Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of Easy 1500-Calorie Days

updated Oct 20, 2022
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Limiting your calories doesn’t mean going to bed every night with a growling stomach, and this meal prep plan proves it. By structuring your meals around lean proteins, whole grains, and fiber-rich vegetables and fruit, you can load up without bypassing your calorie marker.

This Power Hour is full of feel-good foods that won’t cramp your health goals. Each day clocks in at 1500 calories or fewer and includes a generous breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Spend one to two hours in the kitchen this weekend and you’ll be set up for a wholesome week. Here’s how to do it:

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: Easy option that’s light but filling enough to keep me satisfied for the morning (five days).
  • Lunch: Packable, wholesome choices that lean on dinner leftovers to keep things easy plus a quick, store-bought snack for mid-afternoon (five days).
  • Dinner: Simple meals that come together and don’t feel low-cal (four days).
  • Nutritional Goals: Wholesome, satisfying meals that clock in at a total of 1,500 calories a day or fewer.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: Two people
  • Prep Time: About 1 1/2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 75% (no Friday night dinner or weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Moderate (20 to 30 minutes of light cooking to bring dinner together)

Meal Plan




Credit: Sheela Prakash

Shopping List

This week’s shopping list is a balanced mix of produce, meat, dairy, whole grains, and pantry items. It assumes staples like olive oil, salt, and pepper are already on hand.

  • Produce: 2 large containers strawberries, 2 pounds cauliflower, coleslaw mix, 1 avocado, 1 large bunch cilantro, 1 lemon, 1 bunch chives, 2 pounds sweet potatoes, 1 1/2 pounds baby Yukon gold potatoes, 1/2 pound green beans
  • Meat & Seafood: 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 12 ounces smoked sausage like andouille or kielbasa
  • Refrigerated: 3 (32-ounce) tubs whole-milk or low-fat plain yogurt
  • Pantry: Honey, ground cinnamon, old-fashioned rolled oats, sliced almonds, raisins, garlic powder, hot sauce, tahini, quinoa, ranch dressing, BBQ sauce, ground cumin, chili powder, 2 (14.5-ounce) cans chickpeas, Cajun seasoning
  • Other: Frozen cooked brown rice, whole wheat pita bread, wooden skewers, heavy-duty aluminum foil

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

  1. Preheat the oven and roast cauliflower: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 475°F. Prepare cauliflower for bowls according to recipe instructions and roast until tender.
  2. Prepare granola: While the cauliflower roasts, line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper and combine granola ingredients in a large bowl. Spread out onto baking sheet.
  3. Bake granola: Lower the oven temperature to 300°F and bake granola until golden-brown.
  4. Cook quinoa: While the granola bakes, prepare quinoa in a medium pot on the stovetop according to recipe instructions.
  5. Make green tahini: Make the tahini sauce for the cauliflower bowls according to recipe instructions.
  6. Defrost brown rice and assemble cauliflower bowls: Defrost brown rice according to package instructions and assemble four cauliflower bowls in packable storage containers. Reserve a little tahini sauce to use with the Chickpea & Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowls.
  7. Prepare strawberries: Wash, hull, and slice the strawberries. Transfer to a storage container.
  8. Prepare sweet potatoes: Meanwhile, wash and cut sweet potatoes. Transfer to a storage container or zip-top bag.
  9. Make foil packets: Cut the sausage, potatoes, and green beans and prep the foil packets per recipe instructions.
  10. Marinate chicken: Combine the marinade ingredients in a large zip-top bag. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and add it to the bag. Seal and shake to coat.
Credit: Sheela Prakash
Credit: Kitchn
1500 Calorie Meal Plan
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

A Week of 1500-Calorie Days

Breakfast (461 Calories)

Pack 1 cup yogurt with 1/4 cup granola and 1/2 cup sliced strawberries.

Lunch (507 to 553 Calories)

  • Monday and Wednesday, Buffalo Cauliflower Bowls: For each day, each person takes one container of the ready-to-go bowl.
  • Tuesday and Thursday, Chickpea & Sweet Potato Quinoa Bowls: Drain and rinse 1 can of chickpeas each day. For each person, pack 1/2 cup quinoa, half the can of chickpeas, and some of the leftover roasted sweet potatoes. Drizzle with a little green tahini sauce.
  • Friday, BBQ Ranch Chicken Wrap: For each person, pack half the leftover chicken and some coleslaw mix in a small storage container. Bring along with 1 large pita to assemble before eating.

Dinner (475 to 514 Calories)

  • Monday, BBQ Ranch Chicken Bites + Roasted Sweet Potatoes: Arrange a rack in the top third of oven and heat to 400°F. Spread the sweet potatoes out on a rimmed baking sheet and toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, cumin, and chili powder. Roast until tender, about 30 minutes, then remove from the oven. Thread the chicken onto skewers and broil until cooked through, about 8 minutes.
  • Tuesday and Thursday, Sausage & Potato Foil Packets: Each night, grill or bake two foil packets in a 425°F oven until the potatoes are tender, about 25 minutes.
  • Wednesday, BBQ Ranch Chicken Wraps: Rewarm half the leftover chicken. Divide it among two pitas, top with some coleslaw mix, and fold into a wrap.
  • Friday: Head out to your favorite restaurant to celebrate a successful week of meal prep!

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Power Hour Meal Prep is the series where we help you put it all together. We show you how to eat well during the week with an hour or two of Power Hour prep over the weekend. Every plan is different; mix and match to find your own personal sweet spot.