Things have looked a little different in the Day household recently. We're getting healthy. Really, really healthy. We've gotten into Paleo meal planning and – being a bit of a type A personality – when I jump on a bandwagon, I jump on it full-force. That there is homemade sauerkraut. Fermented foods are good for the stomach, according to my newfound Paleo pals. I've truly never felt better.
And this here is homemade kombucha. More on that in a later post.
But it's not all sciencey-looking experiments. Paleo, I've found, is largely misunderstood. A lot of my friends responded with, “So, what, you just eat meat and vegetables all day?” when I tried to explain it to them. Yes, meat and veggies make up a lot of my Paleo meal planning, but there is SO much room to get creative and do this however it fits your lifestyle! I eat chocolate cupcakes and ice cream like, every day. And I don't feel the guilt I used to because I make it healthfully, with natural sugars, dark chocolate, almond flour, coconut milk…things that the body actually likes and thrives off of. Have I mentioned that I've lost a ton of weight eating this good stuff all the time?
The concept is simple: cut out things that our ancestors never ate, things that our bodies haven't fully developed to handle properly. No soy, no processed foods, no refined sugar, no grains, and most people getting into Paleo meal planning (although not everyone) cut out dairy as well. I rely mostly on wholesome nuts, chicken, beef, pork, fish, vegetables and fruit. And I feel great.
Paleo Meal Planning: Step-by-Step
Plan: First, make a plan for what your family will eat for dinner every day in the coming week. Nate and I always include one night out (In N Out or Mexican, where I simply order my burgers without buns or my tacos in bowls). For all the other nights, I choose a meat that I build my meal around at home and then select a vegetable and spices or sauce to go with it. Don't stress breakfast and lunch. Just have some eggs, bacon (try to go for nitrate-free), sausage, and lunch meats around as well as some nuts or Paleo snacks such as Trio or KIND bars.
I highly, highly recommend using a meal-planning service for at least the first month or two. The first week of Paleo meal planning is very difficult. I'll admit, I panicked a bit when I didn't have my good old sandwich bread and rolls to rely on. MAKE A PLAN! Otherwise, you'll end up getting frustrated and going to BJ's to order the egg rolls, spinach dip, macaroni bites, pizza and cookies and eating as much food as you can possibly fit in your body. And you won't feel good. Trust me.
I've been using emeals.com Paleo meal planning services and it is awesome. They give me a list online of what to serve for dinner each night for the week, along with a grocery list. I print it out, sit down with a pen, and make updates based on what we already have in the freezer and what our own family preferences are. They do also have traditional meal plans and things like clean eating, slow cooker, low fat plans and more. We also got a healthy breakfast and healthy lunch plan from them that I draw inspiration from occasionally, but don't particularly stick to as they include non-Paleo ingredients.
Shop: When you have an established plan, you'll shop once a week at the most. We still get most of our meat at Costco because they're starting to have a lot of natural options like coconut oil and organic beef, and it helps us stay within our budget. I'd love to buy all grass-fed meat all the time, but I need to be realistic about what we can afford. Then, we swing by our nearby natural foods store for fresh vegetables, spices and fruit as well as one of my major;y-addictive indulgences: dark chocolate-covered raspberries.
Cook: Next, it's time to unpack and cook stuff at home! I prepare as much food as possible as far in advance as I can. Pre-grilled chicken breasts make for easy salads, and pre-cooked pulled pork is a must-have on our list. I portion out flap steak and freeze it in a Ziplock bag so it marinates as it thaws, ready to be plopped on the grill without me even getting my hands dirty later. This is a big effort all at once, but it helps keep us on track the rest of the week. Vegetables can be diced ahead of time, spices can be portioned out and put into small containers along with the meat. It takes awhile to work out a system, but it's such a timesaver when you do.
Store: Storing food for the entire week requires a bit of organization. Snapware is where it's at in our home, with containers marked using tape that I write on with a Sharpie so I don't forget what I planned to serve when. This is one of the main reasons why we have two refrigerators. We like to eat a lot, and it does take up a bit of space to do things this way.
I'm hoping to start creating more Paleo meal planning posts soon. Probably monthly planning posts, since that's really my preferred way of doing it when I have my act together. Hint: if you want to use the emeals meal-planning services but you're more of a monthly planner like I am rather than a weekly planner, just sign up for their weekly Paleo Meal Planning a month ahead of time, and then save the weekly plans to your desktop. Compiling it all at the end of the month is easy! Do this every week, and you'll get into the monthly planning groove in no time. And they have an app, too, if you're into the digital thing.
Are any of you guys Paleo? Any burning questions about it? Suggestions? I'd love to hear your thoughts!