August 21, 2016

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.

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 PlanMonday: Tofu Curry with Bok Choy and PeanutsTuesday: Sautéed Tilapia Tacos with Grilled Peppers and Onions + Avocado-Butter Lettuce SaladWednesday: Pasta Pork Bolognese + Steamed Sugar Snap PeasThursday: Pork Chops with Tomato Gravy and Squash + Goat Cheese CrostiniFriday: Shrimp and Broccoli Rotini + Kale Salad with Creamy Peppercorn DressingDessert Bonus: Mocha Banana Split

I don't know what the schedule is like where you are, but schools around here (Cooking Light's hometown is Birmingham, Alabama) are already back in session for another year. And if I know one thing as the daughter of a 24-year teaching veteran, it's that these first few weeks back are T-O-U-G-H on parents, teachers, and kids, too. So, I've designed this week of menus to be tasty, healthy, and most importantly, easy. Whether you make the whole menu as I've designed it or you mix and match with a few of your personal Cooking Light favorites, meal planning is the perfect way to ensure your family is getting the delicious meals they need.

Monday: This comforting dish, Tofu Curry with Bok Choy and Peanuts, needs just 20 minutes to bring out many warm and wonderful flavors. It's filled with rice, hearty greens, and tofu, so you don't really need a side. But if you have any fresh veggies you want to use up from the weekend, feel free. Maybe toss them in a little extra-virgin olive oil and white wine vinegar for a vibrant side salad.

Tuesday: Fill corn tortillas with tender tilapia, and top them with grilled peppers, jalapeños, and onions. Once you make these Sautéed Tilapia Tacos with Grilled Peppers and Onions for the first time, you'll make them again and again because they're so easy and satisfying for the whole family. Serve with a simple, cooling side (those jalapeños will sneak up on you!) like our Avocado-Butter Lettuce Salad.

Wednesday: You'll swear you spent hours making this Pasta Pork Bolognese, but really, you just need 14 minutes. Yes, you read that correctly. Grated carrot doesn't need much time to tenderize, and refrigerated fettuccine softens faster than the boxed pasta variety (though it's totally fine if that's all you have on hand). Brighten up your plate with a simple green side, like our Steamed Sugar Snap Peas.

Thursday: If you have purchased or downloaded your September issue already, you've probably seen these Pork Chops with Tomato Gravy and Squash. It's a fantastic recipe for this end-of-summer season. The tomato gravy is so spectacular, you'll want to keep the recipe on hand for future dishes. (We're thinking how amazing it would be on top of an over-easy egg or as a dipping sauce for roasted sweet potato wedges.) You'll need to savor every drop of the gravy, so slice up some whole-grain bread to make a few Goat Cheese Crostini for a quick side.

Friday: Friday nights = fast! That's exactly what this Shrimp and Broccoli Rotini delivers. If you don't have shrimp or don't prefer it, feel free to riff away. Try swapping the shrimp for white beans, and you've got a vibrant vegetarian entrée. On the side, let's enjoy Kale Salad with Creamy Peppercorn Dressing. If you can't find kale right now or just want something more seasonal, look for a spring mix.

Dessert Bonus: You made it to Friday! You deserve this: Our Mocha Banana Split relies on your favorite coffee and chocolate ice creams, and you'll whip up a delectable espresso-flavored chocolate syrup for a tasty drizzle over the top. Don't forget the sprinkle of chocolate-covered espresso beans. All that coffee, and you'll be wired for a late-night Netflix session. Enjoy!

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