Meal Planning & Prep

July 15, 2017

Meal Planning & Prep

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People often ask us what we eat for lunches or what we take to work with us when following the Paleo diet so we have written this blog post with some of our favourite tips and tricks for meal planning and preparation as well as some lunch box ideas for you and the family.

 

Meal Plan

 

The key to success when you want to maintain healthy eating habits is to plan and prepare. We recommend that you plan out what meals you will be having each week (or month if you prefer) and write down a shopping list for that meal plan.

 

You can find weekly meal plan templates with a quick Google search or download our Weekly Meal Plan Template

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Look through cookbooks, search online for new recipes and pick a few of your favourites to add to the meal plan.

 

Make it fun – try out one new recipe each week to get more variety or involve your family so everyone gets to choose one of their favourite meals for the week. Once you have the meal plan written out then write down everything you need to cook all those meals that week.

 

When you go to the supermarket you will then have your shopping list ready ensuring won’t forget anything & making the meal prep easier. Download our  Shopping List template to help you. 

 

It also means you will save money and time as you will be aiming for one main shop each week rather than lots of small shops. Save even more time by doing an online shop and getting it delivered. Most online shops allow you to save your shopping basket list too, saving you even more time when you next plan as all the items/staples will be saved ready to order.

 

If all this seems a bit daunting, and it might at first, then why not try our 30 day paleo plan where we have done all the work for you. For the cost of just £30 you get 30 days worth of recipes, meal plans, complete shopping lists and more.

 

Meal Prep

 

Once you have all your shopping you can get started on the preparation. We have very busy schedules and therefore need to make sure we have a lot of meals/snacks prepared early in the week. We also spend some of the week commuting into London for work and we can’t always easily get healthy & nutrient dense food options on the go, so meal prep for us is key!

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Salads are great all year round but particularly in the summer. This is a marinated kale salad with some raw veggies such as tomatoes & mushrooms. A Little ham or parma ham is a good protein option.

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Fish cakes are a great meal prep option, you can make a large batch have some for one meal that week, leftovers for lunch and then freeze a batch uncooked to use throughout the month.

 

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Having several sized lunch box pots are useful for adding variety and fun. Here we have leftover meatballs with potato noodles, spinach & sugar snap peas. Snacks are melon, apple, coconut yogurt & a Nakd bar.

 

Here are some things to remember when meal prepping

 

Pick a day ahead of time

It is a good idea to choose a day of the week where you will have a few hours free to do all your preparation for the week, make sure you the day choose ahead of time so that you have all the food you need ready and your meal plan to hand.

Sundays is our day of choice, and we will often do our meal prep at the same time as cooking the family lunch/dinner. Just make sure the day you choose works best for you and your schedule.

 

Choose your basics to prepare & cook meals too. Our basics are:

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Know your numbers

Know how many people you are cooking for at each meal, and how much you are planning to cook. A great way to make meal prep easier is too cook double of most meals so that you can have it for dinner and then use the left overs for lunch the next day. This will also help with portion control and means it’s less likely that lots of food will go to waste.

 

Simplify

Don’t over complicate or try cooking recipes that are time consuming or have lots of ingredients, you want to minimise the amount of time you spend in the kitchen and you don’t want to get confused by lots of long complicated ingredients lists. Once you have meal prepped a couple of times you will start to find out which meals are the easiest and work best for you.

 

Cook in bulk

We like to cook in bulk so that you save time over the week or even over the month if you want to be super prepared. This is especially useful if you want to have food ready for packed lunches or if you have young children. Meals that are great to cook in bulk are things like stews, pies, bolognese etc. just cook enough to make several meals then divide it up into storage containers and freeze the ones to use later.

storage containers

 

Benefits of Meal Planning/Preparation

 

Save money

People often say that eating well is expensive but it definitely doesn’t have to be, you can eat a diet based solely on real food even if you are on a budget. Meal planning and prep really help to save money because you can buy everything you need in one main shop, as doing lots of smaller shops is more expensive.

 

Also if you prepare your lunches for work this saves a lot of money. Whenever I haven’t been prepared and have had to buy food for work on the day I can spend between £15-£20 easily and if you do this everyday it really adds up!

