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Easy, healthy meal ideas for the week ahead: Chicken fried rice, overnight oats and more

This week we're taking inspiration from your favorite takeout dishes for a satisfying menu of better-for-you meals at home.

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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 enjoy the comfort food you crave — all while learning the building blocks of healthy eating.

Besides saving time and money, meal prep offers some science-backed health perks. For instance, when you make meals at home, you’re not relying on fast food, takeout and prepared foods that studies link to poor diet quality and negative health outcomes. And when you prepare meals with nutritious ingredients, you’re limiting the ultra-processed foods that may raise the risk of heart disease and negatively affect your mental health.

But that doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the flavors you love. Use your favorite takeout dishes as inspiration for homemade meals that are just as satisfying.

What to Eat This Week, September 25, 2023

This week’s menu relies on convenient, whole and minimally processed ingredients like rotisserie chicken and frozen veggies to create fast, filling and flavorful meals. After some light cooking, you’ll be rewarded with dishes like Rotisserie Chicken Fried Rice, Taco Soup and Cumin-Roasted Pork Chops and Brussels Sprouts.

Start TODAY Meal Plan for the week of September 25, 2023

>>Download this week’s meal plan







Protein-packed breakfasts tame hunger and help curb cravings, which may minimize less healthy snacking that can raise your risk of heart disease. To simplify your morning routine, double or triple a recipe to serve throughout the week.

Flavors like peanut butter and vanilla extract remind you of sweets, so your tastebuds are tricked into thinking you’re having something sugary, even if you aren’t. With that, you may not need the optional sweetener. If you use it, stick to a teaspoon or less.

Veggie Omelet with Cheese, Spinach and Cauliflower

A veggie-packed omelet gets your day off to a nutritious start with ample protein and fiber, plus antioxidants, vitamins, minerals and other health-boosting substances veggies provide. Round out your meal (and take nutrients up another notch) with a cup or piece of fruit.


Make-ahead lunches mean you’ll get a nourishing meal and avoid spending time and money on less healthy to-go options.

This all-in-one meal can be made and portioned ahead of time. Store the vinaigrette separately and mix with the salad right before serving.

This recipe is much simpler than it sounds. It starts with cooked salmon, and you can swap in wild, canned salmon if you don’t have cooked salmon on hand. Salmon is packed with omega-3 fats, which promote heart and brain health. This healthy fat is less abundant in foods than other types of fat, which is why it’s beneficial to eat seafood twice per week. Although the dressing helps pull this salad together, you could always use a store-bought vinaigrette if you don’t want to fuss with making your own.


Rotisserie chicken is one of our favorite meal-prep shortcuts, so we’ve included it in two recipes on this week’s menu. With about 20 minutes of hands-on time each night, you’ll be set to enjoy healthy and delicious dinners throughout the week. If that’s too much cooking for you, double or triple one (or more) of the recipes to serve multiple times.

Cumin-Roasted Pork Chops and Brussels Sprouts

Pork chops are seasoned with an easy spice rub and roasted on a sheet pan with Brussels sprouts. Roast a batch of new potatoes tossed with extra virgin olive oil to serve on the side.

Taco Soup

This meal couldn’t be any easier to make. After sautéing the ground turkey, pour the remaining ingredients into the pot and wait for your soup to boil and the flavors to blend. While you’re waiting, dice an avocado and crush whole-grain corn taco shells to garnish your soup.

Sloppy Joe’s — which inspire this recipe — can be astonishingly high in added sugars. This version swaps in an easy sauce that uses hardly any added sugar, but it still gives you that sweet-tangy vibe. If you can’t find whole-grain slider buns, serve the seasoned chicken on a regular-sized whole-grain bun or English muffin. Get your veggies in with a simple side salad.

Vegan Stir-Fry Noodles

Get The Recipe

Vegan Stir-Fry Noodles

Henry Firth & Ian Theasby

This veggie-packed noodle recipe calls for soba noodles — spaghetti-like noodles made from buckwheat. If you don’t have soba noodles, you can swap in another whole-grain noodle. Add shelled edamame to your noodles (or serve them on the side) to balance your dish with plant-based protein.

Making fried rice at home puts you in charge of the ingredients, so you can use brown rice, lower-sodium soy sauce, and lots of veggies. For the best results, cook the brown rice in advance. Make a big batch if you want to make some grain bowls and other easy meal prep meals this week. Meanwhile, the recipe already includes a bag of frozen peas and carrots, but we recommend adding a bag of stir-fry veggies for more nutrition.


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 apple with a slice of cheese.
  • Red pepper strips with black bean salsa. To make the salsa, rinse and drain a can of black beans and add a spoonful to store-bought salsa.
  • Banana, split and sprinkled with cinnamon and hemp seeds.
  • Cucumbers and roasted edamame.
  • Grape tomatoes and lentils (canned and rinsed) seasoned with lemon juice or vinegar.