7-day menu planner


A week’s worth of quick, healthful meals for budget-minded families

SUNDAY: Treat the family to aromatic and colorful Asian Pork and Pineapple Kebabs (see recipe). Serve the beautiful entree over brown rice and drizzle Thai peanut sauce over all. Add sourdough bread. For dessert, make Strawberry Shortcake with fresh strawberries, vanilla ice cream and angel food cake.

Plan ahead: Prepare enough pork and vegetables and save enough rice and ice cream for Monday.

MONDAY: Use the leftover pork and vegetables tonight for Pork Stir-Fry; serve over leftover rice. Add sesame bread sticks. Drizzle chocolate sauce over leftover ice cream for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough chocolate sauce for Wednesday.

TUESDAY: No one ever complains when we have Vidalia Onion Risotto (see recipe) on the menu. Serve the creamy rice dish with a spinach salad and a baguette. For dessert, kiwi fruit are light.

WEDNESDAY: Make kid-friendly Italian Sloppy Joes tonight. Heat 2 teaspoons canola oil on medium in a large nonstick skillet; add 1 pound ground turkey breast and cook until no longer pink. Meanwhile, heat a large saucepan coated with cooking spray on medium and add 1 small finely chopped onion and ½ cup finely chopped carrots. Cook 5 minutes or until softened. Add cooked turkey, 3 cups red pasta sauce and ½ teaspoon Italian seasoning to vegetables; simmer until heated through. Spoon mixture onto toasted whole-grain hamburger buns; garnish with fresh basil ribbons. Serve with oven fries, celery sticks and dip. For dessert, top vanilla pudding with leftover chocolate sauce.

Plan ahead: Cook the rice for Thursday.

THURSDAY: It’s easy to save money when these Stuffed Tomatoes are for dinner. In a large skillet, cook 1 finely chopped medium onion and 1 pound lean ground beef on medium-high for 7 minutes or until meat is no longer pink; drain. Meanwhile, cut a thin slice from the stem end of each of 4 jumbo ripe tomatoes; reserve slices. With a spoon, scoop out seeds and pulp from each tomato; reserve. Place tomatoes in a baking dish, cut-side down; cover and microwave on 100% power for 2 minutes or until heated; drain. Chop 1 cup loosely packed fresh mint, the reserved tomato slices and reserved pulp; set mint aside. Stir the pulp mixture, ¾ cup cooked rice, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and ¼ teaspoon pepper into meat mixture. Cover and microwave 8 to 10 minutes on high. Stir mint into meat mixture. Fill tomato shells with meat mixture and serve. Add a romaine salad and whole-grain rolls. Munch on peanut butter cookies for dessert.

FRIDAY: Pick up a few ingredients, and you’ll have Pizza With Smoked Turkey in no time. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Place 1 (10-ounce) ready-to-bake pizza crust on baking sheet. Sprinkle 1 cup shredded Italian-blend cheese onto crust. Evenly distribute 2 ounces thinly sliced smoked turkey (cut into ½-inch strips) over cheese. In small bowl, mix 1 cup ricotta cheese with 1 (4-ounce) container garlic-and-herb cheese spread. Evenly place dollops of cheese mixture over pizza. Bake 10 minutes or until heated through and cheese melts. Sprinkle with ¼ cup thinly sliced fresh basil. Serve with packaged salad greens. Plums are an easy dessert.

SATURDAY: These Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Scallops With Celery Salad (see recipe) will be on your family’s favorites list. Serve with spaghetti tossed with freshly grated parmesan cheese and chopped fresh flatleaf parsley on the side, along with a bibb lettuce salad. Add Italian bread. Make a Berry Parfait for dessert: Cut a pound cake into 10 slices (¾ inch thick). Cut each slice into 8 cubes. Place cubes in a bowl; set aside. In a skillet, combine 1 cup sugar, ½ cup orange juice, ½ teaspoon cinnamon, 1 teaspoon lemon juice and 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract. Heat on medium until mixture is a syrupy consistency; remove from heat and toss with 2 cups any fresh berries. Fill 10 parfait glasses (or stemmed dessert glasses) with half the cake cubes. Divide and layer half the fruit mixture, ¼ cup sliced almonds (½ cup total), 1 cup (thawed) frozen whipped topping (2 cups total); repeat layers of cake and fruit mixture, ending with remaining almonds and whipped topping.


