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.
Credit: Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

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.

A range of textures—crunchy peas, tender vegetables, and silky coconut broth—makes this cool-weather main incredibly satisfying. The chickpea mixture can also be a delicious gluten-free snack: After baking, toss with a little kosher salt, ground cumin, and ground red pepper. Store in an airtight container for three days. To speed up prep, look for pre-cut cauliflower florets in your grocery store's produce section. Even if you have to prep the cauliflower and cut your own florets, you will only add about five minutes to a 40-minute meatless main.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey

We thicken the chili slightly, stir in more fresh fall vegetables, and bake with a flaky cheddar biscuit topper for a fun, fast take on a classic potpie. Creamy butternut squash and hearty beef chili provide combine to make this wholesome, easy weeknight dinner. We skipped the hassle of peeling and chopping the squash by buying the packaged cubes. Topped with flaky cheddar biscuits that rest atop the potpie like soft pillows, this meaty dish is a great way to repurpose chili and make use of seasonal fall vegetables. The kids won't be able to resisting dunking biscuit after biscuit in this flavorful beef chili. Use a vegetarian chili for a tasty meat-less option.

Credit: Photo: Jennifer Causey; Styling: Amy Stone

Smarter carbs are easy with the handy spiralizer--it works like a pencil sharpener to create long strands of veggies. Find the tool at kitchen stores and amazon.com. Spiralized veggies are showing up everywhere--in salads, in place of pasta, and even in desserts. These sweet potato "zoodles" transform a traditional pad thai recipe into a fun twist on a weeknight favorite. The best news? This recipe comes together in 20 minutes, making it a go-to for any busy weeknight. Break out your spiralizer, get the family involved, and get cooking on your new favorite recipe featuring the best of fall flavor.

Credit: Photo: Iain Bagwell; Styling: Heather Chadduck Hillegas

Tumeric is the trending seasoning of the year. Its subtle flavor notes bring out the best in this simple pork chop recipe. We love that the side dish recipe allows you to dress up precooked brown rice by adding fresh lime juice and cilantro. You'll love the pork chop, but it may be the rice side dish that you make again and again, as it pairs perfectly with a variety of dishes, ranging from Spanish to Asian.  Opt for bone-in pork chops for this recipe to get the full depth of flavor the recipe promises.

Credit: Photo: Hector Manuel Sanchez; Styling: Claire Spollen

This slow-cooker chicken chili is a great addition to your cool weather weeknight meal rotation. Calling for a mixture of beans and hominy, this recipe boasts bold, rich flavor, something that can often be dulled in a slow cooker. Processing some of the beans in a food processor thickens the soup, lending a heartier flavor to the dish. We suggest serving the soup with green onions, cheese, cilantro, peppers, and plain yogurt, a great substitute for sour cream. Perfect for a tailgate, ideal for cool weather, and guaranteed to make your home smell amazing while you're gone, this slow cooker chili is sure to make your "must make again" list.

What is chili without corn muffins? Pickled jalapeños add a little extra zip and dimension without too much heat. You can omit them or substitute minced cilantro if you like. The addition of sour cream makes these muffins incredibly tender--they won't dry out if made in advance. Looking for a spooky spin? Use blue cornmeal; it'll turn the muffins a greenish blue. We love pairing these slightly spicy muffins with chili, classic soups, and even pulled pork. Be sure to let them cool for a few minutes before turning them out, but definitely don't over bake them.

Credit: Photo: Brian Woodcock
Credit: Photo: Brian Woodcock

While you're putting the dinner together, go ahead and have the family whip together the batter for these blondies. Let them cook while you're eating and cleaning. Then frost and dive in while you settle in for a great night catching up on Netflix. (The spider web design is totally optional.)

Credit: Photo: Brian Woodcock

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