Paleo Batch Cooking: How I Make 12+ Meals in 2 Hours

paleo batch cooking game-plan for just two hours of work

What is my Paleo batch cooking routine?

I’m frequently asked by readers for healthy cooking tips for a busy lifestyle. Cooking nourishing food from scratch is a top priority in my life, since I use the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol to manage my autoimmune disease. That means I prepare 100% of my food at home, but I have to do it in a way that minimizes preparation time so I have enough time for the rest of my life. The solution for me? Paleo batch cooking.  

Fresh, seasonal and local when possible

I tailor my meals to what is in season, however sometimes I rely on certain frozen veggies as staples. Seasonal eating has it’s virtues, but when you’re following a highly restricted diet like the Autoimmune Paleo Protocol (is anyone raising their hand with me?), then seasonality is not always possible.

Those of you who are familiar with my cooking philosophy will probably guess that I source what I can locally from organic/biodynamic farmers, farmer’s markets, my CSA, and my organic food coop. This is something about which I’m enthusiastic, and even though I’m on a budget, sourcing these ingredients is a priority for me. I always encourage others to do the same, buying local when they possible. The most important things to get organic are the Dirty Dozen produce. I also strongly, strongly recommend purchasing your protein sources like eggs, beef, chicken and fish from pastured/grassfed/wild caught animals.

My typical Paleo Batch Cooking Session

Paleo Batch Cooking Shopping List 

  • Numerous bunches of seasonal leafy greens such as chard, mustard greens, dandelion greens, collards, kale and beet greens. I often mix-and-match – for example, I’ll tame the sharper flavor of mustard greens with mild chard. If fresh greens aren’t available, I’ll use frozen spinach or kale.
  • Root vegetables, usually beets (kill two birds with one stone and save the beet greens!). Also carrots, rutabaga, turnips, celeriac or parsnips
  • Sweet potatoes – my primary source of starch, I enjoy using different varieties of sweet potatoes. My favorite are japanese sweet potatoes, which are sweet and creamy
  • Fresh or frozen broccoli or cauliflower – Often, I rely on organic frozen cauliflower or organic frozen broccoli because of the convenience factor. Sometimes, I’ll use fresh/frozen green beans instead.
  • 1 (or 2) pastured chickens
  • 1 (or 2) pounds of grassfed ground beef
  • Sometimes I’ll cook wild Alaskan salmon, pastured liver or alternative protein instead of the chicken or beef
  • Condiment ingredients like fresh herbs, avocado, lemon, limes, coconut oil, etc.

paleo batch cooking game-plan for just two hours of work

1. Get ready

I set aside about 2 hours to knock out a significant portion of my cooking for the week. First and foremost, I have a snack or meal prior to getting started. You do not want low-blood-sugar-induced irritability for your batch cooking session!

Next, I get the counters cleared off and make sure my cooking utensils and materials are on-hand.

Then I turn on Pandora – my favorite channel right now is broadway songs – and I’m ready to roll :-)

2. Start chicken and beef

I preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Meanwhile, I place the chicken(s) in a baking dish and surround them with large pieces of carrots, parsnips, rutabaga, other root veggies or a combination.  As far as seasoning, I just sprinkle on some salt and whatever dried herbs I have on hand and call it a day. I bake the chicken and veggies for 45-60 minutes.

To make meatballs, I throw the beef directly into a baking dish (to save dirtying a bowl) and add salt and dried herbs. The mix with my hands, roll into meatballs and pop into the oven. They cook for about 30 minutes, until done.

For variation, I’ll bake wild salmon fillets or another type of wild fish. Sometimes I use ground organic turkey in place of the beef.

paleo batch cooking game-plan for just two hours of work3. Make chicken broth

After removing the cooked chicken from the carcass, I place the carcass into crockpot and cover with water. I add 1 Tbs. of apple cider vinegar, which helps pull beneficial minerals into the broth. I cook on LOW for 24-48 hours before straining, cooling and storing in jars in the fridge. (Alternatively, freeze the broth if you won’t use it within 4 days.

4. Prepare leafy greens

While the protein is baking, I steam my leafy greens. Do not combine collards or kale with softer greens such as chard/mustard greens/beet greens/dandelion greens. The “softer” greens steam only for a few minutes. The collards or kale need to simmer with broth or water for 30 minutes or more. Here are directions for cooking collards and kale.

One done, I drain the greens and often I’ll puree them with a knob of ghee, a splash of apple cider vinegar and salt. You could add coconut milk/cream for creamed greens, too.

 5. Bake the root vegetables and sweet potatoes

After the chicken and beef are out of the oven, I increase the oven temp to 450. I use my method for baking the perfect sweet potatoes here. Along with the sweet potatoes, I’ll throw the beets into the oven. First, I wrap them in a layer of parchment paper then a layer of foil.

