7-Day Menu Planner

Perfect Poached Salmon
(America's Test Kitchen/Daniel van Ackere)
Perfect Poached Salmon (America's Test Kitchen/Daniel van Ackere)

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

SUNDAY: Celebrate family day with Grilled Southwestern Steak With Vegetables (see recipe) on the menu. Add a red-tipped lettuce salad and dinner rolls. Buy a Boston cream pie for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough steak, some vegetables and some Boston cream pie for Monday.

MONDAY: Make Beef Stir-Fry with the beef leftovers. Chop beef and vegetables; combine them with additional frozen stir-fry vegetables and stir-fry sauce. Spoon your creation over brown rice and add bread sticks on the side. A small piece of leftover Boston cream pie is dessert.

Plan ahead: Prepare enough rice for Tuesday.

TUESDAY: Chicken and Brown Rice Bake won't break the bank. Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 3-quart baking dish with cooking spray. In a large bowl, combine 3 cups leftover rice, 1 (10-ounce) package frozen green peas (thawed), 2 cups chopped cooked chicken breast, ½ cup mayonnaise, ½ cup plain yogurt, 1/3 cup toasted slivered almonds, 2 teaspoons lower-sodium soy sauce, ½ teaspoon pepper, ½ teaspoon garlic powder and ½ teaspoon tarragon. Spoon into baking dish. Cover; bake 25 to 30 minutes or until hot throughout. Add a lettuce wedge and crusty rolls. For dessert, have some pears.

WEDNESDAY: Meatless never tasted as good as Linguine With Cranberries and Gorgonzola (see recipe). Serve with a packaged Caesar salad and whole-grain bread. Plums are dessert.

THURSDAY: Make it quick tonight with a pan-fried ham steak, hash browns and spinach souffle (from frozen). Add whole-grain bread. Apple slices are your dessert.

FRIDAY: The kids will run to dinner for Chicken Quesadillas: On one half of each of 4 (8-inch) whole-grain flour tortillas, spread ¼ cup shredded cheddar cheese, ½ cup shredded cooked chicken, 2 teaspoons chopped fresh cilantro and 1 teaspoon canned chopped mild green chiles. Fold over other half of each tortilla; press down gently. One at a time, brown in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high 2 minutes per side or until golden and cheese is melted. Cut into wedges and serve with canned vegetarian refried beans and carrot sticks. Slice kiwis for dessert.

SATURDAY: Treat your guests to Perfect Poached Salmon (see recipe). On the side, add roasted red potatoes, green beans, a Boston lettuce salad and a baguette to complete the meal. For dessert, add a touch of this Italy-inspired topping to Pound Cake: Mix 1 (18-ounce) jar apricot preserves with ¼ cup amaretto liqueur (or apricot nectar) and heat until warm. Drizzle over sliced pound cake. Add a dollop of whipped cream and toasted sliced almonds for garnish.


Grilled Southwestern Steak With Vegetables

  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • ¼ cup salsa
  • 1 tablespoon chopped garlic
  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided use
  • 1 ¾ teaspoons cumin, divided use
  • ¾ teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper, divided use
  • 1 beef top round, cut 1 inch thick (about 1 ½ pounds)
  • 1 medium red or green bell pepper, cut into ¼-inch strips
  • 8 ounces sliced white mushrooms
  • 2 cups sliced zucchini
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 cup finely chopped tomatoes
  • ¼ cup chopped green onions

Combine lime juice, salsa, garlic, 1 tablespoon olive oil, 1 teaspoon cumin and ½ teaspoon black pepper in small bowl. Place steak and marinade in resealable plastic bag; turn steak to coat. Close bag securely and marinate in refrigerator 6 hours to overnight, turning occasionally. Remove steak; discard marinade

Prepare grill for medium heat.

Place steak on grill over medium, ash-covered coals. Grill, covered, 12 to 14 minutes (or 16 to 19 minutes on medium preheated gas grill), turning once, for medium-rare doneness. Do not overcook.

Meanwhile, prepare vegetables: Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add bell pepper strips; cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add mushrooms, zucchini, ¾ teaspoon cumin, salt and ¼ teaspoon black pepper; cook and stir 3 to 4 minutes or until crisp-tender. Add tomatoes and green onions; cook and stir 1 minute.

Carve steak into thin slices; season with salt to taste. Serve with vegetables.

Makes 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 229 calories, 28 g protein, 10 g fat, 6 g carbohydrate, 70 mg cholesterol, 242 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: ½

Linguine With Cranberries and Gorgonzola

  • 8 ounces whole-grain or other linguine
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 4 ounces crumbled Gorgonzola cheese
  • ¼ cup half-and-half
  • ½ cup sweetened dried cranberries
  • ¼ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon pepper
  • ¼ cup shelled toasted pistachios or walnuts
  • Chopped parsley for garnish

Cook pasta according to package directions.

In a small saucepan, melt butter on low; add Gorgonzola and stir. Once cheese is melted, add half-and-half and cranberries. Season with salt and pepper. Let the sauce cook on low 2 to 3 minutes.

Drain pasta and place in a large serving dish. Add sauce; toss to mix. Top with nuts and garnish with parsley. (Adapted from a recipe by Romina-Baritta De Franchi, GlobalDietitians.com)

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 457 calories, 15 g protein, 18 g fat, 62 g carbohydrate, 38 mg cholesterol, 537 mg sodium and 9 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 4

Perfect Poached Salmon

  • 1 lemon, sliced into thin rounds
  • 4 sprigs fresh parsley
  • 1 shallot, thinly sliced
  • ½ cup dry white wine
  • 4 (6- to 8-ounce) skinless salmon filets, 1 inch thick
  • ½ teaspoon coarse salt
  • ¼ teaspoon ground black pepper

Arrange lemon slices in single layer across bottom of 12-inch skillet. Top with parsley sprigs and shallot; add wine and ½ cup water.

Pat salmon dry with paper towels; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Place fish, skinned side down, on top of lemon slices in skillet. Bring to a simmer over medium-high heat. Cover, reduce heat to low and cook, adjusting heat as needed to maintain gentle simmer, 11 to 16 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 125 degrees (for medium-rare). Remove skillet from heat and carefully use spatula to transfer salmon and lemon slices to paper-towel-lined plate to drain. Discard poaching liquid. Carefully lift and tilt filets to remove lemon slices and transfer to plates; serve. (Adapted from "Foolproof Fish," America's Test Kitchen)

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 258 calories, 42 g protein, 9 g fat, no carbohydrate, 93 mg cholesterol, 392 mg sodium and no fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0

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

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