One of the biggest ways to save time in your Real Food kitchen is to simply cook ahead. The idea is simple. On a day when you do have time, you prep veggies and put together dishes so that on the days you don’t have time, you can pull a quick meal out of your freezer. You can also batch cook, doubling and tripling recipes that you know freeze well so that you can eat some for dinner that night and put the rest in your freezer for later.
Yet if you’ve ever been on any make ahead menu planning sites, there’s a dearth of tasty, grain-free recipes using fresh, seasonal, wholesome ingredients. You’re far more likely to find casseroles made with canned goods than you are a recipe for Citrus Red Onion Slaw with Grilled Chicken.
I bet you can already tell why I was excited to get a copy of Make-Ahead Paleo: Healthy Gluten-, Grain- & Dairy-Free Recipes Ready When & Where You Are.
Why make food ahead of time?
Every time I mention this, I get the inevitable comment from a reader asking something like:
But why make food ahead of time? Doesn’t that require cooking food twice — once to make it before you freeze it, and once to reheat it on the day you serve it? That sounds like double the kitchen time to me!
Listen. Don’t knock it ’til you’ve tried it.
The truth is that there are *some* recipes like that. There are also other recipes that simply have you assemble and freeze ingredients ahead of time so that on the day of, you’re actually defrosting and cooking them in one fell swoop.
What those readers are failing to take into account is all the prep time cooking in bulk saves you.
Imagine this scenario.
You’re making your favorite dish of zucchini lasagna. It takes time to slice the zucchini, time to brown the meat and make the sauce, time to assemble it, and time to cook it.
Now, imagine that you’re making three lasagnas at the same time. You’re still essentially spending the same amount of time to make three as you are one.
So, you and your family eat one, then you put two extra lasagnas in the freezer for later.
Next time you want a lasagna, there’s no prep work. You get it out of the freezer in the morning before you go to work; let it defrost all day in the fridge. When you get home, you pop it in the oven. No fuss. No mess.
You’ve saved time and energy!
Now multiply that even further. Imagine that you dedicate a few hours on Sunday afternoons to cooking and putting away meals. While one dish is cooking, you’re prepping another. If you’ve got several dishes that require ground beef, you can cook many pounds of it up at once. If you’ve got several dishes that require sliced carrots or diced onions, you can dice up as many of those veggies as you want all at once.
Think of all the time you’re saving in prep work and clean up by combining your cooking this way!
You see how the benefits multiply?
While I’m not a Paleo dieter, I am a huge fan of Paleo recipes. That’s because they have a lot of overlap with my own philosophy of ancestral nutrition.
When I see a Paleo recipe, I immediately know:
- It will use healthy, ancient fats like olive and coconut oils rather than modern seed-based canola or veggie oils.
- It will not contain improperly prepared grains.
- It will not contain refined sugars or flours.
- It will call for wild-caught and pasture-raised meats and seafood.
- It will likely use vegetables in new and creative ways.
All these are good things, and why I enjoy including Paleo recipes in my family’s meals.
So, how did I like Make Ahead Paleo?
I loved it.
If anyone’s new to the ancestral nutrition scene, the book begins with a reasonably good and well-written introduction to this way of eating.
The introductory section is also packed with useful tips & tricks for saving time & energy in the kitchen.
The heart of the book, though, is the recipes.
The recipes are divided into the following sections:
- Make & Freeze — Make ahead meals you can freeze and pull out later to serve.
- Low & Slow — Crockpot meals you can put in your slow cooker in the morning before heading out so that you can come home to a delicious lunch or dinner.
- On the Go — Excellent lunch and snack ideas that you can take with you.
- Room Service — Meals you can easily make in a hotel room while traveling.
- Travel Treats — Paleo sweet indulgences that easily keep & travel to office parties or soccer games.
- Week in a Day — A five day meal plan to show you how to cook once on Sunday and quickly throw together meals all week long.
My favorite recipes so far are:
- Sausage Stuffed Portabellos
- White Chicken Chili
- Roasted Tomato Bacon Soup
- Jicama Carrot Slaw with Grilled Steak
- Red Curry Steak Fajitas
- Pumpkin Pie Bars
Where to Buy Make Ahead Paleo
While this book is likely available in your favorite book store, you can also buy it online here.
Right now the book is selling on Amazon for a whopping 40% off!
Those prices are subject to change daily, so you may want to snag it while it’s this inexpensive.
Want to read more BOOK LOVE posts?
This is the second in a weekly Weekend Book Love Series.
Every weekend, I’m going to be reviewing one of the new books that comes my way.
(Seriously, I get about a dozen books each month from authors and publishers asking me to review them! It’s time I did something with my never-ending supply of interesting books and select the most awesome, most useful, most well-written of the lot to review.)