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Meals for the week – Paleo style

Yep, this is one of my long and boring posts...Take from it what you will. My goal: to provide you with real world, practical applications and "how do I get through this without eating grilled chicken over salad every day!?!?" along with some commentary (no ripe avocados at the store?! Never fear!) Feel free to discuss, start swapping ideas, recipes, food, whatevs!!

One of the keys to eating healthy is being prepared. I say “plan your work and work your plan.” With Paleo food, that means stocking your refrigerator, your freezer, your pantry with the things you’ll need and want to eat for the week and beyond. Connect with others in this challenge and swap some meals (we did this 2 years ago back in the Zone days and it kept me away from food boredom).

I will say this: I am amazed at how many things freeze really well, including but not limited to: tomato meat sauce, mashed cauliflower, curry, soups, frittatas and more. The more you can do and have prepared/on hand the less tempted you will be to grab junk food. Right now we have the following in our fridge/freezer which will make these next 45 days so much easier: Several portions of Chicken Tomatillo soup, several portions of curry, quite a few frittata pieces, Charles’ “Paleo Kits” consisting of sautéed red cabbage and grilled salmon, some portions of pot roast with veggies, and I’m sure more! These weren’t all cooked in one day…rather, whenever we’ve made something, we’ve always been sure to make extra extra. Yes, we do love to cook, so cooking isn’t really a “chore” for us. Not everyone is like us we realize. But even if you can’t stand the kitchen, doing some smart planning, always buying more than one portion size, or when you do cook making sure you cook up a vat of whatever it is to freeze leftovers, well rest assured your life will be a ton easier. 

Planning ahead will make all the difference, and will save you from having to cook all the time. Charles will be the first to admit that he could eat the same thing every day for breakfast, lunch and dinner and would love it if our freezer contained 287 servings of curry. Me, not so much. I have to have diversity. Which is why I like taking leftovers and using them in a different format for the week and not eating the same thing day in and day out. Here’s kind of a weekly planner - with your shopping/staples list - of some items you can make and “recycle” later in the week – with different flavors or accompaniments. A way you could apply this? Take a basic burger for example. Sure, you can have straight up burgers as leftovers, or you can chop up leftover burgers in eggs, saute' up with some tomatoes for a tomato meat sauce, turn them into asian lettuce wraps, etc.!). Get creative! For purposes of this posting, this plan of attack listed below is an attempt to maximize the “leftovers” you have for the few recipes we throw out, and (hopefully) saves you from having to cook and prep/chop all the time. Don't like to chop/prep? Spend the extra moolah on already chopped stuff, or go the Jeff Hayes route with the Slap Chop.the results of one of our cooking days...here you see grilled veggies, grilled chicken, bacon wrapped scallops, roasted cauliflower, paleo shepherd's pie, smoked venison on the big green egg, and it looks like a curry or soup

This plan is assuming you are cooking for 2 people in the house. Single? Here’s a novel idea: share this planner with a friend, where one of you cooks 2 or 3 things and the other cooks 2 or 3 and split up the meals. Or invite some friends over for “cooking day.” Or make them all yourself and have TONS of leftovers!

□       At least 2 lbs grassfed ground beef, bison, or ground turkey/chicken (for meat sauce) (makes 8 servings)
□       2 dozen organic eggs from pastured hens (Frittata will use at least 12 eggs) - along with whatever meat you want to add to your frittata. Suggest about 1 1/2 pounds chicken breasts or lean steak.
□       At least 2 lbs pastured/organic chicken breasts
□       At least 2lbs salmon filets
□       At least 1 lb pork chops
□       1-2 lbs sausage (chicken, pork or other sausage – just check the ingredient list)

