Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of Kid-Friendly Meals Packed with Fruits & Veggies
There’s a predictable buzz of excitement each year anticipating summer’s produce bounty. Fruits and vegetables of every color line the stalls of the farmers markets and grocery store bins. That variety can be inspiring — or overwhelming — for family meal planning. So I shop for fruits and vegetables of every color and focus on serving a rainbow of produce over an entire week, rather than trying to pack all hues into a single day of meals.
It’s easy to fall into a routine of serving kids the same vegetables at every meal (hello, frozen peas and carrot sticks!). This week I’m serving a rainbow of produce — some new and others familiar — to expose my kids to the wide variety that’s out there. The kids will also help with meal prep. I set aside two hours to prep a week’s worth of colorful and produce-packed, family-friendly meals. Here’s how we did it.
My Meal Prep Goals
- Breakfast: Brightly hued breakfasts are the best way to start the day. Some days we need to hit the road quickly, so a pre-made meal is a must. On other days, I like to serve breakfast hot from the stove.
- Lunch: Veggie-packed, make-ahead lunches.
- Dinner: Dinners are packed with colorful produce and easy to make.
- Nutritional Goals: This week’s meal plan focuses on serving a rainbow of nutritious fruits and vegetables throughout the week. The meals are family-friendly and colorful — since we eat with our eyes first!
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? Ingredients are prepped and portioned, so dinners take about 30 minutes to prepare.
My Meal Plan
- Smoky Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowl
My Shopping List
These are the ingredients I bought or used for this meal prep plan. I always check the refrigerator and pantry for any ingredients already have on hand — especially spices, sauces, and long-lasting vegetables like potatoes, onions, and garlic. I also rely on staples like olive and vegetable oils, kosher salt, and black pepper that I always keep stocked.
I’ve multiplied a few of the recipes in this week’s meal plan. I’ll triple the Sweet Potato Pancake recipe, plus I’ll pick up a few extra sweet potatoes to supplement breakfast or lunches for the adults. I need 8 servings of the Smoky Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowls to eat for lunches throughout the week, so I’ll double that recipe.
- Deli: Hummus, pizza dough (freeze dough after purchase)
- Dry Goods: Sesame oil, soy sauce or tamari, honey, ground cinnamon, red pepper flakes, smoked paprika, dried Italian seasoning, sambal oelek or chile-garlic paste, basil pesto, marinara sauce, dried short pasta, dried thin rice noodles, salted peanuts, pita chips
- Produce: 1 bunch fresh basil, 1 bunch fresh mint, 1 bunch cilantro, 1 bunch parsley, 1 bundle asparagus, 5 heads broccoli, 1 bunch Broccolini, 1 bunch carrots, 2 heads cauliflower, 2 ounces sugar snap peas, 4 zucchini, 2 pints cherry tomatoes, 1 orange or yellow bell pepper, 1 bag mixed baby bell peppers (or 2 large bell peppers), 1 head Napa cabbage, 1 head garlic, 6 sweet potatoes, 5 red onions, 1 shallot, 1 lemon, 3 limes, 1 pint blueberries, 1 pint strawberries, 1 peach, 1 bag seedless green grapes
- Meat: 1 1/2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- Dairy: 6 large eggs, Pecorino Romano or Parmesan cheese, shredded mozzarella cheese, unsalted butter, refrigerated potato gnocchi, yogurt
- Frozen: 1 bag peas
Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done
- Bake (or grill) sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes take the longest to cook, so that’s where you’ll start. Heat oven to 375°F or turn the grill to medium-high direct heat. Place the potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet or directly on the grill grates and bake until very tender, 50 to 60 minutes in the oven or 35 to 40 minutes on the grill. The sweet orange flesh is the star ingredient for breakfast this week, so once they’re done I slice open the tops for speedy cooling, then refrigerate.
- Soak wooden skewers. One of my favorite summertime meal prep tips is to soak an entire package of skewers at once, then freeze the soaked skewers. Place skewers in a large baking dish, cover with water, and set aside for at least 30 minutes. Drain, wrap soaked skewers in a zip-top bag or plastic wrap, and freeze.
- Prep produce. I like to prep all of the produce at once (aside from the sweet potatoes already in the oven). Rainbow Fruit Salad: Halve strawberries and grapes. Dice peaches; toss with lime juice to prevent browning. Toss strawberries, grapes, peaches, blueberries, and torn mint leaves together. Wait to add the honey until serving (it will pull too much moisture from the fruit as it sits). Smoky Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowl: Cut broccoli and cauliflower into florets (or purchase precut florets); slice red onion. 20-Minute Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies: Cut broccoli (or purchase precut florets), bell peppers, and add an extra red onion; smash a garlic clove. Transfer to a storage container and refrigerate. Grilled Gnocchi with Summer Squash and Burst Tomatoes: Mince garlic, then whisk together with oil, salt, pepper, and tomatoes. Refrigerate in an airtight container. Shave 1 zucchini into ribbons using a peeler and refrigerate. One-Pot Pasta Primavera: Mince 1 shallot and refrigerate separately. Cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces, dice 1 zucchini, julienne (or shred) 1 cup carrots, dice 3/4 cup bell pepper, cut Broccolini into 1-inch pieces, and halve sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes. Leave peas frozen until ready to cook. Refrigerate vegetables in a container. No-Chop Cold Veggie Noodle Bowl: Prep for this recipe requires no knives, so it’s a good time for kids to help. Tear leaves of Napa cabbage, peel a large carrot and zucchini into ribbons, and combine — but don’t chop — the mint, basil, and cilantro. Refrigerate in containers. Zucchini Pesto Pizza Rolls: Thinly slice a zucchini; refrigerate in a container.
