The majority of people trying to eat Paleo or even just clean will complain that they have no idea what to cook, they do not have time to cook, or they do not know what to take with them for lunches when they work outside of the home. My mother and I were just like all of you when we first started Paleo. We would call or text each other and say, “What are you cooking? I have no idea what to make!!” It gets better, I promise. You will learn so much as you go. Everyone’s lifestyle is so different, so what works for us may not work for you and vice versa, keep that in mind as you read these tips, and hopefully you can at least use them as a starting point to create a plan and a way of doing things that suits your family’s needs beautifully!
You need to create your staple ingredients before you begin your meal planning. This includes but is not limited to: mayonnaise, ranch dressing, BBQ sauce, and whatever other sorts of bases you and your family savor. I would make sure that you have Paleo staples in your pantry as well, such as coconut milk, ghee or clarified butter, tomato sauce, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, coconut aminos, coconut manna or coconut butter, oils, and different vinegars.
If you are a family that believes in crock pots, it will become your best friend. My mother works from their home, but she cooks all of her meals in an outdoor kitchen, separate from her house where her office is. She will put some sort of meat in the crockpot early in the morning, or sometimes even the night before and let that cook throughout the day while she does her office work. At some point in the day when she can spare some time she makes her way to the outside kitchen to make her sides, which are usually some steamed vegetables, sautéed vegetables, or vegetables cooked in some way, shape, or form. This makes her day much less stressful and much more manageable. I gathered a few of my mom’s Paleo favorites, but as with any Cajun, when you ask them “How much of that?” they always reply, “Well just a few shakes…” I have tried my best to translate her wrist shakes into metric units. Here is one of their favorite crock pot meat recipes:
LeighLeigh’s Crockpot Chicken Leg Quarters (LeighLeigh is Hattie’s name for my mom)
-1 pack of Harvestland Chicken Leg Quarters (or any free range chicken)
-1 pack of Harvestland Chicken thighs (or any free range chicken)
-Sea Salt to taste
-Black Pepper to taste
-Garlic Powder to taste
-1 TBSP Olive Oil
Rub olive oil on the bottom and sides of your crock pot. Season your chicken to taste and then add to the crock pot. Harvestland chicken seems to contain less water than traditional chickens, so you will add more water with Harvestland brand chicken, she adds approximately ¼ cup of water. Put the crock pot on low and cook for 8-9 hours (all crock pots are different and so is meat. These time frames are not set in stone, experiment with your crock pot to find what works for you).
Mom likes to put this chicken going all night, and my dad will actually eat it for breakfast! He is the definition of a carnivore. A few good side dishes that they like to make to eat with their meat is:
Butternut Squash Mash (Hattie approved)
-Peel and cube a butternut squash
-Boil squash in a small amount of water until tender
-Drain the squash and mash it
-Add coconut milk until it reaches the consistency you like, Mom uses about ½ cup.
-Sprinkle with cinnamon (1 TSP) a dash of salt and a dash of pepper.
-Mix and enjoy.
Butternut Squash Bites
-Peel and cube butternut squash
– Coat squash with coconut oil generously and sprinkle with cinnamon
-Lay in pan (small casserole pan) and bake on 350 for about 20 minutes
– Stir the cubes, and cook for 10 minute increments until tender.
Mom always bought her butternut squash from Wal Mart, Fresh Market, or Fresh Pickens, but I grew butternut squash in my garden this summer, and sent Mom home with one a few weeks back. She told me today that it was the best butternut squash she had ever cooked, and that the smaller homegrown variety must be more tender than most. Yay me!
(FYI, we call my dad Pop. Hattie calls him Poppa)
-5-9 Fresh Tomatoes (depending on serving size you are preparing for)
-1 bag of Vine Sweet Mini Peppers (8-9 peppers)
-2 TBSP olive oil
-1 small pack of mushrooms
– 1 tsp of minced garlic from the jar, or if you are mincing the garlic yourself, 2 cloves.
-Sea Salt to taste
– Black Pepper to taste
-Wash tomatoes and quarter them.
-Take vine sweet mini peppers (red, orange, and yellow little peppers that you buy in the produce section of your grocery store). Cut off the tops, remove the seeds, and cut into rings.
-In a medium sized pot begin cooking down the tomatoes and peppers in olive oil (1 TBSP). This will take a while.
-In another pot add mushrooms with olive oil (1 TBSP) and minced garlic and cook down.
– When both pots are sufficiently cooked down, mix them together and allow them to cook together for a short while.
– Add salt and pepper to taste.
A great thing to do, if you like chicken, would be to plan to bake a fryer at the beginning of the week. After dinner, de-bone all of the leftover chicken. You can use this chicken, along with your Paleo mayonnaise to make chicken salad that can be eaten alone, with stick vegetables, or on Paleo bread for lunch the next day. You can even add it to a bed of spinach and veggies for a protein packed salad!
For all of you that pack lunches to take to work, you can always follow my dad’s lead. His job requires him to works outside, no microwaves, no stoves, he eats on the jobsite (which is a different location every single day) If he can do it, so can you. He has a bento box that he fills up every evening following dinner. He will fill his box with meat, and whatever sides were served with dinner that night, then he puts it into the ice box for the remainder of the night. The next morning he puts his Bento box into his ice chest, and before it is time for him to eat lunch, he will take it out and put it on his toolbox to warm up a bit in the sun. If my mom knows that she will be on the road (at appointments or shopping) during lunch the next day, she will prepare her a little lunch as well and lets it heat up on her dashboard. The majority of people in this world however have microwaves or ovens at their disposal around lunch time, so you have a one up when it comes to heating your food. Think about all of the money you will save in the long run from eating leftovers AND not buying lunch food. Ca-Ching!!
When I asked my mom for this picture she told me that my dad had sent her a text not long ago and he told her that he was sitting in the shade of a tree eating his lunch, and he thanked her for making him such delicious meals every day. I thought the image of him sitting peacefully and eating thankfully was too sweet not to share. See, good food really is great for the soul.