□       2 heads cauliflower (used for mashed cauliflower – freeze the extra you don’t use!)
□       Zucchini (use in frittata, grilled veggies and meat sauce)
□       Mushrooms (use in frittata, meat sauce and stir fry)
□       Yellow (crookneck) squash (use in frittata, grilled veggies and meat sauce)
□       2 medium sized spaghetti squash
□       Onions (always have these on hand)
□       Tomatoes (for salad)
□       Garlic - always keep this on hand!
□       1-2 bunches of broccoli (we like getting the kind with the stalks, as we shred the stalks and make broccoli slaw)
□       1-2 bags of broccoli slaw (refrigerator section in produce area)
□       2-3 avocados (if your store has no ripe avocados, look for the Wholly Guacamole brand in the fridge section – seen it at publix – no preservatives! Whole Foods also makes a great one)
□       Salsa (get the all natural kind, or make a vat of your own)
□       Salad greens
□       A few apples (I like Granny smith)
□       Some strawberries/blackberries
□       Flat leaf (Italian) parsley
□       A few peppers of your choice (bell, hot, habanero, whatever - use in frittata, grilled veggies, meat sauce)
□       Lemons (great acid to use in dressings and marinades)
□       Any other veggies you particularly like

This stuff is awesome filler in scrambles, sauteed in your eggs, used in stir fry, whatever!

Aisles (many of these are staples you will already have on hand):
□       Nuts (almonds, walnuts, whatever your heart desires – just not peanuts: they’re legumes!)
□       Olive oil (but you should already have this on hand)
□       Coconut oil (again a great staple to have on hand)
□       2 cans tomatoes (I prefer San Marzano tomatoes, though they are canned and will have some kind of citric acid added. Pomi makes the tomatoes in a box – and most varieties have no additives)
□       Red wine, balsamic and/or cider vinegar
□       Capers
□       Gluten free chicken broth (check ingredient list..or better yet make your own - can but the organic free range stuff in bulk at Costco)
□       Canned chipotles in adobo sauce
□       Wheat-free soy sauce (tamari)
□       Fish sauce
□       Dijon mustard (great emulsifier for dressings)

Cooking day! Make each recipe to have at least 8 servings.
- Tomato meat sauce (recipe on website here) (stovetop or crockpot)
- Spaghetti squash (bake in oven – simple instructions here)
- Frittata (recipe on website here) (stovetop and oven)
- Grilled chicken, grilled salmon, grilled vegetables (cook on grill or indoor grill pan). I suggest a dry rub on any or all of these, or a marinade of simple garlic/lemon/olive oil.
- Mashed cauliflower (stovetop) – recipe here. 

Here's my suggested plan of attack:
1. Chop all the veggies for the frittata, grilled veggies and spaghetti sauce (30 minutes prep)
2. Prep and marinade the chicken (5 minutes prep – let marinade for a few hours)
3. Sauté veggies for frittata, and bake in oven (10-15 minutes prep, 30 minutes or so cook time).
4. Brown meat and garlic for meat sauce (10 minutes)
5. Simmer all veggies in meat sauce (no active work – stir and let simmer for at least an hour, or let cook in a crock pot for hours) 
6. Bake spaghetti squash (5 minutes prep, 45 minutes cook time)
7. Cook mashed cauliflower (5 minutes prep, 20 minutes or so cook time)  
8. Grill chicken, salmon and veggies (45 mins cook time for all – cooking things in batches)
Your active work time here for ALL of this cooking is less than 2 hours. And you’ve now made a lot of food for the week!

So once you’ve made those items for the week, you can repurpose them in a variety of meals for the week. Here’s a rough example of how you might plan your week:  


Breakfast/lunch – Big omelet with mushrooms, onions, peppers, spinach, topped with salsa and guac (20 mins prep and cook time).
Cooking in the afternoon.
Dinner – Some of that freshly grilled chicken with vegetables, and top it off with some chimichurri sauce (recipe here), and maybe a few berries and nuts as “dessert.”

