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When I need a spark of inspiration to shake up my meal prep routine, you can find me at Trader Joe’s. The fan-favorite store offers high-quality groceries at affordable prices, with tons of smart shortcuts to get meals on the table. And some of my favorite TJ’s groceries are perfect for plant-based meal plans.

This Power Hour walks you through everything you need to plan, purchase, and prepare for a week of tasty vegetarian meals. Some of the ingredients featured in the recipes this week can only be found at Trader Joe’s. If you don’t have this quirky mart nearby, don’t despair: All of the items have comparable counterparts in your everyday grocery stores. Plan to spend an hour in the kitchen prepping components for this week’s meals. The recipes rely on Trader Joe’s flavor-packed ingredients, so while cooking is required each evening, the tasks are simple. Let’s get started.

These are the ingredients I bought or used for this week’s meal plan. The list does not include staples like vegetable and olive oils, kosher salt, and black pepper. Before you go shopping, check your refrigerator, freezer, and pantry for ingredients you may already have on hand. All of these ingredients are available at Trader Joe’s, but you can likely find approximate substitutes at other local grocers.

Power Hour: How to Get the Prep Done

Start some days with a lightly toasted slice of bread topped with 1/2 mashed or sliced avocado, and finished with a shake of Trader Joe’s Everything But the Bagel seasoning. Other mornings, top a bowl of cool and creamy yogurt with a handful of almond butter granola.

Monday and Wednesday, Mediterranean Falafel Salad: If you have access to an oven, air fryer, or microwave at lunchtime, reheat the falafel before serving. Then for each serving, combine 1/4 of the salad kit with cooled, prepared farro and baked falafel in a bowl.

Tuesday and Thursday, Warm Brussels Sprouts and Lentil Salad: This salad tastes great at any temperature, although I prefer it at room temperature. Finish with a drizzle of toasted sesame salad dressing.

Friday, leftovers: Use up any leftover lunches or dinners for Friday’s midday meal.

Monday, Crispy Sweet Potato Gnocchi: Roast the prepared sliced Italian sausage-less sausage and sweet potato gnocchi at 450°F until crisp and lightly browned, about 15 minutes. Drizzle with the Kale, Cashew, and Basil pesto and toss to coat.

Tuesday, Trader Joe’s Potsticker Stir-Fry: Sauté frozen stir-fry vegetables until almost tender. Move the vegetables to the side and arrange the gyoza on the other side of the pan, pleated side up. Cook until the bottoms are light golden, about 3 minutes, then add a splash of water, cover, and steam for another 3 minutes. Pour in 1 cup of the gyoza dipping sauce and toss to coat.

Wednesday, Tomato Soup with Stuffed Gnocchi and Spinach: Heat the tomato soup in a Dutch oven until simmering, then add the stuffed gnocchi and cook until tender, about 10 minutes. Stir in handfuls of baby spinach and cook until just barely wilted.

Thursday, Soy Chorizo and Fried Egg Breakfast Tacos: Wrap a stack of corn tortillas in damp paper towels and microwave for 1 minute or until warm. Remove casings from soy chorizo and cook until brown. Fry the eggs, in batches, until the yolks are runny and whites set. Assemble the tacos: Top tortillas with soy chorizo, fried egg, chopped cilantro, sliced radishes, and queso fresco. Serve with a wedge of fresh lime.

Friday, Easy Flatbread Pizza: Spread 2 tablespoons artichoke antipasto spread onto each flatbread, add the spinach, then top with shredded cheese. Bake at 400°F until the cheese is melted and golden-brown, 12 to 15 minutes.

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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