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7-Day Menu Planner

by Susan Nicholson | March 1, 2023 at 2:12 a.m.
Fruit and Nut Burgers (Courtesy of Cattlemen’s Beef Board)

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

SUNDAY: Prepare a 2- to 3-pound fully cooked Baked Ham for family day. Place ham in a shallow dish and heat at 350 degrees, uncovered, 15 to 18 minutes per pound or until internal temperature reaches 140 degrees. Serve it with mashed sweet potatoes (from refrigerated), peas and carrots (from frozen), a romaine salad and cornbread muffins (from mix). Make old-fashioned pineapple upside-down cake (from mix) for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough ham for Monday and enough cake for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Use the leftover ham for South-of-the-Border Tamale Pie: In a medium saucepan, combine 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce and ½ cup chunky salsa. Stir in 2 cups cubed leftover ham; heat through. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart rectangular baking dish with cooking spray. Cut 1 (16-ounce) tube refrigerated polenta into 8 slices and arrange in baking dish. Spoon salsa mixture over polenta. Bake, uncovered, for 25 minutes or until heated through. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded pepper jack cheese. Bake 5 minutes more or until cheese is melted. Serve with a sliced grapefruit salad. Enjoy pears for dessert.

TUESDAY: Let the kids help prepare Mini Chicken Pot Pies. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat 8 regular muffin cups with cooking spray. Separate 1 (16.3-ounce) can large refrigerated biscuits (such as Pillsbury Grands) into 8 biscuits. Separate each biscuit into 2 layers. Place 8 biscuit halves in coated muffin cups, pressing to cover bottom and sides. Drain 1 (19-ounce) can chicken noodle soup (reserve broth for some later use, if desired). Spoon drained soup evenly into biscuit-lined cups. Place remaining biscuit halves over soup; gently seal each biscuit. Coat biscuit tops with cooking spray. Sprinkle the 8 pot pies with 1 teaspoon Italian seasoning and ½ teaspoon garlic powder. Top each with ½ tablespoon shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake 15 to 18 minutes or until edges are golden. Serve with mixed vegetables (from frozen) and a chopped lettuce salad. Slice the leftover cake for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Keep it simple and inexpensive with Fruit and Nut Burgers (see recipe). Add baked chips and deli coleslaw. For dessert, blueberries are good, especially with a dollop of light whipped cream.

THURSDAY: Blue Cheese Vegetable Soup (see recipe) has a unique flavor and lots of fiber. Serve it with a carrot salad and whole-wheat crackers. Strawberries and chocolate ice cream are good for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough strawberries for Saturday.

FRIDAY: Try individually wrapped boneless skinless chicken breasts. Season them your family's favorite way. Serve them with roasted red potatoes, a packaged green salad and whole-grain rolls. Chunky applesauce is a light dessert.

SATURDAY: Your guests will enjoy Glazed Lamb Chops With Horseradish Sauce (see recipe). On the side, add couscous with toasted pine nuts, green beans, a bibb lettuce salad and sourdough bread. Buy a cheesecake for dessert and top it with leftover strawberries.


Fruit and Nut Burgers

  • 1 pound ground beef
  • 2 tablespoons chopped walnuts
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 Granny Smith apple, cored and cut into 8 rounds
  • 4 whole-grain artisanal rolls
  • 4 tablespoons brie cheese, softened
  • 4 teaspoons marionberry or blackberry preserves

Prepare grill for medium heat.

Combine ground beef, walnuts, salt and pepper in a medium bowl; mix lightly but thoroughly. Lightly shape into four ½-inch-thick patties. Place patties on grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 7 to 10 minutes, covered, or until internal temperature reaches 160 degrees, turning occasionally. Place two apple rounds on bottom of each roll; top with burger. Spread cheese and preserves evenly over burgers. Close sandwiches and serve.

Makes 4 servings.

Tip: Cooking times are for fresh or thoroughly thawed ground beef. Color is not a reliable indicator of ground beef doneness.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with 93% lean beef) contains approximately 407 calories, 35 g protein, 14 g fat, 38 g carbohydrate, 70 mg cholesterol, 616 mg sodium and 6 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choice: 2 ½

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Blue Cheese Vegetable Soup

  • 1 pound fresh or frozen brussels sprouts
  • 3 cups milk, divided use
  • 3 tablespoons flour
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • ½ cup crumbled blue cheese
  • ¼ to ½ teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Wash and trim ends of fresh brussels sprouts; cut in half. Cover and microwave on 100% power for 5 minutes; let stand 5 minutes and drain. (If frozen, cook according to package directions; drain.) Place sprouts and 1 cup milk in blender and process until smooth or chunky according to your preference.

In a 2-quart pan, mix the flour and remaining 2 cups milk. Bring milk to a simmer on medium heat; reduce heat to low and simmer 5 minutes; stirring constantly until thickened. Add butter; stir to melt. Add blended sprouts, blue cheese and pepper; mix well. Heat and stir until the cheese is melted. If too thick, thin with water to equal 6 cups.

Makes 6 cups.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with skim milk) contains approximately 155 calories, 10 g protein, 7 g fat, 16 g carbohydrate, 20 mg cholesterol, 217 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1

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Glazed Lamb Chops With Horseradish Sauce

  • For the lamb:
  • 1/3 cup maple syrup
  • ¼ cup Dijon mustard
  • 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • ¼ teaspoon crushed red pepper
  • 8 lamb loin chops (½ inch thick)
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • For the sauce:
  • ½ cup sour cream
  • 2 tablespoons prepared horseradish
  • 2 tablespoons coarsely chopped mint leaves

In a resealable plastic bag, combine syrup, mustard, vinegar, oil, shallot and red pepper; mix well. Add lamb. Refrigerate up to 8 hours, turning occasionally.

Heat broiler.

Remove lamb from marinade; discard marinade. Sprinkle chops with salt and pepper; place on rack of broiler pan coated with cooking spray. Broil chops 3 inches from heat 5 to 7 minutes per side or to desired degree of doneness. Remove from broiler, cover with foil and let stand 5 minutes.

Meanwhile, combine sour cream, horseradish and mint leaves. Cover and chill until ready to serve with lamb.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with reduced-fat sour cream) contains approximately 263 calories, 29 g protein, 14 g fat, 4 g carbohydrate, 101 mg cholesterol, 456 mg sodium and no fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1

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


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