Marks Daily Apple
Serving up health and fitness insights (daily, of course) with a side of irreverence.
16 May

Why It’s Important to Cook Your Own Meals

chefWhen was the last time you made a great meal? From-scratch prep, serious gratification result. This morning? Last week? Last month? Although I imagine Primal folks cook much more often than most non-Primal types, we all get caught up in the busyness of life. Eating – even healthy eating – often gets boiled down to convenience and strategy. I get it. Few of us have the luxury of basking in culinary ventures at every meal (myself included), but I do find real cooking to be an underappreciated indulgence – and there’s the rub.

Why, as a larger culture, have we chosen to forgo so many of these gifts – taking extra time to shop for better food, creating meals together, lingering at the table? For example, we can look at statistics that say the average American spends only 27 minutes on food preparation each day and wonder – are we really that busy? What are we rushing off to? Then we see average T.V. viewing is 151 hours a month! (How is this even possible?) Clearly, our priorities are royally screwed up.

Of all the things we can do for our health, many (if not most) are just outright enjoyable, pleasurable even. Connecting with our food can be exactly that – from absorbing the joys of gardening to relishing the sensory delights of great recipes to reclaiming the social hour for dinner. As for cooking itself, learning to cook is just one of those essential human skills. It was an evolutionary linchpin. Our hominid brains as well as our bodies benefited from the chance to access new food sources that were only available to our ancestors through cooking. And it wasn’t just about heat. As we learned to adapt food sources in other ways such as soaking, curing, fermenting and smoking we had more options for calories and nutrition. Yet, it was more than that.

According to anthropological interpretation of surviving evidence, the ritual of food preparation for our hunter-gatherer kin started tens of thousands of years ago in meat sharing practices. (Evidence of large scale feasts date back at least 12,000 years, proving Grok and his buds really knew how to throw a good dinner party.) The point is, even in those “short and brutish” days, it wasn’t all kill the beast, chop it up, and eat it. Food preparation, merging into ceremony, took on a social and cultural life of its own beyond consumption.

In every human society since, there’s been rich and varied tradition associated with food preparation. Religions of nearly every brand have food related rituals regarding how meals are to be prepared, shared, or timed. We see it still in the age-old practices that keep food Kosher or in the preparation of feasts for our most treasured holidays, in the tradition of serving a meal following a wedding or burial. Some cultures, like the Greeks, even have specific foods customary for the burial event.

Even today, there are few things so resoundingly primal as preparing food to create meals (for large or small scale). There are the smells, the blood and the flames. There are the messy hands, drunken senses (literal or figurative depending on how much of the cooking wine you tested), the heightened, tactile creativity. Is cooking essential to the Primal Blueprint? I’d say you have a hard time getting around it without a Primally trained personal chef (there’s a thought). Cooking, on some level, is necessary for the PB and is beneficial to a profound degree.

Eating in is in almost every case healthier (and much more economical). Most of us would be hard pressed to find a Primal restaurant near us (they do exist), and even in better restaurants with local and organic suppliers, there are the still the question marks lingering on the menu. What kind of oil do they use for cooking? What kind of cookware? While I enjoy going out and have no intention of forgoing that pleasure, there’s a certain peace in knowing every facet of my dinner. Compared to the larger landscape of conventional “dine out” choices, you’re astronomically better off eating in.

The better cooks we are, the richer and more varied our diets can be. The principle worked for our ancestors’ collective health, and it applies to us individually today. Like our ancestors, the right techniques open up new food possibilities for us – like cheaper and otherwise tougher cuts of meat. Additionally, many foods may be wholly uninspiring on their own but become fast favorites when paired with the right sauce or some novel herbs. As we expand our repertoire, we lessen the chance that we’ll get bored with our choices.

