Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: A Week of Family Meals from Aldi

updated May 11, 2022
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Here at Kitchn we’re all about helping you navigate your favorite grocery stores with ease. And you’ve told us that you love Aldi — with its ever-changing budget buys and gourmet favorites. But with its quarter-locked carts, rapid-fire checkout, and bag-free bagging zone, it’s no wonder that Aldi can make even the most confident shopper feel unsure. So for this Power Hour, I’ll guide you through a family-friendly meal plan designed around items bought at Aldi.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

The goal for this Power Hour is to make a week of meals starting with a single supermarket stop: Aldi. (But you can still prep this Power Hour even if you shop at another supermarket; simply substitute your grocer’s variety of any prepared foods listed.)

My Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: Breakfast for my husband, two preschoolers, and me (five days).
  • Lunch: Lunch for my husband and me (five days).
  • Dinner: Dinner for my husband, two preschoolers, and me (five days).
  • Nutritional Goals: We have no dietary restrictions, and focus on eating from all of the food groups in moderation.
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: Four people for breakfast and dinner, two for lunch.
  • Prep Time: 2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required: Moderate. Dinner elements are prepared so it takes less than 30 minutes to bring dinner together each night.

My Meal Plan



  • Cubano sheet pan sandwiches. Sliders are fun to eat, but for lunch this week I am using the recipe as a guide, substituting Aldi’s SimplyNature Seedtastic Whole Grain Bread for the potato buns and roasted pork tenderloin for the pork shoulder.
  • Chicken tikka masala with basmati rice


(Image credit: The Kitchn)
(Image credit: Patty Catalano)

My Shopping List

These are the ingredients I bought or used for this meal prep plan. I also relied on pantry and fridge staples I already had, although you can add any of these to your quarter-powered cart as you roam Aldi’s aisles. The staples include the following spices and condiments: kosher salt, black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder, cumin, cayenne pepper, paprika, chili powder, turmeric, granulated sugar, yellow mustard, mayonnaise, and olive oil.

Aldi’s offerings are ever-changing, so while this plan was built on the grocer’s mainstays, there’s a chance they may be out of stock of some items (the produce department tends to be especially volatile). On my trip I had to substitute a hearty slaw mix for the red cabbage called for in the Baja shrimp salad, and I picked up a bag of nuts instead of the pumpkin seeds called for in the cauliflower rice lunch bowl. The moral here? Don’t let the whims of the grocery stock derail your meal plan — especially when a suitable substitute can always be found.

  • Meat: 1 pound deli ham; pork tenderloin; 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs; 1 pound ground beef; 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Dry Goods: Almond butter, dill pickle slices, SimplyNature Seedtastic Whole Grain Bread, 1 (16-ounce) jar Journey to India Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce, basmati rice, 1 (24-ounce) jar marinara sauce, spaghetti, tortilla chips, naan, pumpkin seeds (or other seeds/nuts if not in stock), 1 (15.5-ounce) can chickpeas
  • Produce: 2 lemons, 8 bananas, 1 bell pepper, 5 limes, 1 bunch cilantro, fresh rosemary, 1 head red cabbage (kale or slaw mix if not in stock), 3 avocados, 1 head garlic, 1 1/2 pounds root vegetables (sweet potatoes, butternut squash, carrots)
  • Dairy: Plain Greek yogurt, 12 slices Swiss cheese, Parmesan cheese, sour cream, feta cheese
  • Frozen: Frozen berries, frozen waffles, uncooked peeled and deveined medium shrimp, cauliflower rice, Mama Cozzi Frozen Pizza
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

I have two hours set aside to prep meals for the week. I tackle the tasks that take the longest first and work backwards from there. Follow along with the printable prep list and menu below.

