Seven-Day Menu Planner

9/ 4

Family Sunday

Easy Layered Salad (see recipe) is pretty and simple for a family meal. Serve it with your own cool gazpacho and whole-grain rolls. Brownie sundaes are an intense chocolate experience. Top brownie squares with chocolate ice cream and warm chocolate fudge sauce.

Plan ahead: Save enough brownies and salad and cook enough eggs for Monday. Save enough ice cream for Saturday.

9/ 5

Heat-and-Eat Monday

On Labor Day, take it easy with Slow Cooker Whiskey-Molasses Shredded Beef. Place 1 (2 1/2- to 3-pound) boneless beef bottom round roast or beef chuck center roast, cut into 1-inch pieces, into a 4-quart or larger slow cooker. Combine 1/2 cup whiskey (or non-alcoholic beer), 1/4 cup vinegar, 1 (6-ounce) can no-salt-added tomato paste, 1 tablespoon packed brown sugar, 1/4 cup molasses, 1 teaspoon coarse salt and 1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper; pour over roast. Cover and cook on high 4 to 6 hours or on low 8 to 10 hours, or until beef is fork-tender. Remove roast from slow cooker; shred with two forks. Skim fat from sauce as needed. Return beef to slow cooker. Serve beef with sauce on whole-grain sandwich buns.

Add potato salad and leftover layered salad. Make deviled eggs with leftover eggs from Monday. For dessert, watermelon and leftover brownies are labor-free desserts.

Note: If cooking with whiskey, bourbon works best.

9/ 6

Meatless Tuesday

For a no-meat dinner, Rice-Stuffed Poblanos pack flavor. Heat oven to 400 degrees. Slit 6 poblano peppers lengthwise to stuff with filling. Remove loose seeds and veins, keeping stem intact. Rub peppers with canola oil and place on baking sheet. In a medium bowl, combine 3 cups cooked rice, 2/3 cup light sour cream, 1 cup shredded smoked Gouda cheese, 1 cup frozen corn (thawed) and 1/3 cup chopped fresh cilantro. Mix well; season with coarse salt and pepper to taste. Divide mixture and fill each pepper; sprinkle with 1/4 cup more cheese. Bake 20 to 25 minutes or until peppers are crisp-tender and filling is hot.

Serve with steamed carrots tossed with apricot preserves, a red-tipped lettuce salad and corn tortillas. Try fresh pineapple for dessert.

9/ 7

Budget Wednesday

Save a little money with Greek Burgers with Cucumber Sauce (see recipe) on the menu. Add couscous on the side. Strawberry ice cream is a cool dessert.

9/ 8

Express Thursday

No need to heat the stove tonight with Turkey, Bacon and Havarti Sandwiches on the menu. Cut top 2 inches off a 7-inch round sourdough bread loaf and reserve top. Hollow out loaf, leaving 1-inch-thick shell. Drizzle 2 tablespoons light balsamic vinaigrette evenly in bottom of shell; layer with 1/4 pound (of 1/2 pound total) thinly sliced deli turkey, half of 1 (12-ounce) jar roasted red peppers (drained and sliced) and 3 (1-ounce) slices (6 total) Havarti (or Muenster) cheese. Repeat layers and top with 4 slices cooked bacon. Drizzle with 2 more tablespoons vinaigrette and cover with reserved bread top; press down firmly. Wrap loaf in plastic wrap and refrigerate 1 to 8 hours before serving. Cut into 4 wedges.

Serve with baked chips and dill pickles. For dessert, how about fresh tropical fruits?

9/ 9

Kids Friday

Treat the kids to Taco Dogs tonight. Cook 8 lowest-fat, lowest-sodium hot dogs in boiling water; drain. In a microwave-safe bowl, combine 1 cup canned vegetarian refried beans, 1 cup 50 percent light shredded cheddar cheese and 1/2 cup mild salsa; cover and microwave on high (100 percent power) 2 minutes or until heated; stir once. Spread mixture on 1 side of 8 (8-inch) fat-free flour tortillas; place hot dogs on tortillas. Top dogs with shredded lettuce and chopped tomatoes, and roll up.

Serve with oven fries (frozen) and sliced avocado. For dessert, sprinkle a little sugar on fresh blueberries.

9/ 10

Easy Entertaining Saturday

Invite guests for Roast Salmon with Wasabi Cream (see recipe). Serve with aromatic jasmine rice, Fresh yellow squash, mixed greens and whole-grain rolls. Top leftover ice cream with fresh strawberries.

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