Seven-Day Menu Planner

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietician. She can be reached by email at Look for Susan's new book, "The 7-Day Menu Planner for Dummies," in bookstores. The Menu Planner is also accessible at Read Susan's blog at

5/ 19 -- Family Sunday

Keep it simple today and prepare your own ROAST TURKEY BREAST. Add canned whole-berry CRANBERRY SAUCE on the side. Serve with NEW POTATOES AND GREEN BEANS WITH DILL SAUCE (see recipe). Add a ROMAINE SALAD and DINNER ROLLS. For dessert, make PEACH SHORTCAKE by spooning Nutella on shortcake shells and covering them with sliced peaches. Garnish with light whipped cream.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough turkey, half the cranberry sauce, enough peaches and enough shortcakes for Monday.

TIP: Look for Nutella, a hazelnut spread, near the peanut butter; shortcake shells are usually in produce.

5/ 20 -- Heat-and-Eat Monday

Make simple TURKEY-CRANBERRY WRAPS for dinner tonight. Heat 6 large fat-free whole-grain tortillas according to directions. Mix together leftover cranberry sauce, 2 tablespoons spicy brown mustard and 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger. Spread evenly on one side of each tortilla. Top each one with leftover thinly sliced or chopped turkey breast, 3 sliced green onions, 2 tablespoons toasted pecans and 1 cup shredded lettuce. Roll and serve with PLANTAIN CHIPS.

Add PICKLES, OLIVES and CELERY STICKS to munch on. Dessert is leftover SHORTCAKE WITH PEACHES.

5/ 21 -- Budget Tuesday

Save some money tonight and prepare CAJUN BEEF SKILLET (see recipe). Serve with COLESLAW and WHOLE-GRAIN ROLLS. PEARS are for dessert.

5/ 22 -- Meatless Wednesday

You’ll be glad you made SPAGHETTI WITH ARUGULA PESTO for dinner tonight. Cook 12 ounces whole-grain spaghetti according to directions; reserve 1/2 cup cooking water.

Meanwhile, with the motor running, drop 2 medium peeled cloves garlic in a food processor fitted with the metal blade; process until minced. Stop the machine and add 1/2 cup toasted pine nuts and 4 cups arugula; process until finely minced. With motor running, add 5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil in a thin stream. Scrape down sides of bowl. Add 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice and freshly ground black pepper. Toss sauce with spaghetti; add enough reserved pasta liquid to make the pasta a little more saucy. Divide among pasta bowls; garnish with 2 cored, seeded and diced plum tomatoes. Sprinkle with freshly grated parmesan if desired. (Adapted from “Melissa’s 50 Best Plants on the Planet,” Cathy Thomas; Chronicle Books, 2013.)


PLAN AHEAD: Buy enough strawberries for Thursday.

5/ 23 -- Express Thursday

Make it quick tonight with PIEROGIES PICANTE. In a large pan, heat 1 (16.9-ounce) package frozen potato and onion pierogies in boiling water 5 minutes or until they float; drain.

Meanwhile, in a medium skillet, cook 1 (15-ounce) can chili with beans and 1 cup salsa or picante sauce on medium-high 4 minutes or until bubbly, stirring. Stir in 1 cup frozen corn; reduce heat to medium. Cook 7 minutes or until hot, stirring. Spoon chili sauce over hot pierogies; sprinkle with 1 cup shredded 50 percent reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese.

Serve with a packaged GREEN SALAD and WHOLE-GRAIN ROLLS. Make instant VANILLA PUDDING with 1 percent milk for dessert. Top with leftover STRAWBERRIES.

5/ 24 -- Kids Friday

The kids will appreciate getting to pick out their favorite store-bought PIZZA for tonight. Dip raw BABY CARROTS and CELERY STICKS into light ranch dressing as an accompaniment. PLUMS are your dessert.

5/ 25 -- Easy Entertaining Saturday

Invite guests for BAKED TILAPIA FLORENTINE. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Place 4 (4- to 6-ounce) tilapia fillets in a shallow baking dish. Spread 1 (10-ounce) package frozen creamed spinach (thawed) on the fillets; sprinkle with 2 tablespoons seasoned bread crumbs and 2 tablespoons freshly grated parmesan cheese. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until fish is opaque throughout. Serve with GREEK RICE-STUFFED TOMATOES (see recipe).

Add a BOSTON LETTUCE SALAD and SOURDOUGH BREAD. For dessert, spoon fat-free HOT FUDGE SAUCE over fat-free VANILLA ICE CREAM.


Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: 15 minutes

Cooking time: less than 30 minutes

2 cups water, divided

1 extra-large vegetable bouillon cube

2 tablespoons flour

2 pounds small new potatoes, quartered

1/2 pound fresh green beans, trimmed

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1 tablespoon fresh chopped dill

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

Bring 1 3/4 cups water and bouillon cube to a boil in a large skillet, stirring until cube dissolves; cool slightly. Whisk flour gradually into remaining 1/4 cup water; add to broth and cook over medium-high, whisking constantly, 2 minutes or until mixture is slightly thickened. Reduce heat to medium; add potatoes and cook, covered, 15 minutes. Add beans and cook, covered, 8 minutes or until tender. Stir in pepper, dill and lemon juice. Serve immediately. (Adapted from Southern Living magazine.)

Per serving: 213 calories, 6 grams protein, no fat, no saturated fat, 48 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 373 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber.


Makes 4 servings

Preparation time: less than 10 minutes

Cooking time: about 20 minutes

8 ounces lean ground beef

1 cup onion, chopped

1 (14 1/2-ounce) can crushed tomatoes

2 1/2 cups water

2 teaspoons Cajun spice mix

8 ounces thin spaghetti, broken into thirds

1 (10-ounce) package frozen sliced okra

Cook beef and onion in a large nonstick skillet 6 minutes on medium or until beef is no longer pink and onions are softened; drain. Add tomatoes, water, spice mix to skillet and bring to a boil. Stir in spaghetti. Gently boil 6 minutes uncovered or until liquid has thickened and spaghetti is limp, stirring often. Reduce heat to low, stir in okra, and cook 6 minutes or until liquid is almost absorbed but still saucy.

Per serving: 381 calories, 22 grams protein, 7 grams fat (17 percent calories from fat), 2.2 grams saturated fat, 58 grams carbohydrate, 32 milligrams cholesterol, 213 milligrams sodium, 5 grams fiber.


Makes 8 tomatoes

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 30 to 35 minutes

8 large tomatoes

3 cups rice, cooked

1/2 cup red onion, minced

3/4 cup reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese

1/2 cup parsley, chopped

1 teaspoon coarse salt

3 tablespoons olive oil

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Slice off tops of tomatoes and remove a very thin slice on bottom (for stability). Scoop out insides of tomatoes and discard. Turn tomatoes over on paper towels to drain. In a large bowl, combine rice, onion, feta, parsley and salt; mix well. Divide rice mixture evenly and fill tomatoes, drizzle with the oil, and place in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish coated with cooking spray. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until heated through.

Per tomato: 181 calories, 6 grams protein, 7 grams fat (35 percent calories from fat), 1.8 grams saturated fat, 25 grams carbohydrate, 5 milligrams cholesterol, 437 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.