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7 Day Menu Planner

Dear readers: It’s time to spice things up! Starting next week, there will be one “wild card” night that doesn’t fit into any of 7-Day Menu Planner’s regular categories, similar to the Chili Nights featured in the weeks leading up to the Super Bowl. I hope some fresh takes in the Menu Planner will continue to inspire good eats and new family favorites! — SN

3/18

Family Sunday

Enjoy lots of praise from the family when you present One-Pot Chicken With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach (see recipe). Serve the combo with a mixed green salad. Buy bread pudding for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough bread pudding for Wednesday.

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3/19

Meatless Monday

Keep it simple tonight with Ravioli With Peas and Pesto (see recipe). Serve with a spinach salad and whole-grain rolls. Enjoy pears for dessert.

3/20

Kids Tuesday

These Pizza-dillas are fun for the kids. For one serving: Heat 1 teaspoon olive oil in a nonstick skillet on medium. Add 1 (7- to 9-inch) flour tortilla to skillet and spread 1/3 cup pizza sauce over the tortilla. Cover with shredded mozzarella, finely grated Parmesan and Italian seasoning. Top with pepperoni slices. Cook until cheese is melted and tortilla is golden. Repeat for more pizza-dillas. Serve with a chopped lettuce salad. Sliced peaches are an easy dessert.

3/21

Budget Wednesday

Tonight’s French Dip Sandwiches are quick. Heat slices of deli roast beef in au jus gravy. Serve on individual toasted split French bread rolls with small bowls of gravy for dipping. Add oven fries (from frozen) and a packaged green salad. Leftover bread pudding is a welcome dessert.

3/22

Express Thursday

For many of us, Vegetable Beef Soup is a perfect meal on a chilly night (see recipe). Add a romaine salad and whole-wheat crackers. Chocolate ice cream is great for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough soup for Friday and ice cream for Saturday.

3/23

Heat-and-Eat Friday

Enjoy the fruits of your earlier labors with the ready-to-heat leftover Vegetable Beef Soup. Serve it over brown rice. Garnish with sliced avocados and reduced-fat sour cream. Round out your simple meal with carrot salad and whole-grain rolls. For dessert, how about orange sections?

3/24

Easy Entertaining Saturday

Invite friends for Marinated Pork Roast. Combine 1 cup dry red wine, 1/2 cup firmly packed light brown sugar, 1/3 cup ketchup, 1/3 cup water, 2 tablespoons canola oil, 3 cloves minced garlic, 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce, 1/2 teaspoon curry powder, 1 teaspoon ground ginger and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper in a heavy-duty resealable plastic bag; mix well. Add 1 (4-pound) well-trimmed boneless pork loin roast, seal bag, turn to coat and marinate in refrigerator 8 hours; turn occasionally.

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Remove pork from marinade; discard all but 2 cups. Bring reserved marinade to a boil. Whisk in 1 tablespoon cornstarch and cook, stirring constantly, 2 to 3 minutes or until thickened; set aside and cool. Pat pork dry and place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake 2 hours or until thermometer reaches 145 degrees in the thickest part. Remove from oven and let stand 10 minutes. Reheat reserved sauce; slice pork and serve with sauce. Garnish with red bell pepper strips. Serve with baked sweet potatoes, green beans, a red-tipped lettuce salad and sourdough bread.

Make a triple chocolate sundae for dessert. Warm some deli brownies, top with leftover chocolate ice cream and drizzle with chocolate syrup. Add a dollop of light whipped cream.

** ** **

THE RECIPES

One-Pot Chicken With Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach (Sunday)

1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, cut into 1-inch cubes

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 clove garlic, minced

4 cups unsalted chicken broth

8 ounces angel hair pasta, broken in half

1 (5- or 6-ounce) bag fresh baby spinach

1/2 cup heavy cream

1/2 cup sun-dried tomatoes, drained and chopped

1/4 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese, plus more for serving

Season chicken with salt and pepper. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat oil on medium-high. Add garlic; cook 30 seconds, until fragrant. Stir in chicken and cook 5 minutes, or until browned. Add broth; bring to a simmer. Stir in pasta; cover and cook 4 to 6 minutes, stirring occasionally, until pasta is cooked through and chicken reaches an internal temperature of 165 degrees. Remove pot from heat. Stir in spinach, cream, tomatoes and cheese. Serve with more Parmesan for garnishing. Serves 6.

Per serving: 429 calories (percent calories from fat, 36), 32 grams protein, 33 grams carbohydrate, 2 grams fiber, 17 grams fat (6.6 grams saturated fat), 103 milligrams cholesterol, 455 milligrams sodium.

** ** **

Ravioli With Peas and Pesto (Monday)

1 pound refrigerated cheese ravioli

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can diced tomatoes with basil, garlic and onion, drained

1 cup loosely packed chopped fresh basil leaves

2 cups frozen tiny green peas, thawed

1/4 cup refrigerated basil pesto

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

Cook ravioli according to directions. Meanwhile, combine tomatoes and fresh basil leaves. Place peas in a colander. Drain ravioli over peas. Transfer mixture into a large serving bowl. Toss with basil pesto; top with tomato mixture. Season with salt and pepper and serve. Serves 6.

Per serving: 355 calories (percent calories from fat, 38), 15 grams protein, 39 grams carbohydrate, 4 grams fiber, 15 grams fat (7.5 grams saturated fat), 51 milligrams cholesterol, 678 milligrams sodium.

** ** **

Vegetable Beef Soup (Thursday)

1 pound beef stew meat, cut into bite size pieces

1/2 teaspoon garlic salt

2 teaspoons (about 4 shakes) Worcestershire sauce

1 medium baking potato, peeled and cubed

1 cup thinly sliced carrots

1 cup packaged angel hair coleslaw mix

1 medium onion, chopped

1 medium zucchini, chopped

1 (10-ounce) package frozen cut green beans, thawed

1 cup frozen corn, thawed

1 (16-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce

1 (14-ounce) can unsalted beef broth

1 teaspoon dried oregano

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Place all ingredients in a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Press everything down with back of large spoon. Add enough water to just cover vegetables. Cook on low 6 to 7 hours. Mix well and serve immediately. Serves 6.

Per serving: 219 calories (percent calories from fat, 23), 19 grams protein, 25 grams carbohydrate, 5 grams fiber, 6 grams fat (2.1 grams saturated fat), 47 milligrams cholesterol, 229 milligrams sodium.

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