Meal Planning: those two little words can breed fear into even the bravest of souls. You may think I am exaggerating, but it can be a lot of work when you are following a healing diet that restricts many foods to tackle meal planning and grocery shopping. Since starting the AIP in November, I have learned to navigate this process a little better and I thought I would share my tips with you.
1. Plan before you go to the grocery store: For me this means scouring Pinterest, cookbooks, blogs, or plain creative thinking, and coming up with a plan of attack. This list will be your best weapon in the store. A good grocery list has the power to do wonders. It means you won’t spend time aimlessly wandering around the store wondering if you really need that extra vegetable or not. Hint, you always do! By planning before you go, you also decrease the need to make random stops again throughout the week. This can be a huge timesaver and stress reducer! Make this list as complete and detailed as possible without driving yourself crazy. It usually takes me about an hour.
2. Have go-to recipes: during the planning process: Make sure to have a few staple recipes that you and your family enjoy. Recipes that are easy and delicious are the best aren’t they? Our favorite go-to recipes are Cracklin’ Chicken from Nom Nom Paleo, Bacon-Coleslaw from the Real Food Guide (I add ground beef to make it a meal), burgers topped with the fixings of your choice, and big salads with grilled chicken and toasted coconut. Having recipes that you are very comfortable with and enjoy eating is something that cannot be overlooked.
3. Don’t be afraid to try new recipes: Although it can be daunting, trying a new recipe can actually be really fun. I aim to include between 1-2 new recipes a week in order to mix things up and find new flavors that I love. In fact, this week we bought a whole fish at the farmers market. Helllllo, online fish tutorials.
4. Make leftovers your best friend: They are truly lifesavers. I know they get a bad reputation but by cooking once and eating twice, you will save a lot of time. I always always double a recipe. If we don’t end up eating it that week I can easily freeze it. But lets be real, we always end up using it.
5. Check out the farmers markets: I recently found a local market that offers a wide array of produce and quality meat. Establishing relationships with local farmers and small businesses is great and it is always nice to see where your food comes from.
6. Have convenient snacks handy: These are helpful for times when you are hungry but can’t source a meal either because of time or restrictions. I like bison epic bars, plantain chips with wholly guacamole (check ingredients) and Peter Rabbit pureed fruit packs.
7. Make a Budget: This tip falls near end of the list, but it certainly is not last in importance. If you’re like me and haven’t planted a money tree in your backyard (they can be so hard to source) , it may be helpful to make a food budget. Eating real food can be expensive but making a conscious effort at the grocery store to track how much you have spent can be a real money saver. You could do this by using the calculator app on your phone and keeping track of things as you go or by bringing cash and only spending the amount you brought. One way to save money on meat if you have the ability to do so is to order meat in bulk from a local farm. This will give you a much higher quality meat than you can usually find at the grocery store for a great price. The only downside is you need the money upfront to buy in bulk and you need the space to store it.
8. Enjoy the process as much as possible: Eating real food is an empowering and exciting process. Enjoy learning new cooking techniques and kitchen timesavers and nourishing your body with real nutrient-dense food! Your body will certainly thank you for it.