Tuesday, November 17, 2015

Food Prep and Recipes

OK, so I can't take credit for this amazing blueberry muffin, all bragging rights go to the bakers at Sam's Club where we bought a membership this weekend. It was so moist and delicious and rich... we seriously had to cut it in half to share...so delicious!!! Ooops did I say delicious again? LOL, it truly was!

In this post I am going to share some of the meal prep I do to prepare my family for the upcoming week. We used to be members of Costco and BJ's where we used to live, but this is the first time we have ever been fairly close (45 minutes) to a Sam's Club. When planned out right it can really save you a lot of money. I spent the entire day on Sunday prepping our food for the week. Going to share some recipes and tips with you. :-) It is a lot of work, but it is so worth it to have things ready during the week when things get crazy! I find it works out so much better with as busy as our week days are.

So on the days that I meal prep, I like to start a crock pot meal early so I don't have to worry about dinner later. Usually have a big breakfast and just grab something light for lunch, like a sandwich or a couple hard boiled eggs, yogurt and fruit.

This past Sunday, I made lentil soup in the crock pot. I've had this recipe in my collection for quite a few years, I believe it came from my mom's collection of recipes. :-)

1 cup dry lentils
1 1/2 cups carrots
1 1/2 cups celery
1 1/2 cups onion
3 garlic cloves, chopped
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
1/2 tsp thyme
1 Tbsp dry parsley
2 bay leaves
3 1/2 cups vegetable broth
1 1/2 cups water
1 14 ounce can diced tomatoes

Cook on low for 12 hours or high for 5 hours.

Another tip is to buy onions and cut, dice and freeze them yourself. I found this awesome dicer for onions at my local kitchen store. Since I am super sensitive when trying to cut and dice them and have my eyes water and go blurry, Jerry is sweet and will prep these for me on the weekends to help out. Then I lay them out on a cookie sheet to flash freeze them for about an hour or so. Then I transfer them to a large freezer bag, flatten them out and I make sure all the air in the bag is released. Then I lay them in my freezer. Perfect for when I need them for a recipe :-) I use onions in just about everything I cook.

I also dice and chop peppers and other veggies that I will use for recipes through out the week. I like to add these little labels with the day i'm going to use them so they are all together and easy to grab.

I have also spoiled my family.... if mom prepares veggies and fruit and places them in accessible containers, they will get eaten! LOL. I will add peanut butter to celery sticks and have ranch or other veggie dip available. And of course using a bowl for the trash is a big time saver. Just fill it up and empty it all at once. After learning what they do to pre washed carrots I have refused to buy them that way. I'd rather spend time peeling and slicing to keep my family healthy. Sometimes pre preparation is not always a benefit.

I love my salad spinner I got from Walmart a couple years ago. It's perfect for rinsing my lettuce and then spinning it to release the excess water. I use it frequently and prep salads for the week.

Another time saver is boiling a few hard boiled eggs for the week. We enjoy them on our salads or by themselves. I like making up our salads in the Ball canning jars with different things we like. Sometimes I add dressing on the bottom and just shake it up and other times I will have it in a separate smaller container. Hayley likes when I have these made up for her lunches for the week. I do about 3 days at a time to keep them fresh. Also do pasta salads and topping are very versatile! A quick grab and go... we love it! You can eat it directly from the jar or flip it onto a plate or bowl to enjoy. Ball mason jars are great for so many things!

I also found this awesome recipe for breakfast burritos and they are a huge hit here. They freeze great and are so delicious! I found this YouTube channel called Mind over Munch and she has a lot of great healthy recipes. I don't know her personally or anything but when I find something I like I have to share. :-)

I made two kinds, one turkey and one beef. I don't eat red meat so it was an easy adaptation.

Breakfast burritos

I can't recall the link to her exact video that I saw it on, so I will share the recipe, but the credit is all hers. :-) I did adapt ours a bit and used ingredients I had on hand, it tastes wonderful!

2 cups of eggs whisked together
Spray frying pan with cooking spray and add
1/2 cup diced onions
1 cup diced mushrooms
2 cups chopped Spinach (I used a kale, spinach mixture)
Cook, then add in eggs and a packet of taco seasoning.
Stir and work eggs into a scramble, when they are almost done add diced tomatoes (1 can) or salsa and the meat (12-16 oz) I made a little extra ;-)

I cooked my meat in a separate pan first before adding it to the pan.

Lay out a sheet of plastic wrap and place an 8 inch tortilla in the middle. Scoop egg mixture onto tortilla, add shredded cheese of choice if you would like or leave it plain. Both ways are great! Fold corners in then roll up from the sides. Wrap tightly and label, eat within a few days if keeping in the fridge or you can freeze them.

I made about 60 of them at one time and have enough to last us awhile, lol. ;-)

Something else I have always liked doing is  prepping bags for smoothies. This can be changed up in many ways. I flash freeze my fruit of choice, in this case bananas, strawberries and blueberries. Then add in my greens, in this case a kale spinach mix. Squeeze out all the air, roll them up, label them and put them in the freezer. When ready to use I let them thaw for a few minutes while I get ready in the morning. Then I add milk or water along with the bag of fruit and greens to blend. I also like adding protein powder, flax seed or almond butter to them for flavor. Stevia or honey helps to sweeten it a little more too. Kathleen was my helper getting them all prepped. :-)  She was also a big help making the burritos.

