Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: A Week of Easy Whole30 Meals

published Sep 13, 2018
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(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Last January I tried Whole30 for the first time (here’s a little more about Whole30, including why so many of our readers feel it can make you understand your body and your eating better). I learned a lot about myself (and even more about my eating habits) and slept better than I have in a long time (maybe ever). But probably the biggest takeaway from my month on Whole30 was that the key to sticking with it comes down to meal prep.

When I’m actively following Whole30, I make as much of my weekly food as I can on Sunday, allowing me to do minimal cooking on weeknights. This Power Hour will help you prep a week of Whole30-approved breakfasts and lunches, and tackles the heavy lifting for dinner with enough food to feed two adults — all in under two hours.

(Image credit: Joe Lingeman)

Here are my meal prep priorities. In my family of two we can tolerate some leftovers, but we don’t like eating the same thing on repeat. I have time for some light cooking during the week — usually about 20 to 30 minutes to bring dinner together.

I use my meal prep session to get a jump-start on breakfast and dinner, and prepare lunches in their entirety.

To keeps meals easy and varied, I focus on prepping one or two proteins and a fair amount of veggies that can be assembled into a variety of Whole30-friendly breakfasts, lunches, and dinners during the week.

My Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: Fully prepared high-protein, mix-and-match breakfast options for me and my husband (five days).
  • Lunch: Make-ahead lunch for me and my husband (four days).
  • Dinner: Prep main proteins and components for all dinners (five days).
  • Nutritional Goals: Our primary nutritional goals for the week are to keep meals within the Whole30 guidelines.
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: Two people
  • Prep Time: About 2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Moderate (15 to 20 minutes of light cooking to bring dinner together)

My Meal Plan

Mix-and-Match Breakfast


  • Sesame Chicken Slaw: Pre-shredded slaw mix tossed with shredded chicken and sesame-ginger dressing.


(Image credit: The Kitchn)
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

My Shopping List

These are the things I bought or used for this meal prep plan. I also relied on staples and condiments already in my pantry, like ghee, cooking oil, vinegar, and spices.

  • Produce: 4 avocados, yellow onion, red onion, scallions, ginger, celery, 2 sweet potatoes, broccoli, 2 bags cauliflower rice, 3 bags slaw, zucchini, Persian cucumbers, bell peppers, mushrooms, basil, berries, bananas, 2 lemons
  • Meat: No-sugar prosciutto, no-sugar smoked salmon, 3 pounds boneless chicken breast, 3 1/2 pounds boneless pork shoulder, 2 pounds organic ground turkey
  • Dairy: 2 dozen organic eggs
  • Pantry: Coconut aminos, no-sugar marinara sauce, salsa
(Image credit: The Kitchn)

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

This plan comes together in under two hours, and if you’re a pro meal prepper you can pull it off in about 90 minutes. My approach to meal prep is all about efficiency, multitasking, and embracing the “meanwhile,” or taking advantage of any hands-off minutes in recipes.

My Sunday afternoon prep list is as follows (and we’ve created a handy pinnable image with the menu and prep list, if you’re interested!).

  1. Cook pork shoulder in the Instant Pot: I follow our recipe for pressure cooker Kalua pork. (My grocery store was out of sugar-free bacon, so I skip adding that ingredient). I use a smaller piece of meat than the recipe calls for, so after seasoning the pork with garlic and salt I add it to the Instant Pot, seal the lid, and set the timer for 75 minutes.
  2. Poach chicken: Meanwhile, I add the chicken to my widest saucepan, cover it with water, and toss in a few aromatics from a bag I keep in my freezer for exactly this purpose. To poach the chicken, I let the water come to a boil, drop it to a simmer, and let it cook for about 15 minutes.
  3. Hard-boil eggs: I add another pot to the stovetop to hard-boil the eggs while the chicken cooks. When they’re done, I immediately drain them, return the eggs to the pot, and fill it with cold water and lots of ice for a lazy, makeshift ice bath.
  4. Prep and roast vegetables: I preheat the oven to 425°F and peel and cube some sweet potatoes, prep a head of broccoli, and roughly chop a red onion for roasting. I toss them on rimmed baking sheets with olive oil, salt, and pepper, then slide them into the oven for 20 minutes. I make an effort to stir them halfway through (which truthfully I often forget), and when they’re done I let them cool on the baking sheet.
  5. Shred chicken and cool: If I was cooking one or two chicken breasts I’d shred them with a fork, but when I have a couple of pounds I like to use my stand mixer with the paddle attachment. Yes, it’s another dish to wash, but it literally shreds the chicken in seconds.
  6. Brown ground turkey: I go back to the stove to brown two pounds of ground turkey. Once cooked through, I stir in a jar of marinara sauce and some fresh basil and let it simmer while I prep the lunches.
  7. Mix together slaw for lunches: To shave off time for lunch prep, I start with a few varieties of pre-shredded slaw. I whisk together the dressing in a big bowl, then add the slaw and chicken and toss together. Lastly, I divide it between containers for grab-and-go lunches.
  8. Chop vegetables for burrito bowls and snacks: During the week I plan to use some of the pork for cauliflower rice burrito bowls. To get a jump on this meal, I slice and sauté the bell peppers and onion. While I’m at it, I wash and cut up cucumbers and celery for snacking.
  9. Shred pork: My last order of business is to shred the pork after it’s finished cooking in the Instant Pot.

And that’s it! Lots of prep and cooking, but once it’s done and everything is refrigerated, I have a huge head-start on the week.

(Image credit: Jenny Chang-Rodriguez)
Whole30 meal prep in action. (Image credit: Kelli Foster)
Stocked fridge for the week. (Image credit: Kelli Foster)
(Image credit: The Kitchn)
(Image credit: Kelli Foster)

A Week of Whole30 Meals

Here’s how all that prep turns into ready-to-eat breakfasts, grab-and-go lunches, and dinners that just need to be reheated or lightly cooked.

Breakfast: The base of our breakfast is always two hard-boiled eggs and half an avocado (often showered with everything bagel spice). To keep it interesting we’ll rotate in a scoop of vegan kimchi, a couple slices of sugar-free prosciutto, or some sugar-free smoked salmon.

Lunch: Lunch is one of our biggest weekly pain points, and because of this we’re more open to eat the same thing on repeat all week. The sesame slaw is a favorite, and the hearty base means it holds up well without getting soggy. We partner this with some fruit, almonds, or an RXBAR or EPIC bar. (See more Whole30 lunch ideas here.)

Dinner: Dinners this week alternate between the shredded pork and the zucchini noodles tossed with the ground turkey meat sauce. We start by eating the pork with roasted vegetables and a simple green salad made with leftover veggies, then add it to cauliflower rice burrito bowls another night, and mix it into an Asian-style cauliflower fried rice on the third night.

* * *

I hope this is helpful to you! If you’re doing Whole30 you know (as do I) that figuring out what to eat can be challenging. This puts it all together for you.

If you’re not into Whole30, you may still love this plan. And if not, stay tuned — there are even more Power Hours coming your way. Meanwhile, if you do use Whole30 as an eating tool, I’d love to hear some of your own favorite meals and meal prep strategies.

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.