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.
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.
Monday: Honestly, I can eat Pasta with Roasted Tomatoes and Garlic—or some riff on it—at least three times a week during the summer. Sometimes I’ll toss in a little zucchini or bell pepper; if it’s not Meatless Monday, I may add a some crisp bacon or browned Italian sausage (not that you need either). Sweet, peak-season cherry tomatoes, abundant now in farmers’ markets and backyard gardens, are the star. Not counting salt, pepper, and olive oil, it’s a five-ingredient dish with surprisingly deep flavor. Round out the meal with our wonderfully crunchy, fantastically simple Cucumber Salad; to simplify, use just one type of bell pepper.
Tuesday: How’s this for a fun way to honor Taco Tuesday? Shrimp Tacos with Corn Salsa pair sweet-briny shrimp with crunchy-fresh summer corn—a match made in foodie heaven! For a side dish with a little sass, try Spicy Grilled Mango with Chiles and Crema. No crema on hand? No worries—drizzle with yogurt or sour cream. And if you have young ‘uns in the house who are sensitive to spice (as I do), just leave the jalapeños off their portion.
Wednesday: For me, Hump-Day dinners must be (a) easy and (b) fun—a not-too-much-work celebration for getting more than halfway through the week. So this Wednesday meal is like a fun backyard barbecue, without actually having to sweat it out in, you know, the backyard. Spicy Honey-Brushed Chicken Thighs give you cookout flavor in only 20 minutes by utilizing the broiler (your indoor, upside-down grill!). Keep the BBQ party vibes going with Pesto Potato Salad, my new favorite, flavor-packed version of the classic picnic dish.
Thursday: It’s just such a great time for fresh produce, so here’s another farmers’ market/garden dinner. Zucchini, Walnut, and Feta Cakes with Cucumber-Yogurt Sauce are not only filling but also filled with zucchini goodness—more than a cup of the green stuff per serving (great for all you gardeners with a bumper crop of zuke). While good slicers are abundant, try this simple Tomato Salad with Avocado and Onion, a brilliant partnering of sweet-juicy tomatoes and creamy-rich avocado.
Friday: When I was growing up, summer Fridays meant Fish-Fry Fridays. Now that I’m an adult and not up for a weekly vat of hot oil, I am grateful for recipes like Bayou Catfish Fillets, which give you fried-fish yumminess with the convenience of the broiler. If you’d like to sub in tilapia for the catfish, brush the fish first with a little canola or olive oil before coating in the breading (tilapia is a leaner fish). Carry on the fish “fry” theme with classic accompaniments: Tequila Slaw with Lime and Cilantro (the tequila really boosts the flavor, but it’s fine to leave it out) and Broiler Garlic Bread.
Dessert Bonus: If you have a craving for a sweet fruit crisp but don’t have the time to bake one, Stovetop Summer Fruit Crisp is here to save the day! In less than 20 minutes, you get juicy, barely-cooked fruit, crunchy topping, and a scoop of vanilla fro-yo.
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