- Roast vegetables. Toss broccoli, cauliflower, and red onion for Smoky Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowl with smoked paprika, salt, and olive oil. Roast, tossing halfway, in a 375°F oven (alongside sweet potatoes if they’re not done) for about 40 minutes. Squeeze a lime wedge over top, cool, and refrigerate in an airtight container.
- Make garlic-lemon butter. Make a paste with 2 cloves of smashed garlic and 1/2 teaspoon salt for the One-Pot Pasta Primavera. Mix with butter and lemon zest until combined, scoop into a container, and refrigerate.
- Make vinaigrette. Combine olive oil, soy sauce, lime juice, honey, sesame oil, sambal oelek, and grated garlic and ginger together in a lidded jar for the No-Chop Cold Veggie Noodle Bowl. Refrigerate.
- Grate cheese. Grate 1 cup Parmesan (or Pecorino Romano) for One-Pot Pasta Primavera and Grilled Gnocchi with Summer Squash and Burst Tomatoes.
- Dice chicken breast. Cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts into bite-sized pieces for the 20-Minute Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies. Refrigerate in an airtight container.
I’m not waiting until lunch to include a serving of brightly colored (and vitamin-packed!) produce. This week’s breakfasts alternate between 2-Ingredient Sweet Potato Pancakes and Rainbow Fruit Salad with yogurt. I love serving hot breakfast, and because the sweet potatoes were baked during Power Hour these pancakes come together quickly. Scoop the orange sweet potato flesh into the blender and add eggs, salt, and cinnamon, then blend to combine. Portion the hotcakes into a skillet to cook, and top the pancakes with syrup or nut butter. While the kids devour the pancakes, I reheat a whole, baked sweet potato and top with yogurt and toasted coconut. On other days I serve yogurt topped with fruit salad and drizzled with honey.
When introducing new fruits and vegetables (or serving veggie-heavy dinners that my kids aren’t used to), I try to make sure that everyone in the family has at least one meal each day that is familiar and well-liked. I’ll serve my kids their favorite sandwich with a smaller serving of the Smoky Roasted Vegetable Hummus Bowl. For the adults, I scoop generous servings of hummus into lunch containers, top with roasted broccoli, cauliflower, and red onion (plus some chopped fresh parsley if I remember!). I tuck a few pieces of pita chips in a separate compartment of the container to keep them crisp. On other days, I pack a hodgepodge of dinner leftovers for lunch.
Monday, 20-Minute Sheet Pan Chicken and Veggies: Simple chicken and vegetables are always on our weekly meal plan because the whole family loves the combination. Place a baking sheet in the oven while it heats to 500°F. Toss the prepped broccoli, bell peppers, red onion, garlic, and diced chicken breast in a large mixing bowl with dried Italian seasoning, salt, pepper, and olive oil. Spread into a single layer onto the hot baking sheet. Turn the oven down to 475°F, and roast until the chicken is done and the veggies are tender, 15 to 20 minutes. Serve with ranch for dipping and dinner is done.
Tuesday, Grilled Gnocchi with Summer Squash and Burst Tomatoes: Pull soaked skewers from the freezer. The kids are helping with dinner prep tonight, so they are busy threading the seasoned tomatoes onto skewers. I add the squash ribbons to the tomato container to pick up the leftover oil and seasonings, then I show them how to thread the zucchini onto skewers accordion-style. Toss gnocchi with oil, salt, and pepper, thread onto skewers, then grill over medium-high direct heat until gnocchi are golden, tomatoes begin to split, and zucchini is charred. Toss everything in a large bowl, sprinkle with grated Parmesan, and top with torn basil.
Wednesday, One-Pot Pasta Primavera: This one-pot pasta is a fresh and colorful way to end the day, plus it comes together quickly since all of the vegetables are already prepped. Pull the butter out of the fridge before you begin to cook to soften. Follow the recipe as written, and serve al-dente noodles and crisp-tender veggies tossed in a silky, buttery sauce. Take the pizza dough out of the freezer, and place it in the refrigerator to thaw for Friday’s dinner.
Thursday, No-Chop Cold Veggie Noodle Bowl: My kids love noodles of any kind, so I pair them with new veggies or flavors to ease the introduction. The kids helped prep the ingredients for dinner tonight, so they’ve already got some ownership in the meal. All that’s left is to soften the rice noodles in boiling water, sauce the vegetables, and tear the herbs. Toss everything together with the soy-lime vinaigrette before serving.
Friday, Zucchini Pesto Pizza Rolls: Pizza Friday is one of our favorite mealtime staples. This week we’re making zucchini-stuffed pizza rolls in muffin tins. While these could be prepped and frozen during Power Hour, I think they taste best when served fresh from the oven. The kids are helping again, stretching the dough into a rectangle and spreading the pesto on top. Next we arrange the sliced zucchini over the pesto and top with shredded mozzarella. We work together to roll the dough into a tight log, then I cut into 1-inch-thick rounds. Place the rounds into a muffin tin and bake. Serve with warm marinara sauce.
Shopping the produce section by color helps add variety of flavor, texture, and nutrition to my meals. And with a refrigerator filled with fruits and vegetables of every color, it’s easy add color to every meal of the day. What are your favorite ways to add color to your meal plan? Do you have a unique strategy for shopping the produce section?
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.