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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | January 13, 2021 at 1:57 a.m.
Sloppy Joe Pockets (Gwynn Galvin,

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

SUNDAY: Spicier meals can keep the family warm during colder weather, just like this Cajun Pork Roast. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Rub all sides of 1 (3-pound) well-trimmed boneless pork loin with Cajun seasoning. Place in a shallow roasting pan and roast 1 to 1 ½ hours or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees. Remove from oven, tent with foil and let stand 5 minutes before slicing. Serve the juicy pork with roasted red potatoes and carrots. Alongside, add this colorful Spiced Pomegranate and Orange Salad: In a small bowl, whisk together ½ cup pomegranate juice, ¼ cup olive oil, 2 tablespoons white wine vinegar, ½ teaspoon allspice, ½ teaspoon ground mustard, a pinch of coarse ground pepper and a pinch of coarse salt. Toss 8 cups salad greens with the vinaigrette in a large bowl. Divide mixture among 6 plates. Top each salad with about 5 orange sections and 1 tablespoon pomegranate arils (seeds). Add whole-grain rolls. For dessert, pound cake with blueberries will be welcome.

Plan ahead: Save enough pork for Monday.

MONDAY: Shred and heat 2 cups of the leftover pork, mix with ½ cup of your favorite barbecue sauce, spoon down center of whole-grain flour tortillas and call it Barbecue Pork Tortillas. Serve with guacamole on shredded lettuce and canned reduced-sodium pinto beans. For dessert, pineapple chunks are easy.

Plan ahead: If time permits, make Tuesday's soup tonight.

TUESDAY: Stay warm with Black Bean Soup (see recipe). Serve it over packaged yellow rice. Chop some red bell pepper and add to deli coleslaw for a little color and extra vitamin C. Serve with crackers. Plums are a simple dessert.

Plan ahead: Buy enough coleslaw for Friday.

WEDNESDAY: Kids will go for Sloppy Joe Pockets (see recipe). Add oven fries (from frozen) and green beans. Sliced kiwi is good for dessert.

THURSDAY: Your food budget is safe and your taste buds will be happy eating Unstuffed Cabbage. In a Dutch oven, cook 12 ounces lean ground beef, 1 small chopped onion and 1 clove garlic (minced) for 6 minutes on medium or until beef is no longer pink and onion is softened. Add 1 cup water, 8 cups chopped cabbage, 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, 1 ½ tablespoons packed dark brown sugar, 1 ½ tablespoons cider vinegar, ½ teaspoon coarse salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Bring to a boil; reduce heat and simmer 10 minutes or until cabbage is tender. Serve with boiled potatoes sprinkled with chopped parsley, mixed greens and whole-grain rolls. Tropical fruit is good for dessert.

FRIDAY: Pan-fry a ham steak for dinner and bake sweet potato wedges to go alongside. Serve with leftover deli coleslaw and cornbread (from mix). Chunky applesauce is a perfect dessert.

SATURDAY: Your family will enjoy the flavors of Indian cuisine with Authentic Tandoori Chicken (see recipe). Serve with Cucumber-Mint Sauce for a refreshing accent to the fragrant chicken: Mix together 1 cup plain yogurt, ¾ cup seedless diced cucumber, 5 chopped fresh mint leaves, ¼ teaspoon coarse salt and a pinch of coarse ground black pepper. Cover and refrigerate until serving time. Serve the combo with basmati rice, sugar snap peas, a baby arugula salad and naan. Rice pudding with pistachios is the perfect dessert.


Black Bean Soup

  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 small onion, chopped
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons dried oregano
  • 1 teaspoon chile powder
  • 2 (14-ounce) cans unsalted vegetable broth
  • 1 cup sliced fresh mushrooms
  • 1 cup thinly sliced fresh carrots
  • 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, rinsed
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 2 to 4 tablespoons fresh lime juice

Heat oil in a Dutch oven on medium. Cook onion and garlic 4 minutes or until onions are softened. Add cumin, oregano, chili powder, broth, mushrooms, carrots, tomato sauce, beans and bay leaves. Bring to a boil; reduce heat, cover and simmer 45 minutes. Stir in lime juice and simmer 10 more minutes. Discard bay leaves and serve.

Makes 8 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 133 calories, 7 g protein, 1 g fat, 26 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 213 mg sodium and 8 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.

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Sloppy Joe Pockets

  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce
  • 2 tablespoons packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons less-sodium Worcestershire sauce
  • 1 (16.3-ounce) tube refrigerated Grands biscuits (or another brand)
  • 1 tablespoon melted butter

Heat a large skillet on medium-high and cook ground beef, onion, garlic, salt and pepper until beef is browned, stirring occasionally. Stir in tomato sauce, brown sugar and Worcestershire sauce and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and let mixture cool to room temperature, about 30 minutes. (I recommend transferring mixture to a bowl to cool faster.) Heat oven to 350 degrees. On lightly floured surface, roll each biscuit into a 5 ½-inch diameter circle. Arrange filling (about a heaping ¼ cup per pocket) in lower center of each dough circle to within 1 inch of edge. Fold dough over filling to make a pocket and seal edges with fork. Arrange pockets on baking sheet. Brush tops with melted butter. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until golden and baked through.

Makes 8 pockets.

Nutrition information: Each pocket contains approximately 287 calories, 16 g protein, 11 g fat, 32 g carbohydrate, 35 mg cholesterol, 753 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2.

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Authentic Tandoori Chicken

  • 1 cup plain yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons turmeric
  • 2 teaspoons cumin
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 2 teaspoons paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, grated
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • Juice from 1 lemon
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 pound boneless skinless chicken thighs
  • Lemon slices, chopped cilantro and mango chutney for garnish, as desired

In a glass dish or resealable plastic bag, combine the yogurt, turmeric, cumin, coriander, paprika, garlic, ginger, lemon juice, oil, salt and pepper.

Make shallow cuts in the chicken thighs with a sharp knife. Add the thighs to the marinade and rub it into the chicken. Marinate in the refrigerator for 1 to 6 hours. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking pan with foil and coat with cooking spray. Arrange the thighs on the pan. Roast 30 to 40 minutes or until the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees. Serve with desired garnishes.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 251 calories, 26 g protein, 13 g fat, 9 g carbohydrate, 109 mg cholesterol, 392 mg sodium and 1 gram fiber.

Carbohydrates choices: 0.5.

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


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