Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of Easy, Satisfying Breakfasts, Lunches, and Dinners for One

updated Jan 26, 2023
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

While cooking for one is often a pleasure (you can make whatever you want to eat), it can also be a challenge. Most recipes serve four to six people, so unless you want to be eating the same thing for days, you’re stuck halving every recipe.

This weekend’s Power Hour celebrates you, the solo cook. You deserve a seriously good meal plan just as much as larger households. This one sets you up for a week of satisfying breakfasts, lunches, and dinners by getting creative with those inevitable leftovers and keeping things fresh and fun through Friday.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman

This meal prep plan is designed for anyone who lives alone or who cooks just for themselves. It’s a balanced, wholesome plan that covers breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: An easy grab-and-go option that can be mixed and matched throughout the week to limit boredom (five days).
  • Lunch: Vegetable-focused meals that have enough protein and fiber to make them satisfying. They also need to be packable (five days).
  • Dinner: Quick, colorful meals that include healthy fats, whole grains, and more veggies (four days).
  • Nutritional Goals: A well-balanced week of eating that’s full of feel-good ingredients but doesn’t feel restrictive.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: One person
  • Prep Time: About 1 1/2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 75% (no Friday night dinner or weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Minimal (15 to 20 minutes of light cooking to bring dinner together)

Meal Plan


  • Yogurt, store-bought granola, fresh fruit (clementines & apples)


  • Mix-and-match grain bowls with brown rice, leftover sautéed veggies, leftover black beans, leftover chipotle yogurt sauce, avocado, store-bought pesto
  • Toasts with leftover chicken and kale


(Image credit: Sheela Prakash)

Shopping List

This week’s shopping list is a mix of produce, dairy, and pantry items, plus a few extras like chicken and dry white wine. It assumes staples like olive oil, salt, and pepper are already on hand.

  • Produce: 1 bag clementines, 2 apples, 2 yellow onions, 1 head of garlic, 2 medium bunches flat-leaf kale (about 1 pound), 1 lemon, 1 lime, 1/2 pound asparagus, 1/2 pound cremini mushrooms, 1 medium red bell pepper, 1 large sweet potato, 1 avocado, 1 bunch cilantro
  • Meat & Seafood: 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Refrigerated: Small wedge Parmesan cheese, unsalted butter, small wedge Gouda cheese, large tub whole-milk plain Greek yogurt, mayonnaise, basil pesto
  • Pantry: Brown rice, whole-grain mustard, 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, 1 can chipotle in adobo, red pepper flakes
  • Other: Dry white wine, sourdough bread loaf, corn tortillas

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

  1. Preheat the oven and bake sweet potato: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 425°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with aluminum foil. Prick the sweet potato in a few spots with a fork. Place on the baking sheet and bake until very tender, about 1 hour. (Alternatively, cook the sweet potato in the microwave.)
  2. Make the brown rice: Prepare a pot of brown rice on the stovetop according to recipe instructions.
  3. Sauté vegetables: Heat olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat and sauté vegetables for the cheesy vegetable melt according to recipe instructions.
  4. Prepare black beans: Transfer the vegetables to a storage container, wipe out the skillet, and prepare the black beans for the stuffed sweet potato according to recipe instructions.
  5. Prepare chicken and kale: Cut the chicken for the for the Parmesan Chicken and Kale Sauté into 1/2-inch strips and transfer to a zip-top bag. Wash the remaining kale, remove stems, coarsely chop, and transfer to a storage container or another zip-top bag.
(Image credit: Sheela Prakash)

A Week of Easy Meals for One


  • I keep it simple by enjoying yogurt and granola each morning with either a clementine or a sliced apple.


  • Monday and Friday, Pesto Veggie Grain Bowl: I spoon out some brown rice into a bowl, top it with some of the sautéed vegetables, and drizzle plenty of store-bought pesto over the mix. If I am craving a warm bowl, I heat it in the microwave for 20 seconds.
  • Tuesday and Thursday, Chicken and Kale Toast: I reheat some of the leftover chicken and kale from Monday’s dinner in the microwave and toast a slice of sourdough bread. I swipe the bread with some mustard and mayo then pile the warm chicken and kale on top.
  • Wednesday, Chipotle Black Bean Grain Bowl: I spoon more brown rice into a bowl, add some of the leftover chipotle black beans from Tuesday’s dinner, reheat it quickly in the microwave, then top it with some of the leftover diced avocado, a big dollop of leftover chipotle yogurt, and chopped cilantro


  • Monday, Parmesan Chicken and Kale Sauté: I pull the prepped chicken and kale from the fridge to make this quick skillet dinner. It calls for white wine, so I pour myself a glass after I add a splash to the sauté.
  • Tuesday, Vegetarian Stuffed Sweet Potato: I rewarm the baked sweet potato and some of the chipotle black beans. Meanwhile, I make the chipotle yogurt, dice the avocado, and chop some cilantro. Then, I stuff the potato with the black beans and some of these fixings.
  • Wednesday, Cheesy Vegetable Melt: I grate some of the Gouda, rewarm some of the sautéed veggies, and assemble a gooey sandwich following the easy recipe.
  • Thursday, Black Bean Tacos: I rewarm the remaining black beans, warm up a couple of corn tortillas, and build tacos for myself, which I finish off with the last of the diced avocado, chipotle yogurt, and cilantro.
  • Friday: It’s been a delicious week of cooking at home so I head out and meet friends for dinner!
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

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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.