After an hour, the beets and sweet potatoes are usually done. Turn off the oven as directed in the roasted sweet potato recipe and leave the beets and potatoes in there for at least 30 minutes.

Remove the peels from the sweet potatoes and beets. I mash up the sweet potatoes with cinnamon and coconut butter (this stuff, not to be confused with coconut oil) before storing in the fridge.

After peeling the beets, I coarsely chop them, add a splash of apple cider vinegar, a dash of salt, and bit of freshly grated ginger. This beet-ginger salad deepens in flavor after a day or more in the fridge.

6. Cook the broccoli or cauliflower

You may be familiar with Mashed Faux-Tatoes, which is mashed cauliflower that looks and tastes like the “real thing.” I’d like to introduce you to the green version of Faux-Tatoes: broccoli pureé! The name may sound cringe-worthy, but the dish is vaguely similar to mashed potatoes in constancy and boasts a very mild flavor.

I steam the broccoli/cauliflower until tender, drain and pureé with ghee, salt, and organic garlic powder. Doctor it up with whatever herbs or seasonings you have on hand.

 7. Fridge is filled with meals!

With about 2 hours in the kitchen, I’ve filled my fridge with vegetables, proteins, paleo-friendly carbs, and chicken broth that usually lasts me for 4 days of breakfast, lunch and dinner – that’s at least 12 meals! Cooking and eating this way allows me to address my chronic health issues without medication while still enjoying time for blogging, school and the rest of life.

Do you do batch cooking sessions? What do you cook – any similar ingredients as me? 

Get the Empowered Sustenance Newsletter

Join 30,000 others and receive recipes, wellness tips and my e-cookbook Grain Free Holiday Feast delivered to your inbox!

Some of the ads on this site are served by AdChoices and, as a result, I do not necessarily recommend the advertised products. The revenue from the ads makes it possible for me to continue blogging, so I appreciate your understanding.

Comments

        • suzanne says

          I recently had to replace my old toaster oven. After some research I got at Panasonic Infrared Toaster Oven. You don’t even have to pre-heat, its really hot right away. No weird coating inside the oven. It is square in shape, not rectangle like the typical toaster oven. Reviews are great. I got mine directly off the panasonic website. One negative for me, is the flat pan it comes with. I put it in dishwasher and that metal doesn’t do well with that. A grey “residue” rubs off. Did my research on that also. You will have to look into that as I can’t remember specifics. I cook my fish in a small glass dish with a glass lid to eliminate fats splattering on the interior and the heating rods. A filet of wild salmon cooks nicely in a small corning ware dish at 390 for 20 min. I do not use foil. Love this oven as others have stated also. It comes in black or white.

  1. Laura says

    I love this and will definitely need to do something like this myself. It’s so much easier to stick with eating this way if the food is prepped and ready to go or reheat easily.

    Thanks for laying out your procedure.

  2. Rose says

    Thank you so much – this is immensely helpful!! I’m getting ready to have a baby and this will help me both at the end of pregnancy and as baby arrives. A couple questions: Do you eat the coconut butter/sweet potato puree cold or reheat? What do you do with the chicken you pull off the bones? I can imagine but would love to hear your ideas. And, how do you use your broth? Do you just drink it with meals or make other things? Thanks again.

    • says

      Great questions :) I like the sweet potato mash cold or warmed. I take the chicken off the bones. At meal times, I’ll often reheat a portion of chicken by sautéing it in ghee with some herbs. The chicken broth is handy to have on-hand for making soups, otherwise I drink it with meals.

  3. says

    Thank You, for this post, it is Extremely helpful! I have two questions: how large is the chicken that you cook for 45-60 minutes at 350 degrees, and is it whole or in pieces?

    I usually bake a whole 2-pound chicken at 400 degrees for 1 hour; if the bird is heavier then I add 1/2-hour for each additional 1/2-pound.

    At 350-degrees I bake a whole chicken at 1/2-pound per hour, so a 2-pound whole chicken would bake 4 hours at 350-degrees.

    So, I find that it’s faster to bake a 2-pound bird for 1 hour at 400-degrees. I’m eager to hear the details of your chicken-baking, as I’m wondering if it’s the same or different from mine, and if different then why, & should I change…http://mooremusicedstudio.blogspot.com/p/books-im-reading.html

      • Glenda says

        Thanks, Lauren. Your birds must be under 2 lbs on average, I would guess. I buy only grass-fed & pastured meats, too–yum! and worth every penny, more satisfying to eat so a little goes a long way, plus much better health for us.

        Thanks again!

        • Ali says

          I wondered about this too. I buy organic Smart Chickens and they are 3-4lbs. I wondered if Lauren was advising way undercooked chicken!

