As many of you know, I successfully accomplished my goal last week to pre-cook/prep my meals for a week in one evening. I however have taken my time writing about it as I wanted to take notes on how it was going as the resulting week’s meals are just as important, if not more, than the prep day. I will most likely write another (or many) posts on how this adventure progresses, but as this is the first, I have a lot to share about the entire experience. I’m warning you ahead of time…this may get long!
Leading up to shopping day, a few revelations were made. First was that after months of toying with adopting Paleo eating habits, I finally decide to take the plunge. My recent trip to NYC and an unfortunate run-in with a bagel may have been a factor, as had lunch last week when I decided to have dairy and bread (which I had not been eating) in one meal. Let’s just say that Paleo makes my stomach happy, dairy and grains do not. My friend Clare pointed out that I was one grain shy of eating that way anyway, so I figured why not commit to it. It’s important that you understand that so much of my planning and reading was being done to learn about this particular lifestyle and what I bought and cooked are all catered to this. I am by no means saying that you should eat the way I eat, I am simply sharing how I shopped and cooked for my own eating habits. The second revelation was that Adam wanted to join me. in this adventure. As he will rarely eat what I do, exclaiming that it is much too healthy, I was shocked and a bit nervous as I was having to now cook and shop for two instead of one and a salami sandwich/cereal/fruit roll-up eater.
I spent hours the two days before shopping planning everything out. Pouring through the cookbooks, although I largely followed along with Well Fed by Melissa Joulwan (who I found out also lives in Austin!) as her cooking style is crazy similar to mine, and I made my menu and shopping lists. Already I know that the time spent on this step will be hugely reduced as the weeks go on. I’ve been jotting down notes this week of what was a hit, what I need more of, what I need less of and what to skip. It was daunting to be shopping for a new eating style AND an extra person all at once. I waaaay overshot on a lot of the veggies for example because I knew they would be the bulk of what we ate and without enough, headaches and dizziness could occur. If you are unsure, the premise of Paleo is that you are eating plants and animals and food as close to raw as possible. No dairy, grains, sugar, legumes or alcohol. However, some people, especially those like Adam who need to gain weight and are not intolerant, still eat dairy. Paleo peeps are typically also Cross Fit peeps, so if you do it right, it is an incredibly healthy and fueling way to eat. Doing it right means about 3-6oz of protein and 2 cups of veggies 3-4 times a day. I eat three meals like that and one snack of 2 cups raw veggies, a handful of olives, a small pickle and a bite or two of chicken.
When I planned out my prep work, I knew that chopping veggies would be the most labor-intensive, and it was, but as I went a bit overboard on things like carrots and green peppers, much time will be saved next week when I chop half as many. I also was cooking a lot of food I had never prepared with these recipes, or even cooked before (looking at you tasty swiss chard!), so those took a bit more time than normal. In Well Fed, the Joulwan talks about how she can do all the prep work in one very well planned and fast hour. I can see how as I get used to everything I will get much quicker but as it was, the prep time took forever. About 6 hours I think. I had my iPod playing in the kitchen and just kept plugging away though, and it was so gratifying after it was all over to have that much food ready for the week!
For the two of us, we will eat about 14lbs of meat/eggs per week, this was CRAZY to me. I have never bought so much meat in my life for one week…then again I have never bought so many veggies either. I did not cook all of the meat ahead of time. I cook turkey bacon for myself every morning and as the week has progressed, I have made Moroccan Lamb meatballs and will be making Turkey Chili tonight. But that is mainly so on day 7, we are not eating meat that was cooked almost 8 days before. As you’ll see, I did not cook that many of the veggies, but I did wash and cut everything…by far the thing I like having done the most!
So here it is, the list of what I prepped:
- Baked Chicken Thighs (3lb)
- Baked Chicken Breasts (2lb)
- Garlic-Browned Ground Meat (2lb)
- Hardboiled Eggs (2 dozen)
- Roasted Spaghetti Squash (2 squash)
- Roasted Sweet Potatoes (4)
- Steam-sauté Broccoli (4 heads)
- Steam-sauté Green Beans (2lbs)
- Steam-sauté Swiss Chard (2 heads)
- Chopped Red Peppers (6)
- Chopped Carrots (4lb)
- Chopped Cauliflower (2 heads)
- Chopped Green Peppers (8)
- Chopped Cucumbers (6)
- Chopped Jicama (3)
- Washed Bibb Lettuce (1 head)
- Iceberg Lettuce (1 head)
- Snow Peas (2lb)
- Sunshine Sauce (3cups)
- Best Stir Fry Sauce Ever (1cup)
- Baby Spinach (large box)
- Apples (4)
- Grapes (small bunch)
- Parsley (2 bunches)
- Cilantro (1 bunch)
- Lemons (6)
- Oranges (2)
- Tomatoes (4)
- Onions (4)
- Garlic (1 head)
- Ground Lamb (2lb)
- Turkey Bacon (2lb)
- Ground Turkey (1lb)
- Milk (1 gallon)
The last items were all put in the fridge as is. Besides bagging and boxing everything, I also made snack boxes of mixed cut veggies, but I think I’ll skip that next week as, by day 5, they were influencing each other’s flavors too much.
Overall I have been really pleased with the ease of mealtime now. It’s basically half the time salads and half the time how I’ve always eaten, throwing some protein and chicken in a pan and heating it up together…except now I am using my new BFF, coconut oil. I am a little nervous that week 2 is already awry though, as we’ll be away for three days, so on Monday morning, when I need to really catch up on work, I’ll have to make sure to go grocery shopping and prep food that night, or we won’t eat. I’m already worrying about it (true to form). This will be a great test to see how much time I can save this time though!
Do you meal prep? I would love to hear if you have any tips, advice or of course, questions…please comment below!