Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: A Week of Meals (with No Weeknight Cooking)

updated Sep 11, 2019
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

One of the primary reasons I engage in weekend meal prep sessions is because it gives me a break from cooking during the week. I like to focus my efforts on easy, make-ahead meals that can be fully prepped and cooked in advance, so all that’s necessary during the week is some reheating to get dinner on the table. These weeks feel like the ultimate win because I’m feeding my family with next to no effort at the end of a long work day.

This Power Hour Meal Prep Plan requires about two hours of your Sunday, and leaves you with a week’s worth of fully prepped and cooked breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.

This plan brings me back to when I first started meal planning and prepping. It was a busy season of life and my prep sessions centered around cooking full meals and components to get my family through the week, without much, if any, time in the kitchen. It’s been a while since I’ve taken that approach, and this plan reminded me just how much I love it.

Whether there’s a busy week ahead or I just want a break from weeknight cooking, hunkering down in the kitchen for a couple of hours one day a week will always be worth it.

(Image credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez)
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

My Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: A versatile big-batch breakfast for myself and my husband that can be eaten at home or on the go (five days).
  • Lunch: A wholesome, light, protein-packed lunch for myself and my husband (five days).
  • Dinner: Fully cooked dinners that leave us with some leftovers, and only require reheating (four days).
  • Nutritional Goals: While we don’t have any food restrictions, we make a point to work in a lot of vegetables and focus our diet on a wide variety of whole foods that feel (mostly) healthy to us.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: Two people
  • Prep Time: About 2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 75% (no Friday dinner and no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? None, only reheating

My Meal Plan




(Image credit: The Kitchn)
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

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: Bananas, 3 pints cherry tomatoes, 3 Roma tomatoes, 1 shallot, 2 onions, 1 head garlic, 1 bunch scallions, 1 avocado, 1 bunch parsley, 1 bunch cilantro
  • Meat & Seafood: 1 pound ground beef, 1 pound boneless chicken thighs, 1 plain rotisserie chicken
  • Dairy & Eggs: Whole milk, Greek yogurt
  • Pantry: Whole oats, 2 cans chickpeas, 2 cans white beans, 1 can black beans, 2 cans diced green chiles, 1 bottle sherry vinegar, 1 jar marinara sauce, 1 box spaghetti, 2 cartons low-sodium chicken broth, white rice, 1 bottle BBQ sauce
  • Frozen: 1 bag frozen blueberries, 2 bags frozen corn
(Image credit: The Kitchn)
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

1. Prep the baked oatmeal: Prep the baked oatmeal first, which takes about 15 minutes, then cover and stick it in the fridge for about an hour. The original recipe asks you to refrigerate the dish for 8 hours before baking, but I’ve found that to be optional. I put mine in the oven just before cooking the chili, so that it finishes at about the same time I wrap up my meal prep.

2. Make Instant Pot spaghetti: Brown the beef in the Instant Pot using the sauté function, then add the water, sauce, and pasta before sealing the lid and pressure cooking. While it comes to pressure and cooks, get started on the burrito bowls. When the pasta is done cooking, release the pressure.

3. Make burrito bowls: Blitz the tomato mixture in the blender, then start the rice and prep the chicken. While the rice and chicken simmer in the covered pot, transfer the spaghetti and meat sauce to a storage container and begin prep on the chili. Mix in the corn and black beans.

4. Make chili: Start by shredding the chicken with your hands (the meat is so tender it instantly falls apart, so you don’t even need two forks). Cook the chili and let it simmer on the stove while you prep the salad.

6. Prep tomato chickpea salad: Save the prep that requires no cooking for last. This recipe, which you’re doubling, calls for blistering the chickpeas in a hot skillet, but since you’ll be eating the salad for lunch throughout the week, you can skip cooking them. Combine all the ingredients, starting with the vinaigrette, in a large bowl, mix it together, then divide between individual containers for grab-and-go lunches.

(Image credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez)
(Image credit: The Kitchn)
(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

A Week of No Weeknight Cooking


  • Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Healthy Baked Oatmeal: If there’s time in the morning we quickly heat a piece of the oatmeal in the oven; otherwise we eat it straight from the fridge, always mixed with a splash of milk.
  • Tuesday and Friday, Greek Yogurt and Fruit: We keep it quick and easy with plain Greek yogurt topped with sliced bananas and berries.


  • Monday, Wednesday, and Thursday, Tomato Chickpea Salad: My husband grabs a container to take with him to work, and I grab one from the fridge around noon.
  • Tuesday, Leftover Burrito Bowls: My husband and I split the leftovers from the previous night’s burrito bowls, divide them between containers, and top with avocado and cilantro.
  • Friday, Leftover White Chicken Chili: There’s an ample amount of leftover chili from earlier in the week, so we split some for lunch and stash the rest in the freezer.


  • Monday, One-Pot BBQ Chicken Burrito Bowls: I reheat the mixture of chicken, rice, beans, and corn on the stove, adding a little extra BBQ sauce. I top our bowls with Greek yogurt, chopped avocado, and fresh cilantro leaves.
  • Tuesday and Thursday, Instant Pot Spaghetti: This spaghetti gets better every day and makes the most delicious leftovers. It takes about five minutes to reheat on the stove (although you could also use the microwave).
  • Wednesday, White Rotisserie Chicken Chili: I reheat the chili on the stove, then top our bowls with scallions, fresh cilantro, and chopped avocado.
  • Friday: Night out!


(We have more Power Hour Meal Prep plans for all kinds of cooks and eaters! Check out all the plans we have so far.)

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.