Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of Vegetarian Meals from Trader Joe’s in Just 1 Hour

updated May 6, 2021
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grid of four food items, falafel on a baking sheet, potatoes in a baking dish,  greens in a baking dish, and chickpeas in a baking dish
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

When I need a spark of inspiration to shake up my meal prep routine, you can find me at Trader Joe’s. The fan-favorite store offers high-quality groceries at affordable prices, with tons of smart shortcuts to get meals on the table. And some of my favorite TJ’s groceries are perfect for plant-based meal plans.

This Power Hour walks you through everything you need to plan, purchase, and prepare for a week of tasty vegetarian meals. Some of the ingredients featured in the recipes this week can only be found at Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have this quirky mart nearby, don’t despair: All of the items have comparable counterparts in your everyday grocery stores. Plan to spend an hour in the kitchen prepping components for this week’s meals. The recipes rely on Trader Joe’s flavor-packed ingredients, so while cooking is required each evening, the tasks are simple. Let’s get started.

Find more Trader Joe’s meal plans: Here Are 4 Weeks of Easy Trader Joe’s Meal Plans

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Anna Stockwell

Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: Two quick options made interesting, thanks to Trader Joe’s (five days).
  • Lunch: Alternate between two high-protein salads (four days).
  • Dinner: A variety of options requiring just a few ingredients that all come from Trader Joe’s.
  • Nutritional Goals: All of the meals in this week’s plan are vegetarian.

Meal Prep Snapshot

  • Feeds: 4 people for breakfast and dinner and 2 for lunch.
  • Prep Time: About 1 hour
  • Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Minimal — some assembly and light cooking is required to get dinner on the table.

Meal Plan


  • Avocado Toast with Everything But The Bagel Seasoning
  • Yogurt with Almond Butter Granola



Shopping List

These are the ingredients I bought or used for this week’s meal plan. The list does not include staples like vegetable and olive oils, kosher salt, and black pepper. Before you go shopping, check your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry for ingredients you may already have on hand. All of these ingredients are available at Trader Joe’s, but you can likely find approximate substitutes at other local grocers.

  • Bakery: 1 loaf sliced bread, 6 medium (6-inch) corn tortillas, 4 whole-wheat flatbreads
  • Produce: 6 avocados, 1 (12.95-ounce) bag Mediterranean-style salad kit, 1 (10-ounce) package shaved Brussels sprouts, 2 cups (refrigerated) steamed lentils, 1 bag baby spinach, 1 small bunch fresh cilantro, 5 radishes, 1 large lime
  • Refrigerated: 1 large container yogurt, 1 package Italian sausage-less sausage, 1/2 cup Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto, 5 ounces queso fresco or feta cheese, 12 ounces soy chorizo, 6 large eggs, 1 (12-ounce) bag quattro formaggio
  • Dry Goods: 1 jar Everything But the Bagel Seasoning, 1 package almond butter granola, 1 (16-ounce) box falafel mix, 1 (8.8-ounce) bag 10-minute farro, 3 tablespoons toasted sesame dressing, 1 cup gyoza dipping sauce, 1 (32-ounce) box creamy tomato soup, 1 (12-ounce) jar artichoke antipasto spread
  • Freezer: 1 (14-ounce) bag frozen sweet potato gnocchi, 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen stir-fry vegetables, 1 bag frozen Thai vegetable gyoza, 1 (16-ounce) package frozen outside-in stuffed gnocchi

Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done

  1. Heat oven. Arrange a rack in the middle of the oven and heat oven to 350°F.
  2. Make falafel. Prepare a double batch of the falafel according to package instructions. Arrange on a parchment-lined baking sheet and bake until golden, 25 to 30 minutes. Cool completely, then refrigerate.
  3. Prepare farro. Bring water to a boil and cook farro according to package instructions. Drain, then spread onto a rimmed baking sheet to cool completely. Refrigerate in an airtight container.
  4. Sauté Brussels sprouts and lentils. Sauté Brussels sprouts until tender and lightly browned, then stir in refrigerated lentils. Cool completely, then refrigerate.
  5. Slice sausage. Slice the Italian sausage-less sausage crosswise into coins. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
Credit: Kitchn
Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk


Start some days with a lightly toasted slice of bread topped with 1/2 mashed or sliced avocado, and finished with a shake of Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning. Other mornings, top a bowl of cool and creamy yogurt with a handful of almond butter granola.


Monday and Wednesday, Mediterranean Falafel Salad: If you have access to an oven, air fryer, or microwave at lunchtime, reheat the falafel before serving. Then for each serving, combine 1/4 of the salad kit with cooled, prepared farro and baked falafel in a bowl.

Tuesday and Thursday, Warm Brussels Sprouts and Lentil Salad: This salad tastes great at any temperature, although I prefer it at room temperature. Finish with a drizzle of toasted sesame salad dressing.

Friday, leftovers: Use up any leftover lunches or dinners for Friday’s midday meal.


Monday, Crispy Sweet Potato Gnocchi: Roast the prepared sliced Italian sausage-less sausage and sweet potato gnocchi at 450°F until crisp and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Drizzle with the Kale, Cashew, and Basil pesto and toss to coat.

Tuesday, Trader Joe’s Potsticker Stir-Fry: Sauté frozen stir-fry vegetables until almost tender. Move the vegetables to the side and arrange the gyoza on the other side of the pan, pleated side up. Cook until the bottoms are light golden, about 3 minutes, then add a splash of water, cover, and steam for another 3 minutes. Pour in 1 cup of the gyoza dipping sauce and toss to coat.

Wednesday, Tomato Soup with Stuffed Gnocchi and Spinach: Heat the tomato soup in a Dutch oven until simmering, then add the stuffed gnocchi and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in handfuls of baby spinach and cook until just barely wilted.

Thursday, Soy Chorizo and Fried Egg Breakfast Tacos: Wrap a stack of corn tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave for 1 minute or until warm. Remove casings from soy chorizo and cook until brown. Fry the eggs, in batches, until the yolks are runny and whites set. Assemble the tacos: Top tortillas with soy chorizo, fried egg, chopped cilantro, sliced radishes, and queso fresco. Serve with a wedge of fresh lime.

Friday, Easy Flatbread Pizza: Spread 2 tablespoons artichoke antipasto spread onto each flatbread, add the spinach, then top with shredded cheese. Bake at 400°F until the cheese is melted and golden-brown, 12 to 15 minutes.


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.