Kimberly Holland Kimberly Holland
September 13, 2015

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 45 minutes or less 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: Caprese Mac and Cheese + Spinach Salad with Avocado and OrangeTuesday: Quick Chicken Piccata + Roasted Butternut Squash with Pecans and SageWednesday: Fig, Ham, and Ricotta Pizza + Garlic and Red Pepper AsparagusThursday: Shrimp Farfalle with Arugula PestoFriday: Quinoa, Smoked Trout, and Beet SaladDessert Bonus: Chocolate-Granola Apple Wedges

It's starting to feel like fall here in Alabama—though I am assured by the local weather forecasters that this will pass, and our 90-degree temps will be back soon. Still, to hopefully speed up the cool-weather transition, I'm going to enjoy a few of my favorite fall foods this week: baked apples, butternut squash, and sweet potatoes. You'll find a few of those foods in this week's meal plan because they're inspired by our brand new October issue, which is on newsstands and available for tablet download today. Pick up your copy and find more delicious family-pleasing recipes like the 5 nights of meals we've prepared below.

Monday: We've given the classic creamy weeknight dinner an Italian update (or we've given the Italian salad a creamy twist, depending on how you interpret this Caprese Mac and Cheese). We keep it simple and fresh but flavor packed. Chiffonade the basil before serving to make sure you get a bit in every bite. Keep the side fresh, crisp, and simple. Our Spinach Salad with Avocado and Orange is a perfect option.

Tuesday: Chicken Piccata is a delicious weeknight dinner because it's fast and super flavorful thanks to tangy capers and a zingy lemon-white wine sauce. Most piccata recipes use chicken cutlets, but we like thighs just as much. Make the side balance the zip of the piccata. A great option: our rich and buttery Roasted Butternut Squash with Pecans and Sage.

Wednesday: I'm not sure what I love more about this Fig, Ham, and Ricotta Pizza: that it uses delicious figs in a savory dish or that it's a great go-to recipe if you ever have any leftover ricotta cheese. Doesn't matter, I guess. I'm just happy to have it with a side of Garlic and Red Pepper Asparagus for this hump day dinner.

Thursday: If you have leftover basil from Monday night, feel free to make classic basil pesto instead of the arugula pesto in this Shrimp Farfalle with Arugula Pesto. But if you do make the arugula pesto, you'll be so thankful for the peppery arugula bite with each piece of sweet shrimp. You don't really need a side here, unless you've got some white wine. And then you definitely need a glass of white wine.

Friday: At first glance, you might not think this Quinoa, Smoked Trout, and Beet Salad has very much flavor potential, but just you wait. The mustard and horseradish dressing is blow-your-mind delicious. Any smoked white fish will do if you can't find trout, but salmon isn't a really a good substitute here. The flavor will overwhelm the delicate beets and quinoa. Again, you don't need a side here, so if you have leftover wine (or just another bottle), it's Friday, so enjoy that again.

Dessert Bonus: If you've seen the apple section of your grocery store's produce section lately, you have probably noticed that the apple varieties are exploding. You have your classic Granny Smith, Macintosh, and Gala, but have you tried Lady Alice, Black Arkansas, or SweeTango? Pick up a new a variety and try it in these Chocolate-Granola Apple Wedges for a super simple and fantastically fall dessert.

Ready to start shopping? View this week’s menu, which includes every recipe you see mentioned here. From there, you can add all the ingredients to your shopping list in one click when you sign into your MyRecipes account.

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