Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of 1500-Calorie Days for the Grill

updated Jun 9, 2019
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

If you’re sticking to a calorie budget, you know it can sometimes be a challenge to keep your meals feeling fresh and fun. A great way to switch things up? Throwing some of your meals on the grill, which is easy to do during these warm spring and summer months.

This Power Hour is full of wholesome, satisfying building blocks like lean protein, fresh vegetables, and whole grains. Carve out an hour or two this weekend, and you’ll have a week of easy grillable dinners plus breakfasts, lunches, and even snacks taken care of for the week. Here’s how to do it.

This meal prep plan is for anyone who doesn’t have the time or energy to start from scratch on weeknights, but still wants to enjoy a hot, homemade meal. By chopping the vegetables, blitzing together a sauce, and marinating meat on Sunday, all that’s left to do is toss the components onto the grill once dinner rolls around. Oh, and since these easy dinners all come together on the grill, there’s barely any mess to clean up at the end of the night.

Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

My Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: A light and easy option that’s filling enough to keep you satisfied throughout the morning (five days).
  • Lunch: Packable, wholesome choices that lean on dinner leftovers to keep things easy plus a quick, store-bought snack for mid-afternoon (five days).
  • Dinner: Simple meals that come together on the grill and don’t feel low-cal (five days).
  • Nutritional Goals: Wholesome, satisfying meals that clock in at a total of 1,500 calories a day or fewer.
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: Two people
  • Prep Time: About 1 1/2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 75% (no Friday night dinner or weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Moderate (30 minutes of light cooking to bring dinner together)

Meal Plan

Breakfast

Lunches

  • Chimichurri Egg Salad Sandwich
  • Spicy Chicken & Hummus Toast
  • Parmesan Broccoli Egg Bowl

Snacks

  • Almonds, string cheese, apples

Dinners

(Image credit: The Kitchn)
(Image credit: Sheela Prakash)

Shopping List

This week’s shopping list is a feel-good mix of produce, meat, dairy, and pantry favorites. It assumes staples like olive oil, salt, and pepper are already on hand.

  • Produce: 2 large containers strawberries, garlic, rosemary, 2 lemons, 4 large portobello mushrooms, arugula, 3 large sweet potatoes, 1 pound broccoli crowns, 1 large bunch Italian parsley, 1 large bunch basil, 1 bunch cilantro, 1 lime, small apples
  • Meat & Seafood: 2 to 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 1 1/4 pounds skirt steak
  • Refrigerated: 3 (32-ounce) tubs whole-milk plain Greek yogurt, unsalted butter, 4 ounces smoked Gouda, chunk of Parmesan cheese, eggs, hummus, string cheese
  • Pantry: Millet, almonds, pumpkin seeds, sunflower seeds, dried apricots, chia seeds, flaxseed meal, sesame seeds, honey, red pepper flakes, 1 (6.7-ounce) jar oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, sherry or balsamic vinegar, tomato paste, Dijon mustard, mayonnaise, Peppadew peppers, white wine vinegar, ground coriander, ground cumin, chili powder, ground cayenne, quinoa
  • Other: Wooden skewers for grilling, brioche hamburger buns, whole-wheat sandwich bread
(Image credit: The Kitchn)
(Image credit: Sheela Prakash)

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

  1. Preheat the oven and make granola: Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat to 275°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Prepare the granola according to recipe instructions.
  2. Make the quinoa: Prepare quinoa in a medium pot on the stovetop according to recipe instructions.
  3. Hard-boil eggs: After draining the quinoa, fill the same pot with water and hard-boil 8 eggs.
  4. Prepare vegetables: Meanwhile, wash and cut broccoli and sweet potatoes. Transfer both to separate storage containers or zip-top bags.
  5. Make chimichurri: Double the recipe for the chimichurri sauce and make it in a food processor. Transfer it to a storage container.
  6. Make sun-dried tomato sauce: Rinse and wipe out the food processor. Make the sun-dried tomato basting sauce.
  7. Marinate the chicken: Combine the marinade ingredients in a large zip-top bag. Cut the chicken into 1-inch cubes and add it to the bag. Seal and shake to coat.
  8. Make the egg salad: Peel and chop 4 of the hard-boiled eggs. Combine them with 1/4 cup of the chimichurri and 2 tablespoons Greek yogurt. Cover the bowl with plastic wrap to use for sandwiches tomorrow.
  9. Prep strawberries: Wash, hull, and slice the strawberries. Transfer to a storage container.
Credit: The Kitchn
(Image credit: The Kitchn)
Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

A Week of 1500 Calorie Days

Breakfast (400 Calories)

Pack 1 cup whole-milk plain Greek yogurt with 1/4 cup Soft & Chewy Granola and 1/2 cup sliced strawberries.

Lunch (365 to 425 Calories)

  • Monday, Chimichurri Egg Salad Sandwich: Divide the prepared egg salad between two slices of whole-wheat bread (toasted, if you have the time). Top each with another slice of bread, cut both sandwiches in half, and wrap up.
  • Tuesday and Wednesday, Spicy Chicken & Hummus Toast: Shred the leftover chicken from Monday night. For each person, pack 1/2 cup shredded chicken, 1 tablespoon hummus, and 1 slice whole-wheat bread. To assemble, toast the bread (if possible), spread with hummus, and top with chicken.
  • Thursday and Friday, Parmesan Broccoli Egg Bowls: For each person, pack airtight containers with 3/4 cup quinoa, a quarter of the remaining grilled broccoli from Wednesday’s dinner, 1 hard-boiled egg, and 2 tablespoons chimichurri.

Snack (Choose 1 Each Day)

  • 10 almonds (70 calories)
  • 1 string cheese (80 calories)
  • 1 small apple (75 calories)

Dinner (585 to 635 Calories)

  • Monday, Spicy Chicken Skewers with Sun-Dried Tomato Sauce + arugula salad: Heat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Thread the marinated chicken onto wooden skewers and grill, basting with the sun-dried tomato sauce. Toss a few generous handfuls of arugula in a bowl with lemon juice, a drizzle of olive oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper and serve with the chicken.
  • Tuesday, Smoky Portobello Mushroom Cheeseburgers + Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes: Heat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Prepare the mushroom burgers according to recipe instructions but only assemble two of the burgers. Reserve half of the cooked sweet potatoes and the remaining burger components for Thursday night.
  • Wednesday, Skirt Steak with Chimichurri + Grilled Parmesan Broccoli: Quickly marinate the broccoli according to recipe instructions while you heat an outdoor grill to medium heat. Grill the steak and broccoli and serve, drizzling the steak with chimichurri.
  • Thursday, Smoky Portobello Mushroom Cheeseburgers + Easy Grilled Sweet Potatoes: Rewarm the sweet potatoes and mushrooms in the microwave and assemble the two remaining burgers.
  • Friday: It’s been a week of wholesome eating, so enjoy dinner out!

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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.