7 Day Menu Planner

3/11

Family Sunday

When I was growing up, Pork With Apples and Sauerkraut (see recipe) was a favorite family meal. This combo demands mashed potatoes alongside! Cranberry sauce goes well with the flavors, as does rye bread. Top strawberries with light whipped cream for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough strawberries for Monday.

3/12

Meatless Monday

Enjoy the mild flavor of Creamy Vegetables With Pasta (see recipe) for a no-meat meal. Serve with garlic bread and a spinach salad. Add canned mandarin orange sections to the salad and top with red onion rings. For dessert, scoop vanilla ice cream and top it with leftover strawberries.

Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Wednesday.

3/13

Budget Tuesday

Yellow Chicken Curry is easy on the budget. In a Dutch oven, combine 1 (14-ounce) can coconut milk and 4 1/4 cups water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium; add 4 tablespoons curry paste and 1 tablespoon curry powder and mix well. Add 1 1/4 pounds chicken tenders and 3 medium Yukon gold potatoes, peeled and cut into quarters, and cook 5 minutes. Reduce heat to low; add 1 large onion, cut into quarters, 1/3 cup fish sauce or reduced-sodium soy sauce and 1 tablespoon sugar. Simmer, covered, 30 minutes or until potatoes are tender and chicken is cooked through; stir occasionally.

Serve with Jasmine rice and naan. Enjoy apricots for dessert.

Plan ahead: Make tomorrow's chili today.

3/14

Express Wednesday

Quick Chili is just that, and economical, too. Brown 1 1/2 pounds lean ground beef; drain. In a 4-quart or larger slow cooker, combine beef with 3 tablespoons chili powder, 3 (15-ounce) cans mild or medium chili beans, 1 1/2 cups pinto beans, 2 slices cooked and chopped bacon and 5 cups tomato-and-basil spaghetti sauce (such as Classico or another brand). Cook on high 4 hours. (Recipe adapted from healthyaperture.com.)

On the side, add deli coleslaw. Add some grated carrots to the slaw to perk up the flavor. Make cornbread from a mix. Leftover vanilla ice cream is the right dessert.

Plan ahead: Save some whole carrots and coleslaw for Thursday.

3/15

Kids Thursday

Don't store the slow cooker just yet — treat the kids to Slow Cooker Pork. Place a well-trimmed (4- or 5-pound) boneless pork shoulder roast in a 4- or 6-quart slow cooker; pour an 18-ounce bottle of barbecue sauce and 1 (12-ounce) can cola beverage (not diet) over pork. Cover and cook on low 8 to 10 hours or until meat shreds easily with a fork. Transfer pork to cutting board; shred with 2 forks, removing any large pieces of fat. Skim fat from sauce and discard. Place pork back in cooker; pour sauce over shredded pork. (Adapted from "Sunday Suppers," Cynthia Graubart, Time Inc. Books.)

Serve the pork on whole-grain buns. Add potato chips for the kids, along with leftover carrot sticks. The adults might enjoy leftover coleslaw and pickled sliced jalapenos with their barbecue.

Frosted grapes are dessert: Wash and pat dry 1 1/2 pounds seedless red or green grapes. Freeze for 45 minutes and let stand 2 minutes before serving.

Plan ahead: Save enough pork for Friday.

3/16

Heat and Eat Friday

Tonight, heat the leftover Pulled Pork. Spoon it onto toasted cornbread squares. Serve with mixed greens. Blueberries are your dessert.

Plan ahead: Buy enough blueberries for Saturday.

3/17

Easy Entertaining Saturday

Invite guests for Mustard-Topped Salmon. Place a 2 1/2-pound salmon fillet on a broiler pan, skin side down. In a small bowl, combine 1/4 cup packed light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill and 1/4 cup grainy Dijon mustard. Spread half on top of salmon. Cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate up to 5 hours. Stir remaining mustard mixture into 1/2 cup light mayonnaise; cover and refrigerate. To cook, heat oven to 400 degrees. Remove salmon from refrigerator 20 minutes before cooking. Bake 20 minutes or until fish is cooked through. Remove salmon in one piece to a platter, leaving skin behind. Serve warm or at room temperature with sauce, over brown rice tossed with toasted walnuts. (Adapted from Family Circle.)

For a delicious side dish, try baked artichokes and spinach (see recipe) and add dinner rolls. For dessert, buy a cheesecake and top it with leftover blueberries.

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THE RECIPES

Pork With Apples and Sauerkraut (Sunday)

1 1/2 pounds red potatoes, cut into 1-inch pieces

2 pounds refrigerated sauerkraut, well-rinsed and drained

1/2 cup unsalted chicken broth

1 Granny Smith apple, unpeeled, cored and coarsely chopped

1 cup chopped onion

1 1/2 pounds lean boneless country-style pork ribs

1/2 pound kielbasa or Polish sausage, cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces

3/4 cup apple juice

3 tablespoons brown sugar

1 teaspoon caraway seeds

1 teaspoon ground mustard

1/2 teaspoon whole allspice

Place potatoes in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. In a large bowl, mix sauerkraut, broth, apple and onion; spoon half over potatoes. Top with pork, kielbasa and remaining sauerkraut mixture. In small bowl, mix juice, brown sugar, caraway seeds, mustard and allspice. Lightly stir mixture into sauerkraut. Cover. Cook 8 hours on low or 4 hours on high or until meat and vegetables are tender. Serves 5.

Per serving: 510 calories (percent calories from fat, 32), 38 grams protein, 50 grams carbohydrate, 9 grams fiber, 19 grams fat (6.7 grams saturated fat), 126 milligrams cholesterol, 1,671 milligrams sodium.

Note: Skip this recipe if you are on a sodium-restricted diet. Cured meats such as sausage and bacon are high in sodium, as is sauerkraut.

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Creamy Vegetables With Pasta (Monday)

8 ounces penne pasta

2 tablespoons water

2 cups (8 ounces) shredded carrots

1 1/2 cups frozen tiny green peas

4 cloves garlic, minced

3 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese or Neufchatel cheese, cut into cubes

1/2 cup sliced green onions

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

Cook pasta according to directions; drain and return to pot. Meanwhile, microwave water and carrots on high (100 percent power) for 5 minutes. Add peas and garlic to carrots and microwave on high for 4 minutes; drain. Add cheese and onions to pasta and mix well. Spoon vegetables over pasta; stir until cheese melts. Toss to coat. Salt and pepper to taste. Serve immediately. Serves 8.

Per serving: 168 calories (percent calories from fat, 16), 6 grams protein, 29 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 3 grams fat (1.6 grams saturated fat), 8 milligrams cholesterol, 97 milligrams sodium.

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Baked Artichokes and Spinach (Saturday)

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen chopped spinach

2 tablespoons butter

1/2 cup chopped green onions and tops

1 (10-ounce) can water-packed quartered artichokes, drained and halved

1 cup reduced-fat sour cream

1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, divided

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Microwave spinach according to package directions; squeeze dry. Meanwhile, melt butter in a large nonstick skillet on medium. Add green onions and cook 3 minutes or until softened. Add cooked spinach, artichokes, sour cream and 1/4 cup of the cheese; mix well. Spoon into a 1 1/2-quart baking dish coated with cooking spray. Top with remaining cheese. Bake 20 to 30 minutes or until bubbly. Serves 8.

Per serving: 128 calories (percent calories from fat, 57), 7 grams protein, 8 grams carbohydrate, 3 grams fiber, 8 grams fat (5.1 grams saturated fat), 28 milligrams cholesterol, 258 milligrams sodium.