Power Hour Meal Prep

How I Prep a Week of Cozy, High-Protein Winter Meals

updated Dec 16, 2022
We independently select these products—if you buy from one of our links, we may earn a commission. All prices were accurate at the time of publishing.
various prep moments of different meals for the week
Credit: Photo: Julia Gartland; Food Styling: Barrett Washburne

Does meal planning fall by the wayside whenever your to-do list grows? Whenever that happens to me, mealtimes end up even more hectic. In an effort to combat this pattern, I’m prioritizing meal planning more than ever this winter. One way to maintain this motivation is to plan for meals that feed my emotional need for cozy comfort foods and my physical needs for nutrient-dense meals that help me feel my best.  

In this week’s Power Hour meal prep plan, we’re leaning into high-protein comfort foods. It’s a week full of soups, casseroles, curries, and skillet bakes that are easy to prepare in advance and enjoy all week long. I’ll take you step-by-step through the planning, shopping, prep, and cooking of this week’s meals. By the time you’re finished, you will be well-prepared for the week ahead. Let’s get cooking.

Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: Beans and eggs give this heat-and-eat breakfast casserole lots of protein for the morning rush.
  • Lunch: This comforting bowl of soup at lunch will sustain you for the rest of the day. 
  • Dinner: A variety of cozy, high-protein meals for chilly 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 51 to 80 grams of protein per day.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: 4 people for breakfast and dinner, 2 for lunch
  • Prep Time: About 2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 70% of meals (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Yes, but most ingredients are prepped and ready to cook.

Meal Plan




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 tablespoons fish sauce, 1/2 cup hot sauce, 1 (16-ounce) jar roasted red peppers, 1/4 cup ranch dressing (Whole30-compliant, if desired), 1 tablespoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons dried Italian seasoning, 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon za’atar seasoning, 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, 2 tablespoons panang curry paste (such as Mae Ploy or Maesri), 1/2 cup panko breadcrumbs, 3 tablespoons tahini, 2 (23- to 25-ounce) jars marinara sauce, 2 (4-ounce) cans chopped green chiles, 2 tablespoons roasted peanuts, 1 (13.5-ounce) can coconut cream, 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, 2 (15-ounce) cans black or pinto beans (or 1 of each), 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced fire-roasted tomatoes, 1/4 cup tomato paste, 32 ounces low-sodium chicken broth, 32 ounces, low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth, tortilla chips (optional for serving), salsa (optional for serving)
  • Dairy: 22 large eggs, 2 ounces feta cheese, 1/3 cup finely grated Parmesan cheese, 2 tablespoons ghee (or unsalted butter), 4 ounces shredded Monterey Jack, pepper Jack, or Mexican blend cheese, 2 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese, 6 ounces shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 2 cups sour cream, 2 cups whole or 2% milk, sour cream (optional for serving)
  • Produce: 1 bunch flat-leaf kale, 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, 1/3 cup fresh parsley, 1/2 cup fresh Thai or sweet basil leaves, 2 makrut lime leaves (optional), 10 cloves garlic, 1 medium lemon, 1 pound (2 medium) red, orange, or yellow bell peppers, 8 medium sweet potatoes, 3 medium yellow onions, 1 red or green Fresno chile, 2 avocado (optional for serving), 1 lime (optional for serving)
  • Meat/seafood: 1 pound boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 24 ounces Italian chicken sausage (Whole30-compliant, if desired), 2 pounds ground dark meat chicken
  • Frozen: 2 (20-ounce) bags frozen shredded potatoes, 1 cup frozen cooked brown rice, frozen jasmine or cauliflower rice (for serving, optional)

Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done

  1. Bake breakfast burrito egg casserole. In order to serve 4 people for breakfast all week long, you’ll need to double the recipe. Assemble the casserole according to this recipe. Combine the shredded frozen potatoes, beans, and canned chopped green chiles in the baking dishes, and spread into an even layer. Whisk eggs, sour cream, milk, cheese, salt, and pepper in a bowl, then pour over the vegetables. Bake at 375°F for about 45 minutes. Cool on a wire rack, cover with foil, and refrigerate. Note: If you do not have 2 (13×9-inch) baking dishes for doubling this recipe, pick up a disposable pan or use two (8×8-inch) baking dishes.
  2. Make sausage, kale, and sweet potato soup. Double this recipe to make enough for lunch this week. Cube sweet potatoes, chop kale, and cut Italian chicken sausages into 1/2-inch pieces. Brown the sausage in the bottom of a Dutch oven or large stockpot. Add low-sodium chicken broth, dried Italian seasoning, and the sweet potatoes. Bring the soup to a simmer, and cook until the sweet potatoes are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Add kale and remove from the heat. Cool and transfer to food storage containers. Rinse the pot, but keep it handy for making curry.
  3. Prep vegetarian stuffed pepper skillet. Microwave 1 bag frozen brown rice. Thinly slice 2 bell peppers, 1 small yellow onion, and 4 garlic cloves. Sauté the peppers, onion, and kosher salt in olive oil in an oven-safe skillet over medium heat until soft and browned. Add the garlic, 1 tablespoon chili powder, 1 tablespoon ground cumin, and cook until you can smell the garlic. Stir in 2 tablespoons tomato paste to coat the vegetables. Remove from the heat and add 2 cans black or pinto beans, 1/2 cup chopped cilantro, 1 can diced fire-roasted tomatoes and their juices, 1/2 cup water, 1 cup of the rice, salt, and pepper. Cool, cover (transfer to a food storage container if desired), and refrigerate. 
  4. Roast sweet potatoes. As soon as the casserole comes out of the oven, increase the heat to 400°F. Pierce 4 sweet potatoes all over with a thin knife then arrange on a foil-lined rimmed baking sheet. Bake until a knife slides easily into the center, about 1 hour. 
  5. Prep creamy roasted red pepper soup with tahini and feta. Sauté 1 diced onion and 3 minced garlic cloves in 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add 2 tablespoons tomato paste and cook until darkened in color. Add low-sodium broth, drained and chopped roasted red peppers, kosher salt, and black pepper. Simmer until the red peppers begin to fall apart, about 15 minutes. Remove soup from the heat and squeeze in the juice from 1/2 lemon. Add 2 tablespoons tahini and 1 teaspoon za’atar seasoning. Use an immersion blender to blend until smooth. Cool and transfer to a food storage container.
  6. Make panang curry. Cut 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs into 1-inch pieces. Cook panang curry paste in 1 tablespoon oil until fragrant, then add the chicken, 1 can coconut cream, 2 tablespoons light brown sugar, and 2 tablespoons fish sauce. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to medium-low and simmer until the chicken is cooked through. Meanwhile prepare any toppings you plan to use: seeded and sliced Fresno chile, chiffonade fresh makrut lime leaves, and/or coarsely chopped roasted peanuts. Remove curry from the heat, cool, and transfer to a food storage container. 
  7. Prep slow cooker chicken Parm meatballs. Pour 1 jar marinara sauce into a 6-quart or larger slow cooker. Make the meatballs: whisk 2 large eggs, then add panko, Parmesan, minced onion, parsley or basil, garlic, kosher salt, dried oregano, and black pepper. Stir to combine. Add ground chicken and gently mix until combined. Form into 1 1/2-inch balls (dipping your hands in water can prevent the mixture from sticking), placing each into the sauce once formed. You should have about 1 1/2 layers of meatballs. Cover with the remaining bottle of marinara sauce. Cover and refrigerate.
  8. Make Buffalo chicken. Take a shortcut here, and use rotisserie chicken instead of cooking the chicken breasts yourself. Shred meat from rotisserie chicken until you have 4 cups. Microwave 2 tablespoons unsalted butter or ghee in a large microwave-safe bowl, then stir in 1/2 cup hot sauce (I like Frank’s). Toss shredded chicken in the Buffalo sauce, then transfer to a food storage container. 
Credit: Design: The Kitchn
Credit: Joe Lingeman


  • Breakfast Burrito Egg Casserole: Cut into servings and gently reheat in the microwave or oven until heated through. If desired, top with sliced avocado, fresh cilantro leaves, and salsa.
Credit: Joe Lingeman


  • Monday through Thursday, 5-Ingredient Sausage, Kale, and Sweet Potato Soup: Reheat a serving of soup in the microwave if you’re at the office, or on the stovetop if you are working from home. If there’s no way to reheat the soup where you work, warm it before leaving for the day and stash it in a

    leakproof, insulated container

  • Friday, leftovers. There are sure to be leftovers from meals this week. Pack leftovers for lunch instead of letting them go to waste.  
Credit: Perry Santanachote
Credit: Joe Lingeman


  • Monday, Slow Cooker Chicken Parm Meatballs. In the morning, take the insert out of the refrigerator, and place in the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW until the meatballs are cooked through, 6 to 8 hours. Sprinkle with shredded mozzarella cheese during the final 15 minutes of cooking. Ladle into bowls and serve with crusty bread, divide among sub rolls, or serve over cooked pasta
  • Tuesday, Panang Curry. Reheat the curry over medium-low heat, then remove from the heat and stir in 1/2 cup fresh Thai or sweet basil leaves. Ladle into serving dishes and top with prepared toppings (chile, lime leaves, and/or peanuts). Serve with steamed, frozen jasmine or cauliflower rice.
  • Wednesday, Vegetarian Stuffed Pepper Skillet. Return skillet ingredients to the oven-safe skillet if stored in a different container. Place over medium-low heat and cook, stirring often until the liquid is mostly evaporated and the ingredients are warmed through, at least 5 minutes. (This may take slightly longer, as the ingredients have been refrigerated.) Remove from the heat, taste and adjust seasonings as needed, adding up to 1/4 teaspoon salt. Arrange an oven rack 6 inches from the broiling element and heat broiler to HIGH. Top the skillet with 1 cup (4 ounces) shredded Monterey or pepper Jack cheese). Broil until the cheese is melted and golden-brown. Serve with tortilla chips, lime wedges, sour cream, and diced avocado if desired. 
  • Thursday, Creamy Roasted Red Pepper Soup with Tahini and Feta. Return soup to the pot and reheat over medium heat. Meanwhile, make the tahini sauce by mixing 1 1/2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1 tablespoon tahini, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt together in a small bowl. Mixture may seize, but continue to whisk until smooth. Ladle soup into bowls, serve with tahini sauce and crumbled feta cheese. 
  • Friday, Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Sweet Potatoes. Reheat sweet potatoes in the microwave or oven until heated through. Microwave Buffalo chicken until warm, adding more hot sauce if desired. Slice sweet potatoes open with a knife and fluff with a fork. Top evenly with the Buffalo chicken and drizzle with ranch dressing.