Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of 1,800-Calorie Days in Under 2 Hours

updated Aug 8, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

This Power Hour keeps health goals in check without feeling like you’re compromising. While our other low-calorie plans have clocked in at 1,500 calories, this one is a little less restrictive, so choose what’s best for you depending on your personal needs and goals. Feel-good breakfasts, lunches, and dinners are accounted for, and the extra 300-calorie wiggle room means a snack and even dessert aren’t off the table. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

My Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: Feel-good option that I can eat at home or take to go.
  • Lunch: Packable meals that feel hearty but meet my calorie requirements.
  • Dinner: Easy, satisfying dinners I won’t mind eating leftovers of.
  • Nutritional Goals: 1,800 calories a day or fewer without feeling like a sacrifice.
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

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


Mid-Morning Snack (Choose 1)

  • KIND bar
  • Medium apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter
  • String cheese + 6 Triscuits




  • Chocolate-covered almonds
(Image credit: The Kitchn)
Credit: Sheela Prakash

Shopping List

This week’s shopping list is a combination of vegetables, fruit, meat, dairy, whole grains, pantry items, and a few snacks of your choice. It assumes staples like olive oil, salt, and pepper are already on hand.

  • Produce: Blueberries, raspberries, apples, 6 pints cherry tomatoes, 1 avocado, 1 lime, 1 pound small red potatoes, 2 pounds broccoli, 1 small red onion, fresh basil
  • Meat & Seafood: 8 ounces hot smoked salmon, 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 9 ounces cooked chicken sausage
  • Refrigerated: Half gallon 2% milk, string cheese, 4 (9-ounce) packages fresh cheese tortellini
  • Pantry: Old-fashioned rolled oats, wheat bran, ground cinnamon, sliced almonds, raw pecans, raw pepitas, unsweetened coconut flakes, dried apricots, dried cherries, peanut butter, 2 (12-ounce) jars fire-roasted red peppers, basil pesto, 2 cans black beans, ground cumin, brown rice, honey, Dijon mustard, whole-grain mustard, white wine vinegar
  • Other: KIND bars, Triscuits, dark chocolate almonds, 1 pound frozen gnocchi
(Image credit: The Kitchn)
Credit: Sheela Prakash

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

  1. Make muesli: Preheat oven to 350°F and prepare muesli according to recipe instructions.
  2. Boil tortellini: While muesli bakes, bring a large pot of salted water to a boil and cook a double batch of tortellini for pasta salad.
  3. Make pasta salad: After draining tortellini, assemble a double batch of pasta salad according to recipe instructions.
  4. Cook brown rice: Make a double batch of brown rice to end up with 6 cups cooked rice.
  5. Make black bean salad: While rice is simmering, prepare a double batch of black bean salad according to recipe instructions.
  6. Prepare chicken: Cut the chicken into bite-sized pieces for Honey-Dijon Chicken and Vegetables and place in storage container.
  7. Prepare potatoes and onion: Cut the potatoes and onion for Honey-Dijon Chicken and Vegetables and place in large zip-top bag.
  8. Cut broccoli: Chop the broccoli into bite-sized florets. Place half in bag of potatoes and onion, and half in a separate zip-top bag to roast as a side dish.
Credit: Kitchn
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

A Week of 1,800-Calorie Days

Breakfast (396 Calories)

The night before, for each person, combine 2/3 cup muesli with 2/3 cup milk. For breakfast, eat with 1/2 cup berries.

Mid-Morning Snack (200 Calories)

Enjoy one of the following:

  • KIND bar 
  • Apple with 1 tablespoon peanut butter 
  • String cheese + 6 Triscuits

Lunch (350 to 479 Calories)

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad: Divide pasta salad into 6 portions. Each person takes one portion per day.
  • Tuesday and Thursday, Spicy Salmon Black Bean Salad with brown rice: Divide black bean salad into 4 portions. Each person takes one portion with 1/2 cup cooked brown rice.

Dinner (616 to 705 Calories)

  • Monday, Sheet Pan Honey-Dijon Chicken and Vegetables with brown rice: Heat oven to 425°F and prepare recipe using cut chicken and vegetables. Eat half of the meal with 1 cup brown rice per person.
  • Tuesday, Gnocchi Skillet with Chicken Sausage & Tomatoes with Roasted Broccoli: Heat oven to 425°F and roast remaining cut broccoli. As it cooks, prepare gnocchi skillet. Eat half of both.
  • Wednesday, leftover chicken and vegetables: Reheat leftover chicken and vegetables and eat with 1 cup brown rice per person.
  • Thursday, leftover gnocchi and broccoli: Rewarm gnocchi and broccoli leftovers.
  • Friday: Take the night off and head to your favorite restaurant!

Dessert (100 Calories)

You’ve got a few calories left to spare — enjoy 5 dark chocolate almonds at the end of the night.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn

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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.