Asian Pork and Pineapple Kebabs

2 (1-pound) pork tenderloins, cut into 1-inch cubes

1 ½ cups teriyaki marinade, divided

4 cups pineapple chunks (about 1 inch in size)

2 red bell peppers, cut into 1-inch squares

8 green onions, cut into 2-inch pieces

Place pork in resealable plastic bag. Add 1 cup marinade; turn to coat. Seal bag; refrigerate 2 to 4 hours.

Heat grill to medium-high.

Remove pork; discard marinade from bag. On stainless steel skewers, thread pork, pineapple, bell peppers and onions. Grill directly over fire, turning to brown evenly, 10 to 12 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 145 degrees, brushing kebabs with reserved ½ cup marinade. Let stand 3 minutes before serving.

Makes 8 kebabs.

Nutrition information: Each kebab contains approximately 190 calories, 23 g protein, 3 g fat, 17 g carbohydrate, 60 mg cholesterol, 664 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 1.

Vidalia Onion Risotto

2 teaspoons canola oil

2 cups chopped Vidalia or other sweet onions

2 cloves garlic, minced

1 ½ cups arborio rice

2 (14-ounce) cans vegetable broth

½ cup crumbled Greek feta cheese, divided use

½ cup chopped flatleaf parsley, plus sprigs for garnish

¼ cup freshly grated parmesan cheese

Ground black pepper

Heat oil in saucepan over medium. Add onions and garlic; cook 4 minutes or until softened. Stir in rice; cook 1 to 2 minutes to thoroughly coat grains.

Meanwhile, bring broth to a simmer. Add ½ cup broth to rice; cook until liquid is nearly absorbed, stirring constantly. Add remaining broth, ½ cup at a time, stirring constantly until each portion of broth is nearly absorbed before adding the next (about 20 minutes total). Remove from heat; stir in ¼ cup feta, parsley and parmesan. Spoon into serving bowl; top with ¼ cup remaining feta and pepper. Garnish with parsley sprigs.

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving (prepared with unsalted broth and reduced-fat cheese) contains approximately 373 calories, 11 g protein, 6 g fat, 68 g carbohydrate, 11 mg cholesterol, 503 mg sodium and 3 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 4.5.

Grilled Bacon-Wrapped Scallops With Celery Salad

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided use

3 tablespoons cider vinegar

4 teaspoons Dijon mustard

8 celery ribs, sliced thinly on diagonal

¼ cup fresh parsley leaves

1 shallot, thinly sliced

12 slices bacon (12 ounces)

24 large sea scallops (1 pound), tendons removed

½ teaspoon coarse salt

½ teaspoon ground black pepper

In a large bowl, whisk together 3 tablespoons oil, vinegar and mustard. Add celery, parsley and shallot and toss to combine; set aside.

Place triple layer white paper towels on large microwavable plate and arrange 6 slices bacon in single layer on towels. Top with 3 more paper towels, remaining 6 slices bacon and second plate. Microwave 4 minutes until bacon is slightly shriveled but still pliable.

Toss scallops with remaining oil, salt and pepper.

Press 2 scallops together, side to side, and wrap sides of bundle with 1 slice bacon. Thread onto 12-inch metal skewer through bacon. Repeat with remaining scallops and bacon, threading 3 bundles onto each of 4 skewers.

Place kebabs, bacon side down, on cooler side of grill. Cook 4 minutes or until crisp. Turn; move to hotter side of grill. Cook 4 more minutes or until firm and centers are opaque. Serve with salad. (Adapted from “Easy Everyday Keto” from America’s Test Kitchen with Alicia Romano)

Makes 4 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 406 calories, 25 g protein, 30 g fat, 8 g carbohydrate, 58 mg cholesterol, 1,336 mg sodium and 2 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 0.5.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email:



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