7-Day Menu Planner

Turkey Taco Salad
(America's Test Kitchen/Carl Tremblay)
Turkey Taco Salad (America's Test Kitchen/Carl Tremblay)

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

SUNDAY: Make today's family meal as simple as possible with a smoked turkey breast. Alongside, enjoy Quinoa Salad With Sugar Snap Peas (see recipe), steamed sliced carrots, a red-tipped lettuce salad and sourdough bread. Slice angel food cake and top the slices with strawberries and whipped cream for dessert.

Plan ahead: Save enough turkey and strawberries for Monday.

MONDAY: Turn leftover turkey into economical and flavor-packed Turkey Taco Salad (see recipe). Serve it with a lettuce wedge. For dessert, enjoy leftover strawberries.

Plan ahead: Make enough turkey taco salad for Tuesday.

TUESDAY: Don't you love it when a delicious leftover taco salad is ready for a fast dinner? To round out the meal, add pinto beans. Refreshing peach sorbet is dessert.

WEDNESDAY: Please invite me for dinner when you have BLT Pasta. Cook 12 ounces rigatoni pasta according to package directions. Drain and rinse under cold water. Transfer pasta to a large bowl. Meanwhile, heat 4 slices Canadian bacon on medium-high in a large skillet. Remove bacon to plate. Using the same skillet, reduce heat to medium, leaving any drippings. Add 1 (5-ounce) package arugula and stir 45 seconds or until wilted. Transfer arugula to pasta bowl. To same skillet at medium heat, add 1 pint halved grape tomatoes and 1 ½ teaspoons olive oil; cook 2 minutes. Add to pasta and arugula and toss. Chop the bacon and sprinkle over top. Season with pepper to taste, toss again and serve. Add mixed greens, if you like, and whole-grain bread. For a simple dessert, fresh tropical fruit works well.

THURSDAY: Make the kids happy and serve them Chicken Tacos. Heat 10 taco shells in oven as directed on package. Meanwhile, in a medium bowl, place 3 cups diced cooked chicken breast. Sprinkle with 1 (1.25-ounce) packet reduced-sodium taco seasoning; toss to coat. Microwave chicken, uncovered, on 100% power 2 to 3 minutes or until hot. Stir in ½ cup ranch dressing. Spoon warm chicken mixture into heated shells. Top with shredded lettuce, diced tomatoes and shredded cheddar cheese; serve. Add a kid-favorite, carrot sticks, for munching. For dessert, have a slurp fest with popsicles.

FRIDAY: Look for frozen mushroom burgers for an easy no-meat dinner. Serve on whole-grain buns with such favorite toppings as lettuce, tomato, mayonnaise and mustard. Add hash browns on the side. Grapes are good for dessert.

SATURDAY: Invite guests for Chicken With Charred Rosemary Vinaigrette (see recipe). Add roasted red potatoes, a romaine salad and sourdough bread. For dessert, top vanilla ice cream with caramel sauce and toasted pecans.

THE RECIPES

Quinoa Salad With Sugar Snap Peas

1 ½ cups uncooked quinoa, rinsed and drained

½ pounds sugar snap peas

5 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

Coarse salt to taste

Freshly ground black pepper to taste

½ cup salted roasted pumpkin seeds

½ cup minced chives

Prepare quinoa according to package directions; fluff and then transfer to a large bowl. Let cool to room temperature.

Meanwhile, in a small saucepan of boiling water, simmer the peas about 1 minute or until bright green and crisp-tender. Drain; spread on a large plate to cool. Pat dry. Cut peas on the diagonal into 1-inch pieces.

In a small bowl, combine the oil and vinegar with salt and pepper to taste. Add peas to quinoa along with the pumpkin seeds, chives and dressing; toss to combine. Serve at room temperature or slightly chilled.

Makes: 6 servings.

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 333 calories, 10 g protein, 19 g fat, 33 g carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 28 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 2

Turkey Taco Salad

1 tablespoon PLUS ¾ cup extra-virgin olive oil, divided use

1 onion, finely chopped

2 tablespoons chile powder

5 cloves garlic, minced and divided use

8 ounces cooked turkey

1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

3 tablespoons fresh lime juice

1 fresh jalapeno pepper, stemmed, seeded and chopped

½ cup cilantro leaves

14 ounces romaine lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces

8 taco shell bowls

2 tomatoes, cored and chopped

1 avocado, halved, pitted and cut into ½-inch pieces

4 ounces shredded cheddar or Mexican-blend cheese

Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large nonstick skillet on medium until shimmering. Add onion and chile powder; cook about 5 minutes or until softened. Stir in 4 teaspoons garlic; cook 30 seconds or until fragrant. Stir in turkey; cook 4 to 6 minutes or until lightly browned. Stir in tomato sauce; simmer 2 minutes or until slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to taste. In a blender, process lime juice, jalapeno, remaining garlic and ½ teaspoon salt. With blender running, add the cilantro and then remaining ¾ cup oil and continue to process until smooth and emulsified, about 15 seconds. Toss lettuce with ½ cup dressing in bowl. Divide salad among taco shell bowls; top with turkey mixture and sprinkle with tomatoes, avocado and cheese. Drizzle with remaining dressing and serve. (Adapted from "The Chicken Bible," America's Test Kitchen)

Makes 8 servings

Nutrition information: Each serving contains approximately 436 calories, 15 g protein, 33 g fat, 42 g carbohydrate, 38 mg cholesterol, 243 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: 3

Chicken With Charred Rosemary Vinaigrette

4 (4-inch) rosemary sprigs, divided use

3 tablespoons white wine vinegar

1 tablespoon Dijon mustard

5 tablespoons olive oil, divided use

Coarse salt and pepper to taste

2 (10-ounce) packages frozen artichokes, thawed

1 pint cherry tomatoes

½ cup pitted Kalamata olives

½ cup capers, rinsed

10 skinless bone-in chicken thighs

5 slices Canadian bacon or 5 slices lean bacon, halved

Heat oven to 375 degrees. Roast rosemary springs directly on oven rack for 5 minutes or until charred. Strip leaves; finely crush. Discard stems.

Increase oven temperature to 425 degrees.

In small bowl, whisk half the rosemary with the vinegar, mustard and 4 tablespoons of the oil. Season with salt and pepper to taste; set aside.

In a large bowl, toss the remaining chopped, charred rosemary leaves, the artichokes, tomatoes, olives and capers with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Season with coarse salt and pepper. Spread mixture evenly on a rimmed sheet pan covered with foil. Place chicken on pan. Top each piece with half a slice of bacon. Bake 35 to 40 minutes or until internal temperature reaches 165 degrees. Pass sauce at the table.

Makes 10 thighs.

Nutrition information: Each thigh contains approximately 336 calories, 34 g protein, 18 g fat, 9 g carbohydrate, 161 mg cholesterol, 596 mg sodium and 5 g fiber.

Carbohydrate choices: ½

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

[email protected]

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