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Although I’ve fallen for speedy Instant Pot meals, my slow cooker remains the real MVP of the kitchen. It’s ease and comfort is simply unparalleled. This week I’m delegating dinner duty to the superstar appliance, and simplifying weeknights even more by getting the bulk of dinner prep done upfront. In this meal prep session, you’ll prep a week of breakfasts and dinners that rely on the slow cooker for hands-off cooking, plus fresh and filling lunches to eat each day. Wake up to warm and fruity slow cooker oatmeal, then use the slow cooker to serve family-friendly dinners all week long. Here’s how to do it.

These are the ingredients I bought or used for this week’s meal plan. Pantry staples like vegetable and olive oils, kosher salt, and black pepper are not included in this list. As always, be sure to check your fridge, freezer, and pantry for ingredients you may already have on hand before shopping.

Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done

Monday, Wednesday, and Friday: Slow Cooker Oatmeal with Honey and Fruit. On Monday morning, stir to re-incorporate the ingredients, then ladle the oatmeal into bowls and top with the chopped hazelnuts and extra honey and milk, if desired. Refrigerate, and reheat later in the week loosening the porridge with warm milk or water.

Tuesday and Thursday: Yogurt and Fruit. On alternate days, serve cool yogurt with fresh fruit. Add something crunchy by sprinkling the top with cereal, granola, or extra nuts.

Monday, Tuesday, Thursday: Veggie-Packed Chopped Salad. Drizzle the salad with lemon juice and top with feta cheese and toasted pumpkin seeds.

Monday: Slow Cooker Stuffed Peppers in Marinara Sauce. Pour the prepped marinara into the slow cooker. Nestle the filled bell peppers into the sauce, and then cover and cook on LOW for 6 hours for a protein-packed vegetarian meal to start the week.

Tuesday: Slow Cooker Chicken Posole. Combine the onion, poblano pepper, garlic, and spices from the meal prep session with boneless, skinless chicken thighs and chicken broth in a slow cooker. Cook on LOW for 6 to 8 hours or until the chicken is tender. Use 2 forks to shred the chicken directly in the slow cooker. Stir in the hominy and add the juice of 1 lime. Ladle into bowls and serve with sliced radishes, fresh cilantro leaves, diced avocado, and crushed tortilla chips.

Wednesday: Slow Cooker Mississippi Pot Roast. Place the boneless beef chuck roast in a large slow cooker and sprinkle with the ranch dressing and seasoning mix and au jus gravy mix. Cut 1 stuck of butter into cubes and distribute over the roast. Pour 1/2 cup of brine from a jar of pepperoncini peppers in and add 10 to 12 of the peppers. Cover and cook until the beef is fork tender, LOW for 8 hours or HIGH for 5 to 6 hours. Shred the roast with tongs or two forks and serve on rolls topped with slices of provolone cheese.

Thursday: Slow Cooker Veggie Pot Pie. Peel and dice 1 pound of russet potatoes. Add the potatoes to the slow cooker with the vegetables from the meal prep session (onion, carrots, celery, mushrooms, garlic, and thyme), 2 bay leaves, kosher salt, and pepper. Mix 2 tablespoons cornstarch and 2 1/2 cups vegetable broth into a slurry and pour into the slow cooker. Cover and cook on LOW for about 6 hours, until the vegetables are tender and the sauce has thickened. Add the peas, corn, chives, heavy cream, and apple cider vinegar to the slow cooker and bake the biscuits according to package directions during the last 30 minutes of cooking. Remove the bay leaves, stir the pot pie filling, and ladle into bowls. Top with warm biscuits and serve.

Friday: Slow Cooker Baked Ziti. Spray the slow cooker insert with cooking spray then add dried ziti, marinara, ricotta, and 1 cups shredded mozzarella cheese. Stir to combine, then sprinkle the top with the remaining 1 cup mozzarella. Cover and cook on LOW for 3 to 4 hours or HIGH for 1 to 2 hours or until the pasta is cooked and the cheese is melted.

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.

Patty Catalano


Patty is a freelance recipe developer who worked as Alton Brown’s Research Coordinator & Podcast Producer and in the Oxmoor House test kitchen. She loves maple syrup, coffee and board games. Patty lives in Atlanta with her husband and two children.

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