 

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We get vegetables/fruit from our local farm shops & we also like Able & Cole veg boxes which can be delivered to your home. Try and have lots of variety each week, especially if you are making packed lunches for work as it keeps your lunch box different each day.

 

Portion control & less wastage

If you are someone who has specific weight loss goals in mind, then meal prep can be really beneficial as you can portion control easily. Work out how much you need to be eating for each meal and then divide the food up into containers for each meal with those amounts in mind.

 

It also means you only have to spend one day a week working it all out and doing the hard graft rather than having to be weighing out and portion controlling for every meal.

 

It also means there is less waste, as you will use left overs for lunches the next day or only cook the amount you need for each meal and no more.

 

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Leftovers are good for lunch boxes as no additional preparation is required. Here I had leftover bolognese with kale, some fruit and a primal kitchen bar.

 

Easy & can reduce stress

Meal planning and prep makes your life easier because you won’t be worrying all week what you are eating at each meal and if you are busy with work, family, exercise etc. it makes each day much less stressful as it has already been taken care of.

 

You can cook easy and simple meals and bulk cook/prepare food that lasts all week such as one pan frittatas for lunch or boiling up a loads of eggs & preparing lots of raw veggies that can be stored in the fridge for snacks.

 

More variety

There is something to be said for cooking and eating ‘good old faithful’ meals & recipes each week – for us its bolognese, roast chicken & salads – but it is nice to try out a few new meals too.

 

When you plan your meals you can add lots of variety because you will have thought ahead about what to cook and you will already have all the ingredients handy. Try adding one or two new quick and easy recipes to your meal plans each week or try shaking up a favourite recipe with some new herbs/spices or fillings.

 

 

Helps you meet your health/fitness goals – keep you on track

The biggest reason most people make poorer food choices or ‘cheat’ is because they haven’t had the right foods handy. When you are prepared and you have lots of delicious meals and snacks available you are much less likely to eat work office treats or packaged sandwiches from the shop.

 

Following a Paleo way of eating is about your health, it’s not an elimination diet but one that focuses on including as much nutrient dense foods to optimise your health as possible.

 

That’s how you should think of it when you are preparing and planning your meals, it might seem like a lot of work in one go but doing it will help you meet you health and fitness goals and keep you on track.

 

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This lunch is simple but nutrient dense with sweet potato ‘toast’ & homemade liver pate, and a flask of bone broth.

 

Some make ahead breakfast ideas, which are useful for busy mornings or early starts

 

  • Chia pudding
  • Breakfast muffins
  • Fritatta
  • Boiled eggs
  • Overnight oats (if you can tolerate oats)
  • Stewed fruit & coconut yogurt

 

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Lunch is often the meal that people struggle the most with, here are some ideas of what we put in our lunch boxes.

 

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This is picnic lunch I made for several people, homemade flax crackers with chicken liver pate, boiled eggs, cherry tomatoes, paleo banana bread with almond butter & banana coins, apples & some flasks of coffee. Almost everything was made ahead of time and just boxed up on the day.

 

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Roasted salmon & veggies, some gherkins/pickles, 1/2 avocado with some fruit as a snack. I like to take a herbal tea with my lunch for an afternoon hot drink that is caffeine free, I find I sleep better if I avoid caffeine in the afternoons.

 

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Packed lunch for 2 people using leftover chilli & pepper burgers with raw cheese & salad.

 

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Vegetables noodles & spinach with poached salmon. I either poach the night before or buy ready poached from Sainsbury’s. Tinned fish is a good option as no prep is needed.

 

Another great option is to make several salad jars and keep them in the fridge to take to work each day. They last 3-4 days in the fridge so you can make on Sunday for most of the week. We like to use a wide variety of veggies or fruits, some protein such as tinned fish, poached or smoked salmon, ham, leftover roast chicken or boiled eggs.

 

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Fall back options & buying Paleo on-the-go

 

We can’t reiterate enough how important it is to be prepared but there will be times where you are too busy & haven’t had time. You get home and your fridge is empty, you’ve had no time to prepare lunch for work or you rush out of the house before there is time for breakfast!

 

Here are some places you can get good Paleo options if you find yourself unprepared.

 

  • Pret a Manger – Pret do great salad boxes, soups, grain & dairy free porridges and even mini chia puddings. They also have a range of dairy free hot drink options and earlier this year they were selling bone broth in lots of stores too.

