Tag Archives: broth

menu monday: prepping for your week

Screen Shot 2014-01-16 at 9.18.50 PMI’m really excited for this week’s menu. I broke one of my own rules and every recipe is new to me. But, I was really reasonable about timing (the bulk will be made over the weekend / on a day off from work) and they all are quick prep plus longer cook time recipes. I rarely stick to my meal plan exactly, but if I do it will be five recipes from Well Fed 2 in one week, plus a sixth I’ve made before (the kebab sauce).

This is a happy week where a bunch of the WF2 recipes are available online, but for those that aren’t page numbers from WF2 listed in picture.

  • Pork Roast – slightly different from recipe, but very close; I’m planning to do the Middle Eastern variation listed in the cookbook
  • Lamb gyro salad + kebab sauce
  • West African Stew – slightly adapted from the original recipe; I’ll be making it with a turkey breast I need to use but hoping it still works out well
  • Ham hock soup – I’ll probably do a combo of these two recipes with whatever veggies I have on hand (1, 2)

I’ve been prepping food on the weekends for the week ahead probably for about two years. I go in spurts with how much effort I put in, but I can say for sure that the more prep I do on the weekend the healthier we eat during the week and getting meals on the table (or counter / desk / couch) is that much easier.

Prepping (for me) is all about setting myself up the best I can to make the decision to eat a healthy, tasty, homemade meal versus calling for take-out. Considering I have to make this decision 21 times every week, the more work that’s done in advance the more likely I am to choose well.

Here’s a somewhat random list of what I’ve found to be helpful for me.

1. Any prep is better than no prep. Seriously. If you have only 10 or 15 minutes, brown some ground meat to make a very quick meal one night. While the meat’s browning, cut up a veggie to cook later in the week. I find prepped veggies speak to me after work whereas unprepped veggies find themselves in the compost bin at the end of a busy week. Also, prep doesn’t have to be done all at once. Sometimes I set aside a few hours on Sunday but more often than not I do a little prep each time I’m in the kitchen over the weekend.

2. Start with a clean kitchen. I do not start prepping until the kitchen is clean and the dishwasher is unloaded, especially if I’m doing a big prep session. This ensures prepping food doesn’t require a two hour cleaning session.

3. Have multiples of common kitchen gadgets. Because I do the bulk of my cooking at one time, I find it helps to  have several of a few key items. I have two sets of measuring cups and three sets of measuring spoons. I have several chefs knives (and use one for meat, one for non-meat). I have three of four cutting boards. Not having to stop and clean a meat filled cutting board and knife before moving on to veggies keeps me in my cooking groove.

4. Have a compost bowl out on the counter. We are required to compost in Seattle, but even if you don’t have to or want to, keeping a bowl for all your scraps on the counter is much more efficient than going into the trash can every few minutes. It also helps contain the mess. I have big plastic IKEA bowls that work great. I’ve also used plastic bags from veggies, but I like that the bowls don’t have to be opened each time I want to throw more peels in. Once it’s filled Greg takes it out to the compost for me and brings it back in.


5. Have a defrost bowl in the fridge + start defrosting early. My meat is all wrapped in plastic with paper from the butcher, which means it drips as it defrosts. To keep messes in the fridge to a minimum, all my meat defrosts in a bowl that I can change out regularly to clean. As soon as you know what you are going to cook, put it in the fridge. It’s annoying when you find yourself with a few minutes to prep something and frozen meat.

6. Don’t cook too far in advance. I’ve made the mistake of cooking all my veggies on Sunday. Opening my lunch on Thursday at work with veggies that were roasted five days ago is only going to have me tossing my lunch and buying something instead. Prep veggies (wash, peel, cut) early, but I try to cook them no more than three days in advance.

7. Store by serving (and stock up on storage!). If there’s a meal already packaged in the fridge with meat + veggies, I’m that much more likely to go for it. Instead of storing 4 meals worth of chili in a big container, I’m more likely to store 4 individual chili servings because I know it works better for me. When I need to make my lunch, it is so much easier to grab the chili plus two veggies than it is to portion out each item into a new container. We have tons of two cup glass containers and a few LunchBots. I also save good sized glass jars and we have a few plastic containers I’ve picked up here and there.

