Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of 1500-Calorie Days in 2 Hours

Counting calories doesn’t have to mean subtracting filling and flavorful meals from your diet. With a plan in place, it’s easier to stay within your calorie budget and fill your plate with nutrient-packed vegetables and lean proteins.

Set aside two hours for this Power Hour and you’ll have everything you need for a week of nutritious and filling meals. The recipes in this week’s meal plan provide about 1,500 calories per day, and I’ve planned for a bit of caloric wiggle room. (A daily snack that tastes just like your mom’s famous no-bake cookies is built right into the meal plan.) Health and wellness goals are personal to each individual, so adjust this meal plan to fit your needs and, as always, take the advice of a healthcare professional before beginning any special diet. Here’s how to put it all together.

My Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: Easy breakfasts packed with filling fiber and heart-healthy fats.
  • Lunch: Packable heat-and-eat lunches alternated with crisp protein-topped salads.
  • Snack: An easy, no-bake snack packed with nuts, seeds, and dried fruit.
  • Dinner: Quick-cooking dinners that focus on lean proteins and lots of produce.
  • Nutritional Goals: Flavorful and nourishing meals that provide 1,500 calories a day or fewer.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: Two adults and two kids for breakfast and dinner, and two adults for lunch.
  • Prep Time: About 2 hours.
  • Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals).
  • Weeknight Cooking Required? Meal components are prepped and require about 30 minutes of light cooking to bring dinner together.

My Meal Plan

Breakfast

  • Steel-Cut Oatmeal in the Pressure Cooker with 1/2 small diced apple, 1 tablespoon brown sugar, and 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts per serving
  • Chocolate Coconut Avocado Smoothie

Lunches

  • Eggs with Summer Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Bell Peppers and couscous (made with hard-boiled eggs in place of fried eggs).
  • Green salad with BBQ Ranch Chicken Bites and 2-Minute Creamy Salad Dressing

Snacks

  • Easy No-Bake Chewy Granola Bars

Dinners

  • Green salad with 3-Ingredient Yogurt-Marinated Chicken and 2-Minute Creamy Salad Dressing
  • Roasted Shrimp and Pea Couscous Salad
  • Easy One-Pot Chicken Taco Soup
  • Saucy Skillet Salmon
  • Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta, Chickpeas, and Herbs

Shopping List

Here’s a list of the ingredients you’ll need to prepare all the recipes in this plan. Make sure to check your pantry, refrigerator, and freezer for ingredients you may already have on hand before you head out to the store. I usually keep staple ingredients like olive oil, vegetable oil, salt, and pepper on hand, but it’s a good idea to double-check that your staple stock isn’t running low. Note: I’m shopping for quadruple the Chocolate Coconut Avocado Smoothie, triple the 2-Minute Creamy Salad Dressing, and triple the Eggs with Summer Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Bell Peppers.

  • Dry Goods: 3 cups rolled oats, 1 1/4 cups steel-cut oats, coffee, 3 cups coconut water, red wine vinegar, balsamic vinegar, Champagne or white wine vinegar, Dijon mustard, 1/4 cup honey, coconut oil, 2/3 cups ranch dressing, 1/3 cup BBQ sauce, chili powder, ground cumin, paprika, Spanish or smoked paprika dried oregano, granulated sugar, brown sugar, 3 ounces bittersweet chocolate, vanilla extract, chopped walnuts, flaky sea salt (optional), Israeli (pearl) couscous, 12 pitted dried Medjool dates, tortilla chips, 3/4 cup roasted, salted pumpkin seeds, 1/2 cup roasted, salted sunflower seeds, 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas, 4 cups (32 ounces) low-sodium chicken broth, 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, 1 (15-ounce) can diced tomatoes, 1 cup unsalted, sugar-free sunflower seed butter, cacao powder, 1 jar roasted red bell peppers
  • Dairy: 4 ounces feta cheese, 1/2 cup shredded sharp cheddar cheese, 6 large eggs, 1 1/4 cups plain, whole-milk yogurt
  • Produce: 2 shallots, 4 yellow onions, 10 garlic cloves, 2 scallions, 3 pints cherry tomatoes, fresh parsley, fresh oregano, fresh thyme, fresh dill, 6 tomatoes, 6 summer squash or zucchini, 3 lemons, 1 avocado, 1 bunch Swiss chard, 3 apples
  • Meat: 5 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • Freezer: 1 cup frozen corn kernels, 1 cup frozen peas, 1 pound uncooked peeled and deveined medium shrimp, 4 (6-ounce) skin-on salmon fillets

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

Breakfast

  • Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: Heat a serving of Instant Pot Steel-Cut Oats until warm, then stir in 1 tablespoon brown sugar. Top with 1/2 small diced apple and 1 tablespoon chopped walnuts. (280 calories)
  • Tuesday and Thursday: Brew coffee. Make Chocolate Coconut Avocado Smoothies using prepared frozen diced avocado. (320 calories)

Lunch

  • Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: Pack a lunch container with the Summer Tomatoes, Zucchini, and Bell Pepper mixture, a spoonful of couscous, and one hard-boiled egg. Serve warm or at room temperature. (400 calories)
    Tuesday and Thursday: Fill a lunch container with salad greens and top with BBQ Ranch Chicken Bites. Dress salad with remaining BBQ Ranch or 2-Minute Creamy Salad Dressing. (360 calories)

Snack

I’m a sucker for a 3 p.m. snack, especially if I’m monitoring my calories. These granola bars were the perfect thing to satisfy my sweet tooth and keep me going until dinner. In fact, these no-bake cookie dupes turned out to be my favorite recipe of the week. (275 calories)

Dinner

  • Monday, Green salad with 3-Ingredient Yogurt-Marinated Chicken and 2-Minute Creamy Salad Dressing: Remove chicken from the marinade and grill over direct heat for 4 to 5 minutes. If you don’t have a grill, cook in an oiled skillet over medium-high heat for 6 to 8 minutes per side, or until breasts reach an internal temperature of 165°F. Serve atop a green salad with prepared dressing. If you have frozen shrimp, transfer from the freezer to the fridge to thaw overnight. (360 calories)
  • Tuesday, Roasted Shrimp and Pea Couscous Salad: Take couscous out of the fridge to come to room temperature. Heat oven to 400°F. Toss shrimp, frozen peas, olive oil, salt, and pepper on a rimmed baking sheet. Roast until shrimp are pink and opaque, 6 to 8 minutes. Toss shrimp and peas into couscous, serve. (400 calories)
  • Wednesday, Easy One-Pot Chicken Taco Soup: Reheat soup in a Dutch oven, add the corn. Ladle into bowls, serve with thinly sliced scallions, crumbled tortilla chips, and shredded cheddar cheese. (520 calories)
  • Thursday, Saucy Skillet Salmon: Season salmon with salt and pepper, cook according to recipe. Transfer to a plate. Add prepared tomato mixture to skillet, bring to a simmer, nestle salmon into sauce. Cover, cook until desired doneness. Serve over couscous. (480 calories)
  • Friday, Israeli Couscous Salad with Feta, Chickpeas, and Herbs: This dinner requires nothing from you — simply scoop into bowls and enjoy. The couscous and chickpeas are packed with flavor after marinating in the dressing all week. (370 calories)

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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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