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long post on food prep

Chop, slice, dice. Today it was
 mushrooms,  green onions, squash
We're doing a Paleo Challenge at my gym. Some people have asked what the hell do you prep or how do you prep it. Sometimes we break prep into multiple evenings (ex - Thursday and Friday) if we know our weekend will be busy. Sometimes we get it all done in one day on the weekend. Lately, we've been doing some prep on Saturday night when the little one is sleeping and finish up on Sunday. The idea is to make a plan that fits your schedule, yet be flexible enough to change it. Preparing your food should be low stress in the prep phase and also result in less stress during the week because you already have your food choices lined up.

Here's the run down - after being a recipe follower for so long, I've realized that reading instructions isn't always time efficient. So I picked a few common steps from various recipes and found out what is consistent with my cooking equipment through a series of trial-and-error. Yes, that means a risk of poor or mediocre tasting food, but I got the hang of it fairly quickly. I'm also less dependent on cookbooks to save the day. I still buy them, but hubby and I get through food prep without them.

Brown meat, put it in the dish you'll
use. This is breakfast pork sausage.
Early on in the prep day, we make the "Egg Stuff" for the little one. Each time we make this dish, we pick three vegetables, one leafy green, a meat and change it up each time we make it. You decide what and how much work for you. I won't lie, sometimes we eat this too (there's enough for everyone).

We brown the meat first to use the fat to cook the other stuff. You can do whatever the hell you want. We just like keeping it to one dish because we're not fans of washing more dishes than necessary. If everything would fit in the skillet, we'd probably bake it in the skillet too.

After mixing eggs and coconut milk,
add it to the dish
We use about 8 eggs and 1/2 cup coconut milk to make enough "liquid" to submerge the other stuff. Depending on what else is baking, we cook between 350-400F and alter the baking time based on that temperature (~45 mins on lower temps). It is fairly easy to look at the center of the dish and check if the eggs are done.

Put it in the oven to cook, take it out
when it's done.
It really should be a stress free dish to make. We don't like to feed the little monkey the same item for every meal. So we typically make another breakfast meal and alternate during the week. Shoving this in the oven or even putting it in a crock pot for a couple hours allows us to prep other food. This is the most time consuming dish we make, but it's one of the ways to get the little one to eat multiple vegetables and provide enough fat and protein for growth. Feed your baby low-fat...said no one ever, including our pediatrician and he's not even Paleo. As a matter of fact, he emphasized that children need a healthy dose of good fat to grow. Warning - do not mistake our use of Paleo friendly fats for fast food or other conventionally processed foods.

Look! It's food in a fucking crock pot.
This day was chicken and potatoes and no
this was not for the Paleo Challenge.
What else requires not that much hands-on time and can make a good amount of lunches, snacks, or dinner? Chicken in a crock pot. Add some vegetables to a crock pot. Season your chicken and add it to the crockpot. We typically don't need to add liquid to this, but if you're unsure, start with a 1/4 cup of water, broth, or stock. You can do something similar with other types of animal protein too. I've used sweet potatoes, collard greens, carrots, and a mix of vegetables as my bottom layer. These come out very soft. If you don't want them so soft, put them on top or add them in the final hours of cooking. I usually leave stuff for 6-8 hours. I've also been known to forget about my crock pot and leave something in there for 18 hours. It still was good and tasty. Don't be afraid of the crock pot. If you're looking more more adventurous ideas, try Civilized Caveman Cooking.
3 lbs of shrimp makes many
tasty meals for my belly

The day is not done. Unless you want to be stuck eating only chicken for every meal every day, you'll need more food. I like shrimp. Why? It's tasty. It takes a short amount of time to cook in bulk. I buy peeled, headless shrimp. If you want to stress about sustainable, clean sources (which I do) you can or you can get whatever is available at the grocery store. Choose what fits your goals without making you frustrated. I defrosted the shrimp. Patted them dry-ish, added seasoning and a couple squirts of lime juice, loaded them up on a rimmed baking sheet, and cooked for eight minutes. To broil, I moved one of the racks in the oven close to the heating element and hit the "broil" button on my oven. I know, you're not a moron, but I had the question asked. It's not a stupid question and stop treating people like idiots because they're trying to get a hang of their way around their own kitchen.

If I remember this day correctly, we had a few more things I didn't catch in pictures. While the egg stuff was cooking, we also had lamb, pork, and turkey sausages (thanks Whole Paycheck) in the oven. On the grill we had turkey burgers, beef burgers, and vegetables. I seasoned the ground meat with a seasoning mix from Savory Spice Shop and some lime juice.

This makes our food for the week. If you're skeptical about how long your food is good for in the refrigerator, than make less and prep twice a week vice our once a week. Your prep time will be shorter and you'll replenish your meals more often so freshness won't be the issue you worry about.

You'll never know how to work around what frustrates you if you don't give it a try though. Avoid being the person that says "I can't have it all the way I want it, so I'm not going to even bother starting." Those people never start anything and thus don't make it far with anything. Start something, learn, adapt, make changes as necessary. Good luck in finding your way.
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