana pudding for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Kids will like the sound (as well as the taste) of Pizza Dogs. Cut diagonal slashes in 8 hot dogs and cook them according to package directions. Meanwhile, heat ½ cup pizza sauce. Serve the hot dogs on buns and top with pizza sauce and shredded cheddar cheese. Add baked chips and deli carrot salad. Dessert is tropical fruit.

THURSDAY: I adapted a family recipe for Brunswick Stew (see recipe) to the microwave and never looked back. Serve the Virginia (and Georgia) favorite with a romaine salad with red onion rings and biscuits. For dessert, peaches and oatmeal cookies sound good.

Plan ahead: Save enough cookies for Friday.

FRIDAY: Make Meatball Sandwiches on hoagie rolls for a quick meal. Buy the meatballs already prepared, top with no-salt-added or regular marinara sauce and add freshly grated parmesan cheese. Serve with steamed peas and carrots (from frozen). Munch on leftover cookies for dessert.

SATURDAY: Your guests will like the flavor of Dilled Halibut With Vegetables, and you'll like the simplicity. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Coat 4 (12-by-18-inch) pieces of foil with cooking spray. Center several lemon slices on each sheet. Place 4 (4- to 6-ounce) halibut filets on lemons. Sprinkle halibut with coarse salt and pepper. Cut into thin strips ½ medium zucchini, ½ yellow squash, 1 medium carrot and 1 medium onion; combine vegetables. Divide vegetable mix to top each filet. Sprinkle each portion with ¾ teaspoon fresh dill (or ¼ teaspoon dried). Bring up foil sides; double-fold top and ends to seal, leaving room for heat to circulate. Bake 15 to 18 minutes on a baking sheet. When ready to serve, open packet away from your face to allow steam to escape. Serve the colorful entree with roasted red potatoes, mixed greens and whole-grain rolls. Buy a cheesecake for dessert.

THE RECIPES

Broiled Steak With Cheesy Polenta and Pasta Sauce

2/3 cup yellow cornmeal

Kosher salt

¼ cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, divided use

¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese, divided use

1 cup red pasta sauce

1 teaspoon dried Italian seasoning

1 clove minced garlic

¼ teaspoon coarsely ground pepper

1 boneless top sirloin beef steak, cut 1 inch thick (about 1 ½ pounds)

In a 1-quart baking dish, combine 1 2/3 cups water, cornmeal and ½ teaspoon salt. Cover and microwave on 100% power for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring every 2 minutes. Stir in 2 tablespoons of each cheese. Sprinkle top with remaining cheese. Microwave, uncovered, on 50% power for 1 or 2 minutes, or until cheese is melted. Cover and let stand 5 minutes. Heat sauce; set aside.

Meanwhile, combine Italian seasoning, garlic, ¼ teaspoon salt and pepper; press onto steak. Place steak on rack in broiler pan so surface is 3 to 4 inches from heat. Broil 16 to 21 minutes for medium-rare to medium, turning once. Carve steak. Serve with polenta and sauce.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 220 calories, 25 g protein, 6 g fat, 16 g carbohydrate, 62 mg cholesterol, 399 mg sodium and 1 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.

Baked Brown Rice With Roasted Red Peppers and Onions

4 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 onions, finely chopped

½ teaspoon coarse salt, plus more to taste

1 cup unsalted vegetable broth

1 ½ cups long-grain brown rice, rinsed

¾ cup roasted red peppers, rinsed, patted dry and chopped

½ cup minced fresh parsley

Ground black pepper to taste

Grated parmesan cheese

Lemon wedges

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Heat oil in Dutch oven on medium until shimmering. Add onions and ½ teaspoon salt; cook 12 to 14 minutes, stirring occasionally, or until softened and well browned. Stir in 2 ½ cups water and the broth; bring to a boil. Stir in rice, cover and transfer pot to oven. Bake 65 to 70 minutes or until rice is tender and liquid is absorbed. Remove pot from oven. Sprinkle red peppers over rice, cover and let sit 5 minutes. Add parsley; fluff gently with fork to combine. Season with additional salt and pepper to taste. Serve with parmesan and lemon wedges.

(Adapted from The Complete Mediterranean Cookbook from America's Test Kitchen.)

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 328 calories, 7 g protein, 7 g fat, 61 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 51 mg sodium and 6 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 4.

Brunswick Stew

1 (16-ounce) package frozen succotash, thawed

¾ cup chopped onion

1 (14-ounce) can unsalted chicken broth

2 cups coarsely chopped cooked boneless skinless chicken breast halves

1 (15-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with liquid

2 tablespoons sugar

½ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon ground red pepper (cayenne)

Coarse salt to taste

¼ cup dehydrated potatoes (instant mashed potato flakes)

In a 3-quart microwave-safe baking dish, place succotash and cover. Microwave on 100% power for 4 minutes and drain. Put the chopped onion in a microwave-safe 1-cup measure; cover and cook on high 1 minute. Drain and add to the succotash. Add the chicken broth, cooked chicken, tomatoes with liquid, sugar, black and cayenne peppers and salt; mix well. Cover and cook on high 10 minutes, stirring halfway through. (From now on, leave the dish covered for a thinner stew or uncovered for thicker.) Stir in the dehydrated potatoes to thicken and cook on 50% power for 10 minutes, stirring once or twice. Serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 308 calories, 28 g protein, 4 g fat, 41 g carbohydrate, 60 mg cholesterol, 178 mg sodium and 6 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.5.

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

susan@7daymenu.com

Food on 03/25/2020

Print Headline: 7-day menu planner

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