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SUNDAY: Family day

These Dijon steak kebabs make a delicious meal for family day. In a small bowl, combine 2 tablespoons water, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 tablespoons coarse-grain Dijon mustard, two cloves minced garlic, 2 teaspoons canola oil and 1/2 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper. Place the marinade and 1 pound boneless beef round tip steak (1-inch thick, cut into 11/2-inch pieces) in a resealable plastic bag. Turn to coat. Refrigerate 6-24 hours. Remove beef, discard marinade and pat beef dry. Thread beef on four metal skewers; grill 8-10 minutes for medium-rare to medium doneness.

Serve the kebabs over packaged long grain and wild rice. Steam some fresh broccoli, and add a mixed green salad and whole-grain rolls to your meal. Clafoutis of cherries amandine for dessert (see recipe) is extra-special and absolutely delicious.

SHOPPING LIST: red wine vinegar, coarse-grain Dijon mustard, garlic, canola oil, black pepper, boneless beef round tip steak, packaged long grain and wild rice, fresh broccoli, mixed greens, whole-grain rolls, bag frozen pitted cherries (or about 11/2 pounds fresh), cherry preserves, unskinned almonds, granulated sugar, cornstarch, unsalted butter, eggs, dark rum, powdered sugar.

MONDAY: Budget dining

Chicken, tomato and barley stew (see recipe) is just right for a low-cost, flavorful meal. Serve with a lettuce wedge and whole-grain bread. For dessert, try fresh pineapple chunks.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough of the chicken stew for Tuesday.

SHOPPING LIST: jar no-salt-added or regular marinara sauce, red wine vinegar, cumin, cinnamon, bone-in skinless chicken thighs, quick-cooking barley, unsalted chicken broth, onion, raisins, fresh zucchini, lettuce wedge, whole-grain bread, fresh pineapple.

TUESDAY: Heat and eat

Use Monday's leftovers for stuffed peppers. Core, cover and microwave any color bell peppers upside down in a baking dish, 1 minute on high for each pepper. Heat the leftover chicken stew and stuff the peppers. Top with crumbled Greek feta cheese.

Serve with buttered noodles, green beans and crusty rolls. Apple slices are your dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: any color bell pepper, crumbled Greek feta cheese, butter, noodles, green beans, crusty rolls, apples.

WEDNESDAY: Meatless meal

Skip meat tonight for vegetable curry (see recipe). Serve it with basmati rice, a spinach salad and bread sticks. For an easy dessert, enjoy red and green grapes.

SHOPPING LIST: light coconut milk, flour, red curry paste, onion, Yukon gold potatoes, butternut squash, cauliflower, canned reduced-sodium chickpeas, red bell pepper, frozen green peas, fresh cilantro, basmati rice, fresh spinach, bread sticks, red and green grapes.

THURSDAY: Kids favorite

Chicken taco pie is just right for the children tonight. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Coat a 10-inch glass pie plate with cooking spray. Combine 2 cups cooked diced chicken, 1/2 cup finely chopped onion and 2 tablespoons less-sodium taco seasoning mix (from packet). Scatter in pie plate. Mix together 1 cup baking mix (such as Bisquick), 1 cup 1 percent milk and two eggs with a fork until blended. Pour into pie plate. Bake 30-35 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Sprinkle with 1 cup shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese; bake 1-2 minutes longer or until cheese melts. Garnish with chopped lettuce, diced tomatoes and reduced-fat sour cream. Serve with steamed carrots. Plums are your dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: cooking spray, cooked chicken, onion, less-sodium taco seasoning mix, baking mix (such as Bisquick), 1 percent milk, eggs, shredded 50 percent light cheddar cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, reduced-fat sour cream, carrots, plums.

FRIDAY: Express cooking

Tuscan tomato soup hits the spot for a quick meal. In a food processor or blender, combine one (24- to 26-ounce) jar no-salt-added or regular marinara sauce, one (15- to 19-ounce) can rinsed reduced-sodium cannellini beans, one (7-ounce) jar drained roasted red peppers, 2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil and one clove garlic; process until smooth. Pour into a medium saucepan; add 13/4 cups unsalted chicken broth. Bring to a simmer. Remove from heat; stir in 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves (cut into strips) and serve.

Add a deli egg salad sandwich on whole-grain bread with lettuce. Munch on oatmeal cookies for dessert.

