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.
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.
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?