Time challenged? Picky kids? St. Louisan offers food prep tips from new cookbook


By Bill Motchan, Special to the Jewish Light

Dini Klein, a St. Louis native and Epstein Hebrew Academy alum, has a large online following, with 150,000 followers on Instagram. Klein specializes in sharing food prep tips for busy households. Her Prep + Rally website is popular among parents of picky kids. 

On Sept. 6, Klein realized a longtime goal when she published a mass-market comprehensive meal prep cookbook, naturally titled “Prep + Rally.” The book is available at Target and Amazon.

Klein, 33, offered a sneak preview and some tricks and tips for successful family cooking. 

Dini Klein
Dini Klein is the author of ‘Prep + Rally: An Hour of Prep, A Week of Delicious Meals.’

Was writing the cookbook a helpful way of surviving the pandemic?

It was actually a perfect time because we were all stuck at home. It really was a joint collaboration with our whole family. They taste tested every single recipe. They gave critiques. They were really along for the entire process, the celebrations, and the stress and the anxiety.

‘Prep + Rally’ begins with your philosophy of cooking and doesn’t jump right into recipes. Was that format intentional?

Yes, I wanted to be very clear how the meal plans are laid out because it could be a little confusing to a newbie. It’s a different way of going about meal prepping for the week, so I really wanted to be super clear how we organized it, how the book is split up and very user friendly.

What is the main takeaway you want the book to provide to home cooks?

I want it to be a guide for people to become savvier cooks, to learn to season on their own, to learn to be more resourceful in the kitchen, to repurpose their leftovers and cook in bulk and then divvy out the food throughout the week, but in different ways. It’s your family, it’s your meal, and you’re supposed to love it.

Parents sometimes refer to their kids as not being adventurous eaters. Do you find parents can be reluctant to try different techniques because they think their kids won’t like something exotic?

I hear that all the time. And I always say, your kids are watching you eat. I’m constantly eating a big bowl of salad, even after dinner, and now my kids will come over and start nibbling at the salad, even though they weren’t going to eat it during dinner. Now that I’m eating it, now all of a sudden, they want it!

You devote a good part of the book to vegetarian recipes, which are an easy way to keep kosher. How do you avoid those dishes being bland?

I’m a big fan of adding citrus, adding fresh herbs, and making sure you’re seasoning properly, which a lot of people don’t do. I say, taste as you go and adjust as necessary.

Another one of your tips is that a recipe is just a starting point and home cooks should feel free to improvise.

Yes, play with your food, have fun, do anything you like. Add some hot sauce or lemon juice and see what you like. There’s no one size fits all recipe. It depends on what your family likes. But I always give lots of tips and tricks on how to modify and make it work for everyone. And I think having that DIY component where everyone can really build their own meal and make it their own is super important.