A few key cooking techniques and kitchen skills can go a long way in making our Primal dishes healthier and more satisfying. You get a lot of mileage, for example, in terms of both flavor and nutrition when you can make your own batches of bone broth and use them creatively with meat dishes, sautèed vegetables, or basic sauces. Braising opens up a whole new world with certain meats. Roasting can make certain vegetables glorious that you wouldn’t touch steamed. Playing with fats and incorporating them into – well, everything – can give your food levels of flavor that will confound your dinner guests and satisfy you to no culinary end. The end result of all these endeavors just might be you, Primal chef, developing a nuanced palate and kitchen wizardry you couldn’t ever imagine wanting – let alone having. What do you know – you got skills. And a damned good dinner at that.

Thanks for reading, everyone. What do you think? Could you be Primal and not cook your own meals? Did you come to Primal living with a penchant for cooking, or did you learn along the way? Have you discovered an appreciation for time spent in the kitchen? Have a good end to the week.

You want comments? We got comments:

Imagine you’re George Clooney. Take a moment to admire your grooming and wit. Okay, now imagine someone walks up to you and asks, “What’s your name?” You say, “I’m George Clooney.” Or maybe you say, “I’m the Clooninator!” You don’t say “I’m George of George Clooney Sells Movies Blog” and you certainly don’t say, “I’m Clooney Weight Loss Plan”. So while spam is technically meat, it ain’t anywhere near Primal. Please nickname yourself something your friends would call you.

  1. I’v cooked every meal for months now. Not only can I avoid non-primal substances this way, but the food tastes far better too!

    Steve wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • I agree on the substances. And it feel just good to go ‘hunt’ you own primal food and cook it yourself! hurray!

      Petra wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • My mom got us all cooking from childhood. I’ve been doing it for 60+ years, and we eat better, less costly, than so many folk we know who were not brought up in the family kitchen. And, for any of you young guys out there, girls love a guy who can produce a good meal. It’s as good as playing a guitar.

      Peter Lawton wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Here! Here!
      I love to cook, I find it relaxing. I like thinking about food and what I’m going to eat..
      And I’ve found more satisfaction from cooking primally. Maybe it’s the need to be more creative without relying on “staple” ingredients like flour, rice, etc, finding new ways to cook, new spices/herbs, trying new ingredients.
      Necessity is the mother of invention.

      Madeleine wrote on May 16th, 2013
  2. Since turning Primal, I don’t even like the taste of food at restaurants. Now, back to stirring the pot!

    Nocona wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Right on–aside from being suspicious of the sources of veggies, meats, and oils, I often come away underwhelmed…DIY is best!

      Tom B-D wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • I also tend to come away underwhelmed. It’s so expensive, I can’t eat much on the menu, and I usually end up thinking: this is it?

        Massive exception, that’s fun once or twice a year: Upscale Brazilian Restaurant. Hmm…many meats on a stick.

        Amy wrote on May 16th, 2013
        • Oh you lucky duck! I’ve only been fortunate enough to eat at a Brazilian BBQ place once, and those skewers of meat (and the carts full of things like turkey wrapped in bacon) are still fond memories nearly ten years later.

          GW wrote on May 16th, 2013
        • Heh heh. Meats on a stick. : )

          Madama Butterfry wrote on May 17th, 2013
        • Not really a stick more like a 1m long metallic skewer which to me looks like a sword anyway…

          Drolling just thinking about it!!

          Nonetheless the price for a person is way expensive cos how much can u eat at one seating plus the veggies side are either overcooked either plain as lettuce and cucumber…

          Better fire up the BBQ, groks!!!!

          Ionela wrote on June 3rd, 2013
    • So true. I can taste the difference in CAFO and pastured meat, not to mention seed oils and healthy fats. It just isn’t that enjoyable to eat out anymore. Luckily I love cooking and consider it a pleasure to cook for my family.

      Ruth wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Same here. We have spoiled ourselves with CLEAN Primal eating. We are lucky that we have a lot of restaurants locally we can still go to and eat primally, but even so, home cooking is preferred.

      Pure Hapa wrote on May 16th, 2013
  3. I’ve always loved cooking. It’s a skill that can be used to bring people together and, when done properly, improve the health of those who dine with you. In terms of primal life, there is no possible way to eat 100% natural foods unless you cook them yourself.