Breakfast – salmon scramble (using grilled salmon from Sunday) sautéed up with some of that broccoli slaw mix, topped with guacamole (5-10 mins cooking).
Lunch – salad with leftover grilled chicken and veggies (made on Sunday), balsamic/olive oil vinaigrette or salsa as your dressing.  
Dinner – leftover tomato meat sauce over spaghetti squash, ½ apple with some almond butter

Breakfast – leftover frittata, almonds or avocado
Lunch  - leftover salmon, mashed cauliflower, small side salad, handful of nuts
Dinner – Leftover chicken used for quick spicy chicken & vegetable stir-fry  (5-10 mins cooking – chicken is already cooked so it cooks up super fast!). Here’s a recipe idea.  

Breakfast – simple scrambled eggs & bacon with sautéed veggies and fruit and avocado or nuts(5-10 mins cooking)
Lunch – Chipotle Chicken salad salad (using chicken from Sunday cook fest and chipotle sauce – use chipotle sauce like you would mayo, and add in some chopped up granny smith apple and walnuts. Serve over salad greens!)
Dinner – pan seared pork-chops with mustard/caper sauce (recipe idea here), oven roasted garlic broccoli (recipe here) (make enough for leftovers!) and whatever fat you want (20-25 mins cooking)

Breakfast – leftover frittata topped with guac and salsa
Lunch – out with co-workers – do something like a turkey burger, no bun, side salad and sautéed mushrooms/onions - see if they have a side of guac
Dinner – Leftover tomato meat sauce over spaghetti squash, whatever fat you want

Breakfast - turkey sausage sautéed with onions and peppers, guacamole (5-10 mins cooking)
Lunch – leftover pan seared pork-chops with caper/lemon sauce, leftover oven roasted garlic broccoli and nuts
Dinner – out for Mexican! Order fajitas with extra veggies and guacamole, no rice, beans or tortillas.

Breakfast – basic scrambled eggs with veggies and curry paste, berries and almond butter.
Lunch – Grilled salmon salad, balsamic vinaigrette, walnuts on salad
Dinner -  Tomato meat sauce and spaghetti squash. Fruit topped with nuts for dessert

Assuming 2 people in the house followed this plan, at the end of the week, you’d still have (most likely – really depends on your portion sizes):

-         at least 4 frittata portions
-         at least 2 tomato sauce/spaghetti squash portions
-         at least 2 portions of salmon
-         some leftover mashed cauliflower
-         and probably some other veggies that went unused

This is just a sample I made up and is somewhat similar to how we live our life at Casa Mayfield. The basic premise is to devote some time on the weekends or some night to cook up a bunch of stuff to have on hand. With rare exception, we pretty much never cook a meal without leftovers (except for scrambled eggs...they're so quick and easy to cook). If you’re going to cook, make it your job to create leftovers! (p.s. – curry ALWAYS tastes better the next day…just saying). With those leftovers that you can freeze, you now can cook up two or three meals on Sunday the following week to add to your culinary delights. Or if you're going to be out of town, know you have at least a few days worth of food when you return to get you through. See how this works? Thoughts or comments on it?

Stay tuned: we are hoping to do a little cooking basics get together, recipe swap/potluck, or something like that in the near future.

What about you? How do you go about preparing and planning for meals for the week?


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Reader Comments (27)

Not even one comment? Sad face.

I will say last night Charles and I made a pot roast (grass fed meat of course), and let it cook at 225 degrees overnight. Holy cow - smells awesome, meat is so tender, and it's a filling paleo meal with minimal work on our end (seared the meat on all sides to start, then sauteed garlic and onions...added all the veggies and canned tomatoes (his mom canned them last year), bring to a boil, then in the oven in the Le Creuset "big boy." If you don't yet have any Le Creuset cast iron stuff, you should get one or several....

June 24, 2010 | Registered CommenterJules

Great post!!! Thanks for writing all of that out. This will be very helpful for the next few weeks.

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVinings Meredith

Jules - thanks for the awesome post! I can't wait to try these recipes, and the shopping list gave me some new ideas. Leftovers are a must! Curently eating the beef kabob leftovers from dinner, and will use the extra bell peppers in my eggs at some point (I really can't stand eggs so it is more like salsa/veggies drizzled with egg).

Really - all the support is awesome - and week 1 is almost done!

