Power Hour Meal Prep

How I Prep a Week of Easy Meals That Are Mostly Vegetables

published Jul 9, 2021
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different prepped foods on a countertop
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell
Credit: The Kitchn

Do you ever have weeks when you find yourself craving all the vegetables? Or have you been focused on getting more vegetables on the table? If so, then this meal plan is for you. It’s a celebration of fresh, seasonal vegetables and will guide you through fun and potentially new-to-you ways of turning them into a meal. While this meal plan is not specifically vegetarian, vegetables are definitely the star of the week at breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

Set aside about two hours to meal prep, and when you’re done you’ll be rewarded with a week’s worth of veggie-packed breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. You’ll need no more than 20 minutes light cooking on the weeknights to pull together dinner, while breakfast and lunch are ready to eat. Here’s how pull this meal prep plan off.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: An easy make-ahead breakfast with a helping of vegetables (five days).
  • Lunch: A filling salad that’s sturdy enough to make in advance without wilting, and repurposed leftovers (five days).
  • Dinner: Satisfying, balanced meals with vegetables at the center of the plate (five nights).
  • Nutritional Goals: There are no overt nutritional goals this week, but the focus of the plan is leaning hard into a variety of fresh, seasonal vegetables.
Credit: The Kitchn

Meal Prep Snapshot

  • Feeds: Two people
  • Prep Time: About 2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Minimal. You’ll tackle all the chopping and slicing during meal prep, but expect up to 20 minutes of light, hands-off cooking, reheating, or assembly during the week.

Meal Plan




Credit: The Kitchn

This week’s shopping list relies on a mix of produce, dry and refrigerated pantry basics, and store-bought conveniences. Shop your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer before setting foot in the store (or opening your grocery delivery app) to avoid adding items to the cart that you already have on hand. I also used staple ingredients like olive and vegetable oils, kosher salt, and black pepper that are not listed here.

  • Produce: 2 cups shredded vegetables (such as beet, carrot, zucchini, summer squash, or combo), 1 head garlic, 4 medium bell peppers (any color), 2 large celery stalks, 2 English cucumbers, 1 small red onion, 1/2 head iceberg lettuce, 1 head radicchio, 5 limes, 2 tablespoons lemongrass paste, 1-inch piece fresh ginger, 1/2 medium napa cabbage, 1 1/3 cups shredded carrots, 4 scallions, 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, 1 small bunch fresh mint, 1 medium shallot, 1 avocado, 2 ounces baby spinach, 1 (3-pound) spaghetti squash, 2 pints cherry tomatoes, 1 bunch basil, 1 cup broccoli florets
  • Refrigerated & Frozen: 6 large eggs, 1/2 cup whole-milk plain yogurt, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt or sour cream, 6 ounces feta, 1/2 cup heavy cream, 1 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese, 2 ounces shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, 1 1/2 ounces grated Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 pound refrigerated pizza dough 
  • Pantry: 1 1/2 to 2 cups all-purpose flour, 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour (optional), baking powder, baking soda, 1/2 cup sugar, 1/4 cup red wine vinegar, 1 tablespoon dried oregano, 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1/2 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 1/2 cup farro, 1 small jar pickled pepperoncinis, 1 can chickpeas, 1 can black beans, 2 tablespoons rice vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey, 1 tablespoon fish sauce, 2 ounces dry, thin rice noodles, 1 can chipotles in adobo sauce, 1 cup quinoa, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 1 3/4 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, 1 1/4 cup basil pesto
Credit: The Kitchn

Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done

  1. Bake quick bread. Arrange racks to divide the oven into thirds. While the oven heats to 350°F, prepare a 9×5-inch loaf pan, shred the vegetables, and make the batter for the Farmers Market Breakfast Bread, according to the recipe instructions. Bake on the top rack until golden-brown and the bread pulls away from the sides of the pan, 60 to 70 minutes. Cool completely. Wrap in aluminum foil and store at room temperature. 
  2. Cook spaghetti squash. Cut the spaghetti squash in half lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush the cut sides of the squash with 1 tablespoon olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Place cut-side down on a foil or parchment-lined baking sheet and bake on the bottom rack until soft when poked with a fork, 45 to 60 minutes. When cool enough to handle, scrape the strands from the squash with a fork, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  3. Cook farro. Meanwhile, bring 6 cups of water to a boil in a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Stir in the farro and 1 teaspoon kosher salt. Boil until farro is tender but has a slight chew in the center. Drain, cool completely, and add to the bowl of chopped vegetables for the chopped salad. Rinse the saucepan clean to use for the quinoa.
  4. Cook quinoa. Finely chop 1 medium shallot, mince 4 garlic cloves, and mince 1 or 2 canned chipotle chiles in adobo sauce until you have 1 tablespoon; set aside. Cook the quinoa for the Taco Bowls, according to the recipe instructions. Remove it from the heat and let stand, covered, for 5 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Add the drained black beans and 2 packed cups baby spinach and stir until the spinach begins to wilt. Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  5. Prep vegetables. For the Mediterranean Chopped Salad, prep the following ingredients, adding each one to a large container as you complete it: Core, seed, and dice 2 bell peppers; dice 2 large celery stalks and 1/2 English cucumber; thinly slice 1/2 small red onion; slice 8 small pepperoncinis; cut 6 ounces feta cheese into 1/2-inch cubes; and drain and rinse the can of chickpeas. Core and chop 1/2 head of iceberg lettuce and 1 head radicchio into thin strips; add to a separate container. Store both in the refrigerator. For the Vietnamese-Style Chicken & Noodle Salad, prep the following ingredients, adding each one to a large container as you complete it: Thinly slice 1/2 head Napa cabbage crosswise; core, seed, and dice 1 bell pepper; thinly slice 1 medium English cucumber; thinly slice 4 scallions on the diagonal; chop 1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves and tender stems; chop 1/2 cup fresh mint leaves; and add 1 1/3 cups shredded carrots to the same bowl. Cover and store in the refrigerator. For the Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash, halve 1 pint cherry tomatoes and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For the Veggie Supreme Pizza, prep the following ingredients, adding each one to a medium container as you complete it: Chop broccoli into small pieces until you have 1 cup, peel and shave 1 large carrot, halve 8 ounces cherry tomatoes, dice 1/2 small red onion, and core, seed, and dice 1 bell pepper.
  6. Make dressings. Stir together the dressing for the Mediterranean Chopped Salad, Vietnamese-Style Chicken & Noodle Salad, and the sauce for the Taco Bowls. Store in separate airtight containers in the refrigerator.
  7. Marinate chicken. Place 1/4 cup of the dressing for the Vietnamese-Style Chicken & Noodle Salad in a shallow container or large zip-top bag. Slice 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1/2-inch strips and place in the container or bag with the marinade. Seal and, if using a bag, place on a rimmed plate in the refrigerator.
Credit: Kitchn
Credit: The Kitchn
Credit: Shelly Westerhausen/Kitchn

A Week of Meals That Are Mostly Vegetables


Each morning cut a slice of Farmers Market Breakfast Bread. Eat as is or lightly toast, and partner with your choice of fresh fruit.



  • Monday, Vietnamese-Style Chicken & Noodle Salad: With prep work done, all that’s left to do tonight is cook the rice noodles and chicken thighs, and assemble the salads. Cook the chicken according to the recipe instructions. Cook the rice noodles according to the package instructions, then drain and rinse thoroughly. Place in a large bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons dressing. Add the prepared vegetables and herbs to the bowl, and toss together. Divide half of the salad among two bowls and drizzle with some of the dressings. Store the remainder of the salad and dressing in the refrigerator. Dinner comes together in less than 15 minutes.
  • Tuesday, Smoky Quinoa Taco Bowls with Fried Eggs: Reheat half of the quinoa mixture and fry 2 eggs. Divide among two bowls, drizzle with some of the sauce, and dig in. Dinner is ready in less than 10 minutes.
  • Wednesday, Creamy Pesto Spaghetti Squash: Cook the sauce and heat the squash according to the recipe instructions. Divide half among bowls and store the remainder in the refrigerator. Dinner is ready in less than 10 minutes.
  • Thursday, Leftover Taco Bowls: Reheat the remainder of the quinoa mixture and fry 2 eggs. Divide among two bowls, drizzle with the remainder of the sauce, and dig in. Dinner is ready in less than 10 minutes.
  • Friday, Veggie Supreme Pizza: Prepare the pizza according to the recipe instructions, and since the veggies are already prepped, you’ll be reaching in for a slice in about 20 minutes.

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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.