Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of Easy Costco Meals in Just 2 Hours

updated May 13, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk
Power Hour Meal Prep

If you’ve been working from home more nowadays, it’s likely that, like us, you’ve been cooking more and perhaps putting some extra effort into stocking your pantry. Right now, meal planning and prep is one thing we’ve been focused on to feel more prepared at home. And what better place to get started than Costco!?

Costco is a meal prepper’s dream — as long as you have a plan. Meal prepping from a warehouse store means large quantities of everything from proteins to veggies are the rule, rather than the exception. As a devout Costco shopper and (sometimes reluctant) meal planner, I’ve found that the best way to bulk buy for meal prep is to focus on a core set of groceries and reimagine those ingredients in creative ways throughout the week.

This Power Hour Meal Prep Plan takes you step-by-step through goal-setting, recipe selection, grocery shopping, meal prep, and (finally!) eating. Armed with this roadmap and just two hours, you’ll finish with a refrigerator filled with everything you need to feed two adults and two kids for breakfast and dinner and two adults for lunch.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

My Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: Fruit-filled, one-step breakfasts to start the day off right (five days).
  • Lunch: Fresh and crisp green salads with a mix of protein toppers (five days).
  • Dinner: A variety of quick dinners that the whole family will love (five days).
  • Nutritional Goals: This week’s meal plan focuses on a core selection of groceries from Costco, and is all about reimagining bulk buys in new ways all week long.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: 2 adults and 2 kids for breakfast and dinner; 2 adults for lunch
  • Prep Time: About 2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required: Moderate. Most dinner elements are prepared and ready for the stovetop or oven.

My Meal Plan




Credit: Patty Catalano

My Shopping List

These are the ingredients I bought or used for this week’s meal prep. Check your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer before shopping to avoid accidentally purchasing ingredients already on hand. I also used staple ingredients like olive and vegetable oils, kosher salt, and black pepper that are not listed below. Most items were purchased in bulk at Costco, though I did have to do a small stop at my regular grocer to pick up items needed in smaller quantities to avoid waste. The items purchased from Costco are highlighted in bold in the list below.

  • Produce: 1 (3-pound) bag broccoli florets, 6 avocados, 1 pound baby spinach, 3 pounds bananas, 1 (18-ounce) container blueberries, 1 (8-pound) bag oranges, 5 to 6 romaine lettuce hearts, 4 stalks celery, 2 yellow onions, 1 red onion, 1 head garlic, 1-inch fresh ginger, 1 small bag shredded carrots, 1 pound sugar snap peas
  • Meat & Seafood: 1 (6- to 8-pound) saddle-pack boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 4 salmon fillets (such as Costco’s Salmon Milano with Basil Pesto Butter)
  • Dry Goods: granola, 5 cups low-sodium chicken broth, 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup honey, 1 teaspoon hot sauce, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 1/2 cup soy sauce, 2 teaspoons toasted sesame oil, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 3 tablespoons cornstarch, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard, 1/4 teaspoon nutmeg, 1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 teaspoon sugar, 12 ounces dried small shell or ditalini pasta, long-grain white rice
  • Dairy: 1 (48-ounce) container whole milk plain Greek yogurt, 1 pound sharp cheddar cheese, 2 cups half-and-half, 1/2 stick unsalted butter, 3 cups milk or non-dairy milk (for smoothies), 1/2 cup Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese
  • Frozen: 1 bag raw peeled and deveined shrimp
  • Alcohol: 2 tablespoons dry sherry
Credit: The Kitchn

