Seven-day menu planner: Mother’s Day Breakfast Bento Box


Shopping List


Colorful fruit such as raspberries, blueberries, cherries and kiwifruit, pineapple or apricots, Mom’s favorite cereal (such as Special K, Kashi Go Lean or other unsweetened cereal), 1 percent milk, bacon, English muffins.


Rotini or other short pasta, reduced-fat Italian dressing, tomatoes, salad greens, canned albacore tuna (packed in water), sliced black olives, garlic bread, peach cobbler.


Fully cooked boneless beef pot roast with gravy (packaged and refrigerated), olive oil, portobello or crimini mushrooms, onion, cooked, diced and seasoned red potatoes (packaged and refrigerated), lower-sodium beef broth, hot or regular paprika, pepper, packaged green salad, crusty bread, plums.


Packaged corn muffin mix, chili powder, canned reduced-sodium pinto beans, canned chopped tomatoes and green chiles, canned no-salt-added tomato sauce, 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese, packaged coleslaw mix, jicama, reduced-fat coleslaw dressing, fat-free vanilla ice cream.


Canned reduced-sodium black beans, canned diced mild green chiles, red wine vinegar, cumin, low-fat, low-sodium hot dogs (such as Applegate), instant rice, hot pepper sauce, carrot sticks, soft rolls, fresh strawberries, light whipped cream.


Vegetable broth, couscous, raisins, black pepper, cayenne pepper, tomato, canned reduced-sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas), reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese, cucumbers, plain yogurt, flatbread, sugar cookies.


Pork kebabs, rice, fat-free chicken broth, curry, unsweetened shredded coconut, frozen creamed spinach, bibb lettuce, whole-grain rolls, cooking spray, package lemon cake mix, package instant lemon pudding and pie filling mix, eggs, canola oil, poppy seeds, powdered sugar, lemon, 1 percent milk, butter, yellow food coloring.

Main dish


Makes 6 servings. Preparation time: 15 minutes. Cooking time: about 15 minutes.

1 (16- to 17-ounce) package refrigerated, fully cooked boneless beef pot roast with gravy

2 tablespoons olive oil

2 large portobello mushrooms, chopped, or 8 ounces quartered crimini mushrooms

1 medium onion, chopped

1 (16-ounce) package refrigerated, cooked, diced, seasoned red potatoes

1 (14-ounce) can lower-sodium beef broth

1 teaspoon hot or regular paprika

1/2 teaspoon pepper

Remove roast from package; reserve gravy. Cut roast into bite-size pieces. Cook oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat until hot; add mushrooms and onion; cook and stir 5 minutes. Add beef, gravy and potatoes; stir in broth, paprika and pepper. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium; cook 10 minutes or until goulash is heated through and slightly thickened, stirring occasionally.

Per serving: 257 calories, 16 grams protein, 13 grams fat (44 percent calories from fat), 3.7 grams saturated fat, 20 grams carbohydrate, 39 milligrams cholesterol, 379 milligrams sodium, 3 grams fiber. Dietary exchanges: 1 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 lean meat, 1 fat.



Makes 16 servings. Preparation time: 10 minutes for cake; 5 minutes for glaze. Cooking time: 50 to 60 minutes; cooling time: 25 minutes.

For the cake

1 (18.25-ounce) package lemon cake mix

1 (3.4-ounce) package instant lemon pudding and pie filling mix

4 eggs

1 cup water

1/3 cup canola oil

2 tablespoons poppy seeds

For the glaze

1/2 cup powdered sugar

1/2 teaspoons fresh lemon juice

1/2 teaspoons 1 percent milk

1/2 teaspoons melted butter

1 to 2 drops yellow food coloring

Poppy seeds for garnish

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 10-inch bundt pan with cooking spray. In an electric mixer bowl, combine cake mix, pudding mix, eggs, water, oil and poppy seeds; mix on low to combine ingredients; beat 2 minutes on medium speed. Pour batter into prepared pan. Bake 50 to 60 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool upright in pan 25 minutes; invert onto serving platter. Cool completely. For glaze: In a small bowl, mix sugar, lemon juice, milk, butter and food coloring until smooth and drizzle-ready. (If too thick, add a few drops of milk.) Drizzle over cake; sprinkle with poppy seeds for garnish.

Per serving: 234 calories, 3 grams protein, 9 grams fat (35 percent calories from fat), 1.8 grams saturated fat, 36 grams carbohydrate, 48 milligrams cholesterol, 313 milligrams sodium, no fiber. Dietary exchanges: 2 1/2 other carbohydrate, 2 fat.



Serves 1. Preparation time: 15 minutes.

