I get thanked for our free 4-week Paleo meal plan that we offer on our website more than anything else. And while I think a meal plan is a great way to get started on Paleo, the fact is that there will be times when our lives do not go according to plan.
Perhaps you didn’t have time to go shopping, or you had to skip meal prep in order to take your kids to the doctor, or you’ve just been so busy at work this week that everything is in turmoil.
In this article, I’m going to share with you 4 tips for cooking up Paleo meals easily and quickly without a meal plan so that you can get lunch or dinner on the table no matter how busy you are. And none of these tips involve you making a smoothie!
Here are our 4 tips:
1. Learn to sauté
In many parts of Asia, stir-fries and sautés are highly popular. This isn’t just because they’re delicious, it’s also because they’re super fast to make. I still remember timing how fast it took my Thai cooking teacher to make a pork and basil stir-fry (it took under 3 minutes to cook!), and it was really tasty. She explained that many Thais cook that dish for lunch because it’s so quick and easy to make.
So, learning how to create easy sautés will help you ensure that your lunch or dinner is on the table in no time.
There are generally 4 components to any sauté: 1) a healthy Paleo oil to cook everything in, 2) a meat of some sort (it can be precooked or raw), chopped into small pieces so that they cook quickly, 3) some vegetables or herbs also chopped small so that they cook quickly, and 4) spices and/or sauces that will make the dish taste great.
Start your sauté by adding the oil to the pan, then add fragrant vegetables or spices (like onions or peppercorns), then add in raw meats, then harder vegetables (like carrots), and then faster-to-cook vegetables (like most green leafy vegetables), and then lastly the spices and sauces.
This might seem daunting at first, but give them a try – you might be surprised by how easy and delicious they are.
2. Get a pressure cooker
I usually recommend everyone buy a slow cooker for faster and easier meal planning. However if you’re trying to get food on the table quickly, then a pressure cooker is the best way to go.
You can make an entire stew filled with super tender meats in under an hour with the pressure cooker, and most recipes using the pressure cooker involve very little prep work (mostly just some chopping). If you’re new to pressure cookers then check out our list of Paleo pressure cooker recipes here.
Some pressure cookers (like the Instant Pot) also have steaming abilities, so you can make a ton of other things in them (like steaming sweet potatoes or even a whole crab).
3. Get a good Chef knife
Having a good chef‘s knife is something that people often overlook. But when you’re chopping vegetables, meats, and fruits multiple times a day, having a great knife will make your life so much easier.
If you’ve never owned a good knife then you won’t fully comprehend what I’m explaining right now, but try investing just a little bit of money in one and you’ll quickly find out why this is one of the four tips! You can get a pretty good one like the Victorinox for just $45 on Amazon.
Creating sautés requires both the meat and vegetables to be chopped up so that they can be cooked faster, and if you have a good sharp knife, then you can be done with all the chopping in record time.
If you’re worried about using a sharp knife, then don’t be – a good sharp knife can actually be safer than using a dull knife! However, it’s always good to learn knife skills as they can also make cooking faster and more fun.
4. Buy Frozen
This probably sounds like a really odd tip since you probably believe it’s healthier to cook with fresh ingredients. While some ingredients (like herbs) are definitely tastier fresh, the fact is that most vegetables are actually very nutritious frozen.
This webmd article states that: “Nutritionally speaking, frozen veggies are similar to — and sometimes better than — fresh ones.”
From a faster cooking standpoint, having frozen meats and veggies in your freezer will make your life so much easier because you don’t have to run to the store before cooking! Just think of how much time that saves you! Here are a few things I like to always keep stocked in my freezer: salmon, ground beef, and an assortment of vegetables (some of them even come pre-chopped so you can save even more time).
With a little bit of defrosting, you’ll have everything you need to create a delicious sauté or a great soup or stew.
This is a guest post by Louise Hendon from Paleo Flourish Magazine.