SHOPPING LIST: jar no-salt-added or regular marinara sauce, canned reduced-sodium cannellini beans, jar roasted red peppers, extra-virgin olive oil, garlic, unsalted chicken broth, fresh basil, deli egg salad, whole-grain bread, lettuce, oatmeal cookies.

SATURDAY: Family entertaining

Your family will enjoy coriander-crusted pork tenderloin. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Spread Dijon mustard over a (1- to 11/4-pound) pork tenderloin. Sprinkle with 1 tablespoon crushed coriander seeds, 1 teaspoon crushed black peppercorns and 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt, pressing into the mustard. Bake 20 minutes in a foil-lined roasting pan or until internal temperature reaches 150 degrees. Remove from oven; tent with foil and let stand 5 minutes before slicing.

Serve with brown rice tossed with toasted walnuts and golden raisins, fresh asparagus, a Boston lettuce salad and sourdough bread. A slice of chocolate layer cake is a fine finish.

SHOPPING LIST: Dijon mustard, pork tenderloin, coriander seeds, black peppercorns, coarse salt, brown rice, walnuts, golden raisins, fresh asparagus, Boston lettuce, sourdough bread, chocolate layer cake.

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: 8 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 40 minutes

1 (20-ounce) bag frozen pitted cherries (or about 1 1/2 pounds fresh, pitted)

2/3 cup cherry preserves

1 cup unskinned almonds

1/2 cup granulated sugar

1 tablespoon cornstarch

2 tablespoons unsalted butter, melted

2 eggs

2 tablespoons dark rum

Powdered sugar for dusting

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place the cherries in a gratin dish (about 1 1/2 inches deep and 10 inches in diameter). Add the preserves, mix and set aside.

For the frangipane (see NOTE): Place almonds, sugar and cornstarch in a food processor and process to a powder. Add melted butter, eggs and rum; process for a few seconds until well mixed.

Pour the frangipane mixture over the cherries; mix gently. Place dish on a cookie sheet and bake 40 minutes or until top is browned and custard is cooked through. Allow to cool to lukewarm. Dust with powdered sugar and serve. (Adapted from "Jacques Pepin Quick & Simple," HMH.)

NOTE: Frangipane is a French pastry made with egg yolks, flour, butter and milk, similar to choux pastry.

Per serving: 311 calories, 6 grams protein, 14 grams fat (38 percent calories from fat), 3 grams saturated fat, 42 grams carbohydrate, 54 milligrams cholesterol, 23 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Carb count: 3.


Makes: 6 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: 4-5 hours on low; 30 minutes on high

1 (26-ounce) jar no-salt-added or regular marinara sauce

2 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

2 pounds bone-in skinless chicken thighs, well-trimmed

3/4 cup quick-cooking barley

2 cups unsalted chicken broth

2/3 cup finely chopped onion

1/2 cup raisins

2 medium fresh zucchini, diced

In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, stir marinara sauce, vinegar, cumin and cinnamon together. Mix in chicken, barley, broth, onion and raisins. Cover and cook on low 4 to 5 hours. Stir in zucchini, turn cooker to high and cook 30 minutes or until zucchini is tender.

Per serving: 333 calories, 26 grams protein, 10 grams fat (27 percent calories from fat), 2.5 grams saturated fat, 36 grams carbohydrate, 77 milligrams cholesterol, 191 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber. Carb count: 2.5.


Makes: 6 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: 4-5 hours

1 (14-ounce) can light coconut milk

1/4 cup flour

1/2 cup water

3/4 to 1 1/2 tablespoons red curry paste (see NOTE)

1 medium onion, chopped

8 ounces Yukon gold potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

4 cups butternut squash, cut into 1- to 1 1/2-inch chunks

4 cups cauliflower florets

1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium chickpeas, rinsed

1 red bell pepper, cut into 1-inch pieces

1 cup frozen green peas, thawed

Chopped fresh cilantro for garnish

In a small bowl, whisk together coconut milk, flour, water and curry paste; set aside. In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, add all ingredients except green peas and cilantro; mix well. Pour coconut milk mixture over all. Cover and cook 4-5 hours on low or until vegetables are tender. Stir in peas and cilantro and cook 2 more minutes. Serve warm.

NOTE: For tender mouths, use less curry paste.

Per serving: 235 calories, 8 grams protein, 5 grams fat (17 percent calories from fat), 2.3 grams saturated fat, 43 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 297 milligrams sodium, 8 grams fiber. Carb count: 3.

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