Does it ever feel like March Madness in your kitchen? It’s another weeknight dinner. Your family’s favorite lineup is selected and ready to go in the oven. Scanning the ingredients, you notice the meal is lacking a bit of color, without a vegetable in view. Thinking on your feet, you reach for a smart swap of adding steamed cauliflower to the crowd-pleasing mac and cheese. The play is saved by the last-minute produce pick! Sound familiar? We have all been there. We focus on the protein and starchy sides of our meals, but sometimes forget the produce star-player.

Make produce the priority by selecting a fruit or veggie to serve with each meal before choosing the protein and grain. Building the meal around fruits and veggies, rather than fitting them in at the final buzzer, ensures delicious meals. With so many varieties to choose from, it can be challenging to know which will pair best in a recipe. Consider the texture, flavor, color, and nutrients they will contribute to the meal.

Think Texture

A tender baked sweet potato or carrot pairs well with a firm slice of roast beef, mixing two opposite textures. Using similar preparation methods, like roasted chicken with roasted broccoli or sautéed fish with sautéed peppers, offers complimentary textures and flavors.

Fill with Flavor

The bold flavor of a red onion or Brussels sprout makes a splash in a recipe such as a salad or simply on the side. More mild produce, like cucumbers or cantaloupe, balances sharp, acidic flavors from tomatoes or citrus fruits.

Cue the Color

Bring color to any meal by adding vibrant veggies or fruit. Add a dash of green to soups with spinach or kale or a pop of orange to yogurt with a sprinkle of peaches.

Nestled-In Nutrients

Think of all the nutrients gained by adding produce. From fiber to vitamin- A rich red produce, adding color to the plate adds essential nutrients. Also bringing vitamin A, yellow produce provides B vitamins, vitamin C, potassium, and calcium, too. Even further, varying the color of produce selected through the week provides our bodies with a wide range of vitamins and minerals

What produce will be the star player in your team’s lineup? It is important to know the produce winners in your home. Try adding squash noodles to pasta, roasted broccoli as a pizza topper, or warm sautéed apples with a dollop of yogurt. Here are my family’s final four favorite plant-packed recipes.

Are you inspired to plant-pack your meal lineup this week? For more affordable, easy and fresh recipes featuring produce, visit:

Other Stories