I am cavewoman, hear me cook

Another one of the major changes I’ve slowly been implementing over the past year is in our eating plan.  For those of you just recently joining us, since my son Zander’s diagnosis with autism several years ago, we’ve not eaten gluten, dairy, soy, artificial colors and flavors, nitrates/nitrites, and preservatives.  So, already, our diet was limited far more than the Standard American (crap) Diet.

More recently, I had the opportunity to read Mark Sisson’s book, The Primal Blueprint. To say it changed my thinking would be like saying I wouldn’t kick Orlando Bloom out of my bed- the understatement of the century, if you will.  (Just kidding, husband!  I’d totally kick him out!)

One of the things I love about Mark’s book is that while it talks a great deal about what we eat, and what our body does after we eat it, he takes a holistic approach to lifestyle, rather than focusing only on food.  I encourage everyone to read this book, even if you’re not willing to change your diet.  Read it for the movement information, the stress information, and the sleep information.

The eating plan outlined in the book is a lot like the paleo diet, and while I’m not going to get into detail here, I will say that it’s done wonders for our family.  Cutting out grains, sugars, and basically all processed foods has helped my husband and I lose extra weight, given us all more energy, helped with the ‘brain fog’ that sometimes followed meals, and helped make my family even more aware of what they’re putting into their bodies, which is a very high priority of mine.  In fact, at a New Year’s Day party we had at our house this year, my 7-year old son said to a friend, “if it’s not homemade, you might as well not eat it.”  When I heard that, my chest exploded with pride and I immediately baked that child some pumpkin muffins.

When I was a classroom teacher, I was appalled at how little my students knew about their food.  Not nutrition, mind you, they knew about the food pyramid and what the government says they should eat, but some of them didn’t know that fruits grew on trees, or that meat comes from animals.  It was shocking.  I want my kids to know as much as possible about where their food comes from, how it is grown/raised, and why we eat what we eat.

This new plan requires me to do a lot of cooking, which I love, so no worries there.  It also requires a lot of planning, which is what I want to write a little bit about today, because I know for someone entering into this adventure having never really cooked from scratch before, information like what’s about to follow can be the difference between sticking with it and giving up.

I have several cookbooks.  The one I use most often is Paleo Comfort Foods (by the way, none of these links are affiliates, just regular joe links).  I also love The Primal Blueprint Cookbook, and my new favorite, Well Fed.  I also subscribe to lots of paleo and primal cookery blogs, including Elana’s Pantry, Wellness Mama, and Life as a Plate. Every week, as I go through the new posts in my feed reader, I star the recipes I want to make later.  Then, I sit down with some of my very best friends,

Laptop, coffee, blank legal pad, and pencil.  *Full disclosure: this is pretty much the exact same thing that Melissa suggests in Well Fed, I’m not claiming to have invented it or anything.  Kthnx.  I write in my categories first: Vegetables, Protein, Sauces, Recipes, and Fruits.  Fruits is last because that’s the toughest thing for us to limit at our house, but we’re working on it.  Next, I write in all of the food I already have that needs to be used, as well as any recipes I already had in mind for those foods:

Then, I head to my books and starred blog posts to see what other recipes I’d like to make this week.  I list those, then add the ingredients to my shopping list and my legal pad list.  This list is mostly for dinners, so if I need eggs (which we always do), I’ll add that to my shopping list, but not to my legal pad.  Lunches in our house are usually dinner leftovers with added veggies, fruit, and nuts as sides.  Most recipes that I make, I double or triple.  I have really good eaters at my house!

So, at the end of the planning session, my legal pad looks a lot more like this:

…and I have a lot of work to do!   Now, it’s time to head to the store and get all the ingredients I didn’t already have (most of the meat is in the deep freezer, as I go up to the meat farm once a month or so and stock up).  On my cooking day, which is usually Sunday, I prep all my veg (peeling, slicing, chopping, and blanching, if needed) and my meat (browning ground meats, defrosting, baking the chicken, etc), so that when it’s time to make dinner, it’s really just a matter of mixing and finishing the cooking, rather that starting from scratch.  I also prep a bunch of things for lunch boxes, like boiling eggs, washing and cutting up raw veg, washing fruits, and making trail mix.  I also usually bake some muffins or bread (with almond and coconut flour!) for lunches or breakfasts, and I always make a soup each week that we sometimes have for breakfasts when we get tired of eggs.

I hope that’s helpful to someone out there, but for now, it’s my cooking day today because of the holiday weekend, so I’m off to the store!

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