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5-Day Meal Plan: Feed your pasta cravings with light, summery flavors

Cooking during the week can get so stressful — there are always so many options, but too many of them take way too long to cook. I don’t ever want to be in the kitchen for more than an hour after work, because then that means not eating dinner until 8 o’clock. Thinking of that alone makes me want to just grab a granola bar and some fruit and eat that for dinner. Luckily for you, you’ll have a much heartier dinner, because we have a five-day, pasta-filled meal plan that will blow your mind. In this week’s meal plan, you’ll have five totally different pasta dishes using some of the same ingredients in more than one dish.

To me, pasta is such a blank canvas — you start off with pasta, add veggies, meat or seafood, sauce, and you have an amazing meal in under 30 minutes. That’s why I love it. You can have pasta five times a week and have a totally different meal every single day. For this meal plan, we take some core ingredients — pasta, shrimp, chicken, lemon, garlic and arugula — and create five unique meals using these ingredients more than once during the week.

You’ll be enjoying arugula in your pasta twice this week, but with very different preparations (raw arugula tossed in with cherry tomatoes to finish, and arugula pesto — yum). You’ll also have the chance to try two spring-inspired shrimp pasta dishes (one with artichokes and pancetta, and another with spinach and lemon). All are very different dishes that will save you money on groceries and time in the kitchen.

More: 5 tips for perfect pasta every single time

You can also customize any of these recipes to your liking. If you have more shrimp on hand, then use it in three of the dishes instead of two. If you’re not a huge fan of artichokes, then sub it out for your favorite veggie. My motto is simply, eat what you want to eat.

The goal of this meal plan is to eat healthier where and when you can as well as save money on dinner. With these five recipes, you’ll be doing just that.

Meal plan for week of June 20

  1. Artichoke-shrimp pasta
  2. Shrimp and spinach pasta
  3. One-skillet extra-creamy pasta with garlic chicken
  4. Garlic chicken pasta with arugula
  5. Pasta with arugula pesto and grilled chicken

Meal plan grocery list:

  • Fresh artichokes
  • 4 lemons
  • Pancetta or bacon
  • Garlic cloves
  • 1 pound shrimp
  • Dry white wine
  • Pasta (the artichoke-shrimp pasta calls for paccheri; the shrimp and spinach pasta calls for pasta shells; the one-skillet pasta calls for cavatappi; and the pasta with pesto calls for spaghetti)
  • Fresh parsley
  • 1 (8-ounce) bag frozen cooked shrimp
  • Baby spinach
  • Parmesan cheese
  • Boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Chicken stock
  • Whole milk
  • Cream cheese
  • Sun-dried tomatoes
  • Yellow onion
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Baby arugula
  • Walnuts
  • Cherry tomatoes
  • Salt
  • Freshly ground pepper
  • Extra-virgin olive oil

Though all of these recipes call for different types of pasta, you don’t have to buy every type. If you go to the market and it’s having a sale on a particular brand or type of pasta, just buy multiple boxes of that one — it’ll save you a few extra dollars. And if you’re like me, you always have pasta on hand at home, so just use whatever you have in your pantry.

Artichoke-shrimp pasta recipe

For this recipe, I combined the sautéed artichokes with shrimp and toasted pancetta. The result is so, so good. I promise you will not be disappointed and that this dish is completely worth the effort. Buon appetito! — Rowena Dumlao-Giardina

Serves 4

Prep time: 30 minutes | Cook time: 45 minutes | Total time: 1 hour 15 minutes


  • 6 medium-size fresh artichokes
  • 2 lemons
  • 5 ounces pancetta or bacon, diced small
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, crushed
  • 1/3 cup water
  • 1 pound shrimp, shelled and deveined
  • 3/4 cup dry white wine
  • Salt, to taste
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste
  • 14 ounces paccheri (or other kind of pasta, like penne, rigatoni, farfalle)
  • Fresh parsley, coarsely chopped

Click here for the artichoke-shrimp pasta recipe.

Shrimp and spinach pasta recipe

There are so many things you can do with shrimp and spinach. You can sauté them, you can bake them into a casserole, or you can throw them together with some citrus fruits for a delicious salad. But one of the easiest things you can do is add them to some pasta shells with cheese for a quick dinner. — Jennifer Richmond

Serves 4


  • 10 ounces pasta shells
  • 1 (8-ounce) bag frozen cooked shrimp
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 3 cups baby spinach, rinsed and dried
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1/2 cup shredded Parmesan cheese

Click here for the shrimp and spinach pasta recipe.

One-skillet extra-creamy pasta with garlic chicken recipe

The beauty of this one-pot pasta dish is that it’s packed full of garlicky chicken, fresh baby spinach and sun-dried tomatoes, giving it tons of flavor in hardly any time. It’s simple, delicious and ready in just about 30 minutes. — Brandy O’Neill

More: 3 shortcut pasta sauces you can make in 10 minutes

Serves 4


  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, diced
  • Kosher salt and pepper, to taste
  • 3 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1-1/2 cups chicken stock
  • 1-1/2 cups whole milk
  • 1/2 cup cavatappi pasta, or similar
  • 8 ounces cream cheese
  • 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1-1/2 cups chopped fresh baby spinach
  • 1/3 cup diced sun-dried tomatoes

Click here for the one-skillet extra-creamy pasta with garlic chicken recipe.

Garlic chicken pasta with arugula recipe

Chicken, garlic and arugula come together in this delicious and healthy pasta dish that’s perfect for dinner anytime! — Amy Brinkley

Serves 4


  • 8 ounces pasta, cooked according to package directions
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups cubed chicken breast
  • 1 cup chopped yellow onion
  • 1 heaping teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 3 cups baby arugula
  • Salt and pepper, to taste

Click here for the garlic chicken pasta with arugula recipe.

Pasta with arugula pesto and grilled chicken recipe

This dinner recipe for pasta with arugula pesto and grilled chicken incorporates arugula in place of basil in this delicious dish. Fire up the grill for the chicken, and put on the pasta, because these two ingredients go perfectly with pesto! This is an easy meal to toss together. — Patricia Conte

More: How to make homemade gluten-free pasta

Serves 4


For the pesto

  • 3 cups (packed) baby arugula leaves
  • 1 garlic clove, chopped
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese
  • 1/8 cup walnuts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 2-3 tablespoons olive oil

For the chicken and pasta

  • 2 skinless, boneless chicken breasts
  • Juice of half a lemon
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 8 ounces spaghetti, or another type of strand pasta
  • 1/2 pint cherry tomatoes, halved

Click here for the pasta with arugula pesto and grilled chicken.

Before you go, check out our wonderous collection of one-pot meals:

50 One-pot meals for an easy comfort food fix
Image: Brandi Bidot/Sheknows

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