Meal prepping tips and recipes

If one of your New Year's resolutions is to eat healthier, a great way to get in that habit is by planning your meals in advance. 

Chef Kelli Lewton and Jim Lenz from Two Unique Catering joined us on The Nine with some meal prep tips and recipes. You can watch in the video player and get some recipes below. 

Plan, Shop and Prep is the key to healthy affordable family meals and snacks.

The strategy here is to get the most bang for your buck with PREP. This will save you a significant amount of time throughout the week and in addition keep you and your family on track in being successful in your healthy eating goals. 

Veggie Transformers 
Most of us are always trailing behind in the vegetable department so a great idea might be a bucketful of roasted vegetables to start the week!  There are endless possibilities of dishes/meals that could be conjured from that.  

Roasted Vegetables
Eat the rainbow here! Gone are the days of limp, pale and gross overcooked boiled veggies. When vegetables are roasted, they caramelize and become naturally sweeter…remember caramelization equals flavor! Select family favorite vegetables but try work with the season, try something new, and don't forget to roast off any of your fresh veggies before they may spoil to give them a second chance. 
Here are some classic veggies that are successful in the oven:
-    Carrots
-    Parsnips
-    Broccoli
-    Asparagus 
-    Cauliflower
-    Onions (red or yellow or both) 
-    Sweet Potatoes
-    Bell Peppers
-    Zucchini 
-    Summer Squash
-    Brussels Sprouts

1.    Wash and cut your vegetables to similar sizes
2.    Toss with olive oil, salt, pepper, and any herb that interests you (parsley, thyme, and rosemary are always winners).
3.    Roast in a preheated 400-degree oven for about 30 minutes. It is sometimes a good idea to give your heartier veggies like root veggies a head start by 5-10 minutes as they have a slightly longer cooking time.  

Ideas to transform and enjoy your roasted veggies throughout the week:
1.    Chicken and veggie stir fry: cook up a little rice, stir in your cooked chicken and chopped roasted veggies, add a little flavoring such as soy, asian sauces, chicken stock with a squeeze of lemon
2.    Quiche, frittata or individual omelets
3.    Salad with roasted veggies and chicken
4.    Quesadillas; add a protein if you like & cheese 
5.    Chicken & veggies with biscuits
6.    Roasted vegetable pasta; cooked pasta, a little sauce and roasted vegetables   

Prep Kit
By investing a few hours each week into your planning, shopping and prepping, you can actually save countless hours of precious time each week while knowing your family is eating for great health.  Weekday meals, lunches and snacks become a breeze when you plan and prep 
Your prep boxes will depend on your weekly meal planning and family tastes.  Prep boxes sh be clear glass, have lids and be stackable, rectangular shaped prep boxes work best in the fridge. 

Salad kit - Clean and chopped lettuce, spinach, arugula and any other greens for salads, sandwiches, tacos, etc. Tomatoes', salad garnishes, cucumbers, olives ect. 
Veg 1 raw kit - Cleaned; cucumbers, carrots and celery sticks in water, peppers of all colors, cauliflower, broccoli, rinsed grape tomatoes 
Veg 2 cooking prep kit - any vegetable you may need as an ingredient in the upcoming days; dice, strips or chunks; onions, celery, peppers, potatoes (held in water) zucchini, squash, cabbage, asparagus trimmed and on and on.  You can also include blanched or roasted veggies in this box or a separate one; things that are par cooked that you want to throw into a quick sauté situation.  

Starter meal Kit
    Cooked grains, pasta, quinoa & rice 
    Cooked proteins; such as rotisserie chicken/pulled, pork loin & beef.  For the most part seafood is best to do at time of meal or no more than the day before 
    Simple sauces; marinara, meat sauce, pesto, marinades, stir fry sauces
    Fresh herbs   

Fruit Kit - Fresh fruit chopped; combine or keep separate.  Keep pineapple separate from other fruit.
Snacks & lunch building kit  
    Veggies and hummus
    Apple slices and peanut butter or almond butter
    Cooked meats, sliced cheeses, tuna, or chicken, egg or tuna salad 
    Veggies coins carrots & cucumber good for a dipping into salad opportunity 
    Celery sticks with cream cheese, raisin and nuts
    Celery sticks with almond butter
    Fresh fruit, yogurt and nut parfaits
    Deviled & hard-boiled eggs
    Leftover dinner items great eaten cold; meatballs, stir fried rice ect. 

Miscellaneous Box - Cooked nitrate-free bacon, boiled eggs, cooked meat, tuna salad, etc.
Leftover box- Make evening leftovers part of your production plan, extra cooked chicken, a big batch of brown rice can all end up in a lap top lunch in a snap!  Don't forget hot food does not have to be served hot; sliced cold chicken, a giant meat ball kids do not have to survive solely on sandwiches! 
In less time than it takes you to order carry-out food, you will have a nutritiously delicious meal for you and your family.  It may take a few weeks to incorporate this routine into your weekly schedule, but don't become discouraged.  It's worth the effort when you know your family is thriving because of all the Real Food meals and snacks they are eating!

 Create dressings and marinades for the week too!
    Double any recipe that can be made ahead and frozen.
    Develop a system to keep your weekly plans and shopping lists so that you can repeat it every 3-4 weeks.
    Shop with specific meals in mind to keep on track
    Ask your family/kids to get involved
    Name a dinner helper occasionally to help connect your family to food (respect grows when people are part of the process) 
    Plan lunches with your family 

Rotisserie Chicken Tips 
    Chicken salad, to name a few. 
    Dark meat saved for chicken tortilla soup. Shred chicken into a tortilla soup and serve with chopped red onion and cilantro.
    Tetrazzini. Toss cubed chicken with whole wheat pasta, peas and mushrooms for a lightened-up chicken tetrazzini.
    Chicken fried rice; peas, carrots, onions, splash of soy and egg 
    Pot pie; peas, pulled rotisserie chicken, carrots, onions, celery, chicken sauce or a thickened cream canned soup.  Bake in prepared tart shell or top with mash potatoes    
    Grilled panni sandwiches with soup
    Quesadillas or nacho; sautéed peppers & onions, cheese, salsa & guacamole    
    Burrito or tostada. Check out our easy chicken burritos or quick chicken tostadas recipes for inspiration.  
    Taco salad. Replace ground beef with shredded chicken in a taco salad for a quick weeknight dinner.