February 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. Our March 2016 issue just hit stands this past Friday, so each main this week features a gorgeous and nutritious dish from the issue. Enjoy!

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: Risotto Primavera and Balsamic Kale and Radicchio SautéTuesday: Chicken Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce and Coconut-Cilantro RiceWednesday: Flank Steak with Tomato-Balsamic Sauce and Goat Cheese and Basil PolentaThursday: Twice-Cooked Garlic and Butter Shrimp with Broccoli and Penne with AsiagoFriday: Fresh Thai Noodle BowlDessert Bonus: Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookies

Monday: Risotto is notoriously difficult--it must be watched closely, or the whole pot will be ruined. Our foolproof, no-fail method is showcased in this superfast Risotto Primavera. Meaty mushrooms make up for any actual meat--it is Meatless Monday after all--and a side of Balsamic Kale and Radicchio Sauté sets off the richness of the risotto with a crisp, bright tang. That's thanks to balsamic vinegar and a pinch of sugar.421 calories, 13.1g fat, 4.7g sat fat, 632mg sodium

Tuesday: My go-to recipe on busy nights. This recipe for Chicken Stir-Fry with Peanut Sauce comes together in under 40 minutes and hits on so many tongue-pleasing notes you're not sure what to love most. Warm, peanutty flavors are offset by delicately sweet coconut and brought altogether in one big blanket of happiness over a pile of Coconut-Cilantro Rice.486 calories, 17.5g fat, 6.2g sat fat, 544mg sodium

Wednesday: Flank steak is often sold in 2-pound cuts. Ask your butcher to cut one in half, or freeze the other half for another use later. Tonight's Flank Steak with Tomato-Balsamic Sauce is ready in under 20 minutes. If you don't like flank steak, opt for chicken or pork chops. It's equally delicious with all those proteins. While the steak cooks, stir together Goat Cheese and Basil Polenta. Polenta is similar to grits, so feel free to sub with those if you happen to have some on hand.450 calories, 16.2g fat, 7g sat fat, 564mg sodium

Thursday: Shrimp turns rubbery and hard if it's cooked too long. So why would we recommend you cook it twice in our Twice-Cooked Garlic and Butter Shrimp dish? Because it's delicious, that's why! An initial heat slowly cooks the shrimp, and a final sear gives the shrimp some beautiful color and melds the flavor of the shrimp with the other ingredients. Serve with a heavier side, such as Broccoli and Penne with Asiago.334 calories, 11.6g fat, 3.7g sat fat, 560mg sodium

Friday: It's Friday, and who has time to fuss over a dinner? Not me, that's for sure. And not you either, I suspect. That's why this Fresh Thai Noodle Bowl will become a much-adored recipe in your house as it has become in mine. Instead of making your own stock, we speed up the noodle bowl with store-bought vegetable stock and add lots of flavor with sautéed garlic and ginger. If you want, add some sautéed shrimp, chicken, or thinly-sliced beef.488 calories, 11.9g fat, 1.4g sat fat, 637mg sodium

Dessert Bonus: Two flavorful and moist carrot cake cookies come together with a luscious cream cheese icing filling to create the ultimate Carrot Cake Sandwich Cookie. Make this a family event--mom and dad make the cookies and frosting, while kids stack and clean!186 calories, 7.5g fat, 3.5g sat fat, 137mg sodium

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