How I Prep a Week of High-Protein Meals Packed with Vegetables
Whether you have a goal to slot more high-protein meals into your day or you simply want meals that are guaranteed to fill you up, you know that it takes some careful planning and has the potential to be time-consuming — especially if you also want to ensure you’re getting an ample amount of veggies and cozy meals that feel just right for cold winter days. I’m here to tell you (and, more importantly, show you) that it’s not impossible — in fact, it’s more than doable.
In this week’s Power Hour, I show you how you can check all the boxes to bring it together. To make it happen, this meal plan relies on high-protein foods like eggs, cottage cheese, beans, salmon, chicken, and tofu. I’ll take you step-by-step through the planning, shopping, prep, and cooking of a week full of high-protein breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
Meal Prep Goals
- Breakfast: A satisfying, ready-made breakfast that can be enjoyed at home or on the go (five days).
- Lunch: Filling options that are totally made in advance, make use of leftovers, and carry you through the afternoon (five days).
- Dinner: A variety of high-protein meals that are packed with vegetables and feel extra cozy for cold winter nights.
- Nutritional goals: The recommended amount of protein varies based on personal factors, but on average most people should aim for at least 50 grams of protein per day. The meals in this plan provide 85 to 105 grams of protein per day.
Meal Prep Plan Snapshot
- Feeds: Two people
- Prep time: About 2 hours
- Meals covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
- Weeknight cooking required? Moderate. You’ll cook one dinner this week (it will take 20 minutes or less), and the remainder of nights require simple reheating and assembly.
- 3-Cheese Frittata Cups (16 grams of protein)
- Cottage cheese (13 grams of protein)
- Feta and Tomato Braised Chickpeas (37.9 grams of protein)
- Salmon Salad (37.4 grams of protein)
- Quinoa-Chili Bowls with Avocado (28.3 grams of protein)
This shopping list contains everything you will need to prepare a week of comforting, high-protein meals. It assumes cooking basics like cooking oils, salt, and pepper are already in your kitchen. Before heading to the grocery store, compare this list to the contents of your pantry, fridge, and freezer to avoid buying ingredients that you already have on hand.
- Dry goods: 2 cans chickpeas, 2 cans cannellini beans, 1 can kidney beans, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 2 tablespoons chili powder, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, 1 1/2 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, 1/2 cup plus 2 teaspoons soy sauce or tamari, 1/4 cup rice vinegar, 1/4 cup honey, 1 1/2 cups quinoa, 3 tablespoons green curry paste, 1 (15-ounce) can unsweetened coconut milk, 2 teaspoons brown sugar
- Produce: 1 small bunch fresh chives, 1 small bunch fresh oregano, 1 small bunch fresh basil, 1 small bunch fresh cilantro (optional), 10 plum tomatoes, 1 head garlic, 2 medium yellow onions, 2 medium sweet potatoes, 2 medium avocados, 1 (2-inch) piece fresh ginger, 1 small bunch fresh scallions, 1 medium crown broccoli, 1 medium lime, 1 bag of your favorite salad kit or bag of mixed greens
- Dairy: 10 (4-ounce) cups 4% milk-fat cottage cheese (such as Breakstones), 1 dozen large eggs, 3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese, 1/4 cup whole milk, 1 ounce Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 cups shredded Fontina cheese, 4 ounces feta cheese, 1 block firm tofu
- Meat/seafood: 12 ounces fresh Mexican chorizo, 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 4 (6-ounce) salmon fillets
- Frozen: 2 cups frozen cooked brown rice
Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done
- Heat oven. Arrange racks to divide the oven into thirds. Heat the oven to 350°F. Meanwhile, prep the frittata cups according to the recipe instructions.
- Bake frittata cups. Slide the muffin tin into the oven and bake the frittata cups until puffed and the edges are light golden-brown in color, 18 to 20 minutes. Place the pan on a wire rack and let cool for 2 to 3 minutes. Run a butter knife around each cup to loosen the frittatas before removing them from the pan. Cool completely, then refrigerate in an airtight container.
