Power Hour Meal Prep

How I Prep a Week of Low-Carb Meals for One

published Sep 10, 2021
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.
different meal prep ideas on table in different cookware
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner
Credit: The Kitchn

If you’re cooking for one, you know the biggest challenge is avoiding sitting down to leftovers every single night. Most recipes feed at least four, so unless you’re willing to do a lot of math to halve or quarter them, repetition is inevitable. It doesn’t have to be that way, though, if you’re willing be get a little creative — and that’s what today’s Power Hour is all about.

Carve out two hours on Sunday and you can prep a week’s worth of solo meals. Here the focus is on low-carb breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. You’ll take advantage of flexible recipes, like chicken carnitas, to ensure you won’t be eating the exact same thing all week long while still keeping your dietary needs in check. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Ben Weiner

Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: One quick grab-and-go option that’s low-carb but protein-rich (five days).
  • Lunch: Two easy salads that are satisfying and hearty enough to fuel your afternoon (five days).
  • Dinner: Meals that don’t feel repetitive but make use of leftovers to keep the cooking lift light (five days).
  • Nutritional Goals: Each meal is naturally low in carbohydrates but still balanced and wholesome.
Credit: The Kitchn

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: 1 adult
  • Prep Time: About 2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Light (10 to 15 minutes of quick cooking and reheating)

Meal Plan

Breakfast

Lunches

Dinners

Credit: The Kitchn

Shopping List

This week’s shopping list is a mix of low-carb staples, such as meat, eggs, and vegetables. It assumes that you have cooking basics like olive oil, salt, and pepper.

  • Produce: 1 bunch lacinato kale, 1 head garlic, 1 medium head green cabbage (about 2 pounds), 1 small bunch fresh chives, 2 medium yellow onions, 2 medium carrots, 1 small bunch fresh parsley, 2 limes, 2 avocados, 1 (5-ounce) clamshell mixed greens
  • Meat and Deli: 1 pound lean ground beef, 2 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
  • Refrigerated: 1 dozen large eggs, 1 (4-ounce) log goat cheese, 1 small container whole-milk or reduced-fat plain Greek yogurt, 1 large container fresh pico de gallo, 1 bag shredded Mexican blend cheese, 1 small container sour cream
  • Freezer: 1 bag cauliflower rice
  • Pantry: Red pepper flakes, dried thyme, 1 (5-ounce) can tuna, mayonnaise, paprika, 1 (32-ounce) box beef broth, 1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes, 1 (8-ounce) can tomato sauce, light brown sugar, Worcestershire sauce, apple cider vinegar, dried bay leaves, dried oregano, ground cumin, hot sauce
  • Other: Low-carb tortillas (6- to 8-inch)
Credit: The Kitchn

Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done

  1. Make the chicken carnitas: Start by heating the oven to 400°F and preparing the chicken carnitas according to recipe instructions.
  2. Prepare the soup. While the chicken is braising, prepare the cabbage soup according to recipe instructions, leaving out the rice.
  3. Make the frittata cups. Once the chicken is out of the oven, reduce the oven temperature to 350°F. Prepare the frittata cups according to recipe instructions.
  4. Assemble the tuna salad. While the frittata cups bake, combine the ingredients for the tuna salad according to recipe instructions.
  5. Pack everything up. Refrigerate the chicken carnitas, soup, frittata cups, and tuna salad all in separate airtight containers.
Credit: Kitchn
Credit: The Kitchn
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Stylist: Cyd McDowell

A Week of Easy, Low-Carb Meals for One

Breakfast

Grab a frittata cup and reheat it in the microwave for 15 seconds to take the chill off.

Lunch 

  • Monday, Wednesday, and Friday, Chicken Carnitas Salad: Toss mixed greens and some of the chicken carnitas with a big squeeze of lime juice, a generous drizzle of olive oil, and few pinches of salt and pepper. Top your salad with diced avocado, pico de gallo, and either shredded Mexican blend cheese or a dollop of sour cream.
  • Tuesday and Thursday, Tuna-Cabbage Salad: Divide the salad between these two days and enjoy it with a low-carb tortilla on the side. 

Dinners

  • Monday, Cabbage Roll Soup: Enjoy a generous portion of soup, either reheated on the stovetop in a small saucepan or in a bowl in the microwave.
  • Tuesday, Chicken Carnitas Tacos: Rewarm a portion of the chicken carnitas in the microwave and pile the meat into a couple of low-carb tortillas. Top your tacos with avocado slices, pico de gallo, sour cream, and hot sauce.
  • Wednesday, Cabbage Roll and Cauliflower Rice Bowl: Rewarm a portion of the soup (it will have thickened, but no need to thin it out) and serve it over cauliflower rice prepared according to package directions.
  • Thursday, Chicken Carnitas Quesadilla: Make a cheesy chicken quesadilla (or two) with the leftover carnitas and some shredded Mexican blend cheese following these instructions. Serve with pico de gallo or hot sauce, if desired.
  • Friday, Egg Skillet with Cabbage and Beef: Rewarm a portion of the soup (it will have thickened, but no need to thin it out) in a skillet. Make two small wells in the mixture and crack an egg into each. Cover and cook on medium-low until the egg whites are set and the yolks are to your desired doneness. Freeze any leftover soup to enjoy another week.

* * *

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.