I’d been contemplating the paleo diet for a while before jumping on board, after all, if you spend half as much time as I do online on various CrossFit web sites, it is impossible to avoid all things paleo.
I had a couple of issues that were holding me back from trying it out, namely those old chesnuts time and money.
I was afraid that because I would no longer be able to have any protein powder or cottage cheese and yoghurt (no dairy on the paleo diet), my quick and easy meal staples would no longer be available and I would spend all day, every day in the kitchen. Not only are those foods easy, they are also relatively cheap and replacing them with meat as my main source of protein could get expensive.
I have pretty much now solved the above issues. The time factor is simply not as bad as I thought it would be. I usually spend 2-3 hours in the kitchen on Sunday prepping some meals for the week and 1-2 hours on Wednesday.
As far as the money issue goes, well this is a bit of a no-brainer really but it took me a while to get around to it. The quality of the food we eat is unbelievably important to our health and well being. As my girlfriend constantly tells me (justifiably I would reluctantly add), I am a miser at heart and absolutely hate spending money on anything. Plus I always operated from the standpoint that food (like rent) was a necessary expense and I wanted to spend as little money as possible, whilst getting as much as possible in return.
This is quite clearly a flawed position as food is not an expense, but an investment in health, performance, mood and general happiness. Now that I have adjusted to this point of view, I have absolutely no problem in investing a significant portion of my salary into good food.
I should also add there that I do try to save where possible and making my own nut butter (I have done almond and cashew so far) and jerky definitely makes a difference. In terms of shopping, I buy a lot of meat and fish from Manor which has a really oustanding selection. Manor can be very expensive, but they always have really good offers and if you stick to the discounted stuff there are always some really good bargains to be had.
If you are prepared to try some different protein sources, there is also cheaper meat and fish available. Rabbit is a good alternative to chicken in that it is very lean but not as dry as chicken, and pretty cheap.
In terms of fish there are some really good options from Lake Geneva which is about as fresh and local as it gets. Plus as far as I’m aware these fish are not farmed but caught wild, which means they have not been fattened up on grains and other non-fishy foods. Perche is pretty expensive, but brochet and fera are very reasonably priced and very tasty.
Here are some of my staple meals so far on the Paleo diet, which I started in January.
I usually eat eggs in the morning as they are quick and easy to prepare as well as absolutely delicious. I always go for scrambled with some avocado or veggies on the side. On a side note, for the love of God, don’t overcook your eggs – there is nothing worse than dry scrambled eggs!
I still eat like a bodybuilder in that I go for five or six meals per day rather than just three (I have been experimenting a bit with intermittent fasting but that is a topic for another post). That means I go for a snack around 11:00 which usually includes a decent protein source like beef jerky or hard boiled eggs (or my egg muffins), some healthy fats in the form of coconut milk (I could drink this stuff all day), almond butter or a handful of macadmias/cashews/pecans and maybe a piece of fruit like an apple or tangerine.
Lunch is normally a salad of some kind as it is quick and easy to throw together in the office. I keep some spinach and lettuce in the fridge and then just chuck on some protein (I have been doing a lot of chicken and salmon recently) and avocado or olives/olive oil for fat. I really love those tomatoes soaked in olive oil that you can get from decent supermarkets so I often buy those too.
I then have a couple of staples that I make a big batch of during my Sunday kitchen session. My favourite is a kind of cross between bolognese and chilli. I basically just fry up some minced beef with onions and garlic and throw in whatever veggies are available. It tastes different almost every time but usually turns out pretty well.
Recently I have been on a bit of a curry kick thanks to my newfound addiction to coconut milk. I don’t like hot curries, but some meat spiced up with garam masala, curry powder and ginger along with any veggies (green beans are good) and coconut milk tastes awesome. Plus it is easy to make a big batch and just eat it throughout the week.
For me this is a godsend, especially when you either wake up or get home from work and can’t be arsed to cook. Instead of edging towards the local kebab shop, I know I’ve got a decent meal in the fridge which I just have to zap in the microwave and it is ready to go.
This post is already a little longer than I intended, so I will add my thoughts and progress so far on the paleo diet tomorrow.