Small bowls, cookie cutters or paper baking cups

Cereal or other box, covered with Mom’s favorite color paper

1 cup colorful fruit, such as raspberries, blueberries, cherries and cut-up kiwifruit, pineapple or apricots (see note)

1/2 cup Mom’s favorite cereal

Place small “bowls” inside box (after removing one side of cereal box, leaving other sides intact). Arrange fruit in bowls. Arrange cereal in bowl that can hold milk. Serve and watch Mom smile. Note: Buy cut-up fruit if desired. (Adapted from “Betty Crocker: The Big Book of Breakfast and Brunch,” Betty Crocker Editors; Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, 2014.)

Per serving: 131 calories, 4 grams protein, 1 gram fat (6 percent calories from fat), 0.1 gram saturated fat, 30 grams carbohydrate, no cholesterol, 103 milligrams sodium, 7 grams fiber. Dietary exchanges: 1 starch, 1 fruit.

Universal UClick

SUNDAY (Family)

What mother wouldn’t love your homemade rainbow breakfast bento box (see recipe) made by her little darlings? Add 1 percent milk for the cereal, and serve with crisp bacon and toasted English muffins for Mom. Happy Mother’s Day to moms everywhere!

MONDAY (Budget)

Pasta and tuna are two of the most economical ingredients in the pantry, and pasta salad with black olives and tuna proves they can be delicious as well. Cook 2 cups (about 8 ounces) rotini (or other short pasta) according to directions; drain well and transfer to a large serving bowl. Toss with 1/2 cup reduced-fat Italian dressing. Stir in 2 cups (about 1 pound) chopped tomatoes, 2 cups salad greens in bite-size pieces, 2 (6-ounce) cans drained and flaked albacore tuna (packed in water) and 1/3 cup sliced black olives. Toss to mix and serve. Add garlic bread. Enjoy peach cobbler for dessert. Plan ahead: Save enough cobbler for Wednesday.

TUESDAY (Express)

Try this beef goulash (see recipe) for an easy dinner. Serve it with a packaged green salad and crusty bread. All you need are plums for dessert. Plan ahead: Save enough goulash for Wednesday.

WEDNESDAY (Heat and Eat)

Use Tuesday’s leftovers for spicy beef and beans. Prepare 1 (7- to 8 1/2-ounce) package corn muffin mix according to package directions, using the low-fat recipe on package; add 1 teaspoon chili powder to mix and make 6 muffins. Meanwhile, in a 1 1/2-quart baking dish, combine 2 (15-ounce) cans rinsed reduced-sodium pinto beans, 1 (10-ounce) can chopped tomatoes and green chiles, 1 cup chopped (leftover) cooked beef, 1 (8-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato sauce and 1 more teaspoon chili powder. Cover and microwave 6 to 8 minutes on high (100 percent power) or until heated through; stir twice. Split corn muffins; spoon bean mixture over them and garnish with shredded 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese. Serve with jicama slaw. Toss packaged coleslaw mix and peeled, chopped jicama with reduced-fat coleslaw dressing. Dessert is leftover warm cobbler and fat-free vanilla ice cream. Plan ahead: Save enough ice cream for Saturday.


Call the kids for Cuban-style hot dogs and black beans. Heat undrained canned reduced-sodium black beans and canned diced mild green chiles with a splash of red-wine vinegar and cumin. Add sliced hot dogs; simmer 5 minutes. Serve over instant rice. (Adults might want a few drops of hot pepper sauce on theirs.) Serve with carrot sticks and soft rolls. Fresh strawberries with light whipped cream make a dandy dessert. Tip: Check the label and buy the lowest-sodium, lowest-fat hot dogs you can find, such as Applegate.

FRIDAY (Meatless)

Mediterranean couscous and beans is a quick dinner. Heat 3 cups vegetable broth to boiling. Stir in 2 cups couscous, 1/2 cup raisins, 1/4 teaspoon black pepper, 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper, 1 small chopped tomato and 1 (15-ounce) can rinsed reduced-sodium garbanzo beans (chickpeas). Remove from heat; cover and let stand 5 minutes or until liquid is absorbed. Stir gently. Serve immediately and sprinkle each serving with reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese. Serve with sliced cucumbers in plain yogurt along with flatbread. Munch on sugar cookies for dessert.

SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining)

Broil or grill your own pork kebabs for your guests and serve them with curried rice. Cook rice in fat-free chicken broth and add a pinch of curry. Toss with unsweetened shredded coconut. Add (frozen) creamed spinach, bibb lettuce and whole-grain rolls to round out the meal. For dessert, make lemon poppy seed cake (see recipe) and top with leftover ice cream.

Susan Nicholson is an Atlanta-based cookbook author and registered dietitian. She can be reached by email: Follow Susan on Twitter: @7DayMenu. The Menu Planner is also accessible at Read Susan’s blog:

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