Welcome back to What I Know About Paleo (WIKA Paleo)!
Someone asked me recently what my grocery trips look like and I thought “That’s a good idea for a blog post!” But the more I thought about it, the more I realized that my shopping trip starts two steps before walking in to the actual grocery store. For me – and this might not work for you for any number of reasons – the week’s prep goes like this:
- Inventory – What’s in the fridge, freezer, and pantry? What needs to be eaten? OR What is on sale?!?!?
- Meal Planning – What can I make out of what I have? What else do I need to pick up to make it?
- The Grocery Trip – Get in. Get the right stuff. Get out… with nothing else that will derail my week.
So let’s start with Step 1 – INVENTORY
Following a paleo diet solution means having lots of stuff around that can go bad pretty quickly. And I am as frugal as they come so throwing anything out feels like a HUGE failure to me. Not to mention, a HUGE waste of money! So I start by making a list of what I have on hand. (SQUIRREL – Have I mentioned that I LIVE off my lists? I have lists for everything!)
Fridge – This week I had some kale and spinach I didn’t get through. That spinach won’t last long. I have a crap ton of carrots and some brussel sprouts that I need to eat up. I also bought some plantains last week to try and I’ve got some of those left too. And there’s half a drawer full of broccoli stems. (SQUIRREL – Oh yes, I keep those stems after the florets are cut off. Have you ever seen those bags of broccoli slaw in the store? That’s exactly what they’re made of! I told you I was frugal. 😉 ) Green beans were on sale last week so I have some of those. And chicken wings were on sale last week and I have a 2 huge packages of those too. My whole family likes those and it’s possible we’ll have company for dinner on Sunday, so I’ll make those and something else to go with it… WAIT! I’m jumping ahead to meal planning. Enough of that for now. Back to inventorying…
Freezer – I’ve got lots of ground beef, chicken breasts, various cuts of beef, and some liver. If you dig liver, ooooooooh just you wait because I’ve got some killer recipes to share. If you don’t dig liver, that’s cool too. More for me! HA!!! I also have some bags of frozen fish and shrimp that I picked up the last time they were on sale. These don’t stay UN-freezer burned for a super long time in those bags, so I’d better come up with something to use that too.
I won’t go through all the stuff in my pantry. It’s got my staples (and I already wrote about this… HERE). LOTS of them.
Now what’s on sale? My local grocery store let me sign up for emails and they send me a preview of the next week’s add on Thursday or Friday. So I do this inventory (as well as meal planning and grocery list making) on Friday nights. Does this chick know how to party, or what?!?!?! So this might be one of those things that doesn’t work for you. Let’s say you have a life (obviously, I do not) and you can’t do this on Friday. Well, what DOES work for you? Saturday, Monday, next Wednesday? Whatever. Just tweak so it makes sense for YOUR less busy times.
This is when I START my grocery list. If there is something on sale I usually buy or I want to try, it goes on the list and is now part of the inventory. See how this works?!?!?
Step 2 – MEAL PLANNING
Now it’s time to start searching! I’m an avid Pinterest-er. I pin a lot of stuff from the paleo sites I follow so that’s where I start my recipe search. Each week, I average 3-4 main dishes and 5-6 side dishes so that’s what I plan for. I also plan for the days that I have time to cook. I can cook all weekend but because of our schedules, I only have a little time on Tuesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays to actually make dinner after work. So I meal plan for that.
Saturday – I found this Beef and Butternut Stew with Pears and Thyme. (SQUIRREL – I’m following Mickey pretty strictly at the moment because I’ve put myself on an autoimmune paleo diet. More on that another day.) I’m using up that kale and spinach by making Braised Greens similar to THIS recipe. And I made myself some Liver Pâté out of the liver. Here’s the best part… All of these can be frozen for meals another day!
Sunday – I know I’m making chicken wings. I actually have 9 lbs of wings to feed 6 people so there will definitely be leftovers. I’m making Paleo Glazed Chicken Wings, or Honey-Garlic Chicken Wings, or just regular old wings with hot sauce… probably a combination of all of these. I mean, c’mon. I’ve got 9 pounds! To use up the broccoli stems, I’ll also whip up something like coleslaw or Broccoli Fritters. (Those fritters are AMAZING! I totally heart Juli B from PaleOMG.) To use up those carrots, I’ll do these Rainbow Roasted Root Vegetables.
Tuesday and Thursday – Ground beef is such a great staple. If I fry some up over the weekend, it’s ready for whatever I have time for during the week. Most of the time, it gets made into taco seasoned meat and that suits the whole family. TIP – fry up a couple of pounds at a time then package and freeze them. Then you have them all ready for a quick mid-week meal!
I also have that fish and shrimp. I’m thinking Zucchini Noodles with Scallops and Bacon but replacing with the shrimp and/or Coconut Crusted Cod with Mango Salsa. (SQUIRREL – I bought Mickey’s Cookbook shown on this recipe link. I also bought The Paleo Approach by Sarah Ballantyne – aka The Paleo Mom – so I can learn more about autoimmune diseases. Like I said earlier. More on that later.) Knowing I’ll have limited time on those days, I’ll have to prepare as much as I can ahead of time so that I can heat and eat.
This plan gives me 4 main dishes and 4-5 sides (with an additional lunch or snack from the pate). By adding Bacon Pecan Brussel Sprouts, Fried Sweet Plantains, and sauteed green beans (green beans were on sale last week), I’ll be all set. I need to make sure I have the ingredients on hand for everything above or add them to the grocery list.
Meal Plan DONE. (Caveat – There are no breakfasts or snacks/treats covered in our plan. LOL – This might have to be ANOTHER post for another day.)
Step 3 – GROCERY TRIP
I like to treat my grocery trips like an Olympic event. I’m going for speed and accuracy. Paleo means a whole lot of cooking. Ain’t nobody got time for a long grocery trip. Caveat – When I fist started paleo, my trips took forever. Unlearning everything you knew and relearning how to buy everything takes a long time. Be patient. It gets better.
Here are MY (again, these might not work for you) tips for Olympic style paleo grocery shopping:
- Create a standard path through the store. Mine is dairy, eggs, (frozen if needed), paper goods, meat, produce.
- Write your grocery list in order of the path.
- Shop the perimeter. The processed (BAD) stuff is in the middle of the store. Skip it so you won’t be tempted.
- Go early in the morning. I try to be there before 9am on Saturday or Sunday.
This may seem a little TOO anal retentive, but I split my list into 2 columns: Produce goes on the right and everything else goes on the left (in order of my “path”). Fruits and veggies comprise almost HALF of my grocery list. I get a whole week’s worth of groceries in one trip and I can make it in and out of the store in less than 45 minutes (which includes standing in line for what feels like FOR-EV-ER).
A couple of final thoughts… It took a loooooong time before I got this down to a science. I spent my first paleo year working off of meal plans from my nutritionist which means I didn’t have to do steps 1 and 2. Also, my trips took a lot longer and cost MUCH more before I built up my staples (which I can now replenish and stock up when they go on sale).
So there you go! My easy-peasy paleo prep plan. TA-DA!!!