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterVinings Nicole

Jules you are a paleo dynamo as usual! Thanks so much for all of this! Is there a recipe somewhere for the shepherds pie?

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered Commenterfreedom karyn

Karyn...you know me and recipes: it's a crap shoot.

It went something like this:
- ground grass-fed beef, or ground venison, or ground lamb (we might have done a combo - can't quite recall).
- browned that up with some garlic, onions, rosemary. Strained off excess oil/fat.
- added in some carrots, mushrooms
- added a jar of tomatoes, some balsamic vinegar, and Lea & Perrins Worcestershire Sauce (according to the Celiacs website, Lea & Perrins is gluten free in the US - other brands are not. The ingredient list has some things that aren't ideal, but the flavor isn't easily replicated otherwise...and since it's a minimal amount, I am not too concerned personally. Melissa might disagree).
- Let simmer to cook off some of the juices.
- Place meat mixture in bottom of 9x13 baking dish, top with mashed cauliflower. Bake in oven until browned on top. I think I added some pine nuts to the top too. Mostly because I love pine nuts!

June 24, 2010 | Registered CommenterJules

I'm awful about eating frozen stuff (to the point where it actually does finally go bad), so I tend to cook on a week-by-week (or day-by-day) basis. Granted, it doesn't take too long to make scrambled eggs with garlic and chives in the morning!

Since I live by myself, it can also be hard to eat all the veggies I buy every week. I almost had to toss out some onions and tomatoes, but manage to salvage them by throwing them in some guac (had an extra avocado lying around). Basically, me + paleo cooking = a work in progress.

Love the post Jules! Always enjoy trying our new Paleo recipes! I've made a Paleo Shepard's Pie in the past (sometime during the winter) and instead of the mashed cauliflower, I used pureed butternut squash---soooo goooood!! I have to try the cauli topping though--much less on the carbs!

This question/comment is geared more for the female Xfitters more than anything but any one can chime in...
Ok so I've been crossfitting for a couple of months and before that I was a bootcamper. I've noticed that lately that my arms are now too bulky for my cute, cuffed sleeve shirts =(. They are either too tight (and looks like the Hulk is about to bust through it) or just won't fit. Has this happened to any other female? I don't want big, bulky arms and it appears that that's what's happening. Should I dial the weight down when doing heavy lifting days? I don't really see my definition either like I used to. I eat pretty healthy following a Zone/Almost Paleo lifestyle. Any advice is truly appreciated!

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterMe-No-Likey-Bulky-Arms

Jules...can I move in with you? (just kidding........well, not really). :-)

This is an AWESOME post. It is always so helpful to get ideas for not only recipes, but for planning. I totally agree with your words that you have to plan ahead. Thank you so much for all the effort that went into putting this post together. REALLY appreciate it!

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterRosemary_Freedom

Jules - What is your recipe for the chicken tomatillo soup?

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterAli

Ali, I call it many things - here I called it "chicken chili verde." All I can say is that it's way good.


(other recipes are posted in back blogs - feel free to look through as not all are on the recipe site).

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJules

PS - here's another oldie but goodie...


June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJules

jules, i had a feeling it was cauliflower on top for the shep pie. i am addicted to caulif mash...been eating it since last year when colleen got me hooked with her yummy version! and hey, i'm with rosemary...don't you and charles wanna adopt a 40 year old?! i 'm not great at improvising cooking like you, but got some penzey's spices as a gift so i am getting experimental...sorta. i'm a little jealous of all your fancy married people cookware and the egg for sure! i should've registered when i turned 40! haha! : )

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterFreedom Karyn

Ha! Karyn and Rosemary, you all come up any time! And, true story: I actually was a product rep for Le Creuset for a while (I did cooking demos at Williams-Sonoma). SUPER fun, and I got free product. So yes, we have a very large collection of LC. I actually think that's one of the reasons Charles married me - for my Le Creuset! (however, it is great stuff to stick in the oven, fridge, freezer, etc.).