1. Make fruit butter. I’ll admit, my preferred way to make fruit butter is in the slow cooker, using this recipe. The slow cooker method takes all day (10 to 12 hours on low), but here’s how to make fast fruit butter on the stovetop during Power Hour: Pile the frozen berries into a large microwave-safe bowl. Microwave until the berries are (mostly) defrosted, 3 to 5 minutes. Transfer them to a Dutch oven, add a sprinkle of sugar (1/2 to 1 cup depending on the sweetness of the berries), and a pinch of salt. Turn the burner to medium and cook until thick, stirring anytime you walk past the stove. By the end of Power Hour, the frozen fruit is thick and saucy (it’ll coat the back of a spoon and thicken even more when cooled). Stir in 2 tablespoons of freshly squeezed lemon juice, and cool slightly before refrigerating in an airtight container.

2. Roast pork tenderloin. The pork tenderloin is destined for lunchtime Cubano sandwiches. Following this recipe, a large (12-inch) cast iron or stainless steel skillet goes in the oven, when it heats to 450oF. While the pan preheats, remove the tenderloin’s silver skin (a tough membrane that doesn’t break down with cooking). Season the meat with salt and pepper. Use an oven mitt to remove the hot pan from the oven, coat the bottom of the pan with vegetable oil, and then add the meat. Roast for 10 minutes, then flip the pork, reduce the oven temperature to 400oF, and cook until the pork reaches an internal temperature of 140oF to 145oF. Transfer the pork to a cutting board to cool. Set the skillet aside, but there’s no need to wash it yet.

3. Prep vegetables. It’s more efficient to prep all of the produce at once. Here’s the prep for this week’s meals: Zest 2 limes, juice 4 limes and 1 lemon, dice 1 bell pepper, chop cilantro and red cabbage (note: my Aldi was out cabbage so I substituted a pre-chopped slaw mix), and dice root vegetables into 1-inch pieces. Finally, slice one head of garlic in half horizontally and break the other head apart into individual cloves and add to a container with fresh rosemary for the feta-brined chicken. Reserve a handful of cilantro in a small container for the Baja shrimp taco salad.

4. Thaw and roast shrimp. Next, prep the shrimp for the Baja shrimp taco salad. Place the shrimp into a colander in the sink under cool running water for about 5 minutes or until thawed. Once thawed, pat dry with paper towels. Sprinkle the shrimp with cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper and spread into a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast in the 400oF oven until pink, stirring once, 6 to 8 minutes. Drizzle the cooked shrimp with 1 tablespoon of the lime juice. Transfer the shrimp to a food storage container and refrigerate. Increase the oven temp to 425oF.

5. Prep cauliflower rice bowl. Toss the diced root vegetables with some olive oil, salt, and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Spread into an even layer and roast in the 425°F oven for 20 minutes. Meanwhile, toss drained and rinsed chickpeas with chopped cilantro, lime zest and half of the lime juice, olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a bowl. Set aside. Continue with the recipe, adding the pumpkin seeds (or other nuts) and feta to the baking sheet and roasting until warm. Season the cauliflower rice with turmeric, olive oil, salt, and pepper and roast on a separate baking sheet until heated through, 7 to 10 minutes. Lower the oven temperature to 400oF. Arrange cauliflower rice, root vegetables, marinated chickpeas, avocado wedges, and pumpkin seeds in a large serving bowl. Cover and refrigerate.

6. Make basmati rice. I use the pilaf method for cooking basmati rice on the stove (per these instructions). First, rinse the rice in a fine mesh strainer until the water runs clear. This removes any excess starch that can make the rice gummy. Bring 1 1/2 cups water to a boil. Then heat olive oil in a separate saucepan and add rinsed rice to the pot. Stir for a minute or two until the rice is fragrant and slightly toasted. Carefully pour in the boiling water, cover, and cook over low heat until the water is absorbed, about 18 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside (still covered) for 10 minutes to steam. Divide the rice among 4 food storage containers for lunches.

7. Make feta brine. This flavorful brine comes together quickly in the blender with just water, feta cheese, salt, and pepper. Once smooth, I transfer it to a container (or zip-top bag) large enough to hold the chicken breasts. I’ll add the chicken breasts to the brine on Wednesday so it is ready for Thursday’s dinner.

8. Make dressing for Baja shrimp taco salad. Combine the sour cream, remaining lime juice, cilantro, water, cumin, salt, and cayenne pepper together in a large lidded jar, and shake until smooth (alternatively whisk the ingredients together in a small bowl then transfer to a storage jar).

