The secret to make a Paleo diet long lasting and successful is easier than you may thing. It’s as simple as meal preparation.
Eating paleo on the fly is not always easy—so having healthy, paleo staples that are already prepared and at your disposal each week is a surefire way to keep your diet in check and your health on track. Here are a few tips to help you meal prep with ease.
Have a Plan
Pick a meal prep day where you have enough time to grocery shop, cook, and clean up without being pressured. (I like to do my biggest meal prep on Sundays each week.) Before heading to the grocery store, take a moment to sit and jot down the meals you want to make and the ingredients you will need. Make a list of your protein you need to buy, vegetables for your side dishes and extra items you will need to round out your meals like fruits, spices, herbs and drinks such as coffee or tea. Without a plan it is easy to feel lost in the grocery store, leave a key ingredient behind, or end up buying way too much food that you won’t eat.
A simple plan of attack to begin with is:
- Making a protein dish that covers 4 to 5 servings.
- Preparing two vegetable sides.
- Picking up a large container of greens or and a few raw vegetables for salad or snacks.
- Buying one or two types of fruit.
- A carton of eggs. This basic strategy can help you cover your meals for a number of days.
Cook It All At Once In A Batch
Batch cooking or cooking in ‘bulk’ just means that you are making more than one serving of a protein or vegetable to repurpose over multiple meals. While it may seem tedious at first to spend two hours in the kitchen, you will reap the benefits the rest of the week when your meals are prepared and your raw vegetables rinsed and chopped. If you are making chicken breasts, cook five at once. For side dishes, make a double batch of cauliflower rice or cook four sweet potatoes in a large pan in the oven. This way, you only have to invest the initial cooking time on one day of the week and take time to do one large cleanup in the kitchen.
Meal prep is made super-simple when you have appropriate storage containers to hold your food. By keeping on hand 3 to 5 glass containers that are the size of one single meal, with snap on lids, you can prepare meals as the food is finished cooking. All you have to do is divide the protein and vegetable sides into meal sized portions as you go, dishing them into the storage containers and storing the containers in the refrigerator. This is quite helpful when leaving for work or packing up for a long day. All you have to do is grab your prepared Paleo meal, in it’s container and go!
Simple Prep Hacks
- Make protein that you can enjoy in more than one way. For example you can have grilled chicken as a main protein for dinner one night and then wrapped up as a lettuce wrap ‘sandwich’ for lunch another day.
- Rinse and chop raw salad vegetables immediately after you purchase them and store in airtight containers. Unwashed, unchoppped vegetables tend to go unnoticed in those bottom drawers of the refrigerator. When you come home from work hungry, the last thing you want to do is spend time rinsing and chopping. Also, by washing and chopping your vegetables you can throw together a salad in just a moment on-the-go by grabbing greens, and a few hands full of vegetables that you have already take time to get salad-ready.
- Consider investing in a crock-pot or slow cooker. Using a crock-pot or slow cooker can help make meal prep a breeze. Many slow cooker recipes require minimal hands-on time and you can come back to your kitchen hours later to a cooked meal. Soups, stews, and slow cooked protein dishes like pulled pork or shredded beef can be prepared easily and with little fuss.
Don’t Worry, Expect a Learning Curve
The first few times you meal prep you might under or over estimate how much of one dish you may need. That’s OK! Give yourself a month or two of consistent meal prep to figure out just what quantity works for you or your family and also what dishes are best to prepare in bulk. After a few tries, you will get the meals, storage and clean up down to a science and you will be meal prepping with ease.
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