If you're a picky eater as a parent, it's easy to pass that down to your kids. -Allison Schaaf

22: Why Meal Planning is a Key to Healthy Eating for Kids with Chef Allison Schaaf of Prep Dish

When it comes to step ONE in healthy eating, I always come back to meal planning. I invited Allison Schaaf, pro chef and founder of Prep Dish, to chat with us on how to make it happen and some unique strategies she uses that are perfectly suited to families teaching their kids to cook!

This week she has a special for listeners of The Healthy Parenting Connector: Join in on the 21-day Challenge. You will be prepping 21 days of healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes. Prep dish will create your shopping list and organize your prep to make meal time simple and effective. Check it out here.

Here are some quick notes on what we covered on healthy meal planning for kids:

  • Most important lessons a chef would want kids to understand about food
  • Why meal planning really makes a difference
  • Best tips for increasing healthy food kids want to eat
  • Some tips from a chef for getting kids excited about involvement in the kitchen!
  • How “prepping” is the perfect family activity…as long as your kids can handle themselves in the kitchen. 😉

If you’re not so sure, grab our knife skills video for FREE!



Can’t see the video? Click to watch “Meal Planning is a Key to Healthy Eating” on YouTube.

No time to watch the whole video? Here are the notes!

Healthy Meal Planning for Kids

  • 1:05: It seems like a lot of people start out with a “normal job” and then have a health awakening as an adult and get a second degree in nutrition. Allison started out her career in the nutrition field. She shares how she developed a love of cooking as a teenager. As an athlete she was also aware of the health aspect of what she ate and dreamt of combining the two into a career.

I think there’s a tip in there for parents. If your kids are in sports, use that as a spring board to teach them and get them to own it that healthy food is important for their performance. -Katie

  • 3:49: When it comes to talking about nutrition, we hate to overwhelm kids with too many nitty gritty details. Allison shares how she educated kids on healthy eating without overthinking it. Don’t focus only on the negatives, make food fun and enjoyable. Let them pick out new things to try, help you cook new recipes and experiment. Teach them about the healthy foods and where they come from.

When you go to the grocery store let [your child] pick out a new food item, but have some structure around that. “When we’re in the produce section, pick out something we haven’t tried before. Maybe a new piece of fruit or a new vegetable.” -Allison

Where to Get Started with Healthy Foods and Meal Planning for Kids

  • 5:21: Allison loves to start in the garden to show kids what healthy food looks like. Expose your kids to different foods in their natural form, not just out of a box. Model trying new foods as parents to encourage your kids to be adventurous when trying new foods.

Woman biting celery

Paleovalley Meat Sticks

It can be hard to find healthy snacks that you can take with you on the go. When I want the convenience of a jerky stick, but want a healthy, protein-packed snack option, I grab Paleovalley meat sticks. Paleovalley ingredients have these high standards that you can feel good about:

100% grass fed beef sticks, pasture raised beef sticks

  • 100% Grass-Fed Beef & 100% Pasture-Raised Turkey
  • Never given antibiotics or hormones
  • Gluten-free, soy-free, dairy-free
  • 0 grams of sugar*
  • Contains no artificial nitrates or nitrites
  • Non-GMO
  • Naturally fermented and contain gut-friendly probiotics!

*With the exception of Teriyaki, which contains 2 grams of sugar from Organic Honey.

These beef sticks and turkey sticks taste delicious! My favorite is the Jalapeño but my kids love Summer Sausage.

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  • 6:19: Kids will absorb the language you use to talk about food, diet and body image. Be aware of how you speak about these things and what you want to convey to your kids with your words and tone.
  • 6:48: Allison’s basic rule for determining how healthy something is.


  • 7:00: Teach kids early on to recognize when they’re eating processed food versus food in its natural form and to have an interest in eating real food and reading labels to see where something falls on the spectrum from fresh, real food to slightly processed to highly processed.
  • 8:12: Allison’s meal planning service, Prep Dish, helps families eat better by laying some of the groundwork for them. She shares how she decided to focus on meal planning and why it’s so i3mportant for healthy eating.
  • 10:25: What makes Prep Dish different from other meal planning services? In addition to a meal plan and grocery list, you get instructions for batch prepping once a week. This means you not only know what’s for dinner any given day, you also have some of the work done.

Your future self will thank you. -Allison

What if your kids could make a whole meal by themselves?

It’s totally possible for even the youngest children, once they learn the skills in the Kids Cook Real Food eCourse!


How to Eat Healthier as a Family

  • 11:41: Allison’s best, golden nugget tip for helping families eat more healthy food.

