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Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Menus — January 20-24

Here, another week’s worth of fast, healthy, and tasty menus. It’s not a dislike of cooking that deters so many of us from the kitchen each night; it’s actually deciding what to cook from the millions of options bombarding us from so many different places. Here, we’ve done the planning for you. Not just menus, but healthy menus that are fast – on the table in less than 45 minutes.

The Plan Monday: Chicken with Honey-Beer Sauce, Romano-Topped Brussels Sprouts Tuesday: Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto Wednesday: Turkey, Apple, and Swiss Melt Thursday: Spice-Rubbed New York Strip with Avocado-Lime Salsa, Garlic-Roasted Kale Friday: Vegetable Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese Dessert: Granola Cookie Wedges

Good news, folks: If you resolved to get back into the routine of cooking healthy meals for the new year, this week’s menus were developed with you in mind. Weighing in under 400 calories and requiring less than 40 minutes to prepare, these meals are geared towards keeping you on track without much effort. Put that extra energy into your workout!

All of the main dishes and sides featured here are from an upcoming special edition, Cooking Light Best Ever Slim-Down Recipes. Each of the recipes calls for staples you likely have on hand, which cuts your grocery list down to fresh ingredients and lean protein. Just watch your portions and let these recipes do the weight control work for you…deliciously.

Monday: For tonight’s meal, pick up a package of boneless chicken breasts, fresh Brussels sprouts, and shallots. Everything else you need is probably waiting in your fridge or pantry. Chicken with Honey-Beer Sauce is a superfast skillet dish that’s on the table in 20 minutes. Whole-grain mustard adds texture and zing to the delicately sweet sauce. Though an unexpected ingredient, the beer in this dish adds robust flavor. While you prepare the chicken on the stovetop, go ahead and pop your sprouts in the oven for our Romano-Topped Brussels Sprouts. Roasting brings out the best in Brussels sprouts as it lightly caramelizes their edges but keeps them tender inside. To ensure that your sprouts don’t fall to pieces, avoid trimming the stems. Total calories: 367

Romano-Topped Brussels Sprouts | Photo: Photo: José Picayo; Styling: Philippa Brathwaite

TuesdayGnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto is one of our most frequently “pinned” recipes on Pinterest—and for good reason! This meal requires minimal prep and yet another short grocery list: gnocchi, fresh shrimp, basil, pine nuts, and fresh asparagus (buy extra for Friday’s dinner). The petite Italian potato dumplings made from scratch can take longer than an hour to prepare, but premade vacuum-packed gnocchi cook in just a few minutes. As the gnocchi, shrimp, and asparagus cook, you can blend the pesto ingredients. Being that everything cooks in one pan, you’re left with next-to-no clean up. If you find that you love this dish as much as our Pinterest followers do, and plan to make it often, consider buying a $15 wok strainer to make easy work of scooping gnocchi from the boiling water.  A hearty 2-cup serving makes a one-dish meal. Total calories: 355

Gnocchi with Shrimp, Asparagus, and Pesto | Photo: John Autry; Styling: Cindy Barr

Wednesday: By mid-week, an especially easy dinner can be just the little break needed to help you over the hump. Our Turkey, Apple, Swiss Melt is a jazzed up version of a deli standby, with sliced apple adding a distinct crunch and sweetness. If you keep sandwich fixings on hand, dinner is ready in 15 minutes. Warm and gooey right out of the pan, this sandwich offers grade-A comfort and satisfaction. Total calories: 350

Turkey, Apple, and Swiss Melt | Photo: Mary Britton Senseney/Wonderful Machine; Styling: Mary Clayton Carl

Thursday: Keeping meat portions in check is the key to enjoying Spice-Rubbed New York Strip with Avocado-Lime Salsa without blowing your calorie budget. After grabbing a few fresh ingredients from the produce section (avocado, cilantro, and serrano chile), swing by the meat counter and pick up two (8-ounce) steaks—an ample serving for 4 people and less than 300 calories. To fill out the menu: Savory Garlic-Roasted Kale. With a gentle roasting, kale’s leaves turn from a dusty grass green to dark emerald with brown-tinged curly edges that crunch. This side dish is best served hot from the oven because kale leaves lose their crisp texture as they stand. Total calories: 356

Garlic-Roasted Kale | Photo: Jonny Valiant; Styling: Deborah Williams

Friday: Vegetable Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese is loaded with colorful fresh vegetables that you may very well already have in your crisper: bell peppers, mushrooms, and asparagus. Alongside the veggies, a few indulgences—olives, walnuts, and goat cheese—go a long way. An incredibly simple preparation allows the flavorful ingredients in this pasta to speak for themselves. You get a generous 1½ cup serving, and any leftovers can be refrigerated for a quick meal over the weekend. Gluten-free fans: Substitute a brown rice or quinoa pasta, simple as that! Total calories: 395

Vegetable Pasta Salad with Goat Cheese | Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Mary Clayton Carl

Bonus Dessert: Granola Cookie Wedges. On a busy schedule, instead of taking the time to scoop individual cookies, bake a superfast cookie “pie,” and cut it into wedges. Soft and gooey on the inside with an oat-filled crunchy crust, it’s enough to satisfy that chocolate chip cookie fix and keep your calories in check. Total calories: 168

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.