Meal Prep experts show you step-by-step how to meal prep one week in just an hour. Make sure to get the free beginners meal plan download to try out our meal prep system!
When you hear “meal prep,” do you think of spending your whole Saturday in the kitchen prepping? Or do you think of eating the same boring meal day after day with no variety? I'm here to debunk both of those myths!
The whole reason I started Prep Dish over ten years ago was to help busy people feed themselves and their families well, without the stress. Meal prep is the secret. When you devote a little time up front to prepping the week's meals, you really can enjoy a variety of delicious, healthy meals even on weeknights.
Our original Prep Dish meal plans are designed to require 2 hours or less meal prep time. That's pretty good when you consider you're prepping meals for the entire week! But a couple of years ago I realized 2 hours is still too much for some busy families. That's when we started offering our weekly Super Fast meal plans and, oh my goodness, they have been more popular than I could have imagined!
Our Super Fast meal plans empower you to prep one week in one hour. They include 5 healthy dinners, all of which can be prepped in just one hour. Some people choose to do all of the prep at once, which is the most efficient, while others need to spread it out throughout the week. These meal plans are flexible!
And I'm not talking boring meals like plain pasta and marinara or chicken and rice. We make sure to still include plenty of variety and different flavor profiles in our Super Fast meal plans. I really do pour my heart into them because these are the meal plans I most often cook for my own family!
Today I want to walk you through exactly how I prep one week in one hour. I'm going to use a Super Fast meal plan from November 2022 to show you, step-by-step, what it looks like to prep 5 prep ahead meals in just an hour.
If you'd like to try it for yourself, sign up for a free trial. That will give you access to YEARS of Prep Dish meal plans, including the one featured in this post. (Psst! Make sure to choose Annual or Premium for access to the archives, including this meal plan.) That way you can follow along.
Not ready for a free trial? No worries. I'm also giving you our beginners meal plan for free, download it at the end of this post!
Meal Prep One Week in One Hour – The Meals
Today I'm going to walk you through how I use our November 2022 Week 1 Super Fast Meal Plan to meal prep one week in just an hour.
You'll notice we have a mix of different proteins (salmon, chicken, lentils, turkey and chorizo). We always aim to mix it up with both the proteins and the veggies from week to week so you don't get stuck in a rut.
You'll also notice the meal plan includes one vegetarian meal. Both our gluten free and our super fast meal plans almost always include one meatless meal. If plant based isn't your thing, you can easily add some meat. If you're totally vegetarian, we provide tips on how to convert our meal plans to be vegetarian in our weekly Friday subscriber newsletter. One of the biggest benefits (in addition to the cost savings) of using meal plans instead of meal delivery kits is the flexibility. YOU get to choose exactly what ingredients you purchase.
That said, here's the meal prep menu we're going to prep together today:
Prep Day for 5 Prep Ahead Meals
All of our weekly meal plans include 3 parts: an organized grocery list, prep day instructions and dish day instructions. Prep day is at the heart of what we do.
This is when we outline, step by step, exactly what you need to do for your prep ahead meals. Prep day is when most of the chopping happens, as well as tasks like making sauces and marinades. You'll notice we don't usually make the entire meals on prep day. This is because I want your food to taste fresh and delicious! No one wants to eat leftovers every night.
Pssst! Want to level up your chopping skills to make prep day even faster? Check out my YouTube channel with tons of “how to chop” videos to help you along.
Today's prep day starts with preheating the oven to 375F. One trick we have for efficient meal prep is making sure everything on prep day bakes at the same temperature.
Next, you'll season and bake some chicken breasts. You may notice these are used in two separate meals: Chicken Tinga Tacos and Italian Chicken Noodle Vegetable Soup. This is another one of my favorite meal prep hacks! I call it “cook once, eat twice” and it basically means we prep one ingredient and enjoy it in two totally different ways. This means less work, without eating the same thing day after day.
