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

11/ 17 -- Family Sunday

That wonderful aroma coming from the kitchen is ROASTED CHICKEN WITH FRUIT COMPOTE (see recipe). Serve the roaster with LEMONY SWEET POTATOES. Bake the sweet potatoes in a 350-degree oven about 45 minutes or until tender. Mix some butter, fresh lemon juice and lemon zest together and add to split potatoes.

Serve with frozen petite GREEN PEAS and CRUSTY ROLLS. Buy a BOSTON CREAM PIE for dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough chicken, fruit compote and pie for Monday.

11/ 18 -- Heat-and-Eat Monday

Use those chicken leftovers for WILD RICE SALAD (see recipe). Serve with a crisp LETTUCE WEDGE and WHOLE-GRAIN ROLLS. Slice the leftover PIE for dessert.

11/ 19 -- Express Tuesday

Try your favorite BRATWURST tonight. We like them best grilled and served on crusty rolls. Slather spicy brown mustard and some chopped onions on top. Buy deli GERMAN POTATO SALAD to accompany the “brats.” You’ll want a light dessert, and CHUNKY APPLESAUCE is just right.

11/ 20 -- Meatless Wednesday

The texture resembles meat, so PHILABELLA CHEESE “STEAK” SANDWICHES could fool you. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium-high. Add 4 large thinly sliced portabella mushroom caps and 4 cups thin onion wedges. Cook and stir 8 minutes or until browned; sprinkle with 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper. Remove and discard some of the soft part of 4 split hoagie rolls; lightly toast rolls. Place a slice of low-fat cheese and mushroom mixture on bottom of rolls, dividing evenly. Cover with tops.

Serve with a MIXED GREENS SALAD. Scoop fat-free VANILLA ICE CREAM and drizzle with STRAWBERRY SAUCE for dessert.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough ice cream for Saturday.

11/21 -- Kids Thursday

Make mild-flavored MEXICAN LASAGNA (see recipe) for the kids. Serve with CHOPPED LETTUCE and SOFT ROLLS. For dessert, PLUMS are easy.

PLAN AHEAD: Save enough lasagna for Friday.

11/ 22 -- Budget Friday

Save money and time by heating the leftover LASAGNA tonight. Garnish with sliced jalapeno pickles. Serve with an ITALIAN SALAD and GARLIC BREAD. For dessert, FRESH PINEAPPLE sprinkled with toasted coconut is good.

PLAN AHEAD: Save some toasted coconut for Saturday.

11/ 23 -- Easy Entertaining Saturday

Invite guests for GRILLED LAMB LOIN CHOPS WITH 6 SPICES. Bring 4 lamb loin chops to room temperature (at least 30 minutes). In spice or coffee grinder, grind 1 tablespoon whole coriander seeds, 1 tablespoon fennel seeds, 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves, 1 1/2 teaspoons black peppercorns, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1 bay leaf until fine. Sprinkle spice rub over loin chops. Heat grill to medium-high. Grill chops about 4 to 6 minutes per side or 145 degrees for medium-rare. Be careful not to burn spice rub. Let chops stand lightly covered at least 10 minutes before serving.

Serve with GRILLED FINGERLING POTATOES and GREEN BEANS. Add a BIBB LETTUCE SALAD and BAGUETTES. For dessert, top leftover ICE CREAM with leftover toasted COCONUT.

SHOPPING LIST: lamb loin chops, whole coriander seeds, fennel seeds, fresh thyme, black peppercorns, coarse salt, bay leaf, fingerling potatoes, green beans, bibb lettuce, baguettes.

