Making the leap from standard processed junk food to real, whole ingredients can be a challenge. Suddenly you’re confronted with grocery lists, recipes, and a packed refrigerator, and eating healthy and fulfilling Paleo meals takes a bit more effort than your previous convenience food meals required. This is one of the common pitfalls for anyone who is new to the Paleo lifestyle – not knowing how and where to apply their time and energy for maximum benefit – and some people become so overwhelmed that they simply give up. But there’s no need to walk away from the vibrant health that a primal diet can give you! With a few tweaks to your routine, you can be savoring delicious food and staying on track without having to hire a private chef.
When you finally discover how amazing Paleo foods can make you feel, it becomes easier to invest your time and energy into sourcing quality ingredients, prepping for meals, cooking, and storing leftovers. But let’s face it, we’re all busy people here – we have jobs, families, hobbies, and interests that we still need to have time for. So here are a few hacks that can free up more time while keeping you feeling good!
- Select your preferred vendors ahead of time
Hunting down high quality products can be tough, especially when it comes to meat and dairy. Don’t wait until you’re standing in the store, facing an entire case of products, to decide which companies you want to support. It will save you lots of time down the line to do your research at home first, that way you don’t need to labor over labels during your shopping trip. Look for locally-produced, humanely-raised, organic products, and farms/ranches whose values you share.
- Plan your meals
I’m sure you’ve heard this one before, and for good reason, because it really does work! Simply winging it from day to day is a setup for failure and more stress, so invest a few minutes once per week to plan out meals and snacks. That way, at the end of a long workday, you know what’s for dinner and you already have the ingredients, giving yourself zero excuses for ordering takeout or visiting a drive thru.
- Set aside time for prep
When you start to look forward to your food prep time as something that is relaxing and enjoyable, you are much more likely to eat healthier and feel good about yourself. Pick one day every week where you can devote an hour or so to washing, chopping, slicing, and storing food. Make it fun by putting on your favorite music, or inviting your family to help out.
- Stock up your snack stash
Many of us are on the go most of the time, between work, school, childcare, errands, and all the other details of modern life, and we need primal snacks that travel well. It’s a great idea to always have a stash of healthy snacks in accessible places like your office, car, gym bag, or purse. Buy things like jerky, almond butter, and trail mix in bulk, so you will always have Paleo-approved nosh on hand.
- Try out meal delivery
If you really are slammed for time, and you seriously need a break from driving to the store and planning meals on the regular, look into meal or grocery delivery services. There are several options these days that offer Paleo meals, snacks, and ingredients, and other companies will actually deliver groceries right to your doorstep. Consider your schedule and budget, and see if these options make sense for your family.
- Enlist your household
Some of us probably do the vast majority of shopping and cooking for the whole family, but it never hurts to ask for help sometimes. If you have kids old enough to wield a knife, put them to work chopping veggies. Have your spouse fire up the grill for steaks or chicken. Ask your roommates to handle the grocery run this week. Eating is a community affair, so don’t try to do it all by yourself!
- Keep non-perishables on hand
While lots of Paleo meals require fresh meat and produce, there are plenty of ingredients that you can always have hanging around to make things easier. Keep your pantry stocked with things like spices, coconut milk and oil, canned fish, almond flour, maple syrup, olives, onions, and garlic. This will cut down on your grocery shopping time, and will expand your recipe options when it comes time to cook.
If you’re struggling to keep up with your new Paleo diet, or are simply wanting to free up some time to spend on something other than food, give these seven tips a try. And don’t fret if things don’t come easily to you right away, especially if you have never been much of a chef. Planning, prepping, and cooking get easier with practice, and the long-term benefits of a Paleo lifestyle will be more than worth it in the end. So good luck, and stick with it!