Sometimes, it can feel like there are roadblocks to eating the diet you want – whether the bottleneck is money, time, or just easy access to the right ingredients. While you might know all the nutritional guidelines to a paleo (or paleo-ish) diet – from what to eat, what not to eat, to what’s ok to sneak in every so often – you still have to figure out how to make the whole thing feasible. We’ve put together a few of our favorite hacks for making paleo eating a little easier, collected from our own personal forays, and from like-minded bloggers around the web.
#1 Buy a Food Processor or Crock Pot.
Tools, baby, tools. While our early ancestors might have had stones for knives and hand-made axes, we’re lucky enough to live in an age where we can take full advantage of food processors, crock pots, and other kitchen tools that do half the work for us. If you have the means to make your life just a little bit easier, why not? The reason we suggest a food processor for paleo meals is because it slashes your food prep time AND makes it easier to make paleo-tastic ingredients like cauliflower rice (or cauliflower crusts), homemade nut butters, and other elements that add just a teeny bit more nutrition to your diet. Pre-cut veggies also tend to lose their nutrients faster once they’re cut. Meanwhile, a crock pot can ensure you have a hot, healthy, nutrient-rich dinner waiting for you when you return home in the evening.
Expert Tip: Check out some great paleo crock-pot recipes from our friends at Greatist.
#2 Plan Ahead + Own your Sunday.
Take advantage of your days off. Set aside half an hour at the start of every week to organize the recipes you want to make, and what you plan to eat from Monday through Saturday. Thinking ahead and being mindful of your meals will not only help you save money throughout the week (no more impulse dinner-buying at Dos Toros), but also ensure you get the right amount of macro and micronutrients you need for optimal energy and primal satisfaction.
Expert tip: PaleoGrubs suggests making 7 Go-To Dinners for maximum efficiency: “Try as many Paleo dinner recipes as it takes to amass 7 different dinners that you a) love b) are easy to make c) you wouldn’t mind having on a weekly basis. You can then rotate them out and have something different every night of the week.”
#3 Try a healthy meal delivery service.
Meal delivery isn’t just for pizza and Chinese takeout, anymore. In the last year, the food tech scene has exploded with meal services for nearly every diet, fancy, and food fetish from vegetarian/plant-based (Sakara) to paleo-inspired, high-protein eats (Freshly.) At Freshly, we believe in packing our plate with macronutrients like heart-healthy fats, nutrient-rich carbs, and high-quality proteins. Our meals are paleo-inspired because we believe when you eat the natural food we were meant to consume as fuel, we can trust our body to build strength and burn fat. Check out our menu and try us out for size.
Expert tip: Choose meal services that clearly state their ingredients and nutritional info on their website, and make sure the ingredients are ones you recognize. And remember, you never have to sacrifice health for flavor. You can have it all!
#4 Strategize your supermarket shopping.
It’s no secret that healthy supermarkets tend to be a bit pricier than the plain old market around the corner. So a little effort can go a long way when planning out your weekend shopping route. If you buy all of your pantry staples at a health food store, you might find your grocery bill steeper than you’d like. Make a list of what you need to buy from Whole Foods, and what you can just pick up (maybe in bulk) at a store like Costco. Splurge for higher-quality organic, natural meats and other specialty items at the health food store, but save on the saran wrap.
Expert Tip: Joy Bauer, R.D., shared this tip with Women’s Health: go with a list. Bauer wrote in WH: “Not only will this keep you from throwing unnecessary items—hello, cookies!—into your cart, but it’ll also help you plan meals for the week and stay organized, especially if you divide the grocery list up by where you’ll find each item.”
#5 Scope out the food scene.
Use Yelp, menupages.com, and TripAdvisor to look around your neighborhood and favorite going-out areas for paleo-friendly (or, more realistically, paleo friendly-ish) places. This way, you’ll have a set of vetted suggestions for the next time a friend asks you where you’d like to eat. Another great suggestion from PaleoGrubs is to “pre-eat” before events, if the event involves more people and less flexibility: “If you’re worried about being too hungry at a restaurant or potluck social event you can eat before you go so you’ll be less likely to binge while you’re there, or order something totally non-Paleo off the menu. It’s a way of being social and in line with your greater goals.”
Expert tip: When traveling or even just being away from your home kitchen for a day, eating paleo won’t be perfect. We like this advice from Ultimate Paleo Guide: “Aim to eat paleo 80% of the time. A missed meal or a poor snack choice here and there won’t kill you. Just don’t let it become a habit.”
#6 Be intentional.
If you’re going to eat healthy and invest time + money, you might as well own it. Set your goal (whether it’s to lose weight, feel better, or improve your mood) and write it down. Being intentional and mindful of why you’re eating what you’re eating every day will make it easier and more meaningful. Try keeping a food journal to remember what made you feel stellar, and what made you feel a little zapped. Also, be kind to yourself! It’s important to expect setbacks. Eating healthy is about feeling good, not creating more stress.
Expert Tip: Hannah, author of The Frugal Paleo Cookbook shared this tip on Robb Wolf’s blog: “If you’re not able to meet the gold-standard of Paleo foods 100% of the time—that’s OK! (…) if all you have bandwidth for in your brain is to focus on shopping the perimeter of your neighborhood grocery store and doing all you can to skip the grains, dairy, and processed foods, then go for it! (…) You’re gonna be at this Paleo thing for a while, so be kind to yourself as you adjust to a very different way of sourcing food and prepping meals.”