Ways To Save Time Cooking Paleo (Without Spending More Money) PaleoMom
For me, the biggest challenge to eating paleo is the time commitment required for preparing and cooking everything we eat. The loss of convenience foods, including prepackaged foods, easy frozen meals, take-out and delivery, means alot more time in the kitchen. Although, it also happens to mean some money saved. In general, the more time you invest in food preparation, the more money you save. For example, the less a butcher has to work for your cut of meat, the cheaper it is (a whole chicken is a lot cheaper per pound than a chicken butchered into legs, thighs, breast and wings). If you do that work yourself, you save money. But how do you find the time? I could easily suggest that you buy your meat cut exactly how you want it or that you buy your fruits and vegetables pre-chopped, but then you’d be spending more money. If you have the money to spend, go for it. I don’t. I have time. But, even as a stay-at-home mom, I don’t have that much time and I can still get easily overwhelmed. So, I’ve assembled a list of tricks that I use to be efficient in the kitchen.
Plan ahead. Having a sense of what you are going to cook over the next week will help you save time (and be more efficient in the grocery store!). If you know that you’re going to need a meal of leftovers one night because you won’t have time to cook that night, you can plan for that. If you know you’re going to need to do some baking for a picnic lunch, you can make sure you find time in the days before. You don’t need to have everything mapped out to the last detail, but having some idea of what you will eat each day can be extraordinarily helpful.
Roasting is fast, easy and the meat lasts a few meals. My favorite way to cook meat is to roast a big hunk of it. Whole chicken, whole turkey and pork roasts are the most economical, followed by boneless leg of lamb and then roast beef. If you are near a farm, you might be able to get some goose, duck, goat, ostrich, emu, venison, or bison too. I don’t do much other than put some simple seasoning over the surface of the meat and stick it in the oven at the appropriate temperature for the appropriate length of time (most comprehensive cookbooks will have a table with oven and meat temperatures times as well as approximate cooking times but be aware that grass-fed meats often cook faster). The best part about this is that the meat lasts a few meals, can be frozen for quick meal later if you don’t want to eat it 5 nights in a row (for most meats, that’s the longest you should keep it in the fridge after cooking it). You can change up the meal by cooking some different veggies on subsequent nights, or even by using the meat for a stir-fry or curry later in the week. If you have a large enough oven, you can also multitask by roasting some vegetables at the same time.
Have a repertoire of quick meals for during the week. I have certain meals which I know are easy to prepare that we like to have mid-week. These are typically things like tacos, meatballs, roasts (you have to put them in the oven early, but they don’t take much prep), dinner salads, poached fish, and stir fries (which require more prep, but I try and fit that in earlier in the day). During the week is also a great time for a crock-pot meal, although you need to plan ahead. Breakfast for dinner nights are also a great option for saving both time and money. You can go classic with some sausage, bacon and eggs or do something like a frittata. And because I like to freeze one meal's worth of leftovers when I make a big batch of something, this is another great option for nights when I'm really low on time.
Leftovers are your friend. I never make a single batch of anything, except maybe fish because it tends not to reheat that well (but in the summer, we’ll enjoy leftovers cold). Get in the habit of doubling or tripling recipes. A couple of large pots or frying pans can be very helpful for this. Leftovers don’t necessarily need to be for supper the next night. They also make great lunches and even breakfasts. I even make extra when I scramble eggs; they reheat well enough that my kids will still eat them and I save alot of time on those mornings that I don’t need to cook anything.
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Good tips- thanks!! I like to batch-cook on Sundays, using ground beef and various frozen veggies. I make a few lbs of ground beef last an entire week.
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