Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of Easy Slow Cooker Meals for Two

updated Dec 16, 2020
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A baking sheet of formed, uncooked meatballs, a slow cooker filled with salsa pulled chicken, a par-baked squash, a sweet potato, chopped white potatoes, onion, carrots, and garlic sit on a wooden table.
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell
Credit: The Kitchn

While the slow cooker is a useful tool in the kitchen 365 days a year, it especially wins this time of year, when it can churn out comforting, cold-weather favorites while making your whole house smell wonderful at the same time. Today’s Power Hour celebrates the slow cooker. In less than two hours, you’ll have assembled everything you need to make dinners in the slow cooker all week long. And best of all, your upfront work means that there’s almost no effort required during the week. Plus, you’ll come out of this meal prep session with ready-to-eat breakfast and lunches, too. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Photos: Joe Lingeman

Meal Prep Goals

Not only will this Power Hour set you up with slow cooker dinners for the week ahead, but you’ll also utilize the appliance while you’re meal prepping to help you easily prepare the rest of your meals for the week.

  • Breakfast: An easy, ready-to-eat option that you won’t get tired of (five days).
  • Lunch: A mix-and-match choice that you’ll make in your Power Hour with the help of the slow cooker (five days).
  • Dinner: Slow cooker dump dinners that will leave you with enough leftovers to be repurposed into future dinners later in the week (five days).
  • Nutritional Goals: No set nutritional goals, but all the meals here are generally well-balanced while being satisfying.
Credit: The Kitchn

Meal Prep Snapshot

  • Feeds: Two people
  • Prep Time: 2 hours or less
  • Meals Covered: About 75% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Light (easy, mostly hands-off assembly in the slow cooker; otherwise, 10 to 15 minutes of simple cooking and reheating)

Meal Plan




Credit: NA

Shopping List

This week’s shopping list relies on a combination of produce, meat, dry and refrigerated basics, and store-bought conveniences. It assumes staples like olive oil, salt, and pepper are already on hand.

  • Produce: 1 large bunch of bananas, 3 medium yellow onions, 1 red bell pepper, 6 ounces baby spinach, 1 head of garlic, 1 small bunch of fresh dill, 1 clamshell of mixed salad greens, 1 small bunch of fresh parsley or basil, 1 medium butternut squash, 1 large sweet potato, 3 medium white potatoes, 2 large carrots
  • Meat: 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 2 pounds ground chicken, preferably dark meat
  • Refrigerated: 18 large eggs, 1 quart whole or 2% milk, 1 (4-ounce) block feta cheese, 1 (16-ounce) container refrigerated fresh tomato salsa, small wedge of Parmesan cheese, 1 (12-ounce) bag shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese
  • Pantry: Dijon mustard, 1 can black beans, 2 (23- to 25-ounce) jars marinara sauce, panko bread crumbs, dried oregano, 2 boxes low-sodium vegetable broth, 1 pound dry spaghetti
  • Other: Corn tortillas, 1 large, long French or Italian bread loaf
Credit: The Kitchn

Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Down

  1. Make the salsa chicken: Preheat the oven to 375°F. Prepare the Salsa Pulled Chicken in the slow cooker, according to recipe instructions and cook on HIGH for 1 to 2 hours.
  2. Assemble and bake the egg casserole: While the chicken is cooking, prepare the Spinach and Feta Egg Casserole according to recipe instructions. Arrange 2 racks to divide the oven into thirds and bake on the top rack.
  3. Par-cook the squash and sweet potato: Meanwhile, peel and chop the butternut squash and sweet potato for the Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup. Spread out in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet and transfer to the oven to par-bake on the bottom rack below the egg casserole for 30 minutes. 
  4. Chop remaining soup ingredients. Chop the white potatoes, onion, carrots, and garlic for the soup and store together in an airtight container.
  5. Form the meatballs: Prepare the Chicken Parm Meatballs according to recipe instructions but do not cook. Instead, place the formed, uncooked meatballs on a rimmed baking sheet, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. 
  6. Shred the chicken and store prepped items: Shred the slow cooked chicken and toss it with the salsa. Once cooled, refrigerate the pulled chicken, egg casserole, and par-baked squash and sweet potatoes in three separate containers.
Credit: The Kitchn
Credit: The Kitchn
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman | Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

A Week of Easy Slow Cooker Meals


Enjoy a square of egg casserole with or without a banana on the side.


Dig into some of the salsa chicken whichever way you feel like each day.

  • Warmed and stuffed inside corn tortillas.
  • Piled on a bowl of mixed greens.
  • Tossed with black beans.


  • Monday, Slow Cooker Chicken Parm Meatballs: Place the uncooked meatballs in your slow cooker, top with marinara sauce, then cover and cook on the LOW setting until the meatballs are cooked through and the flavors meld, 6 to 8 hours. Sprinkle with the mozzarella cheese and cook covered in the last 15 minutes if desired. Sprinkle with more parsley or basil and serve with more Parmesan. Enjoy 1/3 of the meatballs with bread on the side.
  • Tuesday, Slow Cooker Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup: Place the par-cooked squash and sweet potato, along with the chopped white potatoes, onion, carrots, and garlic, in your slow cooker. Pour in vegetable broth, then cover and cook on the HIGH setting for 3 hours or on the LOW setting for 8 hours. Blend the soup directly in the slow cooker with an immersion blender (or transfer in batches to a stand blender). Alternatively, blend only half the soup for a chunkier soup.
  • Wednesday, Spaghetti and Chicken Parm Meatballs: Cook half a box of dried spaghetti according to package directions. Rewarm half of the remaining meatballs in their sauce and serve over the cooked spaghetti.
  • Thursday, Leftover Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup: Enjoy leftovers of the soup and serve with bread on the side.
  • Friday, Chicken Parm Subs: Cut the remaining loaf of bread into 2 sub-sized pieces and split in half crosswise. Fill with remaining meatballs and sauce, sprinkle with additional shredded mozzarella, close, and bake at 350ºF until the meatballs are warmed through and the cheese is melted.

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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.