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 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 PlanMonday: Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms, Chickpeas, and Olives + Spicy Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with GarlicTuesday: Cheesy Skillet Gnocchi + Quick Parsley-Spinach SaladWednesday: Honey and Sesame-Glazed Chicken Breasts with Green Beans + Brown Rice with SesameThursday: Steak Tips with Peppered Mushroom Gravy + Lemony Snap PeasFriday: Chicken and Sausage Gumbo + Whole-Grain Corn BreadDessert Bonus: Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pudding
Monday: Now that you've had your fill of Thanksgiving leftovers, try a hearty bowl of pure comfort (that also happens to be meatless). Creamy Polenta with Mushrooms, Chickpeas, and Olives is full of rich flavors from earthy mushrooms, briny olives, nutty chickpeas, and sweet-tart balsamic vinegar. It's sure to go on your favorites list. Serve with Spicy Sautéed Broccoli Rabe with Garlic (talk about deliciously complex flavors!) for a sophisticated start to the week.
Tuesday: I suppose comfort food is the theme this week, because next up is easy-peasy Cheesy Skillet Gnocchi—pillowy dumplings with a little Italian sausage, fresh tomato, basil, and mozzarella. It's comforting without being heavy and comes together super fast thanks to packaged whole-wheat gnocchi (one of my favorite pantry staples). With a side of bright, lemony Quick Parsley-Spinach Salad, dinner is in the bag. (And if you don't have parsley and pistachios on hand for the salad, just leave them out or swap in basil and any other nut.)
Wednesday: How 'bout a flavorful 20-minute entrée to anchor your midweek meal? Our Honey and Sesame-Glazed Chicken Breasts with Green Beans uses pantry and fridge staples to create a deeply flavorful, nutty sauce to snazz-up lean chicken. Double down on the sesame goodness with quick and easy Brown Rice with Sesame.
Thursday: Steak Tips with Peppered Mushroom Gravy is undeniably old-fashioned comfort food, and it's just so good to cozy up to on a chilly night—providing much of the satisfaction of beef stew but ready in only 20 minutes! One tip: I'd suggest serving with whole-wheat egg noodles, whole-wheat rigatoni, or whole-wheat rotini instead of regular egg noodles. To brighten the meal, serve with a fresh green side; Lemony Snap Peas are ideal.
Friday: Soup, glorious soup! It's the heart of the season, and Chicken and Sausage Gumbo is 30 minutes within reach. That's right—a tasty pot of gumbo, made rich and complex with nut-brown roux, in only a half hour. Whole-Grain Corn Bread completes the meal, simply and deliciously. If you have corn bread leftovers, try splitting and toasting slices and drizzling with honey; makes an awesome breakfast treat.
Dessert bonus: What better way to cap off a week of comforting meals than bowls of warm Chocolate-Peanut Butter Pudding? The recipe comes together in a flash and really does taste best warm—so you can enjoy almost-instant gratification!