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Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Menus — August 15-19

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 Plan Monday: Black-Eyed Pea Cakes with Corn Salsa and Sautéed Tomato and Onion Kale Tuesday: Honey-Dijon Glazed Salmon with Flash-Cooked Zucchini and Herbed Bulgur with Almonds Wednesday: Chicken and Chile Hash and Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Red Pepper Thursday: Lemon-Herb Risotto with Shrimp and Haricots Verts and Grilled Balsamic Radicchio With Pine Nuts Friday: Cowboy-Style Beef and Vegetable Ragout and Cauliflower Polenta Happy Hour: Softened Plums with Vanilla Yogurt

Each of these recipes is featured in our brand new September issue, which is on newsstands now. Be sure to pick up a copy. We've filled it with amazing weeknight recipes designed to help you feed the family without much time and effort. We also have Easy Sheet Pan Meatballs, which are great to make ahead and freeze for an easy dinner. Don't miss the Healthy Guide to Lunch & Snacks, too. I'm a big fan of our Soups in a Jar. Think Salads in a Jar, but they're warm and comforting. Just what the doc ordered on a cold workday.

Monday: We've turned two Southern sides, black-eyed peas and greens, into a substantial vegetarian meal with these Black-Eyed Pea Cakes with Corn Salsa. You could also substitute black beans or Great Northern beans for the black-eyed peas. Traditional collards can take an hour or more to cook; hearty lacinato kale takes just 3 minutes in this Sautéed Tomato and Onion Kale side. For some punch, add a dash of hot sauce or red wine vinegar.

Tuesday: Preheating the pan before you start Honey-Dijon Glazed Salmon with Flash-Cooked Zucchini allows the skin side of the salmon fillets to crisp while the broiler quickly cooks the flesh side. The honey-Dijon glaze locks in moisture and caramelizes nicely in the hot oven. Serve with Herbed Bulgur with Almonds.

 

 

Wednesday: Ground chicken has a touch more fat than ground chicken breast, ley for a more flavorful hash like this Chicken and Chile Hash. Serve with Sautéed Spinach with Garlic and Red Pepper. Starting aromatics in a cold skillet lets them infuse the oil. The garlic also has less chance of burning.

 

Thursday: Risotto can seem daunting, but making this low and slow dish is surprisingly easy. Lemon-Herb Risotto with Shrimp and Haricots Verts only sounds complicated, but we've simplified for an easy weeknight dinner. Sautéed fennel adds a touch of sweetness, but you can leave it out if you prefer and sprinkle on a little dill at the end instead. Serve with Grilled Balsamic Radicchio With Pine Nuts.

 

Friday: Family Friday is going to be ultracomforting this week. Think of the savory meat sauce in this Cowboy-Style Beef and Vegetable Ragout  as a cross between beef stew and sloppy joe filling. Serving over Cauliflower Polenta to get an extra bit of veg in your day. Cauliflower lightens traditional polenta. You can also use 10 ounces of packaged pre-riced cauliflower and skip step 1 to save on time.

 

 

Dessert Option: The ideal summer dessert is fresh, juicy, not overly sweet, and not overly complicated, which is why this end-of-season Softened Plums with Vanilla Yogurt treat features only 6 ingredients. The plums cook just long enough to soften slightly and release their juices; use a knife and fork to dive in. Sub any toasted nut or seed for the granola.

 

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