Power Hour Meal Prep

A Week of Easy Spring Meals to Help You Eat More Vegetables

published Apr 8, 2022
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Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Micah Morton
Credit: Kitchn

It’s the time of spring when the tables at the farmers market are piled high with a bounty of spring produce. There’s asparagus and radishes and carrots and greens and herbs, and I want all of it! It’s nearly impossible to contain my excitement, as evidenced by my large tote overflowing with a rainbow of vegetables. I’m certain that I’m not alone in my excitement and enthusiasm for spring vegetables, and for those of you who are just as giddy for peak-season produce, this week’s meal prep plan was made with you in mind. 

This meal prep plan is for anyone who wants to take advantage of spring produce or simply eat more vegetables. While it’s not strictly vegetarian, vegetables are without question the focal point of the week. Through breakfast, lunch, and dinner, each meal highlights the bounty of the season. And during the prep session you’ll tackle some of the week’s cooking and all of the slicing, dicing, and chopping. Let’s get going!

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Micah Morton; Design: Kitchn

Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: A satisfying make-ahead breakfast that includes a helping of veggies to start the day (five days).
  • Lunch: A sturdy, veggie-packed grain salad, and repurposed leftovers (five days).
  • Dinner: Satisfying, feel-good meals that include an ample variety of spring vegetables (five nights).
  • Nutritional goals: The goal for the week is a lineup of easy, feel-good springy recipes that make eating more vegetables feel simple and fun. While it’s not a vegetarian meal plan, seasonal vegetables are the focus of each meal. 
Credit: The Kitchn

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: Two people
  • Prep time: About two hours
  • Meals covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight cooking required? Moderate. Light cooking or reheating is required throughout the week, although it’s mostly hands-off and 20 minutes or less.

Meal Plan

Breakfast

Lunch

Dinner

Credit: The Kitchn

This week’s shopping list relies on a mix of produce, dry and refrigerated pantry basics, and store-bought conveniences. Shop your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer before setting foot in the store (or opening your grocery delivery app) to avoid adding items to the cart that you already have on hand. I also used staple ingredients like olive and vegetable oils, kosher salt, and black pepper that are not listed here.

  • Produce: 2 medium yellow onions, 1 head garlic, 1 medium red bell pepper, 12 ounces baby spinach, 1 small bunch fresh dill, 5 sprigs fresh thyme, 1 small bunch fresh chives, 2 bunches asparagus (about 2 pounds total), 2 heads butter lettuce, 1 pound radishes, 4 lemons, 2 cups baby arugula, 2 medium stalks celery, 2 medium carrots, 1 small spaghetti squash (1 1/2 to 2 pounds), 1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard, 
  • Refrigerated & Frozen: 14 to 16 large eggs, 2 cups whole or 2% milk, 4 ounces feta cheese, 4 ounces fresh goat cheese, 15 to 16 ounces ricotta cheese, 1 1/2 ounce pecorino cheese, 1 pound refrigerated pizza dough, 1 (14-ounce) package frozen cheese tortellini
  • Pantry: 4 tablespoons Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons red wine vinegar, 2 cups farro, 1 can chickpeas, 5 cups low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth, 3 tablespoons pine nuts (or substitute hazelnuts or almonds)
  • Bakery: 1 loaf sourdough
  • Other: 1 rotisserie chicken
Credit: The Kitchn

Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done

  1. Bake egg casserole: Arrange the oven racks to divide the oven into thirds. While the oven heats to 375°F, prep the Spinach and Feta Egg Casserole according to the recipe instructions. Bake on the top rack until the top is light golden-brown and the eggs are set, 40 to 45 minutes. Cool completely, cover, and store in the refrigerator.
  2. Bake spaghetti squash: Halve the spaghetti squash lengthwise and scoop out the seeds. Brush the inside with olive oil, season with kosher salt and a few grinds of black pepper. Place cut-side down on one side of a rimmed baking sheet (later, the asparagus will cook on the other side) with a smashed clove of garlic under each half. Bake for 35 minutes.
  3. Cook farro. Meanwhile, rinse 2 cups farro under cool running water. Place it in a medium saucepan and add 6 cups of water and a generous pinch of salt. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium-low, cover, and simmer until the farro is tender but still has a slight chew in the center, 10 to 15 minutes for pearled and 25 to 30 minutes for semi-pearled. Drain and spread onto a large baking sheet to cool.
  4. Prep vegetables. For the Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus and Ricotta, trim the woody ends of 1 bunch asparagus and cut the stalks on a diagonal into 2-inch pieces. For the Radish and Goat Cheese Farro Salad, quarter half of the radishes, then cut the remaining radishes into thin rounds, and mince 2 garlic cloves. For the French Bistro Salad, trim 1 the remaining bunch asparagus and chop into 1-inch pieces. Remove the leaves from 2 heads butter lettuce, wash, and thoroughly dry. Store in separate containers in the refrigerator. For the Lemony Tortellini Soup, dice 1 medium yellow onion, cut 2 celery stalks into 1/4-inch pieces, peel and cut 2 carrots into 1/4-inch thick rounds, and mince 2 garlic cloves. Store together in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For the Garlicky Swiss Chard Pizza, remove the stems from 1 1/2 pounds Swiss chard. Coarsely chop the leaves and half of the stems (save the remaining stems for another use or discard), and mince 4 garlic cloves. 
  5. Roast asparagus. Add the asparagus cut into 2-inch pieces to the other side of the baking sheet with spaghetti squash. Toss with 1/2 tablespoon olive oil and cook until just tender, about 10 minutes.
  6. Shred rotisserie chicken. Shred all the meat from the rotisserie chicken; store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  7. Cook radishes and assemble farro salad. Heat 3 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add the quartered radishes and garlic, season with salt and pepper, and sauté until the radishes just begin to brown and are tender but still crisp, 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from the heat and whisk in 2 tablespoons freshly squeezed lemon juice and 1 1/2 teaspoons Dijon mustard. Add to a large bowl with the farro, radish rounds, 1 can drained and rinsed chickpeas, 2 cups baby arugula, and 4 ounces soft, crumble goat cheese, and toss to combine. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  8. Cook Swiss chard. Wipe out the skillet you used for the radishes. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in the skillet over medium-high heat. Add 4 cloves minced garlic and chard and sauté until wilted and tender, 8 to 10 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Transfer to a bowl, and once cool enough to touch, squeeze out excess liquid in a kitchen towel. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  9. Assemble spaghetti squash. To a large bowl, add 3/4 cup ricotta, zest and juice of 1 medium lemon, 1 teaspoon fresh thyme leaves, 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt, and a few grinds black pepper. Stir to combine. When the squash is cool enough to handle, run a fork through the flesh to separate and remove the strands from the shell. Add the squash and asparagus to the bowl and stir to combine. Wait to add the pine nuts until serving. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Credit: Design: Kitchn
Credit: The Kitchn
Credit: Jenny Huang

A Week of Easy Spring Meals to Help Eat More Vegetables

Breakfast

  • Spinach and Feta Egg Casserole + Toast: Much like a frittata, this egg casserole is good straight from the fridge, room temp, or heated up. Each morning, cut two portions of the casserole, pop a slice of sourdough into the toaster, and enjoy. 

Lunch 

  • Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Radish and Goat Cheese Farro Salad: Each day spoon two portions of the grain salad into bowls and let sit at room temperature for about 10 minutes before eating. If desired, top with an extra squeeze of lemon juice.
  • Tuesday, Leftover Bistro Salad: Divide the leftover salad between two bowls or plates and enjoy.
  • Thursday, Leftover Tortellini Soup: Reheat about half the leftover soup and dig in. Save the remaining leftovers for a weekend lunch. 

Dinner

  • Monday, French Bistro Salad with Rotisserie Chicken: The prep is done, so all that’s left to do tonight is whisk together the dressing, heat the ingredients, and serve — it will take you less than 10 minutes (and likely, closer to five). Whisk together the dressing in a large bowl, according to the recipe instructions. Heat 2 tablespoons olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat until shimmering. Add about 3/4 of the 1-inch pieces of asparagus and a pinch of kosher salt, and cook, tossing occasionally, until crisp-tender and charred in spots, about 4 minutes. Add about half of the shredded rotisserie chicken, and cook until warmed through, about 1 minute. Add to the dressing, along with the raw asparagus and lettuce, and toss to combine. Divide half of the salad among plates or bowls and dig in.
  • Tuesday, Spaghetti Squash with Asparagus, Ricotta, Lemon, and Thyme: Reheat about half of the squash mixture on the stovetop over low heat. If necessary, top with an extra squeeze of lemon juice, and/or more salt and pepper. Top with pine nuts, chopped hazelnuts, or chopped almonds and serve. 
  • Wednesday, Lemony Spinach Tortellini Soup with Shredded Chicken: Nearly all the prep work is done. To get dinner on the table, you’ll cook through the soup, which takes about 15 minutes and is mostly hands-off. Cook the soup according to the recipe instructions, and stir in the remaining shredded rotisserie chicken at the same time you add the spinach. Divide about 1/3 of the soup among two bowls and serve with a piece of sourdough, if desired.
  • Thursday, Leftover Spaghetti Squash with Fried Egg: Reheat the remaining spaghetti squash mixture. Cook up one to two fried eggs each, slide on top of the spaghetti squash and enjoy. Dinner comes together in about 10 minutes. 
  • Friday, Garlicky Swiss Chard Pizza with Ricotta: One to two hours before you plan to make the pizza, set the pizza dough at room temperature. Arrange a rack at the bottom of the oven and preheat to 450ºF. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Stretch pizza dough to fit baking sheet; brush with 1 tablespoon olive oil. Sprinkle with 1/2 cup grated pecorino cheese; evenly spread the Swiss chard mixture on top. Season 1 cup whole-milk ricotta with salt and pepper and dollop over pizza. Sprinkle 1/4 cup pecorino cheese and drizzle 1 tablespoon olive oil over the top. Bake 12 to 14 minutes until crust and ricotta are golden-brown. Cool for 5 minutes. Garnish with 2 tablespoons chopped chives and serve.

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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.