Before I went Paleo cooking was a hobby I enjoyed. Since Paleo it has become less hobby and more necessity b/c of having to cook and prep so much more of my food everyday. I want to ask all the Cooks on PH for ways you’ve made your cooking time more efficient.
For instance, when you prep and cook do you make use of healthy Paleo staples in a variety of tasty ways to get more of them into your diet each day? ie. I want to eat more Kimchi so I actively look for ways to incorporate it into my recipe building each day.
Also in the name of efficiency: Do you cook more than one thing at the same time to use the same energy for several dishes. Like - adding eggs to a batch of simmering bone broth to get some boiled eggs done while making stock. (got this one from an MK Fisher book)
For the cooking/engineers out there: Have you created special tools to prepare foods you never prepared before you went Paleo? What did you build/make/engineer?
I made the cardboard dehydrator of Lex Rooker fame see here http://www.traditionaltx.us/images/JerkyDrierInstructions.pdf
I bought a Cuisinart ice cream maker for when I want some ice cream (which used to be all of the time, but now I never get it out).
However the biggest change for me has been in the area of prepping food before I need it to cook with for a meal. I used to come home from the grocery store and immediately put everything in the fridge, that's it I'm done with my gathering :) But that also made for a convenient excuse to order pizza instead of cook because it would take too long to put a meal together or I wouldnt have any meat thawed, and so I would mostly cook on weekends. This also led to quite a bit of spoiled unused food. Since changing my lifestyle, I wash all produce, chop onions if needed, and throw some marinade or spices together on my meat on Sundays. Now cooking a meal during the week takes less than an an hour from start to clean-up.
I buy frozen vegetables because they're precut. Instead of chopping up a head of cauliflower, I can just throw it in a pan while I leave to go read paleohacks :). I also don't have to plan as much because if I don't feel like eating it it won't go bad. I still buy some fresh, but the majority is frozen.
Sometimes I'll take whatever leftover veggies I have and make a couple fritattas- then I just take a big wedge to work with me for breakfast throughout the week; I've found that to be a great timesaver. When I make pulled pork in the crockpot, or chili, I make a big batch and put some in a large pyrex container to freeze for later on. I also gave in and got a food processor, just a $40 one from overstock. It's been great for making my own snack bars, sweet potato hash browns, grating cheese, and it's pretty easy to clean up. I hope you re-find your love for cooking! I've loved cooking since I was a kid, and it does start to feel like a chore sometimes :(
I prep meals for the week cut marinade spice etc on one day and freeze all but the first two I'm goin to cook. I then pull out a meal a day from freezer and move to fridge to thaw. So it's 15min meals or less when it's time to eat.
Personally, I'm so much more into food now that I'm paleo then I was before. Before, it was a hassle to find recipes that were satisfying for me as a diet-a-holic trying to cut out fat and bad foods and too much meat and that my boyfriend would eat on a regular basis (him enjoying meat and potatoes and fatty sauces). It stressed me out to no end.
Now, though - I can EAT the fatty food and the bacon and the eggs for breakfast and NOT FEEL GUILTY. This is the best diet ever.
Anyway - my biggest suggestion if you don't have one already is to invest in a crockpot, some microwave steamers of some sort and spend some money on high-quality spices (check out Penzeys if you have one near you or their online catalog.) I'm constantly trying new foods I've never had before (liver, etc) and its SO EXCITING :)
For chicken, I take boneless skinless that have flattened just to make them uniform thickness for grilling and 1 gallon bag, marinade for 24 hours (48 if they have a good exp date) and then grill all at once. Let cool completely. AFterwards, I leave 1/2 of them whole and the other half I cut into strips...some thin in one backand some cubes in another. Same for bacon. some strips some crumbled.
Bought a bunch of beef cubes, for fam, since I cant eat red meat yet, maybe after gut heals, then put into two large pans, drizzle with garlic olive oil and about 8 mashed cloves each, (diced tomato if you can handle niteshades), white onion and cook at 325 till cubes are tender. Throw all into serving size bags and freeze until I need.
My paleo cooking has been reduced to either really fast in a skillet, or slowly using the slow cooker. In the cooker I might fit in multiple animal parts that cover a few meals. I have no real "hacks," but one of these days I plan on using Alton Brown's jerky technique that uses box fans and furnace filters.
Before I went Paleo cooking was a hobby I enjoyed. Since Paleo it has become less hobby and more necessity
Incidentally, for me it is exactly the other way round. Let me explain.
Before Paleo, I usually cooked meals trying to follow exact recipes. These made cooking a hard task because, being an engineer and therefore of the optimizer type, everything "had to come out right" (That is not to say I did not enjoy it then. But it left me more exhausted than Paleo cooking does). With Paleo cooking everything is much more relaxed. I know my base recipes. The basic ingredients (my staples) are fewer and I know them well. This simplifies shopping and cooking. I also usually have less things to prepare for a full meal, since for example I don't have to prepare the pasta and the sauce just the meat.
And cooking is much more fun too. Because I know my basic recipes very well I can now improvise. Cooking an omelette in the morning with a slice of apple and some bacon takes 10 minutes. And maybe I throw in some leftovers from last nights dinner or a tomato. And since I don't have to think about much it its almost a zen like experience or at least relaxing (which is hard to believe for my cigarettes&coffee roommates :) ).
So speaking from an engineering perspective maybe you should not worry so much about better tools or methods but instead simplify your cooking process and enjoy it too. :)
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