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterJules

Fabulous! You must of read my mind, I was needing this since I am trying very hard to stay away from all those foods I use to eat. I don't think I am very pleasant to be around right now, but I am hoping I will settle down soon :)
This is my first attempt at Paleo, so definitely have been reading up on your recipes, food ideas etc. Does anyone have a favorite cookbook by any chance? I am thinking of buying one to have on hand.

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterSara

Re: No-Bulky-Arms-Gal......i've seen an article somewhere on "why crossfit wont make females bulk up" (or something like that) that is a good read that i am sure melissa or jeff could find for ya!

i *think* you may be putting on more muscle now with crossfit as you get stronger, but not focusing on loosing the fat (or the fat is staying the same) so it seems likes you are bulking up. CF's - correct me if I am wrong as this is just an opinion!

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLauren P

as for the shopping list and planning ahead - i HIGHLY recommend it. Even before this challenge, my boyfriend and I plan out on Sundays or Mondays what and when we are gonna cook that week and then have a fun outing to the store/farmers markets. And like Jules said, it makes it so much easier when you have most of the stuff already in your pantry (that doesnt go bad in a week or so)!

We've been growing alot of our own herbs that you think you wouldnt use as much as you do...untill you can just walk out your kitchen and grab some of whatever to put in anything. It also saves alot of $$ that way. Got basil, chives, parsley, oregano, mint, and cilantro growing well right now....tried some vegetables but havent had much luck yet in the containers - dont think the porch is getting enough sun!

and these days alot of regular food magazines & websites have great recipes that would be considered paleo with just meat and/or veggies, spices, olive oils, and herbs.....or you can adapt the recipes to make it paleo (ie. leave off the cheese, butter, potatoes, etc).

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterLauren P

Hey Everyone - I saw the bag of broccoli slaw and had to pass along a yummy side veggie I made the other night. QUICK AND EASY. I took a bag of shredded cabbage (could use the slaw too) bok choy, mushroom, onions, celery, carrots and sauteed them in EVOO with a couple dashes of balsamic. Threw random spices like garlic powder, pepper, red pepper, etc and it was delish. Made a ton of it and it lasts a couple days!

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterErin S. Bhead PM

Is sausage allowed? Italian sausage, in particular.

June 24, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterDonna

Sell it to me Donna! Is it from a fresh, grass-fed source, no additives and fillers? What are the ingredients? Erin, your meal sounds delicious! Oh, and for those of you interested in LC type cookware, I have been checking out the options on Overstock.com. Shipping is always $2.95 which is great since that stuff is heavy. I bought one the brand was ....Lodge Color. It works very well. I also bought a small skillet from the same brand that works great too. It isn't LC, but it works!

June 25, 2010 | Unregistered Commentermelissa

To M-N-L-B-A:

I'd agree with Lauren--it seems that you are experiencing a temporary shift in your lean/bodyfat ratio. I observe that 4-6 weeks of transition time happens for many of us: the clothes fit differently, we don't see any additional leanness in the mirror, etc. Then, as Melissa once said, "just when you're ready to cry" :-) your appearance shifts.

As for the shirts: some cap-sleeve tops haven't worked for me in a while, either. The ones I still have, I wear with the sleeve buttons open. More often that not, I will either (a) go for sleeveless or (b) have them tailored to fit me around the arms.

Some clothes are simply not designed with me in mind (due to my height, waist-to-hip ratio, etc.), and I remind myself this is true of all women, all the time.

I hope you have fun playfully and creatively playing dress-up with your stronger, healthier body!

June 25, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterNdiya

Thank you so much for this! I'm bookmarking this for Monday. :)

July 3, 2010 | Unregistered CommenterTovah

This is a great post and not boring at all! I came across your website via Robb Wolf. I will return!

January 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRaj

Just found this post... thanks for all the helpful ideas and meal plans. Bookmarking your site...

January 17, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterKatie

Loved this post as I am just considering/reading about/starting paleo diet! This is extremely helpful for a good pre-planned first week. Also, do you have any curry recipes?!

January 7, 2012 | Unregistered Commenterchelsea

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