Power Hour Meal Prep

Power Hour: How I Prep a Week of Cozy, Veggie-Packed Winter Meals in 3 Hours or Less

updated Feb 2, 2022
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Power Hour: Easy & Comforting Winter Meals That Are Mostly Vegetables
Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk
Power Hour Meal Prep

It is easier to kick off the covers on cold winter mornings when you know there’s a warm breakfast waiting — and it’s easier to get through the day knowing that your lunches and dinners will be as easy to make they are comforting to eat. That’s where this week’s Power Hour meal prep plan comes into play: It’s full of cozy, vegetable-packed meals that won’t leave you feeling sluggish. Below, I’ll walk you through planning an entire week of easy plant-based breakfasts, lunches, and dinners that are exactly what you want to eat this winter. With a two- to three-hour prep session over the weekend, you’ll keep weekday cooking to a minimum and be set up for a satisfying and delicious week.

Credit: Photo: Joe Lingeman; Food Styling: Jesse Szewczyk

Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: Warm breakfast to start the day off right.
  • Lunch: Lunches that are filling and simple to prep.
  • Dinner: Veggie-packed dinners that are easy to make and cozy to eat on cold winter nights.
  • Nutritional Goals: This week’s plan is all about leaning in to easy prep for a week of cozy meals. There are no specific nutritional goals for this plan, but you can feel good about what you’re eating because these meals don’t skimp on the vegetables.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: 4 for breakfast and dinner; 2 for lunch
  • Prep Time: 2 to 3 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 70% of meals (no weekend meals)
  • Weekday Cooking Required? Yes. But most ingredients are prepped and dinner is easy to finish and serve.

Meal Plan





Shopping List

These are the ingredients you will need to prepare this week of cozy, veggie-packed meals. Cooking oils, kosher salt, and black pepper are not included in the list, so check you pantry before heading to the store.

  • Bakery: 2 loaves crusty bread
  • Produce: 1/4 cup fresh basil leaves, 1-inch piece fresh ginger, 13 ounces baby spinach, 3 heads broccoli (or 4 1/2 cups florets), 6 carrots, 1 small head (2 pounds) cauliflower (or florets), 1 pint cherry tomatoes, 1 spaghetti squash, 13 garlic cloves, 2 large (2 pounds total) sweet potatoes, 3 yellow onions
  • Dry Goods: 1 package small tortillas, 2 cups old-fashioned rolled oats, 16 ounces enchilada sauce, 1 teaspoon baking powder, 2 teaspoons dried thyme, 1 tablespoon curry powder, 2 tablespoons garam masala, 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon, 2 teaspoons ground coriander, 1 teaspoon ground cumin, 2 teaspoons harissa paste (or 1 teaspoon tomato paste plus 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes), cayenne (pinch), 1 teaspoon paprika, 1 teaspoon red pepper flakes, 1/4 cup sweetener (such as maple syrup, brown sugar, or coconut sugar), 2 teaspoons vanilla extract, 2 (15-ounce) cans chickpeas, 2 (15-ounce) cans black beans, 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes, 2 (about 14-ounce) cans diced or crushed tomatoes, 1 pound dried red lentils, 7 cups low-sodium vegetable broth, 2 tablespoons tomato paste, 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce
  • Dairy: 16 ounces cottage cheese, 4 cups whole milk, 22 large eggs, 1 cup heavy cream or unsweetened full-fat coconut milk, 1/2 ounce (2 tablespoons) Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, 8 ounces sliced semi-hard cheese (Swiss, Havarti, Muenster, Provolone), 3 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 3 cups shredded Mexican-blend cheese, 2 tablespoons unsalted butter
  • Frozen: 1 cup frozen peas, 1 package frozen rice
  • Optional ingredients for serving: Nuts, coconut, or fruit for baked oatmeal
Credit: The Kitchn

Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done

  1. Make Sheet Pan Veggie Frittata. Cut florets from 1 head broccoli into bite-size` pieces, peel stalks and chop into bite-size pieces. Halve 1 pint cherry tomatoes. Spread onto an oiled rimmed baking sheet. Meanwhile mix eggs, milk, salt, and pepper together. Grate 1 cup cheddar cheese, if needed. Roast broccoli and tomatoes at 375°F for 12 to 15 minutes. Then add eggs to the baking sheet and sprinkle with the cheese. Bake 25 to 30 minutes. Cool, slice, and transfer to a food storage container.
  2. Microwave spaghetti squash. Cook the spaghetti squash following our directions for how to cook spaghetti squash in the microwave.
  3. Prep Vegetarian Tikka Masala. Dice 1 yellow onion, peel and finely chop 1 tablespoon fresh ginger, mince 3 cloves garlic, cut 1 head cauliflower into bite-size florets, and peel and cut 3 to 4 carrots into 1/2-inch pieces. Heat oil in a high-sided skillet over medium heat. Add onion, ginger, and garlic, then stir in the spices (garam masala, coriander, paprika, cayenne, and salt), and cook until the onion is soft. Stir in the tomato paste, then add the cauliflower and carrots. Stir to coat in the spices, then remove from the heat. Transfer to a food storage container, cool, and refrigerate.
  4. Make Broccoli and Cheese Spaghetti Squash Casserole. Cut 1-inch florets from 2 heads broccoli. Place florets and 2 tablespoons water in a large skillet over medium-high heat, and cook until crisp-tender and water evaporates. Add strands of cooked spaghetti squash, 1 1/2 cups shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 16 ounces cottage cheese, 3 large eggs, 1 teaspoon kosher salt, and 1/4 teaspoon black pepper and stir until combined. Transfer to a 9×13-inch baking dish and top with 1/2 cup cheddar cheese. Cover and refrigerate. 
  5. Prep chickpeas for Cheesy Chickpea Melts. Drain and rinse 2 cans chickpeas. Mince 2 cloves garlic, then sauté until golden and fragrant. Add harissa (or tomato paste and red pepper flakes) and cook until darkened. Add chickpeas, 1 can diced tomatoes with their juices, 1/2 cup water, salt, 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme, and black pepper. Simmer until reduced, 12 to 15 minutes. Stir in 2 ounces baby spinach. Transfer to a food storage container, cool, and refrigerate.
  6. Prep vegetables for Lentil Soup. Peel and dice 2 carrots and 1 yellow onion. Mince 4 garlic cloves. Pick through and rinse 1 pound dried red lentils. Sauté carrots and onion until soft in a Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, curry powder, ground cumin, dried thyme, and kosher salt, and cook until fragrant. Stir in the lentils. Remove from the heat, transfer to a food storage container, and refrigerate. 
  7. Make sauce for Eggs in Purgatory. Sauté 1/2 finely chopped yellow onion and 2 minced garlic cloves in a large skillet over medium heat until soft. Add red pepper flakes, kosher salt, and black pepper and cook 1 more minute. Stir in 1 (28-ounce) can crushed tomatoes and simmer 20 minutes. Transfer to a food storage container, cool, and refrigerate. 
  8. Assemble Enchilada Casserole. Use a mandoline or sharp knife to thinly slice 2 pounds unpeeled sweet potatoes. Drain and rinse 2 cans black beans. Spread 1/2 cup enchilada sauce on the bottom of a greased 9×13-inch baking dish. Add 1/3 of the sweet potato slices in a single layer, then top with half of the beans, 1 cup of shredded Mexican-blend cheese, 1/2 cup enchilada sauce, and half of the baby spinach. Repeat the layers one more time, then finish with the remaining sweet potatoes and enchilada sauce. Cover with aluminum foil and refrigerate. 
  9. Assemble Baked Oatmeal. Whisk melted butter, egg, milk, sweetener, vanilla extract, cinnamon, baking powder, and salt together in a large bowl. Stir in old-fashioned rolled oats and fruit or coconut, if using. Transfer to a greased 8×8-inch baking dish, cover with plastic wrap, and refrigerate. 
Credit: Kitchn
Credit: Joe Lingeman


  • Monday, Thursday, Baked Oatmeal: Monday morning, remove the oatmeal from the refrigerator and stir while the oven heats to 350°F. Bake, uncovered, for 45 minutes. Serve warm. On Thursday, reheat servings of oatmeal in the microwave with a splash of milk to loosen to desired consistency. 
  • Tuesday, Wednesday, Friday, Sheet Pan Veggie Frittata: Reheat a slice of frittata and eat on its own or wrap in a tortilla.


  • Monday, Tuesday, Thursday, Cheesy Chickpea Melts: Reheat portions of the chickpea mixture and toast 1 slice of bread for each serving. Spoon chickpea mixture on top of the bread and top with a slice of cheese. Broil until the cheese melts and is slightly browned in spots. 
  • Wednesday, Friday, Leftovers: Don’t let any of your meal prep effort go to waste. There are bound to be leftovers from the week’s dinners, so reheat leftovers for your midday meal.


  • Monday, Vegetarian Tikka Masala: Return tikka masala mixture to a high-sided skillet or Dutch oven. Place over medium-low heat add 1 (15-ounce) can crushed tomatoes and 1 cup vegetable broth and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until vegetables are tender. Add peas and heavy cream or coconut milk, and continue to cook until thickened, about 10 minutes. Meanwhile, prepare frozen rice according to package directions. Serve vegetarian tikka masala in bowls over rice. 
  • Tuesday, Broccoli and Cheese Spaghetti Squash Casserole: Take casserole out of the refrigerator while the oven heats to 350°F. Uncover and bake until the casserole is heated through and a knife inserted into the center comes out clean, about 1 hour.
  • Wednesday, Lentil Soup: Return the lentil mixture to a Dutch oven and add 1 (15-ounce) can tomato sauce and 6 cups vegetable broth. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to maintain a simmer. Cook until the lentils are tender, about 20 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in 5 cups baby spinach. Ladle into bowls and serve immediately.
  • Thursday, Enchilada Casserole: Bake casserole, covered, until sweet potatoes are tender, about 40 minutes. Uncover and top with the remaining 1 cup shredded Mexican-blend cheese, then continue to bake until the cheese melts, about 5 minutes. 
  • Friday, Eggs in Purgatory: Return sauce to the skillet and reheat over medium heat. Meanwhile cut basil into very thin strips. Create 6 depressions with the back of a spoon and crack eggs into each depression. Spoon some of the tomato sauce over each egg to cover. Cover and cook until the whites are just set, 6 to 8 minutes. Top with grated Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese and basil. Spoon into bowls and serve with slices of bread.


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.