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Cooking a healthy diet from scratch, like a Paleo or AIP diet can sure get tiresome – so many dishes! But this tip will save you SO much time.
I am often asked “How do you do it?” when it comes to cooking the majority of our meals from scratch while eating a Paleo diet.
Sure, at first it seemed like it took a long time because a lot was different about how we had to approach it all, but now it's kind of second nature to us and I can't say we spend incredible amounts of time cooking.
I could probably write a list about a mile long about all the little tips and tricks we use to save time in the kitchen, but I want to share the one I feel gives you the biggest payoff.
For us, it's cooking large quantities at one time.
What exactly does this mean?
Cooking More Than One Batch
At dinner we will cook double or triple batches of a recipe.
This means we just double or triple the recipe – it usually doesn't take much more time to do so than to cook a single batch.
We have 4 of us in our family – myself, my husband, and my 2 boys who often eat more than we do.
So a single batch of a recipe meant for 4 usually is enough for our dinner. The 2nd batch of the recipe is often our lunch the next day, and then the 3rd batch (or the remainder of the 2nd) is either another lunch for us, my breakfast for a day, or packed into the freezer.
This way we cook once and have several meals out of it. All we need to do is reheat.
Packing the Leftovers
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To make it even easier, when we put the leftovers away at the end of the meal we just pack them in individual glass Pyrex containers that contain the necessary components of the meal. So all we need to do is pull it out of the fridge when we need our meals.
Sometimes we eat it the exact same way as we had prepared it for dinner, complete with the same sides and all.
Sometimes we switch up the sides from meals in a sort of mix and match fashion.
And sometimes we completely change the way the dish even looks and tastes by using different sauces or preparations.
Examples of Meals
Example 1 – Whole Chicken
Monday: On Monday night we might have roast chicken for dinner with roasted broccoli. Instead of making 1 chicken we make 2. Same amount of effort and time.
Tuesday: Then for lunch Tuesday we might have the same thing – leftover chicken and roasted broccoli, reheated.
Wednesday: Then for lunch on Wednesday we might cube up some of the remaining meat from the chicken and mix it up with mayo, dried cranberries, sliced celery, walnuts, salt and pepper to make a chicken salad (that takes about 10 minutes to prep for 4 people). And then Wednesday night we might use the remaining meat to make a Paleo pizza (I love this Paleo and AIP BBQ chicken pizza) and then have the leftovers of THAT for lunch on Thursday.
Example 2 – Pork Shoulder
Monday: we make Michelle Tam's Slow Cooker Kalua pork on Monday night (one of the best recipes EVER – sooooo easy to make, literally 5 min of prep, and one you can stick in the crockpot before work that doesn't overcook). Instead of a tiny pork shoulder we will either use 2 pork shoulders or get the biggest one we can find. That evening we have it with lettuce wraps, mango salsa, and cauliflower rice.
Tuesday: Then have the same thing for lunch the next day.
Thursday: Then maybe wait a day and then have it for dinner mixed with a BBQ sauce (you can make one or there are some decent premade ones in the store) and roasted sweet potato wedges.
Friday: Then the leftovers of THAT BBQ sauce pork the next day for lunch.
Example 3.- Chili
Sunday: For dinner on Sunday we make a double batch of Mel Joulwan's Chocolate Chili with some Paleo Cornbread.
Monday: Monday lunch we have the same thing.
Tuesday: Tuesday night we throw 8 sweet potatoes in the oven when we get home from work at (takes 5 minutes to prep – turn oven to 400 F, poke the potatoes a few times with a fork, put on a baking sheet and bake for 45 min to 1 hr) and then have some of the leftover chili over the baked sweet potatoes.
Wednesday: Wednesday for lunch we have the last of the chili over the last of the roasted sweet potatoes.
It Really Makes a Difference!
You can get pretty creative with your meals when you do it this way so you don't get bored, but it really does save quite a bit of time.
You also could freeze a portion of the original meal if you'd rather – like make a double batch and freeze half. That works as well. We just hardly ever get there because we wind up eating it all at one time.
And of course you can do the Sunday-afternoon prep everything for the week thing, but I've got enough going on on Sunday to do that!
This isn't anything revolutionary, but I didn't really start doing this until a few years ago so it really made a difference in our lives and being able to fit it all in.
I think for a long time I thought lunch had to look completely different than anything we ate for dinner – like had to be a sandwich or a salad or something, but I've since learned that lunch AND breakfast can look just like dinner.
It's not only easier to do but it also seems to be more filling and satiating to me too. Win win!
What are your favorite time saving tips? Tell me below in the comments!
This is the single biggest help when it comes to staying on plan. Sometimes its enough knowing that you have precooked food in the fridge that you don’t want to go bad that needs to get eaten, plus its so nice not to have to cook dinner every night! great post.
Thanks so much Alex!