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Makes 11 to 15 servings

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 2 1/2 hours; standing time: 10 to 15 minutes


1 (5- to 7-pound) roasting chicken

1 tablespoon canola oil

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

2 red or green apples, cored and cut into wedges

2 red or green ripe pears, cored and cut into wedges

2 green onions, sliced

1/2 cup dried apricots

1/2 cup pitted prunes

1/2 cup apple cider or juice

1/2 cup fat-free chicken broth

10 cloves

1 lemon

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Remove giblets from chicken. Place breast-side up in roasting pan. Rub skin with oil and season inside and outside with salt and pepper. Cover with foil. Roast 45 minutes. Remove foil and roast 30 minutes. Meanwhile, combine apples, pears, green onions, apricots, prunes, cider or juice, broth and cloves. Cut 6 strips peel from lemon, each about 3 inches long (yellow part only); add to apple mixture. Arrange apple mixture around roaster in pan. Roast, stirring fruit and basting occasionally, 1 hour and 15 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted in thickest part of thigh registers 165 degrees.

Remove chicken from pan; cover and let stand 10 to 15 minutes. Discard lemon peel and cloves. Remove fruit to serving platter. Skim fat from pan juices. Serve chicken with fruit and pan juices. Remove skin before eating.

Per serving (3 ounces cooked) white meat without skin: 126 calories, 25 grams protein, 3 grams fat (21 percent calories from fat), 0.7 gram saturated fat, no carbohydrate, 76 milligrams cholesterol, 79 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Per serving (3 ounces cooked) dark meat without skin: 167 calories, 21 grams protein, 9 grams fat (38 percent calories from fat), 2.4 grams saturated fat, no carbohydrate, 111 milligrams cholesterol, 79 milligrams sodium, no fiber.

Per serving fruit compote: 86 calories, 1 gram protein, 2 grams fat (14 calories from fat), no fat, 20 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 42 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber.

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Makes 6 servings

Preparation time: 20 minutes

Cooking time: for the rice


For the salad:

2 (6-ounce) packages long-grain and wild rice

2 cups leftover chicken breast, cooked and chopped

1 cup seedless grapes, halved

1/4 cup celery, chopped

1/4 cup green onion, sliced

1/4 cup walnut pieces

1/4 cup parsley, chopped

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon pepper

1/4 to 1/2 cup leftover fruit compote

For the dressing:

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons white wine vinegar

2 teaspoons sugar

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

1/2 teaspoon hot pepper sauce

Prepare rice according to package directions (except discard seasoning packet and do not add butter). Cool. Combine rice, chicken, grapes, celery, green onions, walnuts, parsley, salt, pepper and leftover fruit compote; mix well. For the dressing: Combine orange juice, vinegar, sugar, salt and hot pepper sauce. Pour over rice mixture, mix well and serve immediately.

Per serving: 348 calories, 19 grams protein, 7 grams fat (17 percent calories from fat), 1 gram saturated fat, 55 grams carbohydrate, 47 milligrams cholesterol, 497 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.

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Makes 12 servings

Preparation time: 25 minutes

Cooking time: 35 to 40 minutes; standing time: 15 minutes


1 teaspoon chili powder

1 teaspoon cumin

1/2 teaspoon coarse salt

2 (14 1/2-ounce) cans Mexican-style stewed tomatoes, lightly drained and chopped

16 ounces reduced-fat sour cream

1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chiles, drained

6 to 7 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas

2 (10- to 12-ounce) cans chicken breast, drained (or 3 cups shredded cooked chicken)

1 (15-ounce) can reduced-sodium pinto beans, rinsed

4 ounces 50 percent reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese

Sliced green onions and sliced black olives for garnish, if desired

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix chili powder, cumin, salt and tomatoes. Separately mix sour cream and chiles. Spread 1/2 cup tomato mixture in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish. Arrange 2 tortillas over tomatoes to cover bottom; tear tortillas to cover any gaps. Top with half the sour cream mixture, half the chicken, half the beans, 1 cup tomato mixture and 1/3 cup cheese. Repeat layers, ending with rest of tortillas and tomato mixture. Sprinkle remaining cheese around edge. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until bubbly. Let stand 15 minutes. Garnish with green onions and olives if desired.

Per serving: 236 calories, 17 grams protein, 7 grams fat (28 percent calories from fat), 4.5 grams saturated fat, 25 grams carbohydrate, 44 milligrams cholesterol, 833 milligrams sodium, 4 grams fiber.