          For a 3-4lb bird, you can do it in one hour, breast-side down, like so:

          500 deg 15 minutes
          450 deg 15 minutes
          Baste with drippings.
          425 deg 30 minutes.

          This is not fun in summer – a toaster oven outside becomes your outdoor kitchen, but chicken poaching in the summer is an easy way to do it, too. Takes less than an hour on stovetop with water (or broth) heating for only 15 minutes or so.
          http://www.chefdarin.com/2011/04/why-boiled-chicken-is-bad/

  4. Sheila H. says

    I wish I could cook only 2 meats, alas, my whole family eats AIP food for dinner. However, I do batch cook AIP oatmeal, brussel sprout hash, and sweet potato hash for breakfasts and lunches. Other great things are to rice a cauliflower to quickly sauté and chop a zucchini (or 3) for a quick steam or grill.

  5. Sue Keck says

    What a wonderful structure you have created — simple and highly productive– thank you for sharing it! It is also Inspiring and sustaining. : )

  6. Diana VP says

    Brilliant Lauren!
    Does this work for easily distracted cooks too? (LOL)

    A word of caution regarding the recommendation to use foil on the bottom of the oven. Several websites state that using foil on the bottom can cause trapped heat, fire hazard, and void the warranty. Aluminum foil is flammable and can spark and/or melt! (http://amysayscook.com/safely-use-aluminum-foil-toaster-oven)

    Safe baking! :)

  7. Rachael Tvrdy says

    Lauren! I’ve been amazed by your blog for months!! I am a missionary in my mid-twenties and I am absolutely a scatterbrain, and really struggle with eating my Paleo AIP diet. I am doing GAPS now, but out of curiousity, when did you add in sweet potatoes again? I am healing candida as well- so all those things ex-nay sweet potaters.

  8. Mary Ellen Duda says

    I applaud your efforts, but as a caterer & personal chef it is impossible to do all you do in 2 hours. Especially since you are creating 21 meals AND you never address clean up!! Sometimes that can take another hour to wash, dry & put away all the big items that do not fit into the dishwasher (if you have one).
    We both know the key to cooking is timing & organization. Your posting will help many with the organization, but timing (without any distractions) is more realistically 3 hours (w/out clean up).

    On another note, I do like your postings on FB & emails. I read mostly all, however sometimes life happens & I have to skip one.
    Thanks for your time,
    Mary Ellen

  9. says

    I love cooking ahead, it makes the week so much easier! I’ve been making raw energy bars, salads and dressings, and smoothies, but I haven’t done much for batch cooking yet. Great post Lauren! :)

  10. Madelyn says

    Lauren you are the best! Thank you for all you do for your readers! Your articles, recipes and photos are top notch!! This is exactly the kind of post that inspires me and keeps me going when I feel overwhelmed with AIP :) Much, much gratitude from a mom and toddler on AIP

  11. says

    I love all of the ingredients you use for your cook up.

    I would feel quite comfortable with all of these and would not feel in any way deprived having this food to come home to.

    In New Zealand we have a sweet potato called kumara – soft yellow flesh, creamy – very nice and great alternative to white potato.

    Thanks for sharing.

  12. says

    Great post, you have inspired me to do some “batch cooking” too :D you are so organized! I read so much about the health benefits of bone broth that I want to try it, but cooking bones for 2 days just seems kinda gross, but maybe I could try it as a soup base like you said you do. Also, do you remove the foamy stuff that gets on the top of the bone broth while it is cooking?

    • KarenL says

      Maggie, It was recommended to me that I have bone broth daily so went about making my first batch. It tasted awful but I powered through each and every cup! Later on, I accidentally diluted the broth and it was so much better! So, for me, I always dilute it down a bit and add my spices (sea salt, pepper, onion, garlic) and let it steep (don’t boil it) for a few minutes in order to melt the Tbsp coconut oil I put in before drinking.
      And yes, do skim off the froth.

  13. says

    How do you eat these once they’re done? Do you just eat “as-is” (apart from heating where appropriate)?

    I’m on a diet that’s pretty similar to AIP, and I am not only starving, I HATE it. I’m really tired of eating the same 2-3 dry meats over and over and over. I feel like my entire life revolves around food – that I don’t even LIKE – and I would LOVE to find a workable solution!

    • Ali says

      Rachel, if you’re eating chicken, it doesn’t have to be dry. Whether you want to roast or poach, I posted two moist-retaining methods above (one is a link, and for roasting, I add fat under chicken skin before roasting, breast-down in pan – no rack – to absorb extra juices).

      I hate dry meat too. Noone should have to eat dry meat. Everyone should receive pleasure from eating (obviously and sadly, this only applies to the First World).

    • Tanya says

      I hate dry meat, too. The secret is to NOT overcook it.

