Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Menus—December 28-January 1

December 27, 2015 | By | Comments (7)

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 Plan
Monday: Butternut Squash, Kale, and Black Bean Quesadillas with Avocado and Orange Salad
Tuesday: Skillet Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Carrots with steamed green beans
Wednesday: Halibut with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes and Broccoli Rabe with Polenta Croutons
Thursday: Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash and quinoa
Friday: Spanish Spaghetti with Olives and Green Salad with Simple Vinaigrette
Dessert Bonus: Cinnamon-Apple Panini

It’s going to be a fun–if not crazy–week, so every dish this week is simple yet comforting. After all, it’s getting colder outside for most of the country after an unseasonably warm Christmas (really, Mother Nature?! 75 on Christmas?!), so we need this week’s meals to be fast, filling, and nutritious. Be sure to follow our Instagram account for daily healthy dinner inspiration, and check back here every Sunday for more dinner plans for your week.

The Plan
Monday: Let’s start with Butternut Squash, Kale, and Black Bean Quesadillas for a hearty Meatless Monday dish. Because it’s squash season, you can easily find pre-chopped butternut squash. If you can’t, add a few more minutes into your weekly prep and chop your own butternut squash. Serve with a fresh side that includes seasonal citrus like our Avocado and Orange Salad.

Tuesday: The week between Christmas and New Year’s is a great time to gradually transition you and your family toward the healthy-eating goals you have for 2016. We’ll get you off on the right foot with our Skillet Chicken with Roasted Potatoes and Carrots. The skillet is used in a few clever ways: Chicken and vegetables get a head start on the stove, finish in the oven, then come out briefly so a simple cream sauce can pick up all the roasted flavors of the plan. It tastes like it took hours, but thankfully it only takes 40. You’ve got a full plate with this meal, but if you want a little more veg for your plate, steam some green beans and toss in a bit of olive oil and kosher salt just before serving.

Wednesday: Readers (and Cooking Light staff even) still love this recipe for Spanish Spaghetti with Olives years after it first ran in the magazine. If you’ve got young eaters in your house, they’ll recognize the weeknight favorite, but it has a flavorful twist with the addition of pimiento-stuffed olives. Add a little green to the plate with a side of Green Salad with Simple Vinaigrette.

Thursday: New Year’s Eve, and you’ve got a party to get to, right? This dinner of Halibut with Balsamic Cherry Tomatoes and Broccoli Rabe with Polenta Croutons is simple and no-fuss but big on flavor. If you’re not a fan of halibut or its price, look for a similar fish, such as cod. Polenta croutons are an ingenious way to add texture and flavor to a simple side of sauteed broccoli rabe. You could use homemade croutons–just cut a baguette into one-inch cubes and toast slightly–if you don’t want to buy or can’t find refrigerated polenta.

Friday: After a fun night of ringing in the New Year, make an incredibly flavorful dish the whole family will love in less than 30 minutes. This Beef Tagine with Butternut Squash will use up any remaining pre-chopped butternut squash you bought, or any you chopped at the beginning of the week. While you’ve got the tagine simmering, make four servings of quinoa to accompany. Just before serving, stir in a little chopped parsley, and spoon the tagine over top the quinoa in a bowl. Yum!

Dessert Bonus: This quick-fix dessert is playful and tasty. It combines all the flavors of a caramel apple with warm cinnamon-raisin bread. You’ll only need a few minutes to pull together each Cinnamon-Apple Panini, so slice the apples and get everyone involved in the panini making.

More Dinner Ideas:


  1. Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Menus—January 11-15 | Cooking Light

    […] Sunday Strategist: A Week of Healthy Menus—December 28-January 1 […]

    January 11, 2016 at 10:44 pm
  2. Amy D

    made the skillet chicken with roasted potatoes and carrots and my husband is STILL telling me how much he enjoyed it!

    January 2, 2016 at 12:04 pm
  3. Mrivera

    Is there a way I can get the Sunday Strategist email notifications when new menues for the week are posted?
    This is a great resource!

    December 31, 2015 at 10:01 am
  4. Jen B

    Are there any sources for gluten free cooking or modifications to recipes? I am GF due to a recent GI illness that intensified my gluten intolerance. However, the rest of the family is not GF; this makes meal planning and cooking a challenge much of the time.

    December 28, 2015 at 10:56 am
  5. Sonja Pound

    I love all of your menus, but the ads that pop up under each photo are really annoying.

    December 27, 2015 at 1:04 pm
  6. Pepa

    I love getting these on my Facebook. I just had gastric sleeve and these are good ideas for my family. Thank you for your goodness.

    December 27, 2015 at 11:03 am
    • Kimberly Holland

      We love that you and your family can use these! Happy eating!

      December 27, 2015 at 11:28 am

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