Kids cooking

  • 13:29: What about those of us who don’t like feeling boxed in by a plan and want to be more flexible and free to decide what we eat each day? Having a plan doesn’t need to be rigid. Allison and Katie share some tips for having a plan, but allowing for spontaneity.
  • 15:31: Meal planning is not part of the curriculum of Kids Cook Real Food. We talk how to get our kids involved in meal planning and prepping. Having a dedicated meal prep time allows you to involve kids without feeling like you need to rush to get dinner on the table and don’t have time to supervise your little helpers.
  • 17:01: A fun bonus of having everything prepped and everyone working off one plan is that family members can pitch in and get dinner in the oven easily.

How Prep Dish Can Help You Healthy Meal Plan

  • 17:37: Prep Dish is a great way to introduce new foods to your family. New recipes becomes the expectation and the new normal. See what people liked or didn’t like after the meal, ask your kids what they would like to put on the list for next week, and let them have a say in your meal plan.

New becomes the new normal. -Allison

  • 19:19: A common strategy recommended to busy families is to choose four weeks or even two weeks of recipes you like and repeat. While that’s great for efficiency, it doesn’t expose your kids to new things. If you even have one new recipe a week, the expectation is set that you will be trying new things and experimenting in the kitchen. When you have a little bit older kids, they can choose a new recipe to make themselves and that’s a great way to encourage exploration and allow your kids to feel invested in your family’s healthy eating.
  • 21:00: There are so many systems and styles of meal planning these days. There are also so many  memberships that will do it for you. Each connects with different people and what works for you is very dependent on your personality and lifestyle. The thing Prep Dish users are really drawn to is having that prep time laid out for you and included in the planning.
  • 22:27: What types of foods are included in Prep Dish meals? It’s all gluten-free, and there is a paleo option. There are substitution ideas given for pork, seafood and nuts. Dairy is always optional.
  • 23:11: Ending on a fun note we hear Allison’s favorite meal as a child and now.

This week Allison has a special for listeners of The Healthy Parenting Connector: Join in on the 21-day Challenge. You will be prepping 21 days of healthy breakfast, lunch, dinner and snack recipes. Prep dish will create your shopping list and organize your prep to make meal time simple and effective. Check it out here.

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  • Others that make the top-recommended cut: Badger, ThinkBaby, Adorable Baby, Kabana

If you’re worried about the white cast on your skin from zinc oxide sunscreen, check out my video on how to apply mineral sunscreen correctly to minimize it.

Other Healthy Meal Planning for Kids Resources Mentioned:

Reading Nutrition Labels for Kids Part 1 

Reading Nutrition Labels for Kids Part 2

Meal Planning for Kids

Allison Schaaf

For seven years and counting, Allison has made her way into the hearts and kitchens of home cooks all over the globe. Prep Dish was created after a decade as a personal chef and gourmet chef at high-end spas because she knew there was a more efficient, cost-effective, and sanity-saving way to put healthy, crowd-pleasing meals on the table. Allison’s goal is to help make meal time-efficient, healthy and of course, tasty!

Why Meal Planning is Key to Healthy Eating for Kids

What You Should Do Next:

1. Subscribe to The Healthy Parenting Connector

Katie Kimball

I interview experts about kids’ health every week – stay in the loop with a quick Saturday morning email:



2. Try a Free Preview of my Cooking Class for Kids

Our members’ favorite lesson is always our 10-minute knife skills and safety class, teaching techniques with unique & memorable phrases from butter knives to chef’s knives (ages 2-teen). Take a peek here and try it out with your kids.

3. Enroll in the Online Cooking Course for Kids:

Enroll now in the Wall Street Journal’s #1 recommended online cooking class for kids (also rated 5 stars on Facebook). See what fits your family best HERE.

About Katie Kimball

Katie Kimball, CSME, creator of Kids Cook Real Food and CEO of Kitchen Stewardship, LLC, is passionate about connecting families around healthy food. As a trusted educator and author of 8 real food cookbooks, she’s been featured on media outlets like ABC, NBC and First for Women magazine and contributes periodically on the FOX Network.

Since 2009, busy moms have looked to Katie as a trusted authority and advocate for children’s health, and she often partners with health experts and medical practitioners to stay on the cutting edge. In 2016 she created the Wall Street Journal recommended best online kids cooking course, Kids Cook Real Food, helping thousands of families around the world learn to cook. She is actively masterminding the Kids’ Meal Revolution, with a goal of every child learning to cook.

A mom of 4 kids from Michigan, she is also a Certified Stress Mastery Educator, member of the American Institute of Stress and trained speaker through Bo Eason’s Personal Story Power.

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