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Easy, healthy meal ideas for the week ahead: Mexican quinoa stew, beef and broccoli and more

Healthy eating just got easier.
Loaded with beans, quinoa and veggies, this Mexican-inspired stew is guaranteed to make your mouth water.
Loaded with beans, quinoa and veggies, this Mexican-inspired stew is guaranteed to make your mouth water.Romel Bruno

Welcome to Start TODAY. Sign up for our free Start TODAY newsletter to receive daily inspiration sent to your inbox. Then, join us on the Start TODAY Facebook group for tips and motivation, to connect with others following the plan — and to get real-time advice from trainer Stephanie Mansour!

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.

Meal planning isn’t as daunting as it sounds. Spend just 10 or 15 minutes mapping out your meals, jot down what you need and head to the store. That’s it. And since the beginning of a new year is busy enough, we’ve also got suggestions for streamlining meal prep — and, best of all, you can even take the weekends off if you're dining out or getting together with family and friends.

What to Eat This Week

Here’s a blueprint for easy meal prep this week. You’ll see that breakfasts are a mix of some make-ahead meals and some morning-of options. Lunches also utilize the mix-and-match strategy using store bought items like rotisserie chicken or simple roasted chickpeas and vegetables. While we’ve offered five different dinner options, you can streamline the menu by making enough for leftovers. From easy one-pot and sheet-pan dinners to a better-for-you version of a Chinese takeout favorite, we've got you covered this week.

Breakfast

Make breakfast a no brainer. Create a simple list of go-to options or make-ahead meals that make mornings easier or simply mix-and-match these recipe ideas:

Easy Egg Bites

Whole Grain Waffles with Fruit

Toast a frozen whole grain waffle and spread with ricotta cheese or Greek yogurt — you can have fruit on top or on the side.

Lunch

Roasting a batch of your favorite vegetables is the key to easy lunchtime meal prep. Then, buy a rotisserie chicken (or roast your own!) to make two easy lunches on Monday and Tuesday — and then roast up some chickpeas for easy salad and veggie bowls later in the week. Make these dishes your own by leaning into easy seasonings like everything but the bagel seasoning, Italian and Greek seasoning, dried herbs and spices, lemon, pesto, low-sugar marinara sauce, tahini, and coconut aminos or lower-sodium soy sauce.

Perfect Roast Vegetables
Spiced Roasted Chickpeas
  • Rotisserie Chicken Sandwich: Serve on whole-grain bread with your favorite fixings and vegetables on the side.
  • Rotisserie Chicken and Roasted Veggie Bowl: Use any roasted veggies and whole grains you like and flavor with any easy seasoning.
  • Green Salad With Roasted Vegetables and Chickpeas: Use any veggies (such as arugula and roasted veggies) and flavor with any easy seasoning.
  • Roasted Chickpea Veggie Bowl: Use any roasted veggies and whole grains (think brown rice, farro or quinoa) you like and flavor with any easy seasoning.
  • Canned or Boxed Soupsee serving suggestions.

Snacks

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:

  • Sliced cucumbers with olive tapenade.
  • Baby carrots with hummus or guacamole.
  • Sliced apple with a slice of cheese.
  • Sliced pears with nut or seed butter.
  • Plain or lower-sugar Greek yogurt with berries or grapes.

Dinner

Below, we've put together some of our favorite healthy recipes on TODAY.com to make meal planning easier — feel free to swap out recipes for different days of the week, or make enough of one dish to serve as leftovers to save time on another night.

 Lemon Tarragon Chicken

The dish uses lemon zest, a little olive oil and a handful of fresh tarragon — it's a simple 3-ingredient mixture that wows the tastebuds. It warms the soul, awakens the senses and, perhaps most importantly, can be made in 20 minutes. Serve it with brown rice and vegetables.

Slow-Cooker Minestrone Soup

This slow-cooker soup keeps things hearty with cubes of tender potatoes, snappy green beans, and creamy cannelini beans, but you can always take your cue from the Italians and use this recipe as an excuse to cook up the odds and ends in your refrigerator's crisper. Serve the soup with either an open-faced veggie-burger melt or avocado toast on a slice of whole-grain bread.

This sheet-pan dinner is a great way to eat a ton of vegetables — serve with whole wheat or bean-based pasta and jarred marinara sauce.

Mexican Quinoa Stew

Loaded with beans, quinoa and veggies, this Mexican-inspired stew is guaranteed to make your mouth water — plus, it's vegan if you omit the cheese garnish! Serve with warmed tortillas or tortilla chips from this snack list.

You'll get all the flavor of your favorite takeout with less salt — and no added sugar! Serve with this dish with microwavable brown rice, cauliflower rice, or a blend of each.