8. Do something now that will help you later. A few nights ago I realized I didn’t have breakfast for the next morning. I’m currently working on bringing my breakfast to work every day, so I hard boiled eggs way later than I wanted to. At first I only wanted to peel three for my breakfast the next day. But I was already there, peeling the other six would only take 2 minutes tops and would save me the hassle for two more breakfasts. Finish the job if it’s going to make your life easier in a day or two. (Says the girl who drove by three gas stations today with the tank on empty but 21 more miles in range…)

I kept track of how my prep went for this coming week. Every week is a little different, but here’s the run down:


  • ~1 hour to meal plan and defrost meat
  • 5 minutes to start bone broth in the crockpot


  • 20 minutes at lunchtime to walk and grab groceries (I realize that because I “shop” my chest freeze and have a CSA deliver most of my veggies my shopping time is really minimal)
  • 5 minutes to swap out half the bone broth (and strain and bottle it) with fresh water


  • 10 minutes to make mayo
  • 20 minutes to prep the southwest frittata and cut/wrap in foil once it finished baking
  • 20 minutes to prep veggies (wash and cut a head of lettuce, peel and chop a pound of beets and a turnip)
  • 10 minutes to strain and bottle the bone broth
  • 5 minutes to prep the pork roast and toss it in the crockpot to cook overnight





  • 10 minutes to shred the pork roast and toss it in the fridge for dinner

I made meals as well to eat (lunch and dinner Saturday, dinner Sunday) but I don’t really count those as prepping food for future use since we’re eating them once they are ready.

Happy cooking! Any good prep tips for me? Leave ’em in the comments.

Broth Bust

My chicken neck broth was a total bust. Following what I had read about (and wrote about here) various types of bones, and knowing neck bones were more on the gelatinous side, I decided to cook them on the stove for about four hours. The broth was very thin and the necks had disintegrated past recognition. Not that I ever would have known they were chicken necks to begin with if I hadn’t ordered them and seen it printed on the package.

I bottled the broth, placed it in the fridge, and hoped for the best. In the morning it was still thin liquid, no gel whatsoever, and hardly any fat. A day or two later when I was busy in the kitchen I decided to try one last trick to save the broth. I boiled it down and tried to make a demi-glaze, but the liquid just all evaporated and left me with a slightly burnt pan. I’m working on my kitchen multi-tasking.

I just ran out of my original beef broth and I won’t have a fresh supply of bones until my August CSA package arrives next Thursday. I’ve settled into drinking my cup each night when I get home from work, usually starving, while I make dinner. It’s perfect – I don’t snack before my meal and I don’t graze off the food I’m cooking.

So my second attempt wasn’t a winner, but I did learn a lot with my first challenge this month. Going forward I would love to make enough at the beginning of the month to last me through, or at max make it twice a month. The ice cube tray method is the easiest for both storage and portability (just add hot water to a few cubes and in 2 or 3 minutes my broth is “brewed”). I’m looking forward to trying other meat bones as well as getting into fish broths. For now I’m going to stay away from chicken unless I roast a whole one.

AND… I haven’t had a soda since the day I announced I was giving it up. I’ve gone about three weeks and only crave it now maybe once a week. Usually when I’m stressed, bored, or someone pops one open right near me. Besides a few glass of red wine or bubbly, I’m living on water and drinking nearly 100 ounces of it a day. But that is a post for another time.

The First Batch

I made my first batch of broth over a week ago but haven’t had time to sit and write about it until now. I used this recipe, because of it’s simplicity, with 2.5 lbs of “regular” beef bones from my meat CSA. I don’t know exactly what “regular” bones means, but they worked great. I browned the bones for about thirty minutes at 350, then dumped everything into my crock pot for 2 hours on high followed by another 22 on low.

First batch of broth, cooled and ready for the fridge/freezer.

The true test of my broth came the morning after I cooled and bottled the broth. I popped out of bed at 5:30 for Crossfit and nearly ran to the kitchen to check out my broth. Just as I had hoped, a layer of fat on top and a nearly solid, gelatinous jar of broth awaited me! The solid, jello-like state is a sign of good stuff (technical term).

Check out the delicious layer of fat at the top!

My first cup of broth was tasty and surprisingly filling. I had it while making dinner and found that I was barely hungry for dinner once it was ready. Since then I’ve had a cup of broth almost daily difficult when traveling, so I’ve skipped a few days). I either have it to hold myself over between meals or add it to a meal (dumping an extra cup of broth while heating up frozen soup makes for a very quick and easy dinner).

This batch made six cups of broth. I was hoping to get two weeks worth of broth (plus some for cooking) from each set of bones, so following this post from Traditional Foods the bones went back in to the crock pot for round two. Instead of garlic I added veggies scraps from that night’s dinner that I would have otherwise composted.

Somehow the water ended up all boiling off and I ended up with more of a demi-glaze then broth. Thanks to the interwebs, I saved my broth. I froze the small amount of very thick broth in 6 slots of an ice cube tray. I haven’t tried it yet, but the idea is to take a cube or two and defrost in a cup of hot water for instant broth. If it works out, I might go this way intentionally as it takes less freezer space.

