Photo: Romulo Yanes

Every Sunday, we publish a week of Cooking Light dinner plans filled with our favorite recipes—both from current issues and classics. Each meal is designed to be ready and on the table in about an hour so that you have more time to enjoy the food you’ve prepared and the company of those you’ve prepared it for.

December 29, 2016

If you like having a healthy meal plan but want something customized to your dietary or caloric needs, check out The Cooking Light Diet. It’s a calorie-driven weekly meal plan—breakfast, lunch, snacks, and dinner—based on your dieting goals and food preferences.

The Plan
Monday: Hearty Tortellini Soup and two slices of toasted whole-wheat baguette
Tuesday: Creamy Linguine with Peas, Carrots, and Proscuitto
Wednesday: Greek Chicken Nachos
Thursday: Salmon with Potatoes and Horseradish Sauce and a side of steam green beans
Friday: Tuna, Egg, and Avocado Toast
Brunch Bonus: Baked Marzipan Donuts

Monday

This satisfying vegetarian Hearty Tortellini Soup is a great way to reset after a few weeks of meat-centered holiday eating. Make sure to cool the soup base completely before adding the tortellini; otherwise the pasta will absorb too much liquid and become gummy. Cook the remaining half package of tortellini and top salads for lunch during the week, or seal in a ziplock freezer bag, and freeze until you’re ready to use them. Vegetable stocks can differ in concentration—you may want to start with less and make up the difference with a bit more water depending on the brand you choose.

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Tuesday

Cream cheese makes the sauce for Creamy Linguine with Peas, Carrots, and Proscuitto impossibly creamy, coating the noodles with all kinds of silky goodness. The microwave technique we use for the prosciutto crisps it beautifully in less than 2 minutes, with less cleanup than stovetop or oven methods. If you’d rather skip that step, you could tear it into pieces or strips and toss with the pasta. A shower of shaved Parmesan echoes the salty notes of the prosciutto and makes a big impact with every bite; for the biggest flavor boost, go with Parmigiano-Reggiano.

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Wednesday

Dinner doesn’t get much easier, or more fun, than sheet pan Greek Chicken Nachos. The pan does double duty: Toast the chips first, then pile high with toppings and return to the oven to melt the cheese and heat everything through. Here the Mexican classic takes a detour to Greece with pita chips, a shredded Greek salad, and crumbled feta. Rotisserie chicken breast makes this meal even easier, though this dish is a great use for any leftover cooked chicken. Bring the whole pan to the table and cut into servings, like you would a square pizza.

Photo: Jennifer Causey

Thursday

You’ll be surprised at the sophistication of this 5-ingredient Salmon with Potatoes and Horseradish Sauce, which is easy, elegant, and beautiful. You can honestly never go wrong when you start with salmon and a sour cream sauce, especially if that sauce is flavored with dill and horseradish. Fill out the plate and complete the meal with a side of steamed asparagus or haricots verts (slender French green beans), or barely wilted spinach or Swiss chard. If you have a mandoline in your kitchen, use it—carefully—on the potatoes to make the job of slicing go faster.

Photo: Romulo Yanes

Friday

Friday nights need fast dinners so you can get to relaxing and enjoying the start of the weekend. We'll keep dinner super filling and simple with Tuna, Egg, and Avocado Toast. Don’t toss all that excess oil—it contains a lot of the vitamin D and omega-3 fatty acids from the fish. We use this nutrient-dense oil rather than mayo to dress the salad, then pile it on a smear of avocados, which are packed with monounsaturated fats that encourage blood flow and boost brain activity. We love this combination on whole-grain toast but you can also toss it over pasta, greens, or grains.

Photo: Iain Bagwell

Brunch Bonus

How adorable are these Baked Marzipan Donuts? If you're looking for a fun project for tomorrow morning's brunch, make the marzipan decorations Friday night and have them ready for Saturday's baked donuts. You don't have to use the holly decor. This time of year, snowflakes would be equally adorable.

Photo: Christopher Testani

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