Tuesday, August 2, 2011

Mealtime Prep Day

I LOVE using fresh produce in our meals but washing them, peeling them, chopping them, etc. takes time. And like all of you, I have such little time! So I pick a day in the week when Adam or my mom is home to occupy the kids for a bit and I can get some meal prep done. I usually squeeze meal prep in after a big grocery shop or when I have bought produce at a farmer's market.

My theory is the more fresh vegetables I incorporate into our diets, the more we will crave them. Eating right has to made a priority to avoid juvenile obesity, diabetes, etc. According to the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, diabetes affects 25.8 million people of all ages in this country, which is 8.3% of the population. It's easier (and cheaper) to prevent the disease than to treat the disease!
Here was the agenda:

Homemade broth
A few weeks back bone-in chicken breast was on sale. I bought a couple of packages because it serves two purposes: homemade broth (saves money, tastes WAY better than canned broth and lets me control our sodium intake) and dinner that calls for shredded chicken.

Right now I have a huge pot simmering on the stove. It's filled with carrots, onions, garlic, fresh herbs from my garden, peppercorns, salt (only 2-3 TBSP), chicken, apple and celery. The great thing about making your own broth is that it takes such little effort. I throw everything in whole - no chopping, no peeling. I just pour it through a strainer after its cooked. It's a great way to reduce the amount of food that goes bad, sitting in your produce drawer. So break out that big ol' pot and fill it with leftover produce, chicken (anything on sale BONE IN. No Bone, no flavor) and water. Let it simmer for a few hours.

Uses for homemade broth: add it to your pasta or rice water to enhance the flavor of ANY dish, add it to water you are boiling potatoes in, add it to your cooked potatoes if you are about to mash them for dinner (it adds immense flavor so you tend to reduce the amount of butter or milk you might normally add), gravies or sauces
Time to Chop
After I get my broth on the stove I start chopping the vegetables that are already out from the broth. I'm going to make chicken pot pie. I know. Who in the world wants chicken pot pie on a hot summer day? But if you tasted my pot pie you would crave it too!!
I diced carrots, onion, green onion, parsley and celery. I put it in a container and set it in the fridge until it's GO time. This will cut my meal prep time for pot pie in half: the veggies are chopped (only have to add garlic and potato at last minute), the chicken will be cooked (just need to shred it) and my broth for the white sauce will be ready to go.

I know. I'm such a dork for posting this pic. But this broth smelled so amazing and had such a gorgeous amber color that I had to snap a pic.

Back to chopping
I'm also making chop suey this week so I'm also chopping broccoli, bok choy, onions and garlic. I will store them in a ziplock baggie until tomorrow. I will use the homemade broth for that dish as well.
I have leftover pork roast in the fridge. I made BBQ pork sandwiches with half of it last night. The other half I'm going to chop up and make pork fried rice to serve with the chop suey. I will need green onions and carrots for this dish so I will chop and store those veggies.

Storing broth
Any broth I have leftover I will just freeze every 8oz in ziplock baggies. I also stack the bags flat on top of one another when freezing. I do this because I can use smaller bags, which make it easier to store in your freezer and helps the broth defrost quicker.

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