Photo: Jennifer Causey

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.

January 27, 2017

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:
Peppered White Bean, Kale, and Egg Stack
Tuesday: Flattened Chicken with Almond and Paprika Vinaigrette with Manchego Polenta
Wednesday: Greek Cucumber and Chickpea Breakfast Bowl
Thursday: Mini BBQ Meat Loaves with Smashed Blue Cheese Potatoes
Friday: Easy Thai Steak Noodle Bowl
Happy Hour Bonus: Spanish Dancer

Have you found your new routine for a healthy year? No? Good, you're in great company. I'm still finding myself in a harried rush to jump from office to gym to kitchen, and I often find myself clueless about a decent menu. Here, I've put together a fast and family-friendly menu. Each meal should be simple enough that you don't have to plan long shopping trips or buy obscure ingredients. This is good, healthy food you can make, feel good serving, and come back to time and time again.

Monday

Which came first, the chicken or the egg? We say the egg, hence this tasty vegetarian twist for a meatless Monday. Peppered White Bean, Kale, and Egg Stack provides a whopping 16 grams of protein without a single piece of meat. The egg yolks acts as a dressing, tying everything on your plate together.

 Photo: Jennifer Causey

Tuesday

Pounding chicken is therapeutic and a creative cooking technique. It gets the meat finished faster, and also gives you more surface area for searing. Seared chicken produces flavorful browning, so it's a win-win technique. The topping for Flattened Chicken with Almond and Paprika Vinaigrette is decidedly Spanish, with paprika, olives, and citrus rind and juice. You'll find yourself reusing this technique many times over. Sreve with Manchego Polenta. If you can't find Manchego cheese, use parmesan or English cheddar.

 Photo: Jennifer Causey

Wednesday

In my family, we frequently had breakfast for dinner on Wednesdays. I'm going to suggest that be a rule for your family, too, but to ease everyone in, here's an idea: try a breakfast salad. We love breakfast salads like this Greek Cucumber and Chickpea Breakfast Bowl. They're light, fresh, and balanced, preventing that all-too-familiar carb/sugar overload you get from stack of pancakes.

 Photo: Jennifer Causey

Thursday

When we first introduced this recipe, we knew it was something special, but today, it's one of our most popular recipes. Maybe it's the convenience of the "mini" meat loves or the simple ingredient list which makes pulling this together on a busy night easier than you'd imagine. Whatever it is, taste this combo of Mini BBQ Meat Loaves with Smashed Blue Cheese Potatoes and you'll know why it's so beloved.

Friday

Tonight is the night I'm most tempted to turn to takeout, which is why I plan ahead to please my cravings in a healthier way. This Easy Thai Steak Noodle Bowl hits all the sweet spots of Thai flavor, comfort food, and slurpy noodle bowl, but with far fewer calories than anything I can pick up down the street.

 Photo: Jennifer Causey

Happy Hour Bonus

Is a cocktail without alcohol still a cocktail? Absolutely! This Spanish Dancer mocktail has all the juicy hits of your favorite citrusy cocktails, just without the booze (though if you want to make this a real cocktail, we suggest a shot of tequila). It's just what you need to unwind from a busy work week.

 Photo: Jennifer Causey

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