My meal prep routine varies week to week depending on how much free time I have on Sundays. But I've learned that even on weekends where I only have one hour, there's a lot I can accomplish. When time is limited, I maximize my efforts by leaning on recipes and ingredients that require minimal prep and little to no hands-on cooking — allowing me to prep multiple things at once.

This Power Hour will help you prep a week of breakfasts and lunches and give you a major jump-start on dinner so you don't have to start from zero every night. Ready to get started?

In my family of two we occasionally enjoy leftovers, but we don't like eating the same thing over and over throughout the week. While I have a fair amount of time to cook most weeknights, I honestly don't have it in me to start from zero every night.

In addition to making simple grab-and-go breakfasts and lunches for the week, my priority for one-hour meal prep sessions is to get as much of a head start on dinner as I can.

This often means making a protein that can be stretched across a couple meals and a vegetable or slaw that can partner with several dinners. Anticipating that I'll lose steam midweek, I also slot in a simple pasta night (dried spaghetti and jarred marinara).

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

My approach to meal prep is all about efficiency, multitasking, and embracing the "meanwhile" — especially when there's just one hour on the clock. I always start with the tasks that take the most time, and aim to take advantage of any hands-off moments, like waiting for the oven to preheat or water to boil.

My Sunday afternoon prep list is as follows (and we've created a handy pinnable image with the menu and prep list, if you want to save this for later!):

Breakfast: Since it's easy to make a huge batch at once and it lasts for up to five days, overnight oats with fresh berries, cinnamon, and maple syrup is one of our go-to weekday breakfast choices. Just before eating we top it with sliced banana, toasted coconut flakes, toasted nuts, and seeds.

Lunch: Lunch is one of my weekly pain points, so I tend to stick with options I can prep in advance for the whole week. This week is saucy Moroccan-spiced chickpea bowls with bulgur, sautéed greens, and a hard-boiled egg — one of my favorite recipes from my cookbook, Buddha Bowls. It's satisfying and filling, without being too heavy for the middle of the day. I like to layer it in jars with the yogurt sauce at the bottom and the kale at the top, which is an easy way to keep the greens from getting soggy.

Dinner: I kick off the week by reheating some of the miso-ginger chicken thighs (which have even more flavor a day later) and pair them with broccoli slaw and a loaf of bread I pick up after work. On Tuesday I use the slaw and avocado as a base for simple fish tacos, and Thursday the remaining chicken and leftover bread is turned into sandwiches. We also have a mid-week pasta night that comes together in a flash, thanks to dried spaghetti and a jar of marinara.

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.


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