Paleo can be overwhelming at first. For most people, it is very different from any diet they have ever tried and any way they have ever eaten. They are often trying to find foods in the store that they have never bought and never cooked before.
Often while I am preparing food, I think of little tips that would be helpful so I thought I would compile some of them here.
1 – At the grocery store stick to the perimeter and avoid the inside aisles. All the good stuff is on the perimeter – fresh veggies & fruits, meat, fish and eggs. The inside aisles are full of processed food so just avoid them. I go down aisles for about 4 things – canned tomatoes (diced or crushed depending on what I am making), coconut milk, olive oil/coconut oil and spices.
2 – Save money making your own almond meal, coconut meal, etc. These make great flour substitutes, but have you noticed how much they charge for them? I buy all my raw nuts from Costco in 3 lb bags and I grind my own meal using my food processor. It only takes a few minutes. I grind the whole 3 lb bag at once (it takes about 3 batches in my 11 cup food processor). Then I store the meal in a large tupperware container and it's ready to go whenever I need it. A 3 lb bag lasts us about 1 month but we have a toddler who eats a lot of paleo pancakes so it would probably last most people longer. For coconut, I buy the 'Lets Do Organic" brand -unsweetened and finely shredded at whole foods. It's only a couple of dollars a bag. And I prefer to use my Magic Bullet for turning it into meal, but you could use the food processor too.
3 – Plan ahead. There is no quick drive-thru paleo food that I am aware of. So you have to be willing to cook if you plan to eat this way. Of course, everyone has busy lives and sometimes it's hard to fit in cooking a fresh meal for breakfast or for dinner after a long day. I do a lot of cooking on Sunday afternoon to make my week run smoother. I always make a quadruple batch of paleo pancakes (told ya he likes them!) and 2 paleo quiches every Sunday. This feeds the 3 of us for breakfast all week and no one has to cook or do any dishes in the morning. We just throw it on a plate and reheat (or if you are Kyle you eat it stone cold – he's weird like that). Also on Sunday I cook some sort of meat for mine and Kyle's lunch for the week (pork tenderloin, chicken breasts, steak, hamburgers etc).
4 – Don't get bored. In the south we love side dishes like hashbrown casserole, mac & cheese, fried okra, etc. When people try paleo for the first time and switch to steamed broccoli or spinach for a side dish they are quickly bored and unimpressed. But paleo veggies don't have to be boring. I LOVE roasting veggies. It's super easy and it really brings out all the flavor. Plus it's an easy way to make sure you're eating a large variety of fresh veggies without having to prepare them all seperately. Beets, carrots, parsnips, any squashes (butternut, acorn, etc), broccoli and cauliflower are all really delicious when roasted. Here's how I like to roast them: Preheat oven to 500 degrees. Wash, peel, chop veggies (in about 1" pieces). Throw them on a large baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil and salt & pepper and bake for 20 minutes or until a little crispy on the outside. If you make a big batch you can pair them with different meals throughout the week. They also make a boring salad really tasty (I just throw them on cold). If you have extra time and want to get fancy sometimes I make an herb marinade. Just grab whatever fresh herbs you have (my favorites are sage, thyme, rosemary & oregano), throw them in a Magic Bullet or blender along with olive oil and salt & pepper and blend. Toss veggies in marinade before roasting. (This makes a great marinade for meat too).
Grilling veggies is good too (especially if you're already using the grill for steaks or hamburgers). Asparagus, zucchini, summer squash, tomatoes and onions are all good on the grill.
Oh and don't forget about the magic of cauliflower! You can make cauliflower "mashed potatoes" (with a little coconut milk, olive oil, salt & pepper) and cauliflower "rice" to go with stir frys, curries or paleo jambalaya. Yum!
That's all for now. As I think of more, I will post them. If you have any questions, feel free to post them in the comments.