This weekend I’m going for broth round two with my chicken necks. And will hopefully get to the farmers market to stock up on more bones.

Oh. I’m also 15 days soda free. Go me.

A Cosmetic Reason to Broth It Up

As I’ve been reading more and more about the health benefits of bone broth, I keep coming across notes on broth’s power to reduce cellulite. Most articles I’ve read focus on other benefits of broth and just mention cellulite reduction in passing. Curious about this potential magical power, I plopped down for another few hours of broth research and found a wealth of information.

Thanks to Google, I stumbled across a great blog that looks at all aspects of cellulite from a lay person’s perspective. I can’t find any “about” information on the site, but it appears to be written by a thirty-something woman who struggles with cellulite and is on a mission to find real ways to fight it. While there are several articles on the site that explain the role of broth in cellulite reduction, I found this to be the best one-stop read. The post details why we have cellulite and the role that broths play in banishing it forever.

Cellulite turns out to be yet one more of the modern Western diseases with which we’re left to deal. This article offers a brief history of cellulite and discusses how our current lifestyles (diet, movement, clothing) have resulted in cellulite once being an issue for a few wealthy women to now impacting 90% of us.

Interesting information for sure. While I don’t think I have an extreme amount of cellulite, bouncing back and forth between 10 pounds for the last few years has left it’s ugly mark. I’ll definitely be watching out for changes as I start introducing my daily cup of broth.

Broth Surfing

What I am loving about my challenge (and something I was hoping would come out of it) is that I have a channel for my energy. Instead of randomly playing on the internet and wasting mostly idle hours, I’m using my free time to read as much as I can on broth and it’s benefits as a traditional food. I’ve found that since I am not mindlessly spending time web surfing, I read a few articles then walk away from the computer. Overall I’m spending less time online and using the time I am on more constructively.

Here’s a fun video I came across. I’m not sure I’ve seen someone this excited about soup bones before, but it makes me excited to get home and start my first batch of broth this week! I’m also looking forward to the free broth and soup class they are going to post on Facebook sometime this summer.

Back to Basics with Broth

My Google Reader is full of clean eating* blogs and there is rarely a day that goes by where I don’t read something new and interesting. A few months ago, two of the blogs I follow both wrote posts about broth and its benefits. Cave Girl’s post detailed the various types of bones and how they should be cooked and Diane’s post included a super simple recipe. Thanks to these ladies, I’m on my way to a delicious (and nutritious!) cup of broth per day.

Since I’m not an expert or even versed in nutrition aside from what I read here in the inter-web, I will not spout broth’s benefits myself. Both blog posts have great info and Cave Girl’s includes a few links at the bottom that go into more detail.

I did a little math to figure out how much broth I would need for one cup a day plus cooking. Two crock pot broths for a month seemed about right, so next I needed to purchase quality meat. Quality is important. If you are going to soak all the stuffs out of animal bones, you want the bones to contain good stuffs, not crap, right? (And if you’ve read anything about the way conventional animals are treated, it’s just not cool.)

I belong to a Meat CSA through Marin Sun Farms that delivers locally once a month. All meats are either grass fed and finished (ruminants) or pasture raised (pork, poultry). My package includes 5 lbs of ground and 4 lbs of roasting meats. I can add on extras at a slight discount to retail, so I have a very easy way of collecting quality broth ingredients. You can find good bones at a local butcher, farmers market, or Whole Foods as well.

From Cave Girl’s post I learned that you want to treat different bone types differently when it comes to cooking times. The more gelatinous bones should be cooked for shorter periods so that the gelatin is not broken down to a point where it’s useless. Less gelatin-rich bones though should be cooked longer to allow all of the minerals (and other good stuffs) to be fully extracted. I picked up regular beef bones for my long-simmering, mineral-rich broth and chicken necks for my short-simmering, gelatin-rich broth. (Yes, I should have gotten feet for the most gelatin-rich bones, but one step at a time, people!)

Tonight happened to be my July pick-up date! As soon as I left work I was off to the Mission to pick up my goods. Check out what I got:

I forgot to take a picture of all my loot before filling the freezer, but this is what was in my box this month: 3 lbs ground beef, 2 lbs ground pork, 2 lb pork belly (homemade bacon!), and 2 lb sirloin tip. I also added 1 lb lamb stew, 3 dozen eggs, and an ingredient for my August food challenge.

Last but not least, today was my first soda-free day at work in a long, long time.

*The more I read and understand, I’m not sure if I’m Primal (I do like the OK on red wine), Paleo (yes, I get why grains are bad), a Traditional Nutrition eater (raw cheese, please), or what. So I’m going to call it clean eating from here on out. I’m sure I got the idea from yet another blog, I just don’t know which.