Yes, of course, this post is one of the most important ones you could read in order to take the “overwhelm” out of paleo living. I used to spend hours in the kitchen each day, not knowing any better. You can serve your family healthy meals without spending the day in the kitchen and breaking the bank. Read the following tips to learn how you can save time in the kitchen even with your dietary restrictions:
1- Cook in bulk
This is one of the most obvious time-saving tips and by now, you might be thinking: “Tell me something I didn’t know!” However, the fact that this kitchen hack is well known doesn’t mean that it is applied well. In fact, I learned a few things over the years to save more time. I used to spend the whole day (a 10-hour stretch) in the kitchen at least once a month to cook enough to put in the freezer, and that’s what cooking in bulk probably means to most of you. You can simplify freezer cooking, but for now, let’s just focus on ways to simply make enough for leftovers. And leftovers don’t have to feel like leftovers, here’s how you can spice them up:
Make enough for leftovers
My favorite foods to double up are foods like stews, chili and pasta sauce. It doesn’t take much to double the recipe and you can serve it a bit differently the next day to make it interesting. For example, I enjoy serving pasta sauce on veggies like riced cauliflower one day and roasted cabbage or broccoli the next. You can make enough chili to serve with roasted sweet potatoes and guacamole the first day and paleo bread the next. This allows you to save time in the kitchen without
Cook enough meat to create more than one simple meal
If you are having roast chicken, put 2 or 3 chickens in the oven to have enough meat not only for your dinner but for a salad the next day for example. The same thing goes for chicken breasts, ground meat or fish. Salads are the most versatile dish and adding a bit of your leftover meat is a great way to save time in the kitchen.
Make a really big salad
Sometimes, it feels like the most time-consuming part of cooking Paleo is all the veggies! One way you can make sure everyone is getting enough veggies without having to spend hours preparing them is to make a huge salad in the morning. You can then serve it as a main meal for lunch (with your leftover meat) and as a side dish for dinner (even as a main meal if you are up for it). A different dressing, a couple of different toppings like adding seeds or nuts or maybe guacamole and it will feel like a different salad!
2. Use short cuts when preparing veggies
Yes, as I mentioned before, preparing veggies takes time, but there are ways to serve plenty of veggies in a jiffy.
If you don’t have a food processor and you are serious about feeding your family well, you need to get one! You will be able to slice, grate, and chop multiple cups of veggies in a matter of minutes! This kitchen tool is
Listen, you might resent the idea of paying extra for the convenience of prepared veggies, and I used to feel the same way, but I have decided that is totally worth it. Besides, it’s not always much more expensive. For example, when you buy a bunch of broccoli, you have to take into account that you will not be using half of it (unless you juice the stem). When you purchase big bags of chopped broccoli or cauliflower, you have some very handy veggies for a last minute side dish. Roasted veggies have become a quick go-to in my family. Just open your bag of veggies, throw it on a baking sheet, add some avocado oil and sea salt or other seasonings and roast in the oven until nice and golden. Delicious!
Did you know that frozen veggies can be more nutritious than fresh veggies?
Time to let go of the idea that fresh is always best. Frozen veggies are convenient and more affordable. I go grocery shopping every two weeks and I often use my frozen veggies the second week. They are great sauteed in a pan with a few spices or seasoned salt.
Not only are fermented veggies super nourishing for your gut, but they are extremely convenient. You can add them to your salads or just serve on their own as your side dish. You can make your own or purchase them from the health food store. Even Costco carries them occasionally!
Haha! I got you! I bet you are wondering why on earth I would suggest processed foods! Processed foods have a bad rap because they are usually filled with sugar and other unhealthy ingredients. However, a processed food is simply a food that is not in its natural state. In this case, I simply recommend you purchase convenience veggies. For example, you can purchase riced cauliflower either fresh or frozen. You can purchase spiralized squash and diced butternut squash. Anything that will help you fill your table with nutritious foods without spending the day in the kitchen.
3. Keep it simple
It might seem obvious, but when I started eating Paleo, I didn’t know how to go about it, so I bought lots of great recipe books and meal plans. I ended up having to cook all sorts of fancy meals that required a lot of prep work and cost a lot of money. If you think about it, nobody needs a recipe book to throw some chicken and broccoli in the oven! In the end, all you need for a great paleo meal is veggies, nuts, seeds, and meat or maybe some legumes. Keeping it simple will allow you to save time in the kitchen while eating delicious foods.
dish is enough
You don’t need to have 3 side dishes with your choice of meat. One is enough! Roast chicken with a side of roasted broccoli is one of my favorite simple meals. Moreover, eating Paleo doesn’t have to involve eating meat at every meal. I know for some of you it might require some practice as a meal without meat might not feel complete or filling enough, but I can guarantee you this: if you eat enough salad or cooked veggies, you will get full. So, just empty a bag of chopped kale in a bowl, add some lemon juice, olive oil, salt, cucumber, apples, sunflower seeds and call it a meal! Don’t worry, even your kids will get used to it if you don’t give in to their snacking habits.
Just a few ingredients
Yes, sometimes experimenting with elaborate dishes is fun, but your meals do not need to be complicated to be delicious and nutritious. I already shared my some of my favorite meals with you, but let me just show you how to create a completely different meal with some simple swaps. Instead of roast chicken with roasted broccoli, you can use baked salmon and roasted cauliflower. How about baked chicken thighs with roasted green beans or Brussels sprouts? Or baked fries (read if you should eat potatoes here), your favorite meat, and fermented sauerkraut? You get the idea.
4. Prepare in advance
This is somewhat similar to cooking in bulk, although there is a distinction. In this case, you save time in the kitchen by simply preparing your ingredients in advance. If you don’t want to purchase prepared veggies, then you can prepare them yourself in advance. During the weekend, grill some chicken breasts for your salads, dice your onions, mince your garlic. If you are very short on time during the week, doing these simple tasks will help. As a stay-at-home mom, my weekdays are very similar to my weekend days, so I don’t do a lot advance prep work. I focus on bulk cooking instead, but I am sure you can see how preparing some of your foods in advance could help you save time in the kitchen.
5. To Meal Plan or Not to Meal Plan
You might wonder why I would even ask this question. After all, everyone seems to say that meal planning is the key to not only saving time in the kitchen but to saving money on groceries as well. I have used meal plans for years and I still do. However, I have been finding that using meal plans costs me more and requires me to spend more time in the kitchen. That’s because meal planning often involves going through your favorite recipe books. Again, you don’t need a recipe to serve a simple meat and veggie. I usually just use a meal plan to help with grocery shopping, but I follow it loosely using some of my go-to’s. So, for example, I use a 1-week meal plan for a 2-week grocery shopping trip. I buy some of my favorite foods even if they might not be part of the menu plan (like bags of broccoli, cauliflower, whole chickens, frozen veggies, frozen fruits, etc.). I follow the meal plan, but I still make more for leftovers and don’t follow the plan when something else if more convenient that particular day.
That’s it for my 5 favorite ways to save time in the kitchen. I was considering providing you with 2- week grocery list template. If you think it would be a helpful addition to this blog post, please comment below.