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SUNDAY: Family day

Make family day fuss-free with your own roast chicken. Serve it with mashed potatoes with cauliflower. Boil 2 pounds peeled and halved Yukon Gold potatoes with 1 pound cauliflower florets until tender. Mash them together and season as you would regular mashed potatoes. Add green beans with sliced almonds and poppy seed muffins (from mix). Strawberry ice cream is a great dessert for family day.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough chicken and muffins for Monday and enough ice cream for Thursday.

TIP: By using the cauliflower with the potatoes, you decrease the calories by one-third.

SHOPPING LIST: chicken to roast, Yukon gold potatoes, fresh cauliflower, green beans, sliced almonds, poppy seed muffin mix, strawberry ice cream.

MONDAY: Heat and eat

Use the leftover cooked chicken (or packaged cooked chicken breast strips) for chicken stir-fry with yellow rice (see recipe). Add mixed greens and whole-grain rolls. Pears are your dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: extra-virgin olive oil, eggs, packaged cooked chicken breast strips (if needed), onion, frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, peas and cut green beans), hoisin sauce, garlic, soy sauce, yellow rice mix, mixed greens, whole-grain rolls, pears.

TUESDAY: Budget dining

Pinch a few pennies with penne pasta with tuna (see recipe) for dinner tonight. Serve the economical dish with a spinach salad and garlic bread. Enjoy plums for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: penne pasta, canned tuna in olive oil, garlic, canned crushed tomatoes, pitted green olives, capers, crushed red pepper, fresh parsley, fresh spinach, garlic bread, plums.

WEDNESDAY: Kids favorite

The children will go for chicken meatballs. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil. In a large bowl, mix together 1 pound ground chicken breast, 1 cup fresh bread crumbs, 1/4 cup thinly sliced green onions, 1 teaspoon smoked paprika, 1 teaspoon minced garlic and 1/4 teaspoon coarse salt. Form into 32 balls; place on baking sheet. Bake 10-12 minutes or until browned and cooked through. Remove from oven. Toss with a little hot pepper sauce according to the children's' taste. Serve on wooden picks alongside the children's favorite dip.

Add oven fries (from frozen), celery sticks and soft rolls. How about sliced kiwis for dessert?

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough meatballs for Friday.

TIP: You can substitute regular ground chicken for the chicken breast, but you will increase the calories because ground chicken is usually ground dark meat, which is higher in calories and fat.

SHOPPING LIST: ground chicken breast, bread for bread crumbs, green onions, smoked paprika, garlic, coarse salt, hot pepper sauce, kids' favorite dip, frozen oven fries, celery, soft rolls, kiwis.

THURSDAY: Meatless meals

You can't go wrong with chunky vegetable chili (see recipe) for a no-meat winner. Serve it with grilled cheese sandwiches and a lettuce wedge. Scoop leftover ice cream for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: carrots, potatoes, onion, yellow bell pepper, chili powder, cumin, canned no-salt-added diced tomatoes, unsalted vegetable broth, canned reduced-sodium garbanzo beans, canned reduced-sodium black beans, canned no-salt-added tomato sauce, zucchini, bread and cheese for sandwiches, lettuce.

FRIDAY: Express cooking

Make it a quick meal tonight with meatball tacos. Quarter and heat the leftover meatballs. Spoon into warmed taco shells. Top with salsa, 50 percent light shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream and sliced avocado. Serve with a packaged green salad. Add tropical fruit for a simple dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: taco shells, salsa, 50 percent light shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream, avocados, packaged green salad, tropical fruit.

SATURDAY: Entertain the family

Treat the family to pesto-crusted salmon. Heat oven to 425. Line a rimmed baking sheet with nonstick foil. Place four (4- to 6-ounce) salmon fillets on baking sheet. Spoon 2 teaspoons pesto onto each fillet. Top each with 1 tablespoon panko bread crumbs. Bake 10-15 minutes according to thickness, or until fish turns opaque.

Serve with couscous, snow peas, a bibb lettuce salad and a baguette. For dessert, buy fruit tarts.

SHOPPING LIST: salmon fillets, pesto, panko bread crumbs, couscous, snow peas, Bibb lettuce, baguette, fruit tarts.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: [email protected] Follow Susan on Twitter: @7DayMenu. The Menu Planner is also accessible at Read Susan's blog: And check out Susan's book! "7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies" is on shelves now. Order yours on today!

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Makes: 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 35 minutes

1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, divided

2 eggs, lightly beaten

2 (9-ounce) packages cooked chicken breast strips (or leftover chicken)

1/2 medium onion, finely chopped

1 1/2 cups frozen mixed vegetables (corn, carrots, peas and cut green beans), thawed

1/4 cup hoisin sauce

4 cloves garlic, finely chopped

1 tablespoon soy sauce

1 (10-ounce) package yellow rice mix

Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add eggs, swirling to coat pan in a thin layer. Cook 2 minutes without stirring until eggs are set. Using a spatula, transfer eggs to a plate; chop finely and set aside. Heat remaining oil in same skillet. Add chicken. Cook 1 minute, stirring occasionally, until slightly browned on both sides. Add onion. Cook 3 minutes or until softened. Stir in vegetables, hoisin sauce, garlic and soy sauce. Continue cooking 5 minutes, stirring occasionally, until vegetables begin to soften. Add yellow rice mix and 2 cups water and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low. Simmer, covered, about 25 minutes or until the rice is tender and water is absorbed. Remove skillet from heat and gently stir reserved eggs into rice.

Per serving: 384 calories, 34 grams protein, 7 grams fat (17 percent calories from fat), 1.7 grams saturated fat, 45 grams carbohydrate, 134 milligrams cholesterol, 826 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.


Makes: 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 10 minutes, plus pasta

12 ounces penne pasta

2 (5- or 6-ounce) cans tuna in olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

1/2 cup pitted green olives, halved

2 tablespoons capers, rinsed

1/4 teaspoon crushed red pepper

Chopped fresh parsley for garnish

Cook pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, pour 2 teaspoons oil from tuna into a large nonstick skillet and heat on medium. Add garlic and cook 1 minute or until fragrant. Stir in tomatoes, olives, capers and pepper; bring to a simmer. Reduce heat; simmer 5 minutes. Stir in tuna. Drain pasta; return to pot. Add sauce and parsley to pasta; toss and serve.

Per serving: 375 calories, 23 grams protein, 8 grams fat (19 percent calories from fat), 1.6 grams saturated fat, 52 grams carbohydrate, 30 milligrams cholesterol, 912 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.


Makes: about 14 cups

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: about 35 minutes

5 medium carrots, chopped

2 medium potatoes, diced

1 medium onion, chopped

1 small yellow bell pepper, chopped

1 tablespoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1 (28-ounce) can no-salt-added diced tomatoes with liquid

1 (14-ounce) can unsalted vegetable broth

1 (15- to 19-ounce) can reduced-sodium garbanzo beans, rinsed

1 (15- to 19-ounce) can reduced-sodium black beans, rinsed

1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce

1 medium zucchini, cubed

Microwave the carrots, potatoes, onion and bell pepper 5 minutes on high; drain. Add microwaved vegetables to a Dutch oven along with the chili powder, cumin, tomatoes with liquid, vegetable broth, garbanzo beans, black beans and tomato sauce. Cover; bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer 25 minutes. Add zucchini; cover and simmer 5 minutes or until zucchini is tender. Serve warm.

Per cup: 111 calories, 5 grams protein, 1 gram fat (4 percent calories from fat), no saturated fat, 22 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 158 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.

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