9. Assemble Cubano sheet pan sandwiches. Lunches this week take inspiration from this recipe, but instead of bite-sized sliders, we’ll pack hearty full-sized sandwiches using Aldi’s SimplyNature Seedtastic Whole Grain Bread. Stir the mayonnaise and mustard together in a bowl then spread onto 12 slices of bread. Slice the roasted pork tenderloin, then arrange on top of half of the bread slices, layered with deli ham, pickles, and Swiss cheese. Top with the remaining slices of bread. Place on a parchment-lined sheet pan, brush with some vegetable oil, then top with another sheet of parchment paper and a second baking sheet. Bake the sandwiches for 10 minutes or until the cheese melts and the bread is toasted. You may need to heat the sandwiches in two batches. Transfer to lunch containers and refrigerate.

10. Prep chicken tikka masala. Dice chicken thighs and season with salt and pepper, then heat a tablespoon of oil in the skillet used for roasting the pork tenderloin. Add the chicken and cook until browned on each side. Add the diced bell pepper and pour in the jar of Journey to India Tikka Masala Simmer Sauce. Reduce the heat and simmer on low for 10 to 12 minutes until the chicken is cooked. Cool slightly and add to the the basmati rice-filled lunch containers.

(Image credit: Patty Catalano)
(Image credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez)
(Image credit: The Kitchn)


Begin the day with either Greek yogurt swirled with homemade strawberry fruit butter or frozen waffles topped with almond butter and banana slices.


Lunches alternate between Cubano sheet pan sandwiches and chicken tikka masala with basmati rice. The sandwiches are already toasted; simply heat in the microwave or toaster oven to warm slightly before serving.


  • Monday | Baja Shrimp Taco Salad: Toss the chopped red cabbage (or bag of slaw mix!), reserved chopped cilantro, and half of the dressing together in a large bowl. Transfer to serving bowls and top with the shrimp, diced avocado, and a handful of crushed tortilla chips.
  • Tuesday | Cauliflower Rice Lunch Bowl with Sweet Potatoes and Chickpeas: Tonight’s dinner is already assembled in the fridge. I like to bring the bowl to room temperature before serving, so I pull it from the refrigerator at least 30 minutes before we sit down at the table.
  • Wednesday | Instant Pot Spaghetti: This Instant Pot Spaghetti with meat sauce is a game-changer for midweek meals because I don’t have to babysit a pair of pots on the stove. Aldi’s ground beef comes in convenient 1-pound packages, so no weighing necessary before I brown it in the Instant Pot. In goes 1/2 cup of water and a jar of Aldi’s marinara sauce. Top the sauce with 8 ounces of spaghetti (broken in half) and another 1 1/2 cups water (don’t stir!). Seal the lid and cook on HIGH for 8 minutes. While I love the consistency of the sauce that comes with pressure cooking, making spaghetti on the stovetop works just fine for this meal plan if you don’t have an Instant Pot. While the Instant Pot works its magic, add the chicken breasts to the refrigerated feta-brine for Thursday’s dinner.
  • Thursday | Feta-Brined Chicken Breast with Rosemary and Naan: Heat the oven to 425°F. Remove the chicken breasts from the brine and pat dry. Arrange on a baking sheet in a single layer, then scatter the prepared garlic and rosemary around the chicken. Drizzle with olive oil and bake until the chicken reaches 165°F, 30 to 45 minutes. With 5 minutes before serving, I tuck foil-wrapped naan into the oven to warm. Serve the chicken with lemon wedges and warm naan spread with sheet pan-roasted garlic.
  • Friday | Mama Cozzi Take & Bake Pizza: It’s Pizza Friday so I’m baking this Aldi fan favorite for dinner to close out the week.


I hope this plan has encouraged you to view shopping at Aldi as more than just a stop for budget-friendly snacks and prepared foods. With the right plan (and occasionally last-minute grocery substitutions), Aldi can be a one-stop grocery shop for the week.

We also have more Power Hour Meal Prep plans for all kinds of cooks and eaters! Check out all the plans we have so far.

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.