- Braise chickpeas. Prepare the Feta and Tomato Braised Chickpeas according to the recipe instructions. While the chickpeas bake, crumble 4 ounces feta. After the mixture finishes baking, stir in the feta instead of broiling. Cool completely, then refrigerate in an airtight container. Increase the oven temperature to 400°F.
- Prep vegetables and tofu. For the sweet potatoes: Poke 2 medium sweet potatoes all over with a fork, then rub with a thin layer of olive oil. For the Tofu + Green Broccoli Curry, prepare the following, adding to the same bowl once completed: Dice 1 medium yellow onion; peel and mince 1 (1 1/2-inch) piece fresh ginger; mince 3 garlic cloves; cut 1 pound broccoli into bite-size florets; drain 1 can chickpeas; wrap 1 block firm tofu in a few layers of paper towel, then set on a dinner plate or cutting board and weigh it down with a heavy object like a skillet, pot, or large can. For the Chorizo Chicken Chili: Dice 1 medium yellow onion, mince 3 garlic cloves, drain and rinse 1 can cannellini beans and 1 can kidney beans. Cut 12 ounces boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1-inch pieces and, if necessary, remove the casings from 12 ounces fresh Mexican chorizo.
- Bake sweet potatoes. When the oven reaches 400°F, slide the sweet potatoes into the oven and bake until fork-tender, about 1 hour. Cool completely, then store in a covered container in the refrigerator.
- Cook chili. Cook the Chicken Chorizo Chili according to the recipe instructions. Use the hands-off time while the meat is browning to get the quinoa started. Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
- Cook quinoa. Add 1 1/2 cups uncooked quinoa, 2 3/4 cups water, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt to a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce the heat to low, cover, and simmer until the liquid has been absorbed, about 12 minutes. Uncover and fluff with a fork. Transfer the quinoa to a rimmed baking sheet, spread into an even layer, and refrigerate until cooled completely, 10 to 15 minutes. Refrigerate in an airtight container.
- Cook green curry. Prepare the Tofu and Green Broccoli Curry according to the recipe instructions. Add the soy sauce or tamari at the end, but wait to add the lime juice and fresh basil until serving. Cool completely, then refrigerate in an airtight container.
- 3-Cheese Frittata Cups and cottage cheese: Enjoy a frittata cup cold, at room temperature, or warmed in the microwave and pair it with a cottage cheese cup.
- Monday and Thursday, Feta and Tomato Braised Chickpeas: Reheat two servings in the microwave or on the stovetop.
- Tuesday, Salmon Salad: Divide the salad kit or greens among two bowls or plates, top with the leftover salmon fillets, and drizzle with vinegar or your favorite bottled salad dressing.
- Wednesday and Friday, Quinoa-Chili Bowls with Avocado: Each day dice 1/2 avocado and reheat two cups quinoa and about one portion of chili. Divide the quinoa among two bowls, top with the chili and avocado, and, if desired, garnish with fresh cilantro leaves and/or chopped scallions.
- Monday, Teriyaki Salmon Bowls with quinoa and avocado: Cook the Teriyaki Salmon according to the recipe instructions. It will come together in about 15 minutes from start to finish. Reheat 1 cup of quinoa in the microwave or on the stovetop. Dice 1/2 avocado and thinly slice 2 scallions. Divide the quinoa between two bowls, top each with 1 salmon fillet, and garnish with avocado and scallions. Refrigerate the remaining fillets in an airtight container.
- Tuesday, Chorizo Chicken Chili: Reheat 2 servings of chili in the microwave or on the stovetop. Divide among bowls and if desired, garnish with chopped fresh cilantro and/or scallions.
- Wednesday and Friday, Tofu + Green Broccoli Curry: Reheat 2 servings each of the green curry and frozen brown rice. Garnish with a shower of fresh basil leaves and squeeze of fresh lime juice.
- Thursday, Chili-Stuffed Sweet Potatoes: Reheat the sweet potatoes in the microwave, oven, or air fryer and reheat two portions of chili. Use a knife to halve the potatoes lengthwise, then fluff the flesh with a fork. Spoon the chili into the sweet potatoes. If desired, top with fresh cilantro leaves and/or sliced scallions.