Hot summer days turn into long and lazy nights, so it’s no surprise that we often find ourselves staying late at the pool or watching a movie from our picnic blanket in the park. This meal prep plan shows you how to make meals that are perfect for packing in a cooler and eating on the go — morning, noon, or night.
I prefer to meal prep on the weekend right after grocery shopping, so I can set aside the newly purchased ingredients I need. This Power Hour takes about two hours to prep and is full of fresh summer produce. Here’s how to do it.
My Meal Prep Goals
- Breakfast: Ready-made breakfasts to keep us fueled for hours of outdoor playing before it gets too hot (five days).
- Lunch: Lunches that are easy to stash in a cooler or serve straight from the fridge with no extra prep required (five days).
- Dinner: Dinners that are made for eating on the go, whether poolside or on a picnic blanket.
- Nutritional Goals: We have no dietary restrictions, and serve family-friendly meals that include lots of fruits and vegetables. In our family we serve our kids a variety of veggies knowing that they won’t eat every bite, but the exposure is part of building familiarity.
Meal Prep Plan Snapshot
- Feeds: 2 adults and 2 preschoolers for breakfast and dinner, and 2 adults for lunch
- Prep Time: About 2 hours
- Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
- Weeknight Cooking Required? Cooking required only on one night, although some dinners require assembly before packing up. All meals can be enjoyed chilled or at room temperature.
My Meal Plan
- Chia Pudding
- Hard-boiled eggs & fruit
- Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad
- Mediterranean Pitas
- Upside Down BBQ Chicken Bowl
- Mason Jar Tuna Nicoise
- Mediterranean Chickpea and Feta Wraps
- Garlicky Broccoli Subs
- Muffin Tin Pizzas
My Shopping List
These are the ingredients that I bought or used for this meal prep plan. I always shop my pantry and refrigerator before heading to the grocery store, so that I don’t double up on ingredients I already have. I also rely on staples like olive and vegetable oils, kosher salt, and black pepper. Note: I shopped for enough ingredients to triple the Mason Jar Tuna Nicoise recipe.
- Deli/Bakery: Garlic bread, soft French bread, whole-wheat pitas, 1 pound pizza dough, hummus
- Dry Goods: 3 cups unsweetened almond milk, 3 cups unsweetened canned coconut milk (from 2 cans), toasted sesame oil, Dijon mustard, 2 (12-ounce) jars fire-roasted red peppers, pitted Nicoise olives, Peppadew peppers, fish sauce, hot sauce, ketchup, mayonnaise, ranch dressing, red wine vinegar, garlic powder, Italian seasoning, sweetener (maple syrup, sugar, or coconut sugar), vanilla extract, crispy fried onions, pesto, marinara sauce, 9- to 10-inch tortillas, barbecue sauce, 1 (4-ounce) can tuna packed in water, almonds, chia seeds, anchovies, 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas
- Produce: 1 bunch fresh dill, 1 bunch fresh parsley, garlic, Boston or butter lettuce, 1 1/2 pounds broccoli florets, 2 pints cherry tomatoes, 2 English cucumbers, 1 bunch kale, 1 lemon, 2 ounces green beans, 1 cup fresh baby spinach, 4 ounces new potatoes, 3 plum tomatoes, 1 red bell pepper, 9 to 12 ounces broccoli slaw, fresh berries
- Meat: 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Dairy: eggs, Parmesan cheese, low-moisture mozzarella cheese, plain Greek yogurt, unsalted butter, 2 (9-ounce) packages fresh cheese tortellini
- Frozen: frozen corn kernels
Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done
In order to get playground time in before it gets too hot, we’ve got to be out the door early. We’ll start our days with chilled Chia Pudding or hard-boiled eggs and fruit.
- Monday, Wednesday, Friday, Pesto Tortellini Pasta Salad: Pack lunch containers with a scoop of pesto pasta salad on top of a bed of spinach with a hard-boiled egg and fruit.
- Tuesday, Thursday, Mediterranean Pitas: My husband and I each pack a lunch container with 1 pita and a big serving of fruit.
- Monday, Upside Down BBQ Chicken Bowl: Heat the garlic bread and wrap in foil to keep warm. Pack the salad containers in a cooler, and don’t forget the chopped almonds.
- Tuesday, Mason Jar Tuna Nicoise: No prep required for dinner here. Just pack the prepared salads in the cooler and head out!
- Wednesday, Mediterranean Chickpea and Feta Wraps: Divide the chickpea mixture among the tortillas; top with spinach, cucumber sticks, and prepared red peppers. Roll like a burrito, cut in half, and wrap in plastic wrap or transfer to food storage containers.
- Thursday, Garlicky Broccoli Subs: Assemble these subs before heading out of the house. I spread the sauce on both cut sides of the bread as a barrier against moisture, then pile on the broccoli (no need to reheat unless you want to), Peppadew peppers, feta, and crunchy fried onions. Wrap the sandwiches in plastic wrap or foil and stash in the cooler.
- Friday, Muffin Tin Pizzas: The one meal that requires a small amount of cooking is also just right for small helping hands and can be made early in the day if time allows. Follow the recipe to make muffin tin pizzas, then pack the bite-sized pies in a container. We served these chilled from the cooler during adult swim at the pool.
Gathering around the table for dinner is my favorite part of the day, but in the summertime, the table often looks more like a picnic blanket. I hope this meal plan has inspired you to keep cooking even when dinner doesn’t happen at home. Just remember to keep reusable utensils and napkins on hand at all times to make mealtime easier, no matter where you are.
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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