Seven-day menu planner


Shopping List


Packaged original long-grain and wild rice (such as Uncle Ben’s), boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast halves (or mixture of both), packaged onion soup mix, sliced fresh mushrooms, canned condensed less-sodium, less-fat cream of chicken soup, green beans, garlic, olive oil, onion, coarse salt, fresh basil, lemon, sourdough bread, cooking spray, packaged yellow cake mix, sugar, fat-free sour cream, egg substitute, applesauce, almond or pure vanilla extract, fresh strawberries.


Lettuce, whole-grain rolls.


Potatoes, fat-free chicken broth, dried thyme, frozen corn, skim milk, flour, hot dogs, baby carrots, crackers, chocolate pudding, reduced-fat peanut butter, fat-free frozen whipped topping, bananas, peanuts.


Olive oil, onion, zucchini, diced ham, eggs, cilantro, coarse salt, pepper, Gruyere cheese, frozen hash-browned potatoes, deli coleslaw, English muffins, fresh pineapple.


Frozen cheese tortellini, frozen Italian-style vegetables, sliced fresh mushrooms, vegetable broth (if desired), pesto, salad greens, garlic bread, kiwifruit.


Deli tuna salad, lettuce, fat-free tortillas, 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese, baked potato chips, deli broccoli salad, fudge bars (such as Healthy Choice or another brand).


Lamb chops, olive oil, garlic, fresh rosemary, cooking spray, new potatoes, fresh cilantro, ground mustard, coarse salt, pepper, parmesan cheese, fat-free or low-fat half-and-half, cucumbers, grape tomatoes, reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese, vinaigrette, baguettes, peach sorbet, butter cookies.



Servings: Makes 24 servings. Preparation time: 10 minutes. Cooking time: 45 to 50 minutes; cooling time: 10 minutes.

1 (18 1/4-ounce) box yellow cake mix

1/2 cup sugar

8 ounces fat-free sour cream

1 cup egg substitute

3/4 cup applesauce

1 teaspoon almond or pure vanilla extract

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Coat a 12-cup Bundt pan with cooking spray. Beat cake mix, sugar, sour cream, egg substitute, applesauce and the extract with an electric mixer on medium speed for 4 minutes. Spoon into pan and spread batter evenly. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan on wire rack for 10 minutes. Remove from pan; cool completely.

Per serving: 119 calories, 3 grams protein, 2 grams fat (13 percent calories from fat), 0.5 gram saturated fat, 24 grams carbohydrate, 2 milligrams cholesterol, 169 milligrams sodium, no fiber. Dietary exchanges: 1 1/2 other carbohydrate, 1/2 fat.

Main dish


Servings: Makes 6 servings. Preparation time: less than 15 minutes. Cooking time: about 10 minutes.

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small onion, chopped

1 medium zucchini, cut in half lengthwise, then cut into 1/4-inch slices

1 cup ham, diced (about 6 ounces)

4 whole eggs

4 egg whites

2 tablespoons chopped fresh cilantro or 2 teaspoons dried cilantro

1/4 teaspoon coarse salt

1/4 teaspoon pepper

1/2 cup shredded Gruyere cheese (2 ounces)

Heat broiler. Meanwhile, heat oil on medium in a large, nonstick, ovenproof skillet (see NOTE). Cook onion and zucchini 2 minutes. Reduce heat to medium-low. Add ham; cook 2 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk eggs, egg whites, cilantro, salt and pepper to blend well. Pour mixture over vegetables and ham in skillet. Cook, without stirring, 5 minutes or until eggs are set on bottom. Sprinkle with cheese. Broil until eggs are set and cheese is lightly browned. Note: Wrap the skillet handle in foil if your skillet is not ovenproof.

Per serving: 176 calories, 17 grams protein, 10 grams fat (53 percent calories from fat), 3.7 grams saturated fat, 3 grams carbohydrate, 150 milligrams cholesterol, 575 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber. Dietary exchanges: 2 1/2 lean meat, 1/2 fat.

Main dish


Servings: Makes 8 servings. Preparation time: less than 15 minutes. Cooking time: 2 to 2 1/2 hours.

1 (6-ounce) package original long-grain and wild rice (such as Uncle Ben’s)

3 pounds boneless skinless chicken thighs or breast halves (or mixture of both)

1/2 envelope packaged onion soup mix (1/2-ounce)

1 (8-ounce) package sliced fresh mushrooms

1 (10 3/4-ounce) can condensed less-sodium, less-fat cream of chicken soup

2 3/4 cups water

Heat oven to 325 degrees. Spread rice in roasting pan; reserve seasoning packet. Top rice with chicken. Sprinkle with dry soup mix and mushrooms. Spoon condensed soup over rice and chicken. Sprinkle herbs from rice mix over all. Pour water over ingredients. Cover and bake 2 to 2 1/2 hours. (Do not uncover or stir until cooking time is over.) Serve immediately.

