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Food prep burnout

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  • Food prep burnout

    I have been wheat free since mid-January and am half-way through PB and really like everything it's talking about. My problem is that I get sick or preparing food. I SAH with an almost 2yo and 4yo, so am responsible for their meals and snacks all day, plus my own and then dinner for my husband as well. I only cook one thing per meal, but it just gets exhausting to plan it all and prepare it all. My kids aren't real picky and are great with their fruits and veggies. Our budget is also extremely tight ($400/m for all food, cleaning, and personal care items). Any suggestions on keeping things palatable while decreasing prep time? Right now breakfast and dinners seem to take 30-60 minutes each and lunch 20-30 minutes.

  • #2
    Plan ahead cooking helps. Take a day and do all the prepping you need for the meals for the 7/15/30 time frame, then freeze. Then you are not doing it each and every day. I'd recommend a book but the one I found is from a local group donated to the library.


    • #3
      I try to always cook enough for two meals--leftovers help.
      age 56, type 2 diabetes, swimmer
      low carb since 2006 thanks to Jenny, primal since Jan. 2012


      • #4
        My crock pot saves me when it comes to dinners. I'm a SAHM of 4 with a tight budget as well. It helps to cook a bunch of meat and boiled eggs ahead of time for lunches and such. My kids also love tuna from a can- that's pretty quick. I also cook enough for leftovers which we often divvy out for lunch. Dinners take prep time. They just do. Real food takes preparation. We're conditioned to want food to just be ready and easy. When I get sick of it, I try to remind myself that at least I don't have to hunt it down, kill it and clean it every day! I feel you on the burnout, but it helps me if I make things that can be started and forgotten until the timer goes off. Roasted whole chicken, crock pot shredded pork, beef roast, stew. Those type of things often stretch to more than one meal as well. Then just toss some chopped veg with melted butter and roast it for 10 minutes. I also like to have ground beef or chicken cooked and ready in the fridge to toss on a salad on days when I just can't do an hour in the kitchen again.
        I hope any of that helps.
        You don't have to be sick to get better.
        Female, 31 years old, 5'8"
        Primal start: 1/2/2012
        My Primal Journal
        Living, loving and learning.


        • #5
          Can you share examples of what recipes you're using? What breakfast takes 30 minutes to make? I know some recipes take 60 min from start to finish, but that includes cooking time where you dont have to stand and watch.

          I highly recommend the cookbook Everyday Paleo. Not only are the recipes straightforward and family-friendly, but she gives entire weekly menus that encourage you to batch cook for use different ways throughout the week. You might make egg muffins one day, but eat them 3 days that week. A large hunk of meat in the crockpot for dinner one day becomes filling for lettuce wraps the next.

          I think getting into the habit of thinking about where your next meal is going to come from is hard for people coming from the 'heat & eat' world. I can't stress enough about the benefits of cooking in batches and planned leftovers.
          *My obligatory intro

          There are no cheat days. There are days when you eat primal and days you don't. As soon as you label a day a cheat day, you're on a diet. Don't be on a diet. ~~ Fernaldo



          • #6
            I just put everything in the pan and put it on medium and check on it every few minutes. Add enough fat to keep it moist and you can basically neglect it for a good twenty minutes and it'll be done.
            Crohn's, doing SCD


            • #7
              I think you are overdoing it a little, perhaps. It only takes me 15 minute to cook breakfast for myself/kiddo, and frequently its only because I have to do two seperate things. He won't eat spicy sausage.

              Only a suggestion, but try to cook some eggs (with or without bacon/ham) & have fruit in am, for lunch prep it while you are cooking eggs/bacon/ham. Throw together salads & meat (cook a whole turkey or turkey breasts on weekend, slice & refridge) w/or w/o fruit, w/dressing on side (save little tiny jars w/lids) so it won't spoil lettuces/veggies.

              Dinners just take time. Cook much more than you need and at least only cook 3-4 times a week instead of every night. If you aren't used to cooking, it gets easier. Sometimes (and this is true for most nights) it is all about just getting something healthy in and not making a fuss. You will find paleo staple recipies over time that are quick and satisfying. Other nights or mornings on the weekends, you may want to cook a fancier meal, and thats great.

              Suggestions of meals I make and cannot live without:
              primal spaghetti & meatballs (video recipie on this website using cauliflower for "noodles" or spaghetti squash, and homemade meatballs. Buy jarred sauce that is all natural)
              tuna salad (yes, we all have our fave recipie for this, use homemade mayo - only takes 1 minute to make)
              chicken salad (chances are you have a fave already)
              roast a whole turkey or breast on weekend. OR make a pot roast. It will be a meat source for lunches during the week.
              almond butter w/celery & apples
              plain greek yoghurt & fruit (it has more protein)
              coconut milk smoothies (tons of recipies on this site)
              taco meat and soarise's manioc "flour" tortillas w/fixins (make tons of this, then eat several nights a week)
              soups - oh my gosh can you stretch a soup! And by saving meat bones in your freezer you can make all kinds!!! Super quick and easy, filled with veggies, and so good for you!

              Another time saver: put together a cookbook from this and other paleo sites, with print out recipies bound in a 3 ring binder. Make divider tabs for the different types. Then you can plan meals easier. They don't have to be complicated recipies either, just things to jog your memory: like when you are standing in your kitchen going, what to eat now?? Make a section for that, even, just things to make that you know how to do already and are quick.

              Thats about all I got. Just make it work for you. I did used to spend a lot more time cooking these things than I used to, I think because I thought I would quit doing it if the recipies weren't fun and new, since I was denying myself grains/sugar. Then I realized that it doesn't have to be that difficult and I switched to easier meals with "fun" meals on the weekends.

              It helped me to remember that when my parents were growing up there was only one set menu for every night of the week. Example, monday was ham, tuesday was ham & green beans and mac/cheese, wednesday was pot roast, etc. They didn't eat a big variety of foods, but they ate healthy foods & regular veggies/fruits. It wasn't exciting every day or night
              Last edited by EvansMom; 04-17-2012, 05:15 PM.


              • #8
                I cook at least 3 to 4 meal's worth at a time. Then I can live off leftovers for a while. Sometimes up to a few days if I cooked enough.
                “You may have thought you heard me say I wanted a lot of bacon and eggs, but what I said was: Give me all the bacon and eggs you have.” - Ron Swanson


                • #9
                  Thanks for all of the thoughts. We do use our crockpot, but as summer approaches that is dwindling. As for what takes me 30 minutes to prepare, it's mostly the chopping that ends up taking so long. For breakfast, chopping up peppers, mushrooms, spinach, etc to put into scrambled eggs, then cutting up strawberries to go along with that and bacon/sausage to be sure the kids will eat something. We've been doing soups but the kids end up eating next to nothing those nights because it's just hard for them to eat without spilling. Plus when it's 75/80 soup just doesn't sound so good.
                  I'm not a huge recipe person in general, just throwing things together as the mood strikes. Last night I did stuffed peppers - red/orange filled coconut oil, cream cheese, and chicken - with a side of green beans (knew the kids would eat the beans). As the weather gets nicer I don't want to have to babysit an oven baking our dinner, will need to expand our grillable foods. Just can't seem to afford steak or thick pork chops. Will have to sit down tomorrow with the ads and see what we can do to minimize prep.


                  • #10
                    I love to cook BUT I do find that I at times get tired of cooking! This is the one thing I warn anyone who is thinking about going primal or paleo. You don't eat PROCESSED food. Therefore, you have to COOK your own food. I have been doing this for almost 2 years. Sometimes I just want to say...screw it and go BUY a burger AND I have done that. I don't eat the roll though! LOL Seriously, it is worth all the cooking but I think we humans get tired of anything if we do it too long!!!!


                    • #11
                      As mentioned earlier, make enough for leftovers. Also, while your kids definitely shouldn't be skipping meals, you and your husband could possibly do intermittent fasting and skip a meal. Just make sure you eat enough in the other two meals to make up for the missed calories.


                      • #12
                        I do all of my chopping on Sundays. I invested in some quality storage containers and chop up a whole bag of onions, some peppers, mushrooms, asparagus and whatever else we might want to throw into a recipe and there it is, in the fridge and ready to use.

                        Also, as far as soup goes, in the summer time, nothing beats a good ole gazpacho...cold and yummy!
                        5'10" HW 264 (9/15/2011) PSW 238 (4/9/2012) CW 231 GW 165


                        • #13
                          Food prep is king (I suck at it) and including your children in prep is an awesome thing. My four year old loves to help me pull kale leaf off the stem. I bring a bowl over to the kitchen table, we then take a bunch each and start pulling apart and the wife will sometimes joins us. You will be shocked how much you can let your children help and after a few sessions let them semi-independently do tasks such as the above while you prep other stuff beside them. Look at making an activity of it on Sunday’s storing veggies nicely cut up in storage containers in your fridge until needed.

                          Another thing I love about this time of year is my Charcoal Grill; last night I got home and the pork butt roast I had applied a rub to that morning before I left for work got smoked for about 3 hours (little late dinner then expected, but oh well). After the initial 15 minutes of searing each side and then dropping the temp of the grill down and throwing in some soaked apple wood I would just check and turn every 30 – 45 minutes. The rest of the time I spent prepping stuff in the kitchen and/or spending time w/ the family. Easy! And guess what? That roast was to die for and I did not lose out on time w/ the family!



                          • #14
                            You might think about a mandoline for quick chopping (you mentioned it is time consuming). They are so easy! Mine is from Williams-Sonoma, and its nothing fancy. Just a blade w/cover and adjustable thickness. Get a good one, but not a complicated one and they will last & last.

                            Mandolines take the time out of food prep. NOt to mention that I just rinse it down (only veggies/fruits) and store again. Then do chopping/salad prep on weekends along with making some meat for quick lunches, and you are set!


                            • #15
                              I feel you completely on this, plus we live in an RV so I have to shop frequently and don't have much freezer/fridge space, and the crock pot isn't getting as much use now that the highs have been hitting the 90's... Just bought a charcoal grill, but steaks are expensive--we'll probably do a lot of burgers and chicken. I feel like my entire day is spent cooking sometimes. You've gotten some great suggestions, I plan on using some of them myself. Chopping veggies etc. ahead will definitely save me space in the fridge. I didn't even think to have my daughter help, she's 4 but I bet she could handle snapping beans, tearing kale, stuff like that. I like to make pans of mini breakfast muffins (egg, sausage, kale, tomato, cheese) in the oven on Sunday--I make more than one batch (I only have a toaster oven), so that we have them in the fridge/freezer for the rest of the week. Lunches are rolled cheese and lunch meat and/or tuna salad, I keep snacky veggies, fruit, and lunchmeat stocked at all times. I also cheat and buy frozen veggies sometimes, organic or clean 15.