Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of Instant Pot Meals for Two

published Oct 24, 2019
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

If you’re the proud owner of an Instant Pot, you probably love it for its ability to make quick work of steel-cut oats, hearty soups and stews, and tough cuts of meat. But are you using your Instant Pot to its full potential? If you’re eager to discover everything it can do, meal prep is one of the best places to start.

Here, we’re using the Instant Pot during our weekend Power Hour meal prep session to prep breakfast and Monday’s lunch, and then you’ll keep it on your counter and use it to assemble quick, delicious dinners every night this week. The leftovers turn into a new recipe for lunch every day, which will make you feel like a total meal prep pro!

By the end of the week, you’ll have discovered just how versatile the multi-cooker is — and be shocked by how little time you spent in the kitchen. Let’s get started!

More Instant Pot Meal Prep Plans

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

Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: An easy, filling breakfast that can be reheated or cooked quickly on the stove before a busy work day. Needs to satisfy a protein-loving guy and a carb-loving girl (5 days).
  • Lunch: High-protein but also full of veggies to prevent the afternoon munchies. A Wednesday chicken Parm sandwich is a mid-week splurge! We like to eat salads towards the end of the week to prepare for a weekend of eating out (5 days).
  • Dinner: Quick, delicious, and filling with little to no prep after a long day of work. Healthy comfort food options for the fall season (5 days).
  • Nutritional Goals: Feeding a guy that loves a high-protein, low-carb diet, and a girl who loves her fair share of protein, carbs, and veggies. Being able to prepare meals quickly allows us to eat well during the week and avoid the takeout temptation.  

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: 2 adults for breakfast, lunch, and dinner for a 5-day week, plus 1 weekend meal.
  • Prep time: 2 hours
  • Meals covered: 80%
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? About 30 minutes to 1 hour of easy, hands-off pressure cooking in the Instant Pot. Minimal breakfast and lunch assembly using leftovers.

My Meal Plan




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

My Shopping List

Before I head to the store or place an order online, I always shop my pantry and refrigerator first to see if I have any staple ingredients as well as spices. I find I always have pasta, pasta sauce, canned tomatoes, Greek yogurt, canned beans, various spices, and tortillas, which makes this particular meal plan even easier.  

  • Produce: 1 pint strawberries, 1/2 pint blueberries, 1 (14-ounce) bag coleslaw mix, 1 large lime, 3 medium yellow onions, 8 ounces sliced cremini mushrooms, 4 cloves garlic, 1 medium green bell pepper, 3 medium carrots, 3 stalks celery, 1 bunch scallions, 2 avocados, 1 container pico de gallo, 2 heads romaine lettuce or 1 (9-ounce) bag chopped romaine, 2 roma tomatoes
  • Protein and Dairy: 1 (3-pound) boneless pork shoulder or butt, 1/2 cup plain Greek yogurt, 1 (3 1/2- to 4-pound) whole chicken, 2 pounds bone-in chicken thighs, 1 pound ground beef, 1/2 cup grated Parmesan cheese, 1 pound ground turkey, 1 (8-ounce) bag shredded cheddar cheese, 1 (8-ounce) container sour cream, 1 dozen eggs, 1 (8-ounce) ball fresh mozzarella
  • Pantry and Dry Goods: Cooking spray, olive oil, vegetable oil, 1 1/4 cups steel-cut oats, maple syrup, 1 tablespoon light or dark brown sugar, 1 cup barbecue sauce, 1 package potato buns, 1/4 cup dill pickle chips, 1 teaspoon honey, 1 tablespoon tomato paste, 2 cups chicken broth, 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 (28-ounce) can whole stewed tomatoes in puree, 1 cup black olives (pitted), 1 pound spaghetti, 1 (28-ounce) jar marinara sauce, 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, 1 (4-ounce) can chopped green chilies, 1 (10-count) package corn tortillas, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
  • Check dry spices for: Kosher salt, black pepper, 2 teaspoons ground cumin, 1 teaspoon paprika, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 1/2 teaspoons dried oregano, 1 bay leaf, 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder, 1 teaspoon onion powder, 3 tablespoons chili powder
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

