Power Hour Meal Prep

How I Prep a Week of Vegetarian Meals in the Instant Pot

updated Mar 24, 2021
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four different dishes sit in seperate containes ready to store on a table
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell
Credit: The Kitchn

Consider this vegetarian meal prep plan your reminder that the Instant Pot is a super-helpful appliance that makes easy (and sometimes faster) work of cooking up meat-free staples like sweet potatoes and lentils, as well as satisfying meals like creamy pasta and rice bowls.

This step-by-step prep plan walks you through cooking a couple of your meals for the week ahead, plus prepping the components for all remaining meals. So while there will be some cooking and reheating throughout the week, all of the prep work is already done. This plan also gives you some smart tips for repurposing leftovers into brand-new meals. Here’s how to do it.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: A simple, filling breakfast that requires very little effort in the morning.
  • Lunch: A warm, wholesome lunch that can be made in advance. 
  • Dinner: Meals that can either be cooked in advance or components can be prepped, so during the week there’s virtually no prep required, and everything can just be dropped in the Instant Pot for quick dinners.
  • Nutritional Goals: All meals are vegetarian.
Credit: The Kitchn

Meal Prep Snapshot

  • Feeds: Two people.
  • Prep Time: About two hours.
  • Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals).
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Moderate. There is some weeknight cooking required, but all the prep has been done, and since you’ll be using the Instant Pot, cooking is mostly hands-off.

Meal Plan




Credit: NA

Shopping List

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: 5 avocados, 3 yellow onions, 1 shallot, garlic, 3 celery stalks, 3 carrots, 5 ounces baby spinach, 12 ounces wild mushrooms, 1 bunch parsley, 1 small bunch rosemary, 1 small bunch cilantro, 2 medium sweet potatoes, 2 lemons, 6 cups kale
  • Refrigerated & Frozen: 10 large eggs, 4 ounces chive and onion or garlic and chive cream cheese, 1/2 cup frozen corn kernels, 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 1 block cheese (to serve alongside soup)
  • Pantry: 1 pound French or green lentils, ground cumin, ground coriander, paprika, chili powder, red pepper flakes, 2 boxes low-sodium vegetable broth + 3 cups, 1 (15-ounce) can fire-roasted diced tomatoes, 12 ounces whole-wheat penne pasta, 2 cans black beans, 1 can white beans, 1 (16-ounce) jar salsa, 1 cup long-grain white rice, 1/2 cup tahini, 2 tablespoons maple syrup, 2 large flour tortillas
  • Bakery: 1 loaf bread
  • Other: 1/4 cup dry white wine
Credit: The Kitchn

Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done

  1. Cook eggs: Put a steamer basket and 1 cup water in the Instant Pot. Cook 10 eggs for 5 minutes at LOW pressure, then let the pressure naturally release for 5 minutes. Quick release any remaining pressure and soak the eggs in an ice bath for about 5 minutes. Store in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, scrub 2 sweet potatoes and pierce all over with a fork.
  2. Cook sweet potatoes: Rinse the Instant Pot insert. Cook the sweet potatoes according to the recipe instructions. When the cook time is up, let the pressure naturally release for 10 minutes. Quick release any remaining pressure. Remove the sweet potato and wash the Instant Pot insert. Cool the sweet potatoes completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. Meanwhile, prep all of the remaining vegetables.
  3. Prep vegetables: For the lentil soup, dice 1 yellow onion and 3 celery stalks, peel and cut 3 carrots into 1/2-inch-thick rounds, mince 3 garlic cloves, and place in a bowl. For the beans and greens, dice 1 shallot, mince 1 garlic clove, and remove the stems from 1 bunch of kale and slice leaves into ribbons; set aside. For the pasta, slice the mushrooms, dice 1 onion, mince 3 cloves garlic, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator. For the burrito bowls, dice 1 onion, mince 1 clove garlic, and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  4. Cook soup: Add the bowl of prepped vegetables and remaining ingredients for the soup to the Instant Pot, and cook according to the recipe instructions. Cool completely and store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
  5. Make beans and greens: While the soup cooks, use the prepped vegetables to cook the beans and greens on the stovetop, according to the recipe instructions.
  6. Make tahini sauce: Halve the recipe, and mix together the ingredients for the tahini sauce. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator.
Credit: Kitchn
Credit: The Kitchn


Avocado Toast with Hard-Boiled Egg: Each morning toast a couple slices of bread, and top each with 1/2 mashed avocado, a sliced hard-boiled egg, flaky salt, and a few grind of black pepper.


Lentil Soup with Crackers & Cheese: When lunchtime rolls around, reheat a couple portions of soup in the microwave or on the stovetop. Round out the meal with cheese and some of your favorite crackers.


Monday, Creamy Wild Mushroom Pasta: Cook the pasta in the Instant Pot according to the recipe instructions. Dinner comes together in about 20 minutes. Divide half of the pasta among two bowls, and save the rest for another dinner later in the week.

Tuesday, Black Bean Burrito Bowls: Using this recipe as a template, you’ll omit the chicken and replace with an additional can of black beans (two total), and follow the instructions as written. Dinner is a mostly hands-off affair and comes together in about 20 minutes. Divide up to half of the rice and bean mixture among two bowls and top with your favorite toppings. Refrigerate the leftovers in an airtight container for another dinner later in the week.

Wednesday, Stuffed Sweet Potato with Beans & Greens: Remove the tahini sauce from the refrigerator and whisk to loosen up. Reheat the sweet potatoes in the microwave or oven and reheat the beans and greens mixture on the stovetop. Split open the sweet potatoes and fluff the insides with a fork. Spoon the beans and greens mixture into the sweet potatoes and drizzle with tahini sauce.

Thursday, Leftover pasta: Reheat the leftover pasta over low heat on the stovetop. Add a splash of broth or water to loosen, if necessary.

Friday, Black Bean and Rice Burritos: Preheat the oven to 350°F. Spoon some of the leftover rice and bean mixture onto soft flour tortillas and roll into burritos. Place on a rimmed baking sheet and heat in the oven until warmed through, about 10 minutes.

Credit: Kitchn