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Easy, healthy meal ideas for the week ahead: Sheet-pan chicken, burrito bowls and more

Get creative with fresh produce for a plant-forward menu that packs in nutrients (without giving up meat).
Make this brightly-flavored chicken dinner in two sheet-pans.
Make this brightly-flavored chicken dinner in two sheet-pans.Casey Barber/Good Food Stories LLC

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You asked, we answered! Hundreds of Start TODAY members told us they wanted more healthy, balanced meal ideas to help them reach their health goals. This dietitian-designed meal plan gives you the flexibility to ease into a new year — all while learning the building blocks of healthy eating.

All of the world’s healthiest diets have a plant slant, and studies show you don’t have to give up animal products completely to reap the benefits of eating more plants.

So this week, we’re showing you how to create plant-forward menus without giving up animal foods, like dairy, eggs, chicken, seafood and meat. We accomplished this goal by packing the menu with nuts, seeds, beans, fruits, vegetables and whole grains — delivering the goodness of plant foods in everything from a chicken burrito bowl to pesto spaghetti. Plus, we’ve included some meatless meals that are hearty, filling, and full of protein.

What to Eat This Week, August 21, 2023

Start TODAY Meal Plan for the Week of August 21, 2023

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Mornings are hard enough, so keep your breakfast routine simple. Make a batch of the frittata muffins in advance for a grab-and-go option or throw together an easy meal with staple ingredients.

Vegetable Frittata Muffins

Serve with 1 cup or 1 piece of fruit.

Whole Grain Toaster Waffle with Yogurt and Berries

Spread toasted waffle with Greek yogurt or cottage cheese and topped with berries and chia seeds.

Easy Muesli

Mix ⅓ cup rolled oats with 2 tablespoons unsweetened dried fruit (such as golden raisins) and 3 tablespoons chopped nuts and seeds (such as pumpkin, chia, and flax seeds). Serve over plain or lightly sweetened Greek yogurt.


Continuing with the plant-slant theme, we’ve got some plant-forward ideas for you that are easy to assemble the day of or just before your meal.

Tuna-Chickpea Salad Sandwich

To make, mix 1 can tuna (drained), with ½ can chickpeas (rinsed and drained), 1-2 tablespoons mayonnaise, and 1 tablespoon sunflower seeds. Stuff half the mixture in a whole wheat pita stuffed with lettuce and tomato.

Pasta Salad

This pasta salad uses several healthy meal prep staples like frozen broccoli, canned artichoke hearts, and pasta. To meal prep it, you can multiply the servings and store them in your fridge for up to four days. Mix ¼ cup canned artichoke hearts, rinsed, drained, and quartered with cherry or grape tomatoes, halved, 1 cup frozen broccoli florets, steamed in the microwave, and ½ cup canned cannellini beans, rinsed and drained. Toss the mixture with 1 cup cooked pasta (preferably whole grain or legume-based) and store-bought Italian or balsamic vinaigrette dressing.


We’ve rounded up five dinners that feature plants in a variety of ways. For instance, the spaghetti includes a mix of vegetable and traditional noodles, plus zucchini in the pesto. These are strategies you can apply to your family favorites, too.

Joy Bauer's Burrito Bowls

This hearty bowl is basically a blueprint for balanced eating. Carbs come from quinoa and beans (which also supply some protein), healthy fats come from seeds and avocado, and protein comes from rotisserie chicken. It’s also loaded with spinach and topped with salsa to meet your veggie requirements.

This recipe offers the best of both worlds: A combination of spaghetti and zucchini noodles means you’ll get the benefits of veggies and the satisfaction of pasta. To balance out your meal with some protein, use chickpea or lentil pasta, or serve it with some chicken or shrimp.

This dinner is a rarity — it’s just as quick to make as it is impressive. Serve it with roasted baby potatoes and a simple side salad. Roasted potatoes are one of the easiest side dishes ever–just clean them (or buy them pre-washed), toss them in oil and seasonings, and roast them on a parchment-lined sheet pan. Put them in the oven ahead of the salmon since they take slightly longer — about 25 minutes — to cook.

This sheet-pan meal has all the elements of a nutritionally balanced meal, so you don’t need to make anything to go along with it. Adding a touch of honey to your seasonings is a research-backed strategy to help you sustain healthy eating habits. 

Sunny's Black Bean Burgers
Carrot Fries

These burgers come together in minutes thanks to hassle-free ingredients like canned beans and frozen corn. When they’re cooked, load on the fixings and serve them with Baked Carrot Fries.


Snacks that contain whole food sources of protein and fiber offer a winning formula that keeps you full for hours. Here are a few ideas:

  • Clementine and nuts
  • Grape tomatoes and lentils (canned and rinsed) seasoned with lemon juice or vinegar.
  • Pineapple and cottage cheese
  • Red peppers with goat cheese-pesto dip. To make dip: Mix store-bought pesto with goat cheese. Thin with olive oil if needed.
  • Snap peas and hummus