For anyone that has tried any kind of diet, you already know that a busy lifestyle can be one of your worst enemies. Between work, recreation, vacations, kids, and exercise, your meal and snack times are often compressed into a tiny window – and you want to grab something quick and just eat. The problem is many diets, including the Paleo approach, don’t include a wide range of prepackaged meal options like frozen pizzas, hot pockets, etc. And when crunched for time – you will eat what is available and quick.
There are some simple tricks, however, that can eliminate the inevitable time-driven cheating on the Paleo diet, and ensure that the change in your lifestyle sticks even when you’re in crunch mode and just need to eat quickly with little preparation.
Weekends are Your Friend
Weekends are key to eliminating this grab and go risk during the week. You have extra time for meal preparation, and often are cooking a larger meal for your family which makes it an incremental effort to cook extra versus it being a huge chore. Specifically, consider the following approaches:
On your grocery shopping excursion:
- Always buy extra organic fruits and vegetables on your weekend shopping trip
- Buy twice as much protein as you normally would – lean meats, nitrite free lunch meat, cage free eggs, and bulk bags of almonds and walnuts
- Buy a large package of chicken legs – most stores sell these now at a super cheap price
- Make sure you always have 2 boxes of quart-size ziplock bags in your house
- If fresh vegetables like Kale and Spinach look good, buy two bundles
- Watch for nitrite free, pre-cooked breakfast sausages to go on sale and grab a bundle when they do.
Meal Time at Your House
The goal here is to prepare and freeze lunch and dinner options that can be combined throughout the week for new and quick entrees for dinner, and for work-friendly lunch meals. Here are some tips from the leading Paleo experts:
- Hard boil 6-8 eggs and store in fridge. Grab 1-2 of these every day on your way to work for a quick breakfast or lunch option
- Wash and cut your fresh produce and freeze it in oversize portions. This gives you an option every day for a fresh vegetable for lunch and dinners, and can be used as a side, base for a chicken salad, etc. Again the focus is on grab and go without any extra preparation.
- Having “hamburgers” (minus the bun) on Sunday? Cook up 2 pounds instead of 1, and freeze 2 patties in each ziplock bag. Ditto for sausages.
- Baking or grilling? Cook all the chicken legs you purchased, and freeze 2 to a bag. These make a great lunch item for eating at your desk.
- Keep a bag of walnuts or almonds at your desk at work, and snack on them throughout the day.
- Consider not seasoning the extra chicken/pork/beef you cook on the weekends. You can season it with a variety of flavors throughout the week to avoid eating the same meal every night.
- Get in the habit of bringing an egg and some precooked sausage every morning.
It’s rare to find a workplace environment that doesn’t have a refrigerator, but even if you’re out at a remote site a cooler will allow your frozen items to thaw in a safe way, and actually be ready to eat for lunch without need of a microwave.
Following the Paleo diet can be difficult not because you miss bread (this article explains why it is bad for you!), but because our lifestyle requires a grab and go mentality, and junk food is targeted at this need. By creating your own grab and go meals for the entire week, you’ll find you no longer reach for that frozen prepackaged “junk” food that has been part of your daily routine up until now!