Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of the Easiest, (Mostly) One-Pan Meals

published Jan 6, 2023
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Food items (mushrooms, cabbage, cheese, chicken) being prepped for one pan meal. Dutch oven with cooked red sauce, wooden spoon
Credit: Photo: Andrew Bui; Food Styling: Rebecca Jurkevich

How simple is that “easy weeknight dinner” if a sink full of dishes awaits you at the end of the night? Easy should apply to basic cooking techniques, of course, but also to smart use of the dishes needed to prepare the meal. At Kitchn, we love one-pot recipes because they come together quickly, don’t require a pile of pots and pans, and still offer robust flavor and variety.

The dinners in this week’s Power Hour meal prep plan are all cooked in a single vessel — sometimes a skillet, slow cooker, or Instant Pot. With this meal prep plan you’ll have the shopping list and step-by-step guide to prepping a week of one-pot dinners. Here’s how to get started.

Meal Prep Goals

  • Dinner: Easy weeknight dinners that cook in a single pot, pan, or skillet.
  • Nutritional Goals: The focus of this week’s meal plan is on the ease of cooking and cleaning. While there are no specific nutritional objectives, all of these meals provide a variety of nutrient-dense foods.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: 4 people 
  • Prep time: About 2 hours
  • Meals covered: About 70% of dinners (no weekend dinners)
  • Weeknight cooking required? A mix of reheating and light cooking where ingredients are prepped and ready for a single pot, skillet, or pan.

Meal Plan


Shopping List

This shopping list contains everything you will need for this week of one-pan meals. It assumes 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.

  • Bakery: 4 hamburger buns
  • Dry goods: 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 (12-ounce) bottle hot sauce, 3 tablespoons all-purpose flour, 1 tablespoon curry powder, 1 tablespoon garam masala, 2 teaspoons ground turmeric, 1 1/4 teaspoons paprika, 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1 cup dried ditalini or small shell pasta, 8 ounces dried egg noodles, 1 (15-ounce) can garbanzo beans (chickpeas), 2 (14-ounce) cans full-fat coconut milk, 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, 2 cups dried brown lentils, 1 (28-ounce) can fire-roasted crushed tomatoes, 32 ounces low-sodium beef broth, 32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth, 24 ounces low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, ranch or blue cheese dressing (for serving)
  • Dairy: 1 stick unsalted butter, 3/4 cup whole-milk Greek yogurt, grated Parmesan cheese (for serving)
  • Produce: 11 cloves garlic, 5 ounces baby spinach, 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, 1/2 medium head green cabbage, 4 leaves green leaf or romaine lettuce, 2 medium leeks, 1 tomato, 3 yellow onions, fresh cilantro and parsley (optional, for serving)
  • Meat: 2 1/2 pounds bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (4 large); 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts; 1 pound lean ground beef; 1 pound uncooked sweet or hot Italian sausage
  • Frozen: Frozen cooked rice (for serving)

Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done

  1. Make Sausage Meatball Soup. Prepare soup according to the recipe instructions until chicken broth and tomatoes are brought to a boil. Reduce heat to maintain a simmer, and stir in the seared meatballs, salt, and pepper, but do not add the pasta. Simmer just until the meatballs are cooked through. Remove from the heat and cool. Transfer the soup to a food storage container and refrigerate. 
  2. Cook Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken. Prepare Buffalo chicken in the Instant Pot or electric pressure cooker according to the recipe instructions. Shred the chicken with two forks and toss with 1 cup of the Buffalo sauce from the pressure cooker. Transfer chicken and any remaining Buffalo sauce to separate food storage containers and refrigerate. 
  3. Prep produce. One-Skillet Chicken Thighs with Curried Cabbage and Chickpeas: Core and thinly slice 1/2 green cabbage; refrigerate in a food storage container. Halve 2 leeks lengthwise, rinse, and thinly slice. Thinly slice 2 large garlic cloves. Place leeks and garlic in a separate food storage container and refrigerate. Slow Cooker Coconut Lentil Curry: Finely chop 1 yellow onion and mince 3 garlic cloves. Combine in a food storage container with garam masala, turmeric, kosher salt, and black pepper, and refrigerate. One-Pot Weeknight Beef Stroganoff: Slice cremini mushrooms 1/4-inch thick, and refrigerate in a food storage container. Dice 1 yellow onion and mince 2 garlic cloves, and refrigerate in another container.
Credit: Photo: Jason Rampe; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

A Week of the Easiest, (Mostly) One-Pan Meals


  • Monday, One-Skillet Chicken Thighs with Curried Cabbage and Chickpeas. Heat oven to 375°F. Season 4 bone-in chicken thighs with salt and pepper. Sear, skin-side down, in a large cast iron or oven-proof skillet until golden-brown. Remove chicken from the pan. Reduce heat, then cook leeks, garlic, and salt in the rendered chicken fat until translucent, then add cabbage and more salt. Toss the vegetables until the cabbage is wilted. Add drained and rinsed canned garbanzo beans, coconut milk, curry powder, and red pepper flakes. Bring to a simmer, then return the chicken to the skillet, skin-side up. Bake until chicken is cooked to 165°F, 20 to 25 minutes. 
  • Tuesday, Sausage Meatball Soup. Return the soup to the Dutch oven and bring to a boil. Once boiling reduce heat to simmer and add 1 cup dried ditalini or small shell pasta. Simmer until the pasta is cooked through. Stir in baby spinach, cook until the leaves are just wilted. Ladle into bowls and serve with Parmesan cheese, if desired.
  • Wednesday, Instant Pot Buffalo Chicken. Reheat Buffalo chicken in the microwave or on the stovetop over low heat until warmed through. Add reserved Buffalo sauce, if the chicken appears dry. Pile Buffalo chicken onto hamburger buns, drizzle with ranch or blue cheese dressing, and top with lettuce leaves and sliced tomato.
  • Thursday, Slow Cooker Coconut Lentil Curry. In the morning, place prepared onion, garlic, and seasonings in a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Add fire-roasted tomatoes, broth, and dried brown lentils. Cook on LOW until lentils are tender and liquid is absorbed, 7 to 8 hours. Just before serving, prepare frozen rice. Stir the coconut milk into the lentil curry and serve over rice.
  • Friday, One-Pot Weeknight Beef Stroganoff. Prepare stroganoff according to the recipe instructions using the prepped mushrooms, onion, and garlic.