                                                       She thought it was pretty fun! :-)

All labeled, rolled and ready to freeze! Thanks again to Mind over Munch for the great recipe, hope you don't mind me sharing it! :-)

Just had to throw in a picture of the  Naked smoothies we like to drink mid day when schooling for a little extra boost! Making it ourselves is always best, but these smoothies are so good and not loaded with sugar or preservatives. They don't last long in our house and are quite filling!

I've also been wanting to try a cauliflower crust pizza and so glad I did! There are many variations of this recipe and it's a bit of work, but so worth it! Much healthier choice than the tradition greasy pizza! Again this is pretty easy to change up with spices, toppings, etc., but here is the recipe that I found and tried. I was quite pleased with how it turned out. The biggest thing I can recommend is make sure all the water is squeezed out of the cauliflower, works better for building the crust. I found this recipe by Doris Choi. Again, I don't know her personally but she has some great recipes on her site also!

It was a hit with the girls and Jerry. Any way I can make healthier choices for our family is a plus for me :-) The chicken tenders on her plate are a quick, easy and delicious way to cook them. I just add Italian dressing to the pan and heat, then add several chicken tenders. Let them cook and enjoy! I also made fresh mix of veggies and homemade bread for this meal.

So this is just a few things I do to get ready for our week. I also buy our meat in bulk and freeze it in separate smaller freezer bags. I will also freeze bag meals that are easy to dump in the crock pot. A lot of work, but it really does go a long way. Helps for making healthier choices and for saving money.



MommaGott said...

Hi - thanks for posting this! Im going to try alot of these ideas. I read your blog all the time and look forward to each new post!

Billie Jo said...

Wonderful ideas, Jill!!!!
You are a super star mom!
One thing I may add...have you ever looked into buying a side of beef from local farmer? We do every fall, and then a local butcher prepares it and then we have fresh meat all wrapped, ready and labeled in the freezer! I never buy meat at the store. : )

Wendi said...

Great ideas! I find that the lettuce stays fresher when I put it in the Mason jar. It also takes up less space in the frig!

Nicolle said...

I love to meal prep! You've inspired me to make and freeze a bunch of breakfast burritos! The cauliflower crust is a lot of work but we love it around here too.

Nicolle said...

One more tip...I buy the one pound bag of frozen cauliflower from Walmart. Defrost on counter, dab out water w paper towel, chop by hand with large butcher knife or pulse in food processor. It's cheaper and easier to me than fresh, I've used both, and it tastes the same. We also LOVE cauliflower fried rice. xo

Amy at love made my home said...

Some really great ideas here! I do many of these things already, but am intrigued about the pizza, I will have to look into that more sometime! You are going to have some great meals coming up! xx

Carrie B. said...

Love it Jill!! Such great ideas for saving time, money, and being healthier!!

I've always been meaning to do some make ahead breakfast burritos - you've inspired me to get moving. Lol ;)

I love those jars of salad too - genius! And I've always wondered about the whole cauliflower crust thing and how that would really taste. So nice to know it gets a good rating.

blessings dear Friend xoxo

Nonnie said...

Now that is all simply amazing. You also have a very cute model! I want to try the lentil soup, cauliflower pizza and the chicken tenders. Yum, yum! I'm going to try storing salad in a jar.

NanaDiana said...

Wow- There are some great tips here. I do the onion and peppers thing, too. It saves so much time when you are in a hurry. I have not heard of the cauliflower crust but I will give it a look.
You are lucky to have such a cute,and willing, helper there. She's a doll! xo Diana

CelestinaMarie@SouthernDayDreams said...

Hi Jill, wow I love all the great tips and recipes you share here. I always prep what I can and freeze to just pull out when needed. Saves so much time doesn't it. Kathleen is so cute and looks like she has grown a bunch this season. She sure is the best helper! Now I'm hungry seeing all your great dishes. The cauliflower crust looks so delicious. Have a great weekend.

Sonya Ann said...

You are an AWESOME and smart mom. I love prepping. It makes life so much easier.

Stephanie said...

You are quite the inspiration, my friend. Having food prepared is such a help and benefit....and it's something I have gotten away from simply because life has been busy. Thanks for motivating me {{smiles}} And I must say that everything looks delicious!

Hugs and blessings!

Anonymous said...

Jill, lots of great ideas! I've never been to Sam's Club before. There is one in the big town in the next county. Is it a lot like Costco?

You have such a sweet helper in your kitchen! Beautiful smiles!

Debbie said...

Lots of great ideas here. I'm going to try the lettuce in mason jars!
Your helper is a little cutie!
Thank you for sharing.

Laura {a spoonful of joy} said...

Wow these are some great ideas! I've been wanting to try cauliflower pizza crust but was skeptical... Good to know you recommend it! My mil does the same thin with fruits and veggies... She washes and chops everything so that they will get eaten! ;) enjoy your weekend!

Vee said...

Lots of great tips here. You are very organized! Forty-five minutes is a long way to a Sam's. I did it one year and found it too challenging so allowed the membership to lapse. We do belong to BJ's, which is helpful, especially with baking goods.

McVal said...

Such great ideas!!! I've been wanting to try the cauliflower crust too. hmmm..