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  • Leon – Chloe travels into London Bridge a few times a week, there is a Leon at London Bridge station and they do great breakfast pots/boxes.

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  • M&S – you can find lots of nice salads and on-the-go food options in M&S. (Many of their salads do contain grains so just check to make sure). They also have apple and nut butter snack pots along with lots of nice fruit salads and cold pressed juices.

 

  • Any supermarket – if you have cooking facilities at work a last minute option is to buy a sweet potato and have it with a tin of tuna, some ham and buy lots of salad greens/tomatoes etc. You can always get some nice fresh fruit, nuts and most supermarkets stock Paleo snack bars such as ‘Nakd ‘bars which are a good option (if eating occasionally) or 100% dark chocolate.

 

primal kitchen

Recipes/ snack ideas

 

For more recipes check out our recipe section or sign up for our 30 day Paleo plan.

 

We also have cookery courses for a more hands on experience or for those who are new to Paleo or want some practical every day Paleo recipes.

 

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Paleo Cookery Class

 

 

Snack Ideas

 

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  • Fruit
  • Boiled eggs

 

Boil enough eggs for a few days at a time and store in the fridge peeled or un-peeled.

 

  • Nuts & seeds
  • Raw veggies

 

Chop up carrots, celery, cucumber, peppers etc and store in an air tight container in the fridge to add to eat as they are, dipped into guacamole or added to salads

 

  • Paleo snack bars (occasionally) – such as Nakd or Primal Kitchen

 

 

  • Fat bombs

 

A high fat, low carb snack initially designed for those following the ketogenic diet, however they are great option for people following lower carb paleo or for anyone who wants a quick & easy snack idea to add to their lunch box or to stave off cravings for sweet treats. You can make a big batch and keep in the fridge.

 

They can be made from a combination of ingredients such as butter, coconut oil, nuts and seeds but they differ from energy balls in that they are low carb. We actually prefer fat bombs that aren’t filled with nuts and seeds – here is one of our favourite recipes:

 

Fat Bombs – Makes 12

Ingredients:

  • 110g desiccated, shredded coconut, or flaked coconut
  • 55g extra virgin coconut oil
  • 55g grass-fed butter, or more coconut oil
  • ¼ tsp cinnamon or vanilla
  • Pinch of salt 

Method:

  1. Preheat the oven to 175 C / 350 F. Spread the shredded (or flaked) coconut on a baking sheet. Place in the oven and toast for 5-8 minutes until light golden. Mix once or twice to prevent burning.
  2. Transfer into a blender and pulse until smooth.
  3. Add the softened butter chopped into pieces and softened coconut oil (room temperature).
  4. Add cinnamon or vanilla, salt and mix well.
  5. Pour into silicon moulds or mini cupcake cases & let set in fridge for 30 minutes before enjoying.

NB: keep refrigerated. Coconut oil and butter get very soft at room temperature.

 

 

This is a nut free trail mix recipe using tiger nuts. These are actually not nuts, but a tuber and are great for feeding beneficial gut bacteria.

 

 

Another thing to be baked on your meal prep day then it can be stored and is ready to eat throughout the week.

 

 

Lunch boxes for kids

 

Kids lunch boxes can be tricky, especially if you have a ‘fussy’ eater. You can also often find yourself making the same things every day.

 

Try and involve your children in packing their lunch box, work together to think of all the things they like to eat (vegetables, fruit, nuts, protein & snacks) and put them all on a list. Then they can choose from the list each day when packing their lunch box.

 

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Colourful lunch boxes are much more appealing. Cooking up a big batch of sweet potato chunks/chips and having with ham & raw veggies is a great option for kids.

 

Make the lunch box fun and colourful to keep them interested, here are some ideas:

 

Make frittatas or banana pancakes and then when they are cool cut them into different shapes, using cookie cutters is a fun way to get them involved as they can make fun shapes.

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Put the food in different small pots as often children like to have their food separated.

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Cut up all different coloured vegetables/fruit and lay out in their lunch box in rainbow colour order.

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On your meal prep day make some yummy Paleo ‘treats’ that they can have each day such as Paleo snack bars, raw chocolate & strawberry squares & gelatin ‘sweets’.

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