      A whole chicken is done when an instant read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh is 170 (for me, that ensures that there is no blood).

      Be sure to roast your whole chickens breast side down to ensure that the white meat doesn’t dry out.

      If you are cooking boneless chicken breasts, 160 is done, and 165 for breasts with bones.

      Also, never allow your chicken to be boiled, either in a stock pot or in a broth or sauce. Boiling chicken makes it very dry.

      Hope this helps a bit.

  14. Liz Edgaro says

    Awesome, Lauren! This is how I also spend a couple hours every Sunday getting ready for the work week. It’s cool to see the whole procedure written out as you have it here. I remember the first couple of times I did batch cooking it felt like a culinary hurricane – pretty overwhelming. Now it’s easier to think about. This post will be so helpful for so many readers, including me :)

  15. Joyce says

    Great ideas! I cook for 5 among 3 generations so it’s difficult to fully batch. Make a big pressure cooker pot of grassfed beef bone broth every 2 weeks or so. (See Nom Nom paleo blog for details.)
    Get a big CSA box weekly and prep the veggies right away so they’re ready for cooking/salads etc. plus my garden.
    I love the meatball ideas/herb spice combos in Well Fed 2 by Melissa Joulwan. Sometimes bake a big batch on weekend.
    I try to keep a meat defrost bowl filled in the frig but quick thaw in a pinch. Use more economical ground meats.
    We eat pastured eggs….quick and easy to incorporate leftover veggies.
    I’m retired now so have more free time than most!

  16. angela says

    great idea! just wondering for those unfamiliar with your meals, if you could please actually list the 21 meals you would get from this big cookup? thanks!

  17. says

    Hi Lauren, thank you for another great article!

    Some questions:

    – I am always worried that cooking in advance will have two negative side effects: 1) the food will get mouldy (even when it’s not visible yet, Candida diets always stress this point) 2) the process of heating and reheating will cause the food to lose nutrients. Is this true? What are your thoughts?

    – Do you store all of this in the fridge or also in the freezer? I had the same question when I read “Well Fed”. I can eat something that was prepared yesterday, but I can’t imagine eating stuff that was prepared 3 or 4 days ago.

    _ How about the histamine in meats that were prepared and then cooled down?

    Looking forward to your answers!!!

    PS I cook paleo and AIP for 3 people, if I want to prepare all in advance, I’ll need a bigger fridge :-)

  18. Ashley says

    After you’ve cooked all this, do you just eat it as is? or do you have a ‘meal plan’ to go with it? Such as Day 1: chicken pieces, greens and rice. Day 2 chicken salad with pureed broccoli.. .and so on?

  19. Katrina says

    Wondering what you do with the pureed greens? Do you just eat it that way? I’m not sure I could do it… but I’d like to use more greens especially since I get them in my CSA box and I don’t really love salads… I usually juice them and add to a smoothie but I think cooking them would be easier on my gut.

  20. AnnMarie Gazsi says

    Lauren, I applaud you. I’m 78, have had lots of kitchen experience, but this post inspired me to try your batch cooking. My son, who is a Natureopathic Physician, introduced me to your newsletter about one year ago and I totally enjoy you and have learned quite a lot from you. God bless.

  21. Sally says

    Hi Lauren, I have 4 kids home educating and I’m studying and running the house, so I batch cook. I generally take a day of cooking. I cook and freeze in individual portions so my girls can say what they want each evening and it goes into the oven from the freezer, a la carte, according to the house menu :-) Currently we have 8 or 9 things on offer (as well as things that can just be flung in to roast … such as fish). I keep a count of what is used so that I can replenish stocks of dishes as they run low. It also makes it fun because I get to cook new things and most nights I only have to prepare salad or veg to go with our meals. I freeze portions in tubs (all the same size) and then pop them out and wrap them, to conserve space. Then we have oven dishes the same size too. Batch cooking is very liberating. :-) I tend to add a lot of things in to my meals too … things that my children don’t eat otherwise. :-)

  22. says

    Love this post! Yesterday was the first time I took my hand at batch cooking, thanks to this article!!. I love to cook and do it frequently, but now that my son has started kindergarten it’s important for me to spend as much time with him as possible after getting home from school. Being that I work from home as a real estate agent, batch cooking during the day while he’s at school only makes since. Thank you so much for posting this article. I myself learned that I have Candida Albicans, so paleo cooking has become my new lifestyle. It’s definitely more time consuming, but I love it so much more and you’re site is great for it! Thanks so much!

  23. Sierra says

    Thank you for this!! Question- Do you store any of your meals in the freezer (like if you cook for a month ahead of time? And if so, do you have any ideas on what to store the meals in (aside from plastic!)? Lately I’ve been using mason jars or glass tupperware to keep quiche batter or soup in but I’m wondering if there is a better way. Thanks!

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *