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Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Menus — September 1-5

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 for which you’ve prepared it.

The Plan Monday: Grilled Vegetable and Fontina Pizza Tuesday: Chicken Kabobs with Creamy Pesto and Spinach Pasta Salad Wednesday: Seared Salmon with Corn and Bacon and Spinach with Garlic Vinaigrette Thursday: Shrimp Marinara Soup with Crumbled Feta Friday: Dijon-Herb Marinated Chicken Thighs and Tomato-Basil Bread Salad Dessert: Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Monday: Summer veggies are still at their best, so make Grilled Vegetable and Fontina Pizza for Meatless Monday. If you’re apprehensive about working with a 12-inch stretch of pizza dough on the grill, opt for two 6-inch crusts instead. Nutty-flavored Fontina cheese anchors grill-charred veggies to the crust, and crushed red pepper adds kick. On the side, keep it simple with a green salad and a quick lemon vinaigrette, such as the one we used in this recipe.

Tuesday: Although Chicken Kebabs with Creamy Pesto calls to use the broiler, feel free to fire up the grill. A lemony marinade keeps these kebabs moist and flavorful, while a pesto-flavored dipping sauce ties the dish together. On the side, Spinach Pasta Salad comes together quickly—and you probably have most of the ingredients already. Make sure to buy enough spinach to make tomorrow night’s side salad. Save your leftovers, too—the pesto sauce makes a great sandwich spread or veggie dip, and the pasta salad is perfect for lunch.

Wednesday: Seared Salmon with Corn and Bacon Sauté proves that only a few fresh and quality ingredients are needed for great flavor. A splash of sherry vinegar and white wine with the corn and bacon balances the richness of the salmon, while shallots and fresh thyme deliver an enticing aroma. Instead of frozen corn, try using about 2 cups of the fresh variety—it’s crunchier and more flavorful. Pour a glass of white wine at dinner, but make sure to save at least a ¼ cup for tomorrow night’s meal. Pair the meal with a simple salad, Spinach with Garlic Vinaigrette.

Thursday: A warm soup despite hot summer weather may be counterintuitive, but trust us on this one—Shrimp Marinara Soup with Crumbled Feta is light, refreshing, and ready in just 20 minutes. On the side, make crostini for delicious dipping. Here's how we make it: brush thinly sliced baguette with olive oil, sprinkle with salt and pepper, and bake at 400 degrees until golden. Next, scour your kitchen for a tasty crostini topper, such as leftover pesto or even mashed avocado with sea salt.

Friday: If it's been a long week, you can finally relax because tonight is all about simplicity. Most of the ingredients in Dijon-Herb Chicken Thighs are used to make the side, Tomato-Basil Bread Salad. Broiling the chicken after baking adds flavor and texture. For the salad, soak the toasted bread cubes in the vinaigrette for about 10 minutes, add in the other ingredients, and serve before the mixture becomes too soggy.

Dessert Bonus: With a glass of ice-cold milk, Toasted Coconut Chocolate Chunk Cookies are simply divine. 70% cacao dark chocolate and toasted coconut take these cookies to a new level of decadence. With one cookie costing you less than 100 calories, you don't have to feel too guilty about indulging. Heck, you could even top one of these with 1/2 cup of Greek frozen yogurt (we like Stonyfield Organic Oikos Greek Frozen Yogurt) and still come out on top!

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.