Following the Auto-Immune Paleo Protocol can seem very limiting, and almost impossible when you’re the only one in a house of five following it. Being in charge of the meals gives some control but still pleasing all those mouths can seem like a daunting task.
It doesn’t have to be. AIP is a bare-bones way of eating, it gets down to the very basic foods: meat, vegetables and fruit. Everyone should be eating those anyway, right? For the non-paleo just add sides or include cheese to sprinkle or hot-sauce to season. If you look at AIP as the framework on which to build meals pleasing everyone becomes less daunting.
When I talk about meal planning I’m usually just talking about the final meal of the day, which is usually our largest meal and where we all sit together as a family to eat. For breakfasts I keep on hand 3-4 things to choose from on a daily basis. Lunch usually consists of leftovers or canned fish or lunch meat.
The general advice when it comes to meal plans is plan ahead, meaning you know what you are going to cook for at least dinner every night for an allotted time, a week or two usually. Then make your shopping list from your meal plan. This keeps you from going over budget, or from buying ingredients that will go bad before you use them.
I’ve used a ton of different templates to meal plan the ones that work the best are usually ones I design myself and can fill in with extra instructions about when to do what. No matter how you plan to get food on the table each day, whether you type it all neat in a meal plan template or scratch it on a scrap of paper, thinking ahead is the key to making shopping and meal times go well. Being on a special diet makes thinking ahead even more important.
Here are a few tips to help you think ahead enough so that getting dinner on the table each night is hassle free.
1. Make a list of your favorite meals.
Get everyone involved. If you are new to AIP scour the web or purchase some of the great AIP cook books out there. List meals you think would appeal to everyone. Don’t forget side dishes, sometimes that’s all one of my kids will eat.
2. Put those meals into your meal plan template. (this is optional, sometimes just having a list of meals to choose from is enough to get through the week as long as I choose the night before what’s gonna be for dinner the next day)
Consider your schedule. If you have to rush out the door right after dinner for basketball you don’t want a million pots to come home to. A one pot meal might be best that night.
3. Make notes on your meal plan.
Like when to take things out of the freezer the night before or how much time you need to try that new recipe you are not familiar with.
4. Make your shopping list.
Be sure to include snacks for the AIP eaters and the non-paleo eaters. I buy gluten-free oatmeal, cheese, chips, salsa, chocolate chips, yogurt, butter and a few other things for my family that I don’t eat myself. For myself I’ll batch cook some tea cookies or make sure there is plenty of veggies and fruits to snack on.
5. Go shopping by yourself.
That’s about the only way I can get my shopping done quickly and efficiently.
6. On the way home order take out.
Just kidding, kind of. If you just spent all afternoon shopping though you probably want something easy to prepare that night.