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Easy, healthy meal ideas: Cheeseburger salad, creamy avocado pasta and more

Simplify meal prep with these short-cut recipes and cooking tricks.
Enjoy Cheeseburger Salad in a bowl or stuffed into a whole-grain wrap.
Enjoy Cheeseburger Salad in a bowl or stuffed into a whole-grain wrap.Nathan Congleton / TODAY

Welcome to Start TODAY. Sign up for our free Start TODAY newsletter to receive daily inspiration sent to your inbox.

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 enjoy summer while learning the building blocks of healthy eating.

When it comes to sticking with a healthy eating plan, meal prep is key. After all, who has hours to spend in the kitchen? That’s why this week’s lunches and dinners utilize meal-prep tricks that cut down on time like one-pan meals and pre-made ingredients (hello, rotisserie chicken!).

You’ll see that breakfasts involve some make-ahead meals and some morning-of options. Lunches include leftovers and simple-to-assemble ideas. We’ve offered four different dinner options and we’ll save you from cooking one night by making enough for leftovers the night prior.

What to Eat This Week, July 31, 2023

Start TODAY meal plan July 31, 2023

>>Download and print the meal plan

>>Get a 31-day walking and upper body strength workout





  • Breakfast: Protein-Boosted Avocado Toast
  • Lunch: Rotisserie Chicken Salad
  • Dinner: Leftovers
  • Snack of choice



Starting your day with a protein-rich option keeps you fuller for longer and tames cravings later on. Here are some quick and easy ways to pack protein into your morning meal.

Protein-Boosted Avocado Toast

Mash white beans or chickpeas into avocado. Spread on whole-grain toast and top with an egg, cooked any style.

Oatmeal with Pear and Almonds

Serve with lower-sugar Greek yogurt mixed in or on the side.

Microwavable Scrambled Eggs

Top with salsa, black beans and avocado slices.


Rotisserie chicken is the multi-tasking ingredient of the week. Remove the skin and pull the meat off the bone to use in sandwiches and salads. A typical rotisserie chicken yields 3-4 cups of meat.

If you’re a vegetarian or trying to reduce your meat consumption, use rinsed and drained canned beans instead (like we do on Friday). When making your grocery list, be sure to add plenty of veggies to serve in salads and alongside sandwiches.

Rotisserie Chicken Sandwich

Spread whole-grain bread with mayo and grainy mustard and stack with rotisserie chicken, lettuce and tomato. Serve with veggies on the side. For a vegetarian option, use mashed chickpeas.

Rotisserie Chicken Salad

Mix rotisserie chicken, chopped celery, and golden raisins with mayo and dijon mustard. Scoop mixture over salad greens and add any veggies of your choosing. Sprinkle with seeds (such as sunflower seeds) or crushed nuts.

Don’t want to buy a rotisserie chicken? Make your own:

Lemon Roasted Chicken

Veggie-Packed Sandwich

Mash some rinsed and drained canned chickpeas into store-bought hummus. Spread the mixture over 2 slices of toasted whole-grain bread. Layer jarred, roasted red peppers and baby spinach between the two bread slices and fold into a sandwich. Serve with some baby carrots.


This week’s dinner menu features nutritious meals that are anything but boring. From a hearty cheeseburger salad to briny flounder to creamy pasta, there’s something for everyone. If you like a lot of variety, make one per night. If you’d prefer to cook less, double (or triple) a recipe to serve later in the week. You can also look back at the recipes from our previous weeks to add a different dish to your menu. Make sure to take note of any suggested sides to keep your meals balanced.

Peanut Chicken Salad

Get loads of veggies — and the spectrum of nutrients they provide —in this hearty main dish salad. You can take numerous shortcuts to streamline hands-on time, like using a rotisserie chicken and pre-shredded cabbage, Brussels sprouts and carrots. Make extra dressing and serve with cold brown rice noodles.

Sheet Pan Flounder with Roasted Tomatoes and Black Olives

Briny, salty olives and roasted tomatoes give this dish Mediterranean vibes. Serve with roasted baby potatoes — also called creamer potatoes — which you can find ready-to-cook in most grocery stores.

Cheeseburger Salad

Transforming your cheeseburger into a salad is plenty filling, yet lighter than the typical treatment with a bun. There’s no need to form burger patties to make this hearty salad. Just add the cooked ground beef to the salad veggies and drizzle the Greek yogurt-based secret sauce on top. You can also stuff all of the ingredients into a whole-grain wrap. If your burger meal doesn’t feel complete without fries, try having it with carrot fries or baked or frozen fries of your choice.

Avocado brings the creaminess to this dairy-free pasta dish. Since this meal is light on protein, we recommend using chickpea or lentil pasta to make it more filling and balanced.


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:

  • Baby carrots dipped in protein-boosted mashed avocado. To make the dip, mash chickpeas or white beans into avocado.
  • Apple slices sprinkled with cinnamon and drizzled with tahini.
  • Frozen blueberries (thawed) with ricotta cheese.
  • Red pepper strips with goat cheese.
  • Unsweetened dried fruit and nuts or roasted chickpeas.