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

  1. Make rice. Get a head start on stir-fry night by precooking rice (but remember to reserve 1 1/2 cups uncooked rice for Tuesday’s casserole). Prep white rice on the stove according to this recipe, no matter what variety (long-grain, basmati, or jasmine) you’ve pulled from the pantry or grocery store shelf. Cool the rice quickly, then refrigerate in an airtight container.
  2. Prep chicken. Grab a plastic cutting board to prep the chicken breasts. Marinate the chicken using this recipe, but substitute freshly squeezed orange juice for the lemon juice from the Costco haul. Since orange juice is sweeter than the lemon called for in the recipe, drizzle a little less honey into the marinade, or skip it altogether. Place 4 pounds chicken in the marinade and set aside at room temperature for about 1 hour. Heat the oven to 400°F so it’s ready to go when the chicken has marinated. Next, prep chicken for the Chicken and Snap Pea Stir-Fry. Slice 3 boneless, skinless chicken breasts crosswise very thinly, then refrigerate in an airtight container.
  3. Prep produce: Peel and supreme 5 oranges to serve atop salads at lunch and yogurt for breakfast throughout the week. Hold the oranges over a bowl or the storage container as you remove the segments to catch the juice. Remember to squeeze any lingering juice from the membranes after removing the segments to use in the vinaigrette. Add finely chopped garlic, sherry vinegar, Dijon mustard, salt, and olive oil to the orange juice and whisk together, then transfer to a lidded jar. Dice 2 onions for Honey-Garlic Shrimp Stovetop Casserole and Broccoli Cheese Soup. Slice red onion for Green Salad with Orange, Avocado, and Red Onion. Peel and chop 1 teaspoon ginger for the shrimp casserole. Dice 3 to 4 stalks celery for the soup. Mince garlic for One-Pot Creamy Broccoli Pasta and Chicken and Snap Pea Stir-Fry.
  4. Bake chicken. Transfer the chicken and marinade to a baking dish and cover with a lid or piece of parchment paper and bake until the chicken registers 165°F on an instant-read thermometer, about 30 minutes depending on the thickness and number of chicken breasts. Slice the breasts and pack in an airtight container to serve atop lunchtime salads this week.
  5. Make Broccoli Cheese Soup. While the chicken bakes, prepare the soup, following this recipe through step 5. Puree the soup then transfer it to a large container to cool before refrigerating.
  6. Assemble smoothie packs. The best tools for assembling these smoothie packs are a silicone muffin pan or silicone muffin cups that can be used in a standard aluminum muffin pan. If you don’t have either of these, combine the fruit and spinach in zip-top bags and wait until morning to add the yogurt.
  7. Shred cheese. Shred 1 pound cheddar cheese for Broccoli Cheese Soup. Wait to add the cheese until serving so that it maintains the proper texture. You’ll need 14 ounces for the soup, plus extra for topping.
Credit: Patty Catalano
Credit: Joe Lingeman


Breakfasts this week alternate between Make-Ahead Blueberry Smoothies and yogurt with fruit and granola. Pop prepped smoothie packs out of muffin tins and blend with milk or non-dairy milk until smooth and frothy. On other days, scoop Greek yogurt into bowls and top with orange slices or blueberries and a handful of granola.


If you’re of the mindset (as I am) that salads are only as good as their toppings, that means every bowl of greens needs a variety of colors and textures. That’s why I love this Green Salad with Orange, Avocado, and Red Onion. I slice the avocados in the morning and toss them with orange slices to prevent browning. The bright citrusy vinaigrette is fresh, eye-opening, and just what I need midday. I’ll add slices of marinated, baked chicken or leftover shrimp for a flavorful protein boost.


  • Monday, Roasted salmon and broccoli: Dinner tonight comes courtesy of Costco’s deli prepared foods section — the Salmon Milano with Basil Pesto Butter. Three generously-sized fillets of fresh salmon are each topped with an equally generous scoop of basil pesto butter. If you’ve purchased fresh or frozen salmon fillets without the flavored butter, a pat of salted butter on top or one of these compound butters will do the trick. Transfer the fish fillets to the center of a rimmed baking sheet. Toss a few handfuls of broccoli florets with olive oil, kosher salt, and pepper for a simple roasted broccoli side. Arrange the broccoli around the edges of the baking sheet for ultimate crisping potential. Bake in a 425°F oven until the salmon flakes easily with a fork but still appears moist, about 12 minutes. While the salmon bakes, separate 12 ounces of the frozen shrimp and return to the freezer. Transfer a portion (or all!) of the remaining shrimp to a baking sheet and season with salt and pepper or your favorite spice blend. Once the salmon comes out of the oven, adjust the racks and the temperature to cook the shrimp from frozen for topping salads later in the week.
  • Tuesday, Honey-Garlic Shrimp Stovetop Casserole: Follow the recipe to make the casserole with the reserved frozen shrimp, but substitute fresh broccoli florets for frozen.
  • Wednesday, Broccoli Cheese Soup: This restaurant-style soup is cozy and filling even without the bread bowl. Return the soup to a Dutch oven to gently warm over medium heat Once hot, whisk in 14 ounces shredded cheddar cheese a handful at a time making sure to allow each addition of cheese to melt before adding the next. Serve topped with more cheese and a few dashes of hot sauce.
  • Thursday, Chicken and Snap Pea Stir-Fry: Toss the sliced chicken in a 3-ingredient marinade of cornstarch, soy sauce and vegetable oil. Meanwhile, do a quick prep of the rest of the ingredients, making a cornstarch slurry with chicken broth and stirring the stir-fry sauce together. Reheat the rice in the microwave while you make quick work of the chicken and snap peas.
  • Friday, One-Pot Creamy Broccoli Pasta: Finish the week with this low-lift, one-pot broccoli pasta. Grate the Pecorino Romano cheese directly over the steaming pot of broccoli and pasta. While the dish is satisfying on its own, this is a good opportunity to finish up any baked chicken or shrimp left in the fridge.


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.