Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of Easy, No-Oven Summer Dinners

updated Jun 23, 2022
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Power Hour meal prep
Credit: Photo: Dane Tashima | Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen
Power Hour Meal Prep

If you lean on braises and oven-baked casseroles to fill your meal plan, it’s no surprise when you hit a summertime slump. After all, who wants to turn on the oven when the weather is already so warm? At this time of year, it’s time to lean on other appliances, like your air fryer and blender, instead of your oven.

This week’s Power Hour meal prep plan is all about the easy dinners you crave in the summertime — plus there is no oven required for any of it! I’ll walk you through shopping, prepping, and serving a week of simple summer suppers. The recipes are packed with in-season produce and require very little effort to serve at the end of each day. Put in just 1 1/2 hours of prep to start the week to keep your daily kitchen tasks to a minimum.

Credit: Photo: Dane Tashima | Food Stylist: Jessie YuChen

Meal Prep Goals

  • Dinner: Simple summer dinners that do not require an oven. 
  • Nutritional Goals: This week of dinners focuses on ease and seasonal foods that don’t require the oven rather than meeting a specific nutritional target.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: 4 for dinner
  • Prep Time: About 1 1/2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 70% of dinners (no weekend dinners)
  • Weekday Cooking Required? Main elements are prepped, and dinner is easy to finish and serve.

Meal Plan



Shopping List

These are the ingredients you will need for this week of easy, oven-free dinners. Check this list against what you already have on hand in your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer before you hit the store. Staple ingredients including kosher salt, black pepper, olive, and vegetable oils are not included in this list.

  • Bakery: 4 hamburger buns, 4 hot dog buns, 2 slices bread
  • Deli: 1 (12-ounce) container hummus
  • Produce: 1 large bunch fresh basil, 1/2 bunch fresh chives, 6 cloves garlic, 2 bell peppers, 2 bunches radishes, 3 ounces (3 cups) arugula, 1 yellow onion, 1 small red onion, 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, 12 ounces sugar snap peas, 2 cups tiny fresh fruit (cherries, berries, or cherry plums), 3 English cucumbers, 2 lemons, 4 ears fresh corn, 4 large (4 inches wide), 1 1/2 to 2 pounds tomatoes, 1 shallot, 1 fennel bulb 
  • Dry Goods: 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard, 1 tablespoon low-sodium tamari or soy sauce, 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar, 2 tablespoons sherry vinegar, 2 tablespoons honey, 4 ounces roasted red peppers, 1/2 cup basil pesto, 1 (3-ounce) package pretzel crisps, 1 (5-ounce) package crunchy roasted chickpeas, such as Biena, 1/4 cup chili crisp
  • Dairy: 1 cup full-fat plain Greek yogurt, 8 ounces ciliegine (mini cherry-size mozzarella cheese balls)
  • Meat: 12 ounces sliced bacon, 4 bratwurst 

Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done

  1. Make gazpacho. Prepare the gazpacho according to this recipe. I like to include the bread, bell pepper, and fennel but use whatever options you prefer, just remember to update the shopping list with any personal adjustments. After blending the soup, transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate. Refrigerate reserved vegetables for garnish separately.
  2. Prep Summer Chopped Veggie Salad. Make the dressing by combining lemon juice, minced garlic, chopped chives, honey, mustard, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a small jar. Cover and refrigerate. Cook 12 ounces of bacon in a skillet over medium heat until crisp and browned, 11 to 13 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate to drain, then refrigerate in an airtight container. Combine kernels from 4 ears fresh corn, halve 1 pint cherry or grape tomatoes, thinly slice 1 bunch of radishes in an airtight container and refrigerate.
  3. Sauté onions and peppers.. Slice 1 yellow onion and 1 bell pepper into 1/4-inch-thick pieces. Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the onion, bell pepper, and a pinch of kosher salt to the skillet and cook until tender, 4 to 6 minutes. Remove from the heat, transfer to an airtight container. Once cool, cover and refrigerate.
  4. Prep Portobello Mushroom Burgers. Make the marinade by combining garlic, balsamic vinegar, soy sauce, olive oil, salt, and pepper together in a large resealable bag, Refrigerate. Slice 1 small red onion into 1/4-inch-thick rounds, place in a container, and refrigerate. 
  5. Make Chili-Crisp Yogurt Dip. Add 1 cup Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup chili crisp to a container and stir to combine. Refrigerate. 
  6. Prep veggies for snack board. Remove stem and strings from sugar snap peas, if needed. Thinly slice 2 English cucumbers crosswise on a slight diagonal. Quarter 1 bunch radishes. Refrigerate.
Credit: Design: Kitchn
Credit: Photo: Eric Kleinberg; Food Stylist: Kristina Vanni
  • Monday, Gazpacho: Pour the gazpacho into bowls and garnish with prepared chopped vegetables. 
  • Tuesday,  Air Fryer Brats: Heat air fryer to 350° to 360°F. Pierce the casing of 4 uncooked bratwurst sausages, then arrange in the air fryer basket in a single layer. Air fry until an instant-read thermometer inserted into the center of the sausages registers at least 160°F, 10 to 12 minutes. Meanwhile reheat the onions and peppers in the microwave or in a skillet on the stovetop. Serve bratwurst in buns with mustard and sautéed onions and peppers. 
  • Wednesday, Summer Veggie Chopped Salad: Shake the dressing to emulsify. Tear basil into large pieces and toss with 2 cups arugula. Top the greens with the corn and tomato mixture, bacon pieces, and ciliegine (mini mozzarella). Drizzle the dressing over the salad and toss to combine.
  • Thursday, Portobello Mushroom Burgers: Remove the marinade from the refrigerator. Place portobello mushroom caps in the marinade and toss to coat. Set aside at room temperature for 30 minutes. Meanwhile, tear 4 ounces roasted red peppers into large pieces. Heat a grill or grill pan according to the recipe. Grill the onions, mushrooms, and hamburger buns. Spread pesto on the toasted buns, then top with mushroom, grilled onion, roasted red peppers, and arugula. 
  • Friday, Dip and Veggie Snack Board: Transfer chili-crisp yogurt dip and hummus to serving bowls and place on a large platter. Arrange sliced vegetables and small fruit (cherries, berries, or cherry plums) on the board. Fill in the space with roasted chickpeas and pretzel crisps.