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Are you loving the health benefits of eating Paleo, but feel like its sucking all your time and energy? All that chopping and long meal preparations can take it out of you, and sometimes you just don’t have time for it. Below are 6 of my favorite Paleo shortcuts that can save you during busy seasons of life!
1. Pre-chopped and Ready to Eat Fruits and Veggies
These are a must on busy days. There are SO many options to choose from, and some are more expensive than others. Frozen vegetables and fruits are by far the most affordable option, you can buy a huge variety of chopped and ready to eat fruits and vegetables. All you have to do is defrost them, either while cooking, or using the stove or microwave. There are also spiralized veggies in the freezer section that make Paleo life so much easier! If you prefer fresh over frozen, use fruits and veggies that are already washed, chopped, and ready to go from your grocery store’s produce section. Think bagged lettuce, baby carrots, cauliflower rice, and diced fruits. Finally, dried chopped onion and other dried spices are awesome for when you don’t have time to chop onion, garlic, and other fresh herbs. They add great flavor without a lot of extra work.
2. Thinly slice your meats
Did you just figure out what you want to cook for dinner and only have 30 minutes to make it happen? I know it sounds strange, but if you cut the thickness of your meat in half, it drastically reduces cooking time. Sometimes I don’t have an hour to wait for thick chicken breasts to cook all the way through in the oven, so I cut them in half so they are thinner and cook in half the time. This works for any thick cut of meat…….. chicken, pork chops, steaks, and it has saved me many times!
3. Cooking and Prepping Large Batches of Food
If you’re already in the kitchen chopping and preparing foods, why not get a few meals’ worth of prep done at once? Planning meals ahead of time is a must for this method to work, and you’ll likely need to set aside a small block of time to get it done. Say on Sunday you have your meals planned for the week, and you know you’re having salad for lunch the next 3 days. Prep all 3 salads at once, and store them in the fridge so they’re ready when you need them. Likewise, if you need certain veggies chopped for dinner on 2 of the nights, you can chop them all on Sunday and store them until you’re ready to cook dinner. This also works for marinating meats, putting together smoothie packs that are ready to pour in the blender, and putting together containers of snacks for the week. Its better to prep them all at once, so you’re not dragging out all the ingredients (and cleaning up your cutting board) every day of the week. Then, when its time to get lunch ready or cook dinner, your prep work is already done!
4. Use the Freezer
If you’re already in the kitchen making a delicious meal you love, why not make extra so you have dinner for another night (or two)? Just stock up on some freezer bags, foil containers, or glass storage containers, and you’ll have something to store the extras in. You can keep the extra meals in the freezer for a busy night when you need a quick meal. Just remember to put it in the fridge a day or two before you plan to eat it so it has time to defrost! This works great for meat and veggies (you can freeze it before cooking and then just pour it on a sheet pan and bake when you’re ready for it!). It also works for egg bakes, pizzas, smoothie packs (assemble all the ingredients in a ziptop bag and freeze), soups, muffins, pancakes, and casseroles.
5. Convenience Meals
Lately I’ve been finding frozen Paleo meals at my local grocery store. I’ve been to 4 different grocery store chains, and they all seem to have frozen Paleo meal options that are good when you’re in a pinch. Most of them are around $5 each, which isn’t bad for a Paleo meal. They aren’t the best option, but when it takes 5 minutes or less to heat up and no prep work or clean up on your part, sometimes it is worth it! (I’m not promoting the brand below, it was just one I tried from Walmart)
6. Find A Good Paleo Market
Its SO helpful during busy times to be able to reach in the pantry and grab something that is quick and ready to eat. Some grocery stores have a great selection, and others, not so much. One place that is accessible to everyone, and has a great selection of Paleo food is Thrive Market. I’ve been using them for over a year now, and they have great discounted products, and free shipping if you spend $49 or more. I usually just order every month or two depending on how much I need, so I can spend enough to get free shipping. Some of the products I use the most are Paleo baking mixes (muffins, pancakes, pizza crust), soups, snack mixes, and energy bars. Its so nice to have some convenience products on hand to save me if I am standing in the kitchen with 10 minutes to spare and nothing to make for breakfast/lunch/dinner. Thrive is also a great place to get discounted Paleo staples like coconut oil and coconut milk, cooking sauces, salad dressings, nut butters, and more! Be careful, because you could easily spend hours on their site 🙂 They have so many great products, and I’m still working my way through all of them. Stay tuned for a future post on my favorite things to order from Thrive!
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