Seven-Day Menu Planner

11/ 16

Family Sunday

APRICOT-WALNUT CHICKEN THIGHS (see recipe) are worthy of a family feast. Serve the savory dish with COUSCOUS and steamed SNOW PEAS. Add SOURDOUGH BREAD. For dessert, make or buy a CHERRY COBBLER.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough cobbler for Tuesday.

SHOPPING LIST: gingersnaps, walnuts, coarse salt, all-fruit apricot spreadable fruit (such as Polaner), boneless, skinless chicken thighs, cooking spray, olive oil, canned apricot halves, fresh mint, couscous, snow peas, sourdough bread, cherry cobbler.

11/ 17

Kids Monday

Make WRAPPER DOGS for the kids by wrapping cooked hot dogs (lowest in sodium and fat) with RELISH and MUSTARD (and their other favorite toppings) in warm fat-free whole-grain flour tortillas.

Serve with canned VEGETARIAN BAKED BEANS. Add BABY CARROTS with some RANCH DRESSING for dipping. FROZEN BANANAS are a kid-friendly dessert. For 1 serving, freeze an unpeeled banana, peel and grate through the coarse holes on a box grater. Top with a little Nutella or chocolate sauce.

SHOPPING LIST: lowest-sodium, lowest-fat hot dogs, relish, mustard, fat-free whole-grain flour tortillas, canned vegetarian baked beans, baby carrots, ranch dressing, bananas, Nutella or chocolate sauce.

11/ 18

Express Tuesday

MEATBALLS WITH SWEET AND SOUR SAUCE will be on the table in a hurry. Prepare purchased turkey meatballs according to directions. For the sauce, combine 1/2 cup all-fruit apricot spreadable fruit (such as Polaner), 2 tablespoons seasoned rice wine vinegar and 2 tablespoons reduced-sodium soy sauce; mix well. Just before serving, transfer meatballs to a serving dish. Add sauce; toss gently to coat. Stir in 1/2 cup bite-size pieces of fresh pineapple.

Serve over RICE. Add deli COLESLAW and WHOLE-GRAIN ROLLS. For dessert, warm the leftover COBBLER and top with fat-free VANILLA ICE CREAM.

PLAN AHEAD: Prepare Wednesday’s chili tonight if time permits. Buy enough coleslaw and save enough ice cream for Wednesday. Prepare enough rice for Friday.

11/ 19

Meatless Wednesday

VEGETABLE CHILI POT (see recipe) is a tasty reason to skip meat tonight. Serve with leftover COLESLAW and CORNBREAD (from a mix). Top leftover ICE CREAM with warmed CARAMEL SAUCE.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough chili for Thursday.

11/ 20

Heat-and-Eat Thursday

CHILI over POLENTA will be a favorite quick meal. Brown about 3/4 pound lean ground beef; drain. Add the cooked beef to the leftover chili and heat through.

Meanwhile, slice and heat 1 (16-ounce) package refrigerated polenta according to directions. To serve, heat polenta, slice and place on plates and top with chili. On the side, add deli CARROT SALAD and BISCUITS. For dessert, SLICED PEACHES are all you need.

TIP: Look for refrigerated packaged polenta in the produce department.

11/ 21

Budget Friday

Save some money with delicious UNSTUFFED CABBAGE. Heat 1 tablespoon canola oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Cook 12 ounces ground turkey or chicken about 4 minutes or until no longer pink; drain. Add 3 cups coarsely shredded cabbage (about 1 pound); cover and cook 3 minutes or until wilted. Add 2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with garlic and onion, 1/2 cup raisins, 2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice, 1 tablespoon packed light brown sugar, 1 tablespoon fresh dill, 1/2 teaspoon allspice and 1/2 teaspoon black pepper; bring to boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer 5 minutes to blend flavors.

Serve with leftover RICE, a ROMAINE SALAD and RYE BREAD. For dessert, CHUNKY APPLESAUCE sprinkled with cinnamon will taste good.

11/ 22

Easy Entertaining Saturday


Simple and delicious, BROILED HONEY PEARS are the perfect dessert. Peel, halve and core pears. Score pear halves and place on baking pan. Drizzle with some honey and shaved parmesan cheese; broil until cheese melts.

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1 1/2 cups gingersnap cookie crumbs (see note)

1/4 cup finely chopped walnuts

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

8 tablespoons all-fruit apricot spreadable fruit (such as Polaner)

8 boneless, skinless chicken thighs

4 teaspoons olive oil, divided

Canned apricot halves for garnish

Mint sprigs for garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Place cookie crumbs, walnuts and salt on a plate and mix well. Dip chicken into spreadable fruit, then dredge in crumb mixture, coating both sides. On baking sheet coated with cooking spray, place chicken. Drizzle 1/2 teaspoon oil on each thigh. Bake 35 minutes or until chicken is 165 degrees. Arrange chicken on serving plate and garnish with apricots and mint sprigs. Serves 4.

Note: To make crumbs, place gingersnaps in plastic bag and crush with mallet, or use a blender or food processor.

Per serving: 591 calories, 41 grams protein, 26 grams fat (41 percent calories from fat), 5.7 grams saturated fat, 46 grams carbohydrate, 211 milligrams cholesterol, 594 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 3.

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1 cup shredded carrots

2 cups instant brown rice

2 (15-ounce) cans no-salt-added black beans, rinsed and drained

2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans diced tomatoes with green chilies

2 1/2 cups no-salt-added vegetable broth or water

1/3 cup dried minced onion

1 teaspoon chipotle or regular chili powder

1 teaspoon Italian seasoning

1 teaspoon cumin

Reduced-fat sour cream for garnish

Combine carrots, rice, beans, tomatoes, broth or water, onion, chili powder, Italian seasoning and cumin in microwave-safe pot. Cover and microwave on high (100 percent power) for 10 minutes. Re-cover and microwave on medium (50 percent power) for 20 minutes or until vegetables are softened. Garnish with sour cream. Makes 10 cups.

Per cup: 167 calories, 7 grams protein, 1 gram fat (4 percent calories from fat), no saturated fat, 33 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 352 milligrams sodium, 6 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 2.

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1/4 teaspoon pepper

1 boneless beef top sirloin steak, cut 1 inch thick (about 1 1/2 pounds)

Coarse salt

1/3 cup lower-sodium beef broth

1/3 cup dry red wine

1 1/2 cups diced plum tomatoes

4 teaspoons capers (optional)

3 cloves garlic, minced

1 cup uncooked orzo pasta

1/2 pound asparagus, cut into 1-inch pieces

Press pepper evenly onto steak. Heat large nonstick skillet over medium until hot. Place steak in skillet; cook 15 to 18 minutes for medium rare (145 degrees) to medium (160 degrees) doneness, turning occasionally. Season with salt, as desired. Remove from skillet; keep warm.

Add broth and wine to skillet; increase heat to medium-high. Cook and stir 1 to 2 minutes or until brown bits attached to skillet are dissolved. Add tomatoes, capers, if desired, and garlic; cook and stir 6 to 7 minutes or until thickened.

Meanwhile, cook pasta according to package directions, using salt in the water. Add asparagus during last 3 minutes of cooking time. Drain. Toss with half of the tomato mixture.

Carve steak crosswise into slices. Serve steak over pasta. Spoon remaining tomato mixture over steak. Serves 6.

Per serving: 256 calories, 26 grams protein, 5 grams fat (16 percent calories from fat), 1.6 grams saturated fat, 25 grams carbohydrate, 56 milligrams cholesterol, 56 milligrams sodium, 2 grams fiber.

Carb choices: 1 1/2.