Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of Absolutely Simple Summer Meals in Just 1 Hour

updated Jun 14, 2021
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simple simmer meals power hour
Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe
Power Hour Meal Prep

School is out and summer Fridays have begun, but weekly meal planning is still on the agenda. Thankfully, the best foods for the season are also the simplest. In this meal prep plan, I’ll walk you through planning and prepping a week of breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that require the simplest of cooking techniques to coax every ounce of flavor from peak-season produce. This week-long plan feeds a family of four and takes just one hour to prep. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Photo: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Amelia Rampe

My Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: Easy-to-assemble breakfasts that keep you full all morning long (five days).
  • Lunch: Light and filling lunches that are easy to pull from the fridge between meetings (five days).
  • Dinner: Simple summery dinners packed with fresh produce (five days).
  • Nutritional Goals: The goal of this week’s meal plan is to prepare simple, well-balanced meals highlighting in-season herbs, fruits, and vegetables in just one hour.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: 2 adults and 2 children for dinner, and 2 adults for breakfast and lunch.
  • Prep Time: About 1 hour
  • Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required: Moderate; most dinner items are prepared and ready for the grill or oven.

Meal Plan




Shopping List

These are the ingredients you’ll need for this week’s meal plan. Before setting foot in the grocery store, check your pantry, refrigerator, freezer, and patio herb garden (if you have one!) for ingredients you already have on hand. Staple ingredients like oils, salt, and pepper are not included on the list, so make sure you already have what you need.

  • Deli/Bakery: 1 loaf country or sourdough bread, 1 (12-ounce) container hummus
  • Produce: 1/3 cup fresh basil leaves, 1/3 cup fresh chives, 1/3 cup fresh dill, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, 1 medium head butter lettuce, 2 pints cherry tomatoes, 6 ounces multi-colored cherry tomatoes, 3 medium English cucumbers, 4 limes, 3 lemons, 1 green bell pepper, 1 orange bell pepper, 1 red bell pepper, 6 cloves garlic, 1 pineapple, 2 small red onions, 1 bunch radishes, 12 ounces sugar snap peas, 2 cups tiny fresh fruit (cherries, berries, or cherry plums), 2 large ripe peaches
  • Meat: 8 ounces dry Italian salami, 2 large (1 1/2 pounds) boneless, skinless chicken breasts, 1 pound flank steak
  • Dairy: 2 (8-ounce) balls fresh mozzarella cheese, 12 ounces marinated bite-sized mozzarella cheese balls, 20 large eggs, 4 ounces feta cheese, 6 cups plain Greek yogurt, sour cream (for serving), unsalted butter (for serving), 1 pound fresh, shelf-stable or frozen potato gnocchi
  • Dry Goods: 2 tablespoons honey, 2 (12-ounce) jars roasted red peppers, 1/2 cup teriyaki sauce, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, 1 1/4 teaspoons granulated sugar, 1 cup long-grain white rice, 1 (3-ounce) package pretzel crisps, 1/4 cup roasted salted pumpkin seeds (pepitas), 1/4 cup prepared chili crisp, 1 (5-ounce) package crunchy, roasted chickpeas (such as Biena), 2 (12-ounce) jars marinated artichoke hearts
  • Freezer: 4 (9-ounce) packages frozen cheese tortellini
  • Supplies: Heavy-duty aluminum foil, 6 (10-inch) wooden or metal skewers

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

Before you begin to meal prep, fill a pot with water and bring to a boil so it is ready when you are. Empty your sink of any dirty dishes before you begin and fill it with soapy water. Gather measuring cups, spoons, mixing bowls, and food storage containers before you start to streamline your prep.

