This posting is specifically for newcomers to the Paleo Lifestyle , however you veterans out there may find some of this information useful as well. 🙂 I am sometimes asked by random friends and family who are curious about the Paleo Diet, “Do you cook EVERY night?!” and “How do you have fresh food available all throughout the week to eat?”
To answer question # 1 : No. I do not cook every night. At most, I cook 3 nights a week ( I have a newborn here people!) But these are good questions. In my opinion, one of the most challenging aspects to achieving a true Paleo lifestyle is having healthy fresh foods available, ready, and accessible – especially in a time crunch. Most of us have no problem making a few Paleo meals here and there, but there is somewhat of a learning curve on how to stay on the diet with a very busy schedule for every meal. Lets face it, life is hectic! There are those few people that have the time and the energy to cook all day every day, but that is just not most people. So, with that being said, I will go over how ( what I believe) to be the best ways to have meals ready for you and your family and some of my favorite quick Paleo snack foods.
Please note, these are just my recommendations. There is no “right” way. Everyone’s lifestyle is different – what works for my family, may not work for yours – I just hope you some of you out there can find this information useful in your meal planning and shopping!
HOW TO PLAN YOUR MEALS
#1 PREP and COOK for the week ahead
I find the best way to plan meals is to do my prep work and cook meat for the whole week. Usually Saturdays or Sundays, my husband and I will go grocery shopping for the week ahead. At some point during the weekend, I will give him “baby duty” for 2-3 hours while I “prep” and cook variety or food for the whole week:
- FRUITS: Chop and/or wash strawberries, blueberries, lemons, and grapes – store in plastic containers in fridge
- VEGGIES: Chop mushrooms, onions, zucchini, tomatoes, cucumbers, carrots, celery, and bell peppers – store in plastic containers.
The reason why I prep so many foods for the week is because I don’t know what I will be in the mood for when I cook dinner on a given night, I want options for quick snack grabs, and when I do chose to cook, I don’t want to hassle with chopping up food then. This saves TIME and ENERGY for the nights or lunches you just don’t want to work for food. It will also cut down your cooking time dramatically when you DO cook.
As for your protein ( meat, baby….), I will chose 3-4 different protein sources to have cooked and ready for the week. For example, this week we chose:
- Hard boiled eggs
- pre-cooked turkey ( sliced up)
- boneless chicken tenders.
I like having hard boiled eggs available because they make a great snack, salad topping, or I can make
chicken or tuna salad if I so desire. The other protein sources I can use towards a dinner recipe or eat “as is”.
# 2 Quick and Easy Fats
Personally, I love having plenty of options when it comes to fats: Pistachios, Walnuts, Almonds, and Pecans are all stored in quart size Ziploc bags. If I can’t throw them in some part of my dinner, I will just grab a handful after the meal. I also make sure I have a small bottle of coconut milk and a ripe avocado available in the refrigerator.
#3 Quick and Easy Snacks
Here are a few of my favorite snack items that I turn to when I really need something quick to hold me over:
1. Justin’s Brand Almond Butter Packets – Wonderful inexpensive packets for a good fat source – store in the car or your purse – buy at any Whole Foods or Dierbergs
2. Larabars – many flavors and varieties- and only a few ingredients!
3. Musclemann’s All Natural Applesauce – No Sugar Added – Find at any grocery store
5. Caveman Cookies – I found these online and they are delicious –