Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep 2 Weeks of Lunches in Just 90 Minutes
Meal prep sessions are meant to ease the transition to mealtime by streamlining the shopping and chopping. Oftentimes they focus on making a plan for every meal of the week, but that’s just one approach. Meal prepping lunches can save you time, money, and maybe even your mental well-being. By this point of the year, maybe you’re still working from home, are transitioning back to the office, or caring for kids on summer break. No matter where you work or play, planning and prepping lunches means no last-minute drive-thru orders, plus a midday meal you’ll actually look forward to.
Set aside just 90 minutes for this Power Hour Meal Prep Plan to make and prep two weeks’ worth of lunches. While this plan is designed to feed four people, you can easily adjust it to last longer and feed fewer people. The recipes in week two of the plan are freezer-friendly, so they are perfect for saving for weeks where you don’t have time to plan or prep.
Meal Prep Goals
- Lunches: Two weeks of family-friendly lunches that are easy to prep in advance.
- Nutritional Goals: All of the lunches included here are well-balanced and offer a variety of protein, vegetable, and carbohydrate options.
Meal Prep Plan Snapshot
- Feeds: Four people
- Prep Time: About 90 minutes
- Meals Covered: 80% of lunches for 2 weeks (no weekend lunches included)
- Weekday Cooking Required? Minimal — ingredients are prepped, but some assembly and reheating is required.
These are the ingredients you will need to prepare weekday lunches for two weeks. Staples like vegetable and olive oils, kosher salt, and black pepper are not included in this list. Check this list against the contents of your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry for ingredients you may already have on hand before you go shopping. This list is organized by grocery store department, to make shopping more efficient.
- Produce: 5 bell peppers (including 1 red), 1 small head (1/2 pound) broccoli, 2 heads butter lettuce, 1 large carrot, 1 small head (1/2 pound) cauliflower, 1 bunch scallions (for topping), 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, 1 medium English cucumber, 6 cloves garlic, 1 head iceberg lettuce, 4 stalks celery, 1 small red onion, 2 large yellow onions, 2 heads radicchio, avocado (for topping)
- Dairy: 12 ounces feta cheese, 6 ounces (2 cups; plus extra for topping) shredded cheddar cheese, sour cream or Greek yogurt (for topping)
- Meat: 2 cups tofu, shredded cooked chicken or beef (for burrito filling), 2 pounds ground chicken, 2 pounds ground turkey
- Dry Goods: 1 teaspoon Dijon mustard, 2 tablespoons low-sodium soy sauce, 6 tablespoons oyster sauce, 16 small pickled pepperoncinis, 1/2 cup red wine vinegar, 6 tablespoons rice vinegar, 1 teaspoon chili powder, 2 teaspoons chili-garlic paste or sambal oelek, 2 teaspoons cornstarch, 2 tablespoons plus 1 teaspoon dried oregano, 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder, 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin, 1 teaspoon ground ginger, 2 teaspoons toasted sesame seed oil, cheddar cheese crackers (for topping), 8 large (9- to 10-inch) burrito-sized flour tortillas, 1 cup rice (brown or white), 1 can black beans, 2 cans chickpeas, 1 teaspoon chili seasoning, 1 can diced tomatoes, 1 cup drained and chopped water chestnuts, 2 cups low-sodium chicken broth or beer or water, 2 cans red kidney beans, 1 can tomato paste, 1 cup farro (semi-pearled or pearled)
Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done
- Prep produce: Mediterranean-Style Chopped Salad: Prepare the following, adding everything to a large bowl or storage container: Dice 4 bell peppers, 4 celery stalks, 1 English cucumber; thinly slice 1 small red onion into half-moons and 16 pepperoncinis; and cut 12 ounces feta cheese into 1/2-inch cubes. Drain and rinse canned chickpeas. In a separate storage container add chopped iceberg lettuce and radicchio. Chicken Lettuce Wraps: Finely chop 8 ounces cremini mushrooms, drain and chop water chestnuts, slice 1 cup scallions, separate and wash leaves from 2 heads butter lettuce. Refrigerate lettuce and half of the scallions in separate containers. Turkey Chili: Dice 1 large yellow onion, 1 red bell pepper; mince 2 cloves garlic; drain canned red kidney beans. Vegetable Burritos: Chop broccoli and cauliflower into bite-sized florets and stems, and carrots into small pieces; slice onion into wedges.
- Cook farro: Rinse the farro for the Mediterranean-Style Chopped Salad, then cook in boiling water until it is tender but with a slight chew in the center. Time will vary depending on whether semi-pearled or pearled barley is used. Drain and cool.
- Roast veggies: Toss the broccoli, cauliflower florets, chopped carrots, and onion wedges with olive oil and salt, then roast until tender. Coarsely chop the roasted onion, then return it to the baking sheet and season with chili powder.
- Cook rice: Prepare white or brown rice on the stovetop, in a rice cooker, in the oven, or the Instant Pot.
- Make turkey chili: Prepare Turkey Chili according to the recipe instructions. Divide the chili into 12 individual portions in freezer-safe reusable containers, cool, and transfer to the freezer. If storing in quart-sized freezer bags, cool the chili before portioning.
- Make lettuce wrap filling: Make the sauce in a small bowl, and set aside. Brown the mushrooms in a large skillet, then add the ground chicken, ground ginger, salt, and garlic powder. Cook until the chicken is no longer pink. Stir in the water chestnuts and half of the sliced scallions. Pour in the sauce, then set aside to cool. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate.
- Make dressing: Prepare a double batch of the vinaigrette for the Mediterranean-Style Chopped Salad in a lidded jar. Toss the farro with half of the vinaigrette. Refrigerate the dressed farro and the vinaigrette separately.
- Assemble and freeze burritos: Wrap tortillas in a damp dishcloth and microwave for 20 seconds to soften. Then arrange layers of cheese, rice, black beans, vegetables and crumbled tofu (or shredded, cooked chicken or beef) on the lower third of the burrito. Fold the sides over the filling, then roll from the bottom up. Wrap each burrito in foil, label, and freeze.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Mediterranean-Style Chopped Salad: Fill a bowl with lettuce-radicchio mixture and top with chickpea mixture. Shake the reserved dressing to emulsify, then drizzle each portion with reserved dressing.
Tuesday and Thursday, Chicken Lettuce Wraps: Warm a portion of the lettuce wrap filling in the microwave until heated through. Spoon about 1/4 cup of the filling into each lettuce leaf, and top with sliced scallions.
Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Turkey Chili: The night before serving, transfer portions of turkey chili from the freezer to the refrigerator to thaw. Heat in the microwave until warmed through, then top with crushed cheddar cheese crackers, sliced scallions, diced avocado, or sour cream.
Tuesday and Thursday, Vegetable Burritos: If burritos are thawed overnight in the refrigerator, remove foil and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 1 minute or until heated through. If burritos are frozen, remove foil, and cover with a damp paper towel. Microwave on high for 2 minutes, then flip the burrito, cover with damp paper towel, again and microwave for another 1 to 2 minutes or until heated through.
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.