Once the chicken is in the oven, you'll get the lentils cooking on the stove. This ingredient also plays double duty in the Lemon Herb Baked Salmon with Lentils & Tomatoes and the Lentil Spinach Salad with Pears, Walnuts and Goat Cheese.
Now, on to the chopping! You'll chop tomatoes, celery, carrots, onion, garlic and 1 chipotle pepper. Even if you do nothing but the chopping on your prep day, you'll notice huge time savings throughout the week. This step is simple, but essential.
Once your veggies are chopped, you'll whisk everything together for the lemon herb sauce for the salmon.
In the next two steps (Soup and Burgers), you'll notice the instructions say to freeze some items. We suggest this sometimes to make sure all of your meals are actually fresh when you eat them. Cooking chicken on Sunday and eating it 5 or 6 days later is not the best idea in terms of food safety. Freezing your soup ingredients, however, means they'll stay nice and fresh all week. You'll also form burger patties and freeze those.
The last prep day step is making a simple balsamic salad dressing. I'm a huge proponent of homemade salad dressings so this makes a frequent appearance on our prep day plans.
You can see, we've prepped a lot of food at this point! And because of the careful planning and tricks like “cook once eat twice,” all of this takes just an hour. Of course, the meals aren't fully cooked yet. Keep reading to see how each dinner comes together throughout the week.
Dish Day (AKA Easy Weeknights)
Monday: Lemon Herbed Baked Salmon w/ Lentils & Tomatoes
With my sauce made and my sides prepped, this dish comes together in about 20 minutes. All I need to do is bake the salmon and saute my chopped tomatoes and lentils in some olive oil while it cooks. Then I drizzle everything in that delicious sauce and dinner is done!
Tuesday: Chicken Tinga Tacos
You'll notice there's a small amount of chopping today. I like to wait to chop certain ingredients, like avocado and cilantro, to make sure they stay fresh. You'll also need to grate some cotija cheese (if using – dairy is always optional).
After chopping those, you'll cook your previously chopped onions, garlic and chipotle with some spices, chicken stock and diced tomatoes to make a tinga sauce. Then, you'll stir in your cooked, shredded chicken and let it simmer for a bit to let the sauce thicken and the flavor build.
And that's it! Build your tacos and enjoy.
Wednesday: Lentil Spinach Salad w/ Pears, Walnuts & Goat Cheese
This is a particularly easy day. I always look ahead at the week's meal plan and schedule meals like this when I know I'll be super busy or will be getting home late.
First, you'll remove the balsamic dressing from the fridge to let it come to room temperature. Next, slice your pears. Finally, assemble the salads and drizzle with dressing. So easy!
You'll also notice the meal plan tells you to remove the chicken soup ingredients from the freezer the night before.
Thursday: Italian Chicken Noodle Vegetable Soup
With all of your veggies chopped, this soup comes together so quickly. You'll begin by sauteing your veggies in some olive oil before adding chicken stock, diced tomatoes, white wine, ditalini pasta and seasoning. Once that cooks for about 15 minutes, add in your cooked, shredded chicken and baby kale. Simmer for 5 more minutes, chopping some fresh parsley while it cooks. Top your soup with parsley and parmesan and it's ready to enjoy!
Friday: Turkey Chorizo Burgers w/ Fruit & Veggie Crudite
All you have to do today is bake your burgers (or grill if you prefer) and prepare some fruit to serve with the carrot and celery sticks you chopped earlier in the week while they cook.
And that brings us to the close of the week. Even though I've meal prepped for well over a decade, it still amazes me how just an hour of effort up front can make weeknight dinners so simple.
Try Prep Dish meal plans Yourself! Meal Prep One Week w/ Our Free Download
Click below to get our beginners meal plan for free! And if you find you love this approach, or if you want to try the meal plan highlighted above, we offer a free trial where you can explore our meal prep meal plans further before committing. (Make sure to choose Annual or Premium if you want the November 2022 meal plan, as those options include archives.)
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