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So what do I buy....

by (5)
Updated October 15, 2014 at 3:49 AM
Created November 20, 2012 at 1:08 AM

After researching dietary concerns for the last few months I finally approached my wife about altering our SAD approach to a more paleo/primal/anti-inflammatory/unprocessed/moderate or low carb/this/that/the-other style diet. After discussing it we're in agreement and willing to try this (despite her being a carb addict). Then she asks "Well, what do I buy at the store?" I studdered, I stammered, "meat?" Eyes roll all around.

I've read enough to be able to eye-ball meal plans or recipes and give them relative rankings, but actual meal planning for the two of us, plus ThingOne and ThingTwo (boys, 8 & 3), over a week or fortnight is a little more time intensive. Meeting some basic intake percentages, getting some variety, ensuring the lactose-intolerant me isn't saddled with a dairy heavy day, enough calories, too many calories, etc... and no one but me likes asparagus(heathens).

I've read posts from several people who recommend avoiding the micro-management approach. I understand, and if I were only doing this for me then that would likely work. However, I've got to help my wife feed and manage the four of us in a timely manner with a budget. If we put off eating until one of us is hungry then the kids are starving. If we don't proactively manage what food is in the house then it'll be pizza or take-out every meal. Since we both manage the kids alone for some time each day a set meal plan will also help us avoid overdoing any single food. If we don't watch for it then the nice fresh green beans will likely never get used because we're each giving the other the chance to use them.

So my question, does anyone know of a piece of software (desktop, web, mobile) that will take a few people and a few guidelines and actually produce a week long meal plan? Something we could summarize and take to the grocery store?

Even if I need to adjust it a little afterwards it would be a huge step forward.

If it could account for more than basic intake percentages it would be even cooler. Stuff like Monday nights needing to be an easy meal because of the Cub Scout meeting, or me wanting to try IF on Thursdays.

If I can't find anything at all I might end up trying to write one, but I haven't written code in a few years.

FWIW, wife is 5'0" & 225 (abdominal obesity) and I'm 5'7" & 160 with the skinny fat guy build. Both mid-thirties. She's developed some spinal degeneration that is very painful. Eldest boy on ADD meds we both hope some dietary adjustments will diminish the need for. We're both sedentary enough it'll bite us in the long run. (exercise seems to dimish or cure everything!) Both of us seem to be fighting moodiness and exhaustion all the time.

I apologize for the wall of text.

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4 Answers

Eea6a68f5a7190d13c60e1c72417a581
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1376 · November 20, 2012 at 2:53 AM

Buy a chest freezer, some cookbooks and a slow cooker.

Wish I could help out with a software rec. Guys, help us out and write something.

Here's my low tech take on meal planning: take a piece of meat out of the freezer 12-18 hours before you need a meal ready. Put it in the crock pot 6-8 hours before the meal. Add tubers and greens 1-2 hours before dinner. Adjust as needed, for example prepare a large roast on Sunday so there will be leftovers if Monday nights are busy.

Also get together a repertoire of quick dinners that you family likes and keep those ingredients on hand. Examples my family likes: sweet potato oven fries and hamburgers, Thai curry, omlets incorporating leftover veg & meat, steamed brocoli and fish.

Meal planning is a lost art for sure. It involves changing your mindset and planning 1-2 days ahead. When pizza, takeout and whatever wheat/corn syrup and oil snack is convenient are taken off the table as options it forces you to get creative. I've found it very useful to read cookbooks, especially older ones like older editions of The Joy of Cooking for unusual vegtables or game meat. Cook's Illustrated (tv show, mag and cookbooks) are very useful for learning the whys of cooking. They test methods and recipies rigorously and will make anyone a better cook. The Way to Cook by Julia Child is also helpful in this regard. There are also two Paleo cookbooks I can reccomend: Dino-chow has lots of quick recipies and Everyday Paleo had a good meal planning section and is pretty inspirational on doing paleo w your family. Best of luck!

3491e51730101b18724dc57c86601173
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8065 · November 20, 2012 at 2:47 AM

Paleo will be wonderful for you all, but it takes some planning. My husband and I sit down each week and plan the meals for the week. We go through the pantry, fridge and freezer to see what's there and what's needed. We try to shop only once a week to save time and stick to a budget.

Everyone has to suggest at least one dinner meal. We try to have six meals planned, Friday night is special so we shop just for the Friday meal on Friday afternoon (splurge on meat or fish and a special dessert for the carb eaters). In addition, we plan choices for breakfasts and lunches at school or work.

From that menu, we generate a shopping list, and also a list of what needs to be done ahead of time. We don't have enough time on a school night to make a complicated dish, but we can start something after one dinner to be finished the next day in time for dinner.

In your shoes, I would plan a menu simillar to what you would eat non-paleo. Then you need to go through and figure out what substituions need to be made to make something paleo, and what things you just need to swap out with a more paleo-friendly meal altogether.

Dinners are actually easiest, since most people are used to eating a protein, starch and veggie for the main meal. I'm low carb, so I sub out another non-starchy veggie for the starch. Sometimes my non-paleo family eats a starchy side dish I won't eat. When my kids want pasta or other carby dishes, we keep some "clean" for me and I may or may not have a stand-in like "zoodles" instead of noodles. In your case, it sounds like your kids could really benefit from paleo, too, AND they are younger so you'll have an easier time switching them over.

For lunches, the big challenge is having a "menu" of ideas so that everyone can have Paleo friendly lunches. I bought bento boxes at Cost Plus ($4.99 each!) that make packing lunches easy because there are compartments that I further subdivide with silicone baking cups. While my youngest is not paleo, she's eating a lot healthier with a list of ideas posted on the fridge of what to pack in all the compartments. I omitted grainy stuff on the list, though she often adds some. (DH and I do not agree on whether or not our kids should be grain free, though he is supportive of my "to do so.)

Breakfasts can be challenging. I have a "repertoire" of breakfast choices (personally I'm not a fan of leftover dinner for breakfast as many will suggest). Some are make ahead like a grain free granola, egg muffins, quiches, and frittatas. I recently found a recipe for a make-ahead mix of grain free hot cereal--I just add half a cup of hot water and breakfast is served. I have almond milk and coconut milk and frozen berries on hand for smoothies, or I will sometimes have yogurt with nuts and berries (I do dairy).

Don't forget to plan snacks, too, especially at first. Have some grab and go snacks on hand. For kids the ages yours are, a good idea is to fill a 6 cup muffin tin with six different things your kids can pick and choose--veggies, dip, a sliced hard boiled egg, some cut up fruit, a few nuts, some olives, etc.

It's great that your wife is ready to make the committment, but slowing down and doing some planning ahead of time will go a long way to your success. Don't set yourself up for failure by failing to plan.

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2049 · November 20, 2012 at 7:53 AM

This is not an app but it is a weekly menu organiser -

Go to http://www.theclothesmakethegirl.com/wellfed/ and buy the book or download the ebook sample.

In this book are instructions for a weekly cookup to ensure paleo meals are available for the whole family all week. I think it covers the main meals.

7b20db75b09540914bd0c852e868a9d6
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454 · November 20, 2012 at 1:14 AM

pen & paper? can't you just take 10 minutes before the week starts and write down each day's meals?

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