Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep Ahead for a Healthy Start to January

updated Dec 15, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman
Credit: The Kitchn

By the end of the holiday season, I’m always very ready to get back into a healthy eating routine. That’s why this week, I’m devoting my meal prep session to stocking my fridge, freezer, and pantry with a bunch of nourishing, wholesome foods to give myself a healthy start to January.

This meal prep plan takes just under two hours to come together (not counting a hands-off slow cooker chili), and leaves you with two healthy breakfasts and a bunch of mix-and-match options for lunch and dinner.

Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: Two light and healthy options that can be eaten at home or on the go (five days).
  • Lunch: Wholesome, comforting lunches with lots of veggies (five days).
  • Dinner: Nourishing, veggie-heavy, mix-and-match dinners (four days).
  • Nutritional Goals: No dietary restrictions or nutrition goals, but overall a week of comforting cold-weather meals that feel nourishing and healthy, and are packed with veggies.
Credit: The Kitchn

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: Two people
  • Prep Time: Just under 2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 75% (one weeknight dinner off, plus no set weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Light (10 to 15 minutes of light cooking or reheating to bring dinner together).

Meal Plan




Credit: The Kitchn

Shopping List

Below are the ingredients I bought or used for this meal prep plan. I also relied on staples already in my pantry, like olive oil and spices.

  • Produce: 2 bananas, 2 navel oranges, 16 ounces baby spinach, 1 pound pre-cut butternut squash, 3 yellow onions, 1 red bell pepper, 2 pounds sweet potatoes, fresh parsley, garlic, fresh ginger, 1 lemon, zucchini noodles, 1 salad kit
  • Meat: 1 pound ground turkey
  • Refrigerated and frozen food: Plain Greek yogurt, Parmesan, 1 bag frozen mango
  • Pantry: Whole oats, wheat bran, sliced almonds, pecans, pepitas, dried fruit, 1 can crushed tomatoes, 1 can black beans, 1 can kidney beans, 1 can chickpeas, 1 can unsweetened coconut milk, dried green lentils, brown rice, sun-dried tomatoes, 1 box low-sodium vegetable broth, 1 jar marinara sauce
Credit: The Kitchn

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

  1. Preheat the oven: Preheat the oven to 350°F. By the time you prep the muesli, the oven will be hot.
  2. Make slow cooker chili: Chop all the vegetables for the chili (start with pre-cut butternut squash to minimize the prep work), mix everything in the slow cooker, and cook on the low setting all day. Portion into individual containers for grab-and-go lunches.
  3. Cook brown rice: Meanwhile, get the rice going on the stovetop. Rinse the rice, then add it to a medium saucepan with water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat to low, and simmer for about 40 minutes. When it’s done, spread on a baking sheet to cool, then transfer to a storage container. Meanwhile, prepare the muesli.
  4. Cook muesli: Divide the oats and nuts between two baking sheets and toast in the oven for 15 minutes. When it’s done, combine the nuts and oats on a single baking sheet and set aside to cool. Once cool, move to an airtight container.
  5. Cook sweet potato chowder: While the muesli cooks, prep the vegetables for the sweet potato chowder. Cook according to the recipe instructions, set aside to cool, and later portion into individual containers for grab-and-go lunches.
  6. Cook braised coconut spinach and chickpeas: While the chowder simmers, prep the ingredients for the braised spinach and chickpeas. Follow the recipe instructions and simmer for 10 minutes. Once cool, transfer to a large storage container.
  7. Make smoothie packs: Label two freezer bags, then fill each one with enough frozen fruit for two servings per bag. Store them in the freezer.
  8. Prep and freeze meatballs: Lastly, mix together the ingredients for the meatballs and shape. Plan to cook them on Tuesday.
Credit: Image: Joe Lingeman; Design: The Kitchn
Credit: Joe Lingeman
Credit: The Kitchn

A Healthy Start for January


Alternate between starting the day with a bowl of Greek yogurt and toasted muesli, and dumping the contents of a mango-orange smoothie pack in the blender with 2 cups of unsweetened nut milk, oat milk, or coconut water.


Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Slow Cooker Vegan Lentil Chili: Pull a container of chili out of the fridge on your way out the door in the morning, then reheat in the microwave at lunchtime.

Tuesday and Thursday, Sweet Potato Chowder: Pull a container of chili out of the fridge on your way out the door in the morning, then reheat in the microwave at lunchtime.


Monday, Sweet Potato stuffed with Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon: Bake a regular or sweet potato (in the microwave, oven, or Instant Pot) and heat half the braised spinach and chickpeas to stuff inside. After dinner, thaw enough meatballs for tomorrow night’s dinner in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Tuesday, Brown Rice Bowl with Turkey Meatballs: Reheat half of the brown rice, while the thawed meatballs bake in a 400°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Round out the bowls with a salad kit, for some greens and dressing.

Wednesday, Brown Rice with Braised Coconut Spinach & Chickpeas with Lemon: Reheat the remaining brown rice and top with the remaining braised spinach and chickpeas after heating up. After dinner, thaw enough meatballs for tomorrow night’s dinner in an airtight container in the refrigerator.

Thursday, Zucchini Noodles with Turkey Meatballs: Bake the thawed meatballs in a 400°F oven for 15 to 20 minutes and heat up some marinara on the stovetop. Then serve over a pile of zucchini noodles.

Friday: 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.