Per serving: 311 calories, 36 grams protein, 8 grams fat (24 percent calories from fat), 2.2 grams saturated fat, 22 grams carbohydrate, 135 milligrams cholesterol, 636 milligrams sodium, 1 gram fiber. Dietary exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 4 1/2 lean meat.

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SUNDAY (Family)

I can’t think of a better way to celebrate family day than with baked chicken and rice with mushrooms (see recipe). Serve the family-pleaser with roasted green beans with basil. Heat oven to 450 degrees. Toss 1 pound trimmed green beans and 8 unpeeled garlic cloves (ends trimmed) with 2 tablespoons olive oil. Arrange on a rimmed baking pan in a single layer on one side of the pan. Add 1 small, halved onion (sliced into thin, half-moon slices) on the other side of the pan. Drizzle onion with another tablespoon oil. Sprinkle 1 teaspoon coarse salt over all. Roast 20 minutes or until browned and tender. Squeeze the garlic cloves from their skins into a large bowl; mash. Add green beans, onion and 1/4 cup sliced basil leaves; toss well. Add 1 teaspoon lemon juice; toss and serve. (Adapted from “Carla’s Comfort Foods,” Carla Hall; Atria Books, 2014.) Add sourdough bread. For dessert, treat the family to sour cream pound cake (see recipe) with fresh strawberries. Plan ahead: Save enough chicken and rice for Monday; save enough cake for Monday and Wednesday.

MONDAY (Heat and Eat)

Take a break and heat the leftover chicken and rice for dinner. Serve it with a lettuce wedge and whole-grain rolls. Leftover cake is good for dessert.


If I were a kid, I’d like my mom to make potato hot dog soup. In a large pan, combine 2 cups peeled and diced potatoes, 1 (14-ounce) can fat-free chicken broth, 1 cup water and 1/8 teaspoon dried thyme; mix well. Bring to boil. Reduce heat to low; cover and simmer 5 minutes. Add 1 1/2 cups frozen corn; bring to boil. Reduce heat and simmer 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender. In small bowl, combine 1 cup skim milk and 1/3 cup flour; blend until smooth. To pan, add milk mixture and 4 hot dogs, cut into 1/2-inch slices (see tip). Cook and stir over medium heat 3 to 5 minutes or until mixture boils and thickens slightly. Crunch on baby carrots and add crackers on the side. For dessert, nutty nana treats are just right. Combine 2 cups chocolate pudding with 1/2 cup reduced-fat peanut butter and 1 1/2 cups fat-free frozen whipped topping (thawed). Spoon into 6 dessert dishes, layering with some sliced bananas, peanuts and more whipped topping. Tip: Look for lowest-sodium, lowest-fat hot dogs. I buy Applegate.


You won’t mind saving money when the result is as delicious as this summer frittata (see recipe). Serve the eggs-and-vegetable combo with hash-browned potatoes (frozen) and deli coleslaw. add toasted english muffins. Serve leftover cake with fresh pineapple for dessert.

THURSDAY (Meatless)

Tortellini with vegetables and pesto couldn’t be easier for a no-meat dinner. Combine frozen cheese tortellini (thawed), frozen Italian-style vegetables and sliced fresh mushrooms in a large nonstick skillet with a little water or vegetable broth. Cover and simmer until hot, then stir in pesto. Serve with mixed greens and garlic bread. Halve kiwifruit and eat it with a spoon for dessert.

FRIDAY (Express)

Have a hurry-up dinner and serve tuna wraps. Combine 1 cup deli tuna salad with 7 cups shredded lettuce (about 1/2 medium head lettuce). Divide mixture and spoon down center of 4 (8- to 9-inch) fat-free flour tortillas. Sprinkle 2 tablespoons shredded 50 percent reduced-fat cheddar cheese on the sides of the tuna mixture. Heat a large nonstick skillet. Cook each tortilla about 2 minutes or until underside is golden-brown and cheese melts. Fold in on three sides, wrap in wax paper and a napkin and serve. Add baked potato chips and broccoli salad from the deli. Enjoy fudge bars (such as Healthy Choice or another brand) for dessert.

SATURDAY (Easy Entertaining)

Serve your guests broiled lamb chops with rosemary. Brush chops with a mixture of olive oil, minced garlic and chopped fresh rosemary before broiling. Serve with new potato gratin. Heat oven to 375 degrees. Coat a shallow 1 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Slice 1 1/2 pounds new potatoes 1/4-inch thick. Layer half the potatoes in dish. Combine 2 tablespoons fresh chopped cilantro, 1 teaspoon ground mustard, 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper. Sprinkle half of mixture over potatoes. Layer remaining potatoes on top. Sprinkle remaining spice mixture over all. Top with 3/4 cup freshly grated parmesan cheese. Slowly pour 1 cup half-and-half (fat-free or low-fat) over potatoes. Bake 45 to 50 minutes or until potatoes are soft and top is browned. Add a cucumber, grape tomato and feta cheese salad (slice the cucumbers, halve the tomatoes and toss with reduced-fat crumbled feta cheese and a little vinaigrette), along with baguettes. For dessert, peach sorbet and butter cookies are easy.

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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