Since I became paleo, I have to cook more, eat out less, and prepare my lunch in advance so that I can take it to work. I also spend more time shopping for food at more types of places that carry certain specialty paleo items. I also had to research and learn to cook paleo foods. And I will not even count how much time I spent learning about paleo on the internet because that would put me in a HUGE time deficit! At first, I complained to myself about how much extra time I spent, maybe 5 extra hours per week at least, in order to eat healthier. Of course, there will be long term advantages, but over the short term, it took a while to adapt. THe one thing that helped the most is that I sleep less now so I eventually got all that time (not including internet time) back via increased numbers of awake hours per day. For instance, some of the time I used to spend sleeping in the morning, I now spend making lunch for later in the day. How much extra time do other people spend on being paleo and do you think you made that time back yet in other ways, like maybe fewer hours on chronic cardio, sleep, or trips to the hospital?
oh yes, I do spend much more time cooking... BUT in the end I am still on the "plus". why? Because before I used to be so exhausted in the PM and evening, that often I just couldn't lif myself to do anything. When I got really hungry I either nuked something in the microwave, or made a sandwich... often ate some unhealthy stuff to just shut the hunger. (all of that mostly b/c of so called "fibro-fog").
Now? I come back from work and I have energy to do stuff. I clean the kitchen, cook, prepare lunch, do workout, read a bit, move around to do other things...
With time I also got more skilled in time-saving practices, like making base meat to use with multiple meals, making fish cakes for multiple lunches (I can't take meat to work) and so on. So now I am not spending that much time on cooking anyway, and still have so much time to use! Because now I have the energy to do things.
I spend a lot less time cooking now that I eat only meat. I use to make elaborate dishes; salads, vinaigrettes, baked goods with LC substitutes. Of course, I could still do this eating other paleo foods, I guess, but I don't. And I don't buy specialty items. Now I just throw meat on a heat source and I'm set to go.
I've thought about this just recently. I went paleo a long time ago and I spent an unholy amount of time back then on research because I wanted to know everything. Nowadays, I spend ~8 more hours per week on my food. ~400 hours per year.
But eating is my passion and cooking has become a hobby of mine. Where I played videogames before, I now cook. And I spent far less time being sick or wasting time feeling bad. I'd been sick twice a year for around 3 days each before. That's a total of 144 hours.
My life is probably going to last a few years longer although it will be impossible to tell whether this is due to my diet.
Still, I have become more conscious of my own body and health and I am able to enjoy every hour more than I did before. Seriously.
Cooking at home also saves a lot of money. The money I save is the money I do not need to work for. Result: Even more spare time.
And I mentioned before: Eating is one of my passions. Where there was one, maybe two enjoyable meals before, I now eat great stuff every day.
Making paleo lunches en masse actually saves me time. I work at a desk job, and it takes more time to go hemming and hawing about where to buy lunch then to bring my own. When I eat paleo, I bring lunch way more often than when I eat non-paleo.
On the other hand, the time I spend reading paleo stuff on the internet might be just a wee bit much.
I think I have a net time saving. I exercise less - no one hour long runs. I don't eat breakfast so save 15 minutes at least every day. Eating leftovers saves time. I probably waste most time arguing and discussing with people about their food choices when they criticise mine.
In my opinion you are way over thinking it. Deciding not to eat crap isn't time consuming. Once you have a good source of meat eggs etc you have it nailed. If the food on offer isn't suitable, don't eat it. I only eat one meal a day, usually in the evening, so worrying about breakfast, lunch and snacks is irrelevant. I don't know what "specialty paleo items" or "earn to cook paleo foods" you are referring to but I say you need to dial it way back. It's meant to be a simpler way of living so why make it harder or more complicated?
I do spend more time researching nutrition & dietetics etc online, keeping up with blogs and whatnot, as well as posting to my own blog (which I'm doing with less and less frequency, thanks to work). But in all other aspects, I'd say I've given myself more 'downtime' overall.
Exercise no longer feels like work, so even though I guess I spend about the same amount of time getting active outside of the day-to-day, I enjoy it a lot more. I would count my dancing and yoga as relaxation activities nowadays, not 'exercise' like my long bike rides of days gone by.
I've always loved cooking, and always cooked my meals from scratch, so there hasn't been a massive change there. If anything, we eat at restaurants less often, and going out, being served, and coming home takes a lot longer than even the more complicated recipes in my repertoire.
I also don't eat lunch during the week, so suddenly instead of rushing to get to the lunchroom/canteen/down the road to the shops in my tiny lunch break, I can sit at my desk and relax, get bits of business done in a more leisurely manner, or go for a walk outside. This change has saved me a lot of money, as well.
I used to skip breakfast every morning, eating a muesli bar on the way to work. Now, I cook breakfast most mornings, but I leave it cooking while I go through my usual morning rituals, so it hasn't added much time to my day. Plus, knowing that it will keep me sated throughout the whole working day helps encourage me to make that time and be aware of the food as I eat it. I'm not a morning person at all, but getting my circadian rhythms in order means I'm hungry in the morning now, so that's another motivation to get up and eat! In the busier weeks, I might just make extra food at dinnertime and have it ready for a speedy breakfast the next day.
Getting rid of dairy and other questionably processed foods has also resulted in my getting over my 'fear' of leftovers - I used to have big issues with food that had been put into containers, especially if I couldn't see their contents without opening the lid... Now, I'm not worried about meat sitting in the fridge for more than a week, or reheating last night's curry, because I know that the fresh products I use will tell me by odor whether they're still good to consume. Fake, grain-based foods and dairy foods always ran the risk of exposing hidden nasties upon opening/biting...
I sleep about the same amount as I used to, and I know I should really get more sleep (it's past midnight as I write this - I'm pledging an 11pm bedtime every night this week, then maybe even as early as 10pm next week... We'll see!). I think the rise in stress in terms of my job outweighs the sleep-related benefit of going primal. But it does seem like most paleos note a reduced need to sleep...
Hopefully your activity online is done because you enjoy it, so it's not wasted time, and there are ways around arduous cooking regimes if you look for them. Making bigger batches, freezing leftovers, etc - these are all ways to cut down on time in the kitchen if it's bothering you.
I think the biggest time-taker (I won't say time-waster) has been internet "research". I've actually reduced the amount of time I exercise (though I think I've gone a little far and have to ramp it back up some). I wouldn't say I spend more than 5 hours a week doing specifically paleo/primal stuff.
I've shifted time consumed on some frivolities to time consumed in learning new skills (e.g. cooking and recipes). By looking at your rep score, Eva, you've put a lot of time into improving the knowledge-base of this community. Would the time you've spent doing that have been better spent on something else?