Healthy Body

Prepping makes it easier

leigh@akersmediagroup.com'
Written by Leigh Neely

New contributor and chef Dini Klein provides a preparation program for simple home-cooked meals.

There are few people who would say they don’t have busy lifestyles these days. Unfortunately, one of the first things to suffer neglect is family mealtime. It seems easier to stop and grab a to-go bag on the way home. However, chef and media personality Dini Klein has found a way to make preparing delicious home-cooked meals easy, and she is a new contributor to Healthy Living.

Dini is a busy working mom with two children, and her idea of Prep + Rally came from wanting her own household to be more prepared.

Having worked with popular brands like Walmart, Daisy, Popsugar, Weight Watchers, Pinterest and many others, Dini has shared her ideas to a worldwide market. She says her heart is always in the kitchen, which, of course, is considered the heart of the home. 

“Working as a personal chef for years, I would cook staple dishes for my clients every week to get them from Monday through Thursday,” Dini says. “After a long, exhausting day cooking for clients, I needed to feed my own family—and that was the last thing I wanted to think about after working on my feet all day. It was time to start implementing meal prep and weekly menus.”

She came up with these workable ideas for herself and the community she had gathered on social media. The process begins with using the items you already have in your pantry. You create delicious, healthy recipes, and then take the leftovers and repurpose them so there are no reruns at dinner.

The three main steps in the program are:

Shop – Download PDFs from the weekly email to get your groceries ready for prep day.

Prep – What Dini developed is everything you need to make your time in the kitchen easier and better. On her website, diniklein.com, readers will find understandable shopping lists with printable PDFs that provide instructions for simple cooking and preparation of meals. But she doesn’t stop there. These dishes then become creative lunches or delicious leftovers with a new touch.

Rally –Save money and reduce the amount of food you waste by doing a week’s worth of menus in one setting. You can enjoy dinner with everyone else with no worries about adding to the stress of your busy day.

Of course, everyone knows doing any project is easier if you’re ahead of the game with planning. Dini has these suggestions to help make the time in the kitchen efficient and effective:

  • Start with a clean kitchen and clean as you go so you never get overwhelmed.
  • Go in with a plan. Create a menu and find recipes that use similar ingredients so you don’t need to buy as much.
  • Make sure you have a nice balanced meal consisting of starch, vegetables and proteins. You can even throw in some sweet treats if you like.
  • Cut corners. Buy items to save time such as pie dough, pizza dough, vegetable stock, egg roll wrappers and so on. You can even buy precut vegetables to save time as well. 
  • Buy only what you need for that week to ensure nothing goes to waste. And as always, shop once for the entire week. 
  • Place a garbage can near your workspace when prepping to save time running back and forth.
  • Prewash (or peel, if applicable) all produce to save time.
  • Set out all containers and cookware in advance so you don’t scramble.

Here are three of Dini’s favorite recipes that you can prepare for your family with ease. Look for upcoming recipes and ideas from Dini in Healthy Living.

Meat-loaded pea soup 

Cozy up with a bowl of this comforting pea soup. The best part about this dinner is that it’s one dish that you can serve alongside a loaf of bread to make a complete meal. Now that’s the ultimate dinner.

Ingredients

  • 2 tbsp oil
  • 1 onion, small diced
  • 2 stalks celery, small diced
  • 2 carrots, peeled and cut into a small dice
  • 1 lb. dried green peas
  • 1.5 lbs. boneless short ribs or flanken (2 large pieces)
  • 6 cups vegetable or beef stock
  • Salt and pepper to season

Directions

In a large pot, sauté the onions, celery and carrot until softened, about 8 minutes or so. Add remaining ingredients and bring all to a boil. Lower to a simmer and cook covered for 1.5 hours, or until meat is falling apart. Remove meat from the pot, shred and put back in. Serve with fresh rustic bread. 

*If the soup gets too thick after storing, add additional water to thin out.

Check out other great soup recipes in the latest “Soup and Stews eBook.”

Cheesy mushroom, leek and pumpkin galette

Nothing screams fall more than “pumpkin.” This loaded pumpkin galette is a crowd pleaser, highly seasonal and fun for the kiddos to help assemble. It’s a Prep + Rally staple.

Ingredients

  • 15 oz. pie dough (2 pie rounds) rolled into 10-inch circles
  • 7 oz. canned pure pumpkin puree (divided)
  • 2 cups sautéed leeks and mushrooms (divided) 
  • 1 cup roasted and cubed butternut squash (divided)
  • 2 cups mozzarella (divided) 
  • 1 cup grated parmesan (divided)
  • 1 egg, whisked to brush

Directions

Place rolled-out pie rounds on parchment-lined baking sheets and spread half of the pumpkin purée on each round, leaving a 3-inch border around the edges. Top each round with 1 cup leeks and mushrooms and ½ cup squash. Season each with salt and pepper. Lastly, add 1 cup mozzarella and ½ cup grated parmesan to each and the fold up the edges creating a border to contain the filling. Brush with egg and bake at 400 degrees for 20 minutes until golden. Serve hot and bubbly galette with optional side salad to complete the dinner. 

Tuna melt khachapuri with zaatar and poppy seeds

Try this quick, easy and delicious recipe for a weeknight dinner.

Ingredients

  • 2 cups shredded mozzarella cheese or dill havarti 
  • 2 cans albacore tuna
  • 2 balls pizza dough (store-bought) (44 oz.)
  • 4 tsp zaatar
  • 2 tsp poppy seeds
  • 2 eggs beaten for brushing
  • 4 eggs for baking

Directions

Preheat oven to 475 degrees. In the meantime, make your filling. Mix together the cheese and tuna in a small bowl and set aside. To form the khachapuri, divide the dough into four equal pieces. On two pieces of lightly floured parchment paper, roll each piece of dough into an oval shape. Place ¼ of the filling right in the center of the oval and spread out into vertical line. Fold top and bottom over slightly, leaving the filling showing in the center, and then twist either end of the dough similar to twisting a candy wrapper. Pinch end pieces closed to create a tight seal. You’ve formed your boat-like khachapuri. Continue with the remaining dough and filling resulting in four khachapuri, two on each baking sheet. Press center down slightly with a spoon to create a well for the eggs will be added later.Transfer formed khachapuris on parchment paper to two baking sheets. Makes 4 large khachapuri. Brush dough with egg, and then top with zaatar and poppy seeds. Bake khachapuris for 9-12 minutes. Once golden and bubbly, open the oven and pull baking sheets halfway out. Crack one egg into each well and bake for an additional 3-4 minutes until desired egg doneness. Serve immediately.


About the author

leigh@akersmediagroup.com'

Leigh Neely

Leigh Neely began her writing career with a weekly newspaper in the Florida panhandle, where she not only did the writing but delivered the papers to the post office and dispensers. She has been writing ever since for a variety of newspapers and magazines from New Jersey to Leesburg. With her writing partner, Jan Powell, Leigh has published two novels as Neely Powell.

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