7-Day Menu Planner

Loaded Baked Cauliflower Casserole (SwirlsOfFlavor.com/Gwynn Galvin)

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

SUNDAY: Aromatic and delicious, Pork Chops With Fruited Couscous (see recipe) will be a family favorite. Serve the combination with fresh broccoli and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, try strawberry ice cream.

Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Tuesday.

MONDAY: Manicotti With Spinach and Ricotta (see recipe) takes a little extra time, but the result is worth it. Serve the no-meat entree with a lettuce wedge and garlic bread. Fresh pineapple is a simple dessert.

TUESDAY: Teach the children how to make their own chicken fingers tonight. Serve with oven fries and baby carrots with hummus to dip, rounding out the meal. Leftover ice cream works for dessert.

WEDNESDAY: For a fast dinner, enjoy Mediterranean Tuna Salad. Combine 2 (8-ounce) packages Mediterranean salad greens (or other lettuce mix) in a large bowl. Add 2 small cucumbers (peeled, halved, seeded and sliced), 1 cup cooked green beans, 1 pint halved grape tomatoes, 1 (12-ounce) can drained water-packed light tuna, ¼ cup Greek salad dressing, some crumbled basil and tomato feta cheese, and 10 sliced kalamata olives. Toss to mix and coat. Serve with any vegetable soup and breadsticks. Add fresh tropical fruits for dessert.

THURSDAY: Celebrate Thanksgiving with the family with the traditional turkey, mashed potatoes and gravy and dressing. Add Loaded Baked Cauliflower Casserole (see recipe) and your own glazed carrots on the side. Of course, you'll also want your favorite cranberry sauce. Finish the feast with a small piece of pumpkin pie topped with whipped cream.

Plan ahead: Save enough turkey for Friday and enough pie for Saturday.

FRIDAY: Use some of the leftover turkey in Cashew Turkey Pitas. In a large bowl, combine 2 cups leftover diced turkey, ½ cup sliced celery and 1/3 cup chopped cashews. In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup mayonnaise, ½ cup plain yogurt, 2 tablespoons mango chutney and ½ teaspoon curry powder. Spoon dressing over turkey mixture and toss until well-blended. Cut 2 pita breads in half; stuff each half with turkey mixture. Serve with couscous and cucumber spears. Peaches sprinkled with nutmeg make a refreshing dessert.

SATURDAY: For a change of pace and an economical entree, Hamburger Soup has a good flavor. Heat a Dutch oven on medium; add 1 pound lean ground beef, 1 medium onion (chopped) and 2 cloves garlic (finely chopped). Cook 6 minutes or until beef is no longer pink and onions are softened; drain. Add 2 medium Yukon gold potatoes (peeled and diced), 3 ½ cups unsalted beef broth, 1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with juice, 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce, 1 tablespoon Worcestershire sauce, 2 teaspoons Italian seasoning, 1 bay leaf and coarse salt and pepper to taste. Simmer, covered, 10 minutes. Add 3 cups fresh or frozen mixed vegetables and any other leftover vegetables on hand. Simmer 15 more minutes or until potatoes are tender. Serve with mixed greens and whole-grain crackers. Leftover pie is dessert.


Pork Chops With Fruited Couscous

  • ¾ teaspoon cumin
  • ¾ teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/8 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1/8 teaspoon ground red (cayenne) pepper
  • 4 boneless pork chops, ¾ inch thick
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 ¾ cups couscous
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • ¼ cup chopped dried apricots
  • 2 tablespoons pine nuts

In a small bowl, combine cumin, coriander, cinnamon and cayenne; rub onto both sides of chops.

Heat oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high; cook chops, turning once, about 7 to 8 minutes.

Meanwhile, bring 3 cups water to a boil and prepare couscous according to directions, adding raisins, apricots and pine nuts. Serve chops on top of couscous.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 490 calories, 30 g protein, 9 g fat, 73 g carbohydrate, 57 mg cholesterol, 54 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 5

Manicotti With Spinach and Ricotta

  • 8 manicotti shells
  • 1 (10-ounce) package chopped frozen spinach
  • 1 (15-ounce) container part-skim ricotta cheese
  • 1 egg
  • ½ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes with roasted garlic, undrained (such as Muir Glen or another brand)
  • 1 (6-ounce) can tomato paste with Italian herbs
  • 1 teaspoon dried basil
  • 1 cup shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese

Cook shells according to package directions; drain.

Heat oven to 350 degrees.

In a medium bowl, microwave spinach 1 minute on 100% power or until it is thawed; squeeze dry.

In a separate bowl, combine spinach, ricotta cheese, egg, parmesan cheese and garlic powder. Spoon into cooked shells; place in a 7-by-11-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray.

Combine tomatoes, tomato paste, basil and 1 cup water; mix well. Pour over shells. Sprinkle with mozzarella cheese. Bake 30 minutes or until heated through.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 310 calories, 20 g protein, 10 g fat, 34 g carbohydrate, 66 mg cholesterol, 761 mg sodium and 4 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2 ½

Loaded Baked Cauliflower Casserole

  • 1 head (about 1 ½ pounds) cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets (about 6 cups)
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2 cups shredded cheddar cheese, divided use
  • 1 cup sour cream
  • 4 ounces Neufchatel cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 slices bacon, cooked until crisped and chopped
  • 4 green onions, sliced on diagonal

Heat oven to 425 degrees. Coat a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray.

Toss cauliflower, oil, garlic powder, salt and pepper until evenly coated and bake in prepared pan, covered, 30 minutes until tender-crisp.

Meanwhile, in small bowl, combine 1 ½ cups shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and cream cheese until blended. Reduce oven temperature to 375 degrees. Remove casserole dish from oven and carefully uncover. Stir in cheese mixture until cauliflower is evenly coated. Top with remaining ½ cup shredded cheddar cheese. Bake, uncovered, an additional 25 minutes or until tender, hot and bubbly. Top with bacon and green onions.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with low-fat sour cream) contains approximately 338 calories, 14 g protein, 26 g fat, 13 g carbohydrate, 63 mg cholesterol, 584 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1

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