One of the biggest struggles I both struggle with and hear from people about following a Paleo diet is the amount of time required to prepare and cook meals. Since one of the tenants of going Paleo is eating fresh foods prepared by you, it often means spending a lot more time in the kitchen than it used to take for you to pop a frozen meal in the microwave.
That being said, it really doesn’t have to take as long to prepare these healthier meals than you might thing.
How to Save Hours In the Kitchen
First, I think it’s important to set expectations. Not every Paleo meal has to be this elaborate recipe that consists of ten ingredients. Not only does this lend to making more expensive trips to the grocery store, but it also lends itself to having you spend lots of unnecessary time in the kitchen.
While it’s certainly noble to want to go all out with your meals, you’re likely just setting yourself up for a lot of frustration which may eventually throw you off the Paleo wagon.
Second, you need to learn to love your slow cooker because it’s probably the single best time-saving item you have in your kitchen. (Well, that and a great set of sharp knives, but we can talk more about that later on.)
Slow Cooker Mania!
When I don’t feel like spending lots of time in the kitchen making dinner — which is quite often considering I have a full-time job, am chasing around my now crawling nine-month old son, and run Paleo Lifestyle Magazine in my spare time — I just throw a bunch of stuff in a slow cooker (I have this $20 Crock Pot and it’s probably the best investment I’ve made toward sustaining a Paleo lifestyle) before I leave for work, and then come home nine hours later a delicious meal ready for me to eat.
It’s like magic!
And the best part about it is these slow cooker meals certainly don’t have to be elaborate and, largely for the sake of time, are not “perfect” (e.g. sometimes I “cheat” and throw in a can of stewed tomatoes instead of making the stewed tomatoes myself.) Trust me, I subscribe to the “don’t let perfect be the enemy of good” mantra.
I also love slow cooker meals because they’re pretty hard to screw up. While Paleo has certainly helped me with my skills in the kitchen, there’s something nice about being able to just throw in a piece of meat, some chopped up vegetables, and some broth and be pretty much good to go.
On top of that, I usually end up cooking enough food to last for at least another dinner, if not a dinner and a lunch, which means I’m really spending ten minutes making two or three meals. Not a bad use of my time!
So, for those of you who are frustrated with spending lots of time in the kitchen preparing meals for your family, please, take a deep breath and pull out your slow cooker!
How do you stay Paleo without spending hours in the kitchen? Leave a comment below and share your tips with the community.