  1. Ripen avocados: If your avocados aren’t very ripe, throw them in a paper bag and set aside. This will help them ripen for breakfast throughout the week.
  2. Make the sweet potatoes: Make the sweet potatoes for Monday’s lunch in the Instant Pot.
  3. Marinate the pork: Prep the pork on a small cutting board; place in zip-top bag to marinate overnight in sugar mixture.
  4. Prepare veggies, spices, and sauce base for each dinner recipe: Work your way through each dinner recipe of the week, preparing vegetables and sauce base: Monday, Pulled Pork: Prepare coleslaw for pulled pork — this gives it a night to marinate, allowing flavors to meld. Mix 1/2 cup Greek yogurt with 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon honey, 2 tablespoons lime juice, and 2 tablespoons olive oil. Toss with 1 (14-ounce) bag coleslaw mix, season with salt and pepper. Pack into a container, place in refrigerator. Tuesday, Chicken Cacciatore: Combine tomato and spice mixture without the chicken thighs. Place in a zip-top bag or container. Wednesday, Turkey Chili: Prepare veggies and place in container or bag. Combine tomatoes, beans, chiles, water, and spices and place in container. Thursday, Whole Chicken with Mushroom Sauce: Slice onion, mince garlic, and combine with sliced mushrooms in container. Combine tomato paste and spices in a small bag. Friday, Instant Pot Spaghetti: Combine spaghetti spices in a container.
  5. Make steel-cut oats: Your sweet potatoes will be finished cooking while you are prepping dinner recipes. Take a pause on dinner prep and transfer sweet potatoes to a container. Allow them to cool to room temp, then place in fridge. Rinse out the Instant Pot and proceed with making steel-cut oats.
  6. Prepare garnishes and leftover recipe ingredients: Pre-chopping garnishes and ingredients to utilize leftovers will make breakfast and lunch prep quick and easy on a busy work morning. Prep fruit: Wash and cut strawberries in halves or quarters; combine with blueberries. Slice cheese: Slice half fresh mozzarella into 1/4-inch-thick slices for Chicken Parm Sandwiches. Cube remaining mozzarella for Shredded Chicken Salad with Tomatoes and Olives. Prep greens and veggies: Wash and chop 2 heads romaine into 1-inch pieces (unless store-bought). Store in a large zip-top bag lined with a paper towel. Thinly slice scallions, chop roma tomatoes, slice 1/4 cup olives for salads. Make balsamic dressing: Whisk together 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and 1/2 cup olive oil. Season with salt and pepper. Divide between 4 containers to serve with Chicken Parm salad and Shredded Chicken Salad. Pack up condiments: Package 2 small containers of Greek yogurt and 2 containers of pico de gallo for Monday’s sweet potato lunch.
  7. Label Everything! Labeling keeps the refrigerator organized and helps keep our cooking clean, quick, and tidy during the week.
Credit: Kitchn
Credit: Joe Lingeman


Easy morning breakfasts before work keep our day on track. Warm up the steel-cut oats and top with maple syrup and fresh berries. Alternating the oats with scrambled eggs throughout the week gives my boyfriend the protein option he loves and me the fresh fruit and carbs.


  • Monday: Heat sweet potato up, then top with the Greek yogurt, salsa, and scallions that were packaged in separate containers.
  • Tuesday: In the morning, package tortillas, pork, coleslaw garnished with scallions, and cheese in separate containers. This prevents the tortillas from becoming soggy. Warm leftover pulled pork, place in tortillas and top with leftover coleslaw-scallion mixture and cheese.
  • Wednesday: In the morning, make two small side salads with romaine and grated Parmesan. Preheat oven to 350ºF. Take leftover cold chicken cacciatore thighs and remove the bone. Warm chicken in the oven for 5-7 minutes; top with sliced mozzarella cheese and 2 tablespoons each of grated Parmesan. Turn oven to broil and place chicken back in the oven until cheese is melted and golden-brown. Transfer to lunch container. Reheat chicken separately at lunchtime; place on a potato bun. Use prepared balsamic vinaigrette on salad.
  • Thursday: In the morning, divide half of remaining romaine between two containers and sprinkle with scallions. Place leftover chili in containers, as well as pico and cheese. At lunch, heat up chili, pour over greens, and top with pico and cheese.
  • Friday: In the morning, divide the last of the romaine between two containers. Shred leftover chicken from the night before, place on top of lettuce with chopped tomato, olives, and cubed mozzarella. Pack remaining balsamic vinaigrette on the side.


  • Monday: Instant Pot Pulled Pork: This comfort-food classic is a great way to start out the week. We switched to a 3-pound pork shoulder since it’s just the two of us.
  • Tuesday: 30-Minute Cacciatore Chicken: This Italian weeknight classic is even easier in the Instant pot — anyone can make this dish, especially with your prepped ingredients! Boil half of the spaghetti to serve with this dish.
  • Wednesday: Instant Pot Turkey Chili: This is my personal favorite thing to make in the Instant Pot. I often make a double batch and keep the second half in the freezer for an emergency weeknight meal.
  • Thursday: Instant Pot Whole Chicken with Mushroom Sauce: This seems decadent, but it’s super easy! Keep the chicken bones from the whole chicken to make homemade stock in the Instant Pot over the weekend.
  • Friday: Instant Pot Spaghetti: This is one of our weekend comfort treats, especially once it starts getting cold outside. There’s even enough spaghetti here for you to have leftovers for one weekend meal!

And just like that, you made a week of meals for two with just 2 hours of prep on Sunday.

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.