  1. Boil eggs. Each toast calls for 2 eggs, so in order to make 2 1/2 times the recipe, plan to cook 20 eggs. Boil the eggs according to the recipe or try one of these other methods. Make an ice bath to chill the eggs quickly. Peel, if desired, then refrigerate eggs in an airtight container.
  2. Boil tortellini. The water you started earlier should be close to a boil. As soon as the bubbles begin to rapidly break the surface, cook the tortellini. Depending on the size of your pot you can cook all of the tortellini at once, or do it in two batches. Fish out the half of the tortellini with a strainer then cook the second half to conserve the boiling water.
  3. Soak the skewers. If you plan to use wooden or bamboo skewers for Monday’s dinner, fill a 9×13-inch baking dish with water and add the skewers. After 30 minutes, drain the water, wrap the skewers in plastic wrap and freeze.
  4. Prep produce. Easy Hawaiian Chicken Skewers: Cut 1 orange bell pepper into 1-inch pieces, core and cut 1 pineapple into 1-inch pieces. Refrigerate in an airtight container. Steak Fajita Foil Packets: Thinly slice, 1 small red onion, 1 red bell pepper, and 1 green bell pepper.
  5. Make herby lemon yogurt. Finely chop about 1/3 cup each fresh basil, dill, and chives. Add to a bowl with 3 minced garlic cloves, zest and juice of 2 1/2 lemons, 5 cups Greek yogurt, 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil, 1 3/4 teaspoons kosher salt, and 1 1/4 teaspoons black pepper. Stir to combine then transfer to an airtight container.
  6. Pickle onions. Combine 1 teaspoon lime zest, 1 tablespoon freshly squeezed lime juice, 1/2 cup thinly sliced red onion, 1/4 teaspoon granulated sugar, and 1/4 teaspoon kosher salt in a small bowl or jar. Cover and refrigerate.
  7. Make vinaigrette. Combine 1/4 cup freshly squeezed lime juice, 1 finely chopped garlic clove, 1/4 cup finely chopped cilantro leaves, 1/4 cup olive oil, 1 teaspoon granulated sugar, and 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt in a jar, then twist on the lid. Shake until the salt and sugar dissolve, and then refrigerate.
  8. Make chili crisp yogurt dip. Combine 1 cup Greek yogurt and 1/4 cup store-bought chili crisp in an airtight container. Stir to combine, then refrigerate.
  9. Assemble tortellini salad. Drain the tortellini, transfer to a large bowl, and season with olive oil, kosher salt, and black pepper. Drain and coarsely chop marinated artichokes and roasted red peppers, then add to the tortellini. Remove the casings from the dry Italian salami and cut into small cubes; add to the bowl. Cut the fresh mozzarella into small cubes, add to the bowl, then toss to combine. Cover or transfer to a large airtight container and refrigerate.
  10. Dice chicken breasts. Cut 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts into 1-inch pieces. Transfer chicken to an airtight container and refrigerate.
Credit: Kitchn
Credit: Meghan Splawn


Each morning toast a slice of crusty bread, and spread with unsalted butter. Spoon some of the yogurt mixture over the top then top each toast with 2 boiled eggs. Use the back of a spoon or fork to gently smash the eggs. Season the Smashed Egg Toasts with Herby Lemon Yogurt with kosher salt and black pepper.


Serve the Antipasto Tortellini Salad straight from the fridge or set a serving out at room temperature about 30 minutes before you plan to eat.


Monday, Hawaiian Chicken Skewers: Stir honey and teriyaki sauce together. Add half of the sauce to a gallon-size zip-top bag. Add the chicken, pineapple, and bell pepper then massage to coat. Set aside at room temperature while the grill heats to medium-high. Thread the marinated chicken, pineapple, and bell pepper onto metal or soaked, frozen skewers. Grill, brushing with the reserved sauce, until the chicken is cooked through.

Tuesday, Steak Fajita Foil Packets: Prepare 4 foil packets for the grill, evenly dividing the prepared onion and bell peppers among the sliced flank steak and rice. Grill until the rice is cooked and the steak is tender, then serve with sour cream.

Wednesday, Caprese Sheet Pan Gnocchi: Dinner doesn’t get much easier than this summery take on sheet pan gnocchi. Roast until the tomatoes are caramelized and the gnocchi is crisp, then add marinated mozzarella and return to the oven until soft. Serve in shallow bowls with torn fresh basil leaves.

Thursday, Ultimate Summer Salad: In order to keep the vegetables crisp, wait until tonight to chop the lettuce, cucumbers, and cherry tomatoes. Slice fresh summer peaches (or whatever juicy summer fruit is appealing at the market). Toss it all in a large bowl with pickled onions, pepitas, feta cheese, and the cilantro vinaigrette.

Friday, No-Cook Veggie and Dip Summer Board: This no-cook meal is perfect for Friday movie nights or picnics. Arrange veggies and tiny fruits on a board or rimmed baking sheet with store-bought hummus, chili crisp yogurt dip, pretzel crisps, and crunchy chickpeas.


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.