The Art of Successful Real Food Meal Prep

While my typical posts include real food lunch ideas and general meal time tips for my little guy, many of you have requested that I share more about what we eat as a family. Since the cat’s out of the bag and you all know I am not a great cook, we keep things pretty simple but we focus on a real food meal prep process that has evolved over the years.  We do like to cook as a family but keep the recipe testing to the weekends when we have more time and it’s easier to run to the store if we mess up.

HOW IT BEGAN

When we first started following a paleo diet, we cooked every night. For some reason the idea of eating real food made us feel that we needed to spend a lot more time cooking. I think this is something that scares a lot of people off from the real food lifestyle. There is a misconception that the only way to eat healthy, fresh food is to cook every single meal. It is something that we got caught up in at the beginning too. Along with our grocery bill doubling, our kitchen time nearly tripled. We went from using our oven once a month to using it daily.

MY ‘AHA’ MOMENT

It was around this time that I started ordering paleo cookbooks in bulk because we were running out of ideas for dinner. One cookbook in particular changed our real food outlook. I will never forget reading the first few pages of ‘Well Fed’ by Melissa Joulwan (If you haven’t checked out her book or her website, do it NOW! She has the best chicken recipe ever created). She described weekly cook ups and meal prep. These were two concepts completely foreign to me at the time. After all, I was used to cooking real food every night in order to keep things healthy and fresh. In general, the concept was to spend a few hours over the weekend cooking multiple things in bulk. Throughout the week, you then pull from those items to create individual meals. This was my light bulb ‘aha’ life changing moment.

TODAY’S REAL FOOD MEAL PREP PROCESS

Over the last few years, our weekly meal prep has evolved.

  1. We do less meals prepared from recipes, and more ‘mash-ups’ as they are referred to in our house. We mix our meat, vegetable, and fat of choice in a bowl each night. We use a few favorite recipes repeatedly during our weekly prep
  2. We buy meat in bulk each week and cook ahead then freeze in individual servings that we can pull from throughout the week. This keeps the meat fresh and minimizes waste.
  3. We cook our weekly sweet potatoes, white potatoes, yucca, etc. in the oven while our meat is being prepared.
  4. We buy a large variety of fruits and vegetables to keep things interesting throughout the week. We buy frozen and fresh
  5. Our fats vary between coconut oil, grassfed butter, ghee, avocado oil, nuts, and avocados
  6. We buy foods that are in season to save costs.
  7. We fill in with non-processed pantry goods when we need a change. This includes items like coconut oil potato chips, plantain chips, apple sauce, etc.
  8. We keep it SIMPLE!

DOES IT WORK?

ABSOLUTELY! Instead of spending hours in the kitchen, we keep it to a maximum one hour on the weekend and a few minutes each night. By adding variety each week and having multiple options available, we keep it interesting and simple. This is especially helpful when preparing a meal for a opinionated two year old. The best part? We eat REAL FOOD.

What do you think? Are you up for the real food meal prep challenge? With a little bit of planning, you can be successful and spend little time in the kitchen!

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