    Jayson Feltner wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Totally agree – home prepared meals and sociable eating should be at the centre of every contented life. Nothing nicer than knowing you cooked from basic ingredients…. well except when you also grew and/or reared it of course!

      Sally wrote on May 16th, 2013
  4. I love to cook and eat food, and one thing about “diets” in the past was that cooking was depressing… you know, the whole low fat thing. Eating primal is like every foodies dream come true. When you dig into seared duck breast with a side of spinach and turnips cooked in duck fat, and it’s a meal that you know is promoting health, it’s like a giant epic win. I remember being low fat and trying to like oatmeal and make “healthy” oatmeal. And it always was like glue. But with primal, my breakfast the other day was eggs scrambled with bacon, asparagus and humboldt fog goat cheese. I don’t even know why anyone would bother with Perkins or Denny’s when you can eat a bowl of that.
    I do still enjoy eating out at really great restaurants on occasion. But for the most part…. I know I can make better food at home.

    Maggie wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Amen to that. I was on Weight Watchers for a couple of years, and low-fatting everything was awful, not to mention the fact that this sort of “segregated” my food from my family’s. I got one thing that no one (including me) wanted, and everyone else got “normal” food. With Primal cooking, I make food everyone wants to share!

      Even the restaurants in my area that might have Primal-friendly food items use non-Primal cooking oils– canola oil by the bucket! All the taquerias proudly advertise that they use no lard, and many Indian restaurants use veg oil rather than ghee. Some of the fancier restaurants are starting to use duck fat as a cooking oil, but that’s rare (and usually expensive).

      Back to my ghee-fried pastured eggs and spinach!

      BonzoGal wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • True, homemade is much better. The ingredients are usually fresher, and there are no hidden ingredients. You know exactly what you’re eating.

      That said, sometimes it’s necessary or even desirable to eat at a restaurant. The best bet in those instances is to eat as simply as possible. I try to choose a place where I know I can get broiled or rotisserie chicken, for instance, with a side salad or a couple of unsauced veggies on the side. Most restaurants offer plainly prepared gluten-free entrees these days. I was out of town the other day and was able to get a grilled pork chop, a small baked sweet potato, and a side dish of southern-style turnip greens (at Cracker Barrel).

      Shary wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • Cracker Barrel offers some low carb options. That helps a great deal when trying to eat Primal.

        Amy wrote on May 16th, 2013
  5. Like I tell people–home is the safest place to eat these days! It’s also the most economical, and if more people tossed the TV like I did, home would be more TIME-economical, too.

    Ah, there’s the rub: home economics, which is no longer being taught in schools, and why generations will never understand that it’s what you DON’T spend (as opposed to how much more you make) that shows where true economy lies.

    Paleo/Primal living is the ultimate in frugal living, and one day the masses will figure that out…probably when it’s too late for them.

    Wenchypoo wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Ha! I was in the kitchen the other day when a colleague said, “Did you know it’s so much cheaper to make food yourself than to buy your lunch each day?!” It was really funny…such a revelation to him.

      Renee wrote on May 16th, 2013
  6. Yes, I’ve noticeably cooked much more since going Primal.

    My though process essentially goes: “oh, I haven’t gone to ____ in a while. I could get their chicken/ribs/burger/etc…. but I don’t know what kind of ingredients they’re using and cooking with… and it usually is too sweet/salty…. I’ll just save money and make the dish myself using ingredients I actually want in me.”

    Don B wrote on May 16th, 2013
  7. I’ve cooked my own meals for a long time but usually from recipes. I’ve found that since I’ve gone Primal I tend to make things up as I go along. I’ve started to know what different herbs and spices are going to taste like and if they will go with my other ingredients, It’s strange but I seem to be more in tune with my taste buds.

    Luckylegs wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • I would completely agree with this. Primal eating makes cooking so simple: meat, veggie, herbs, fat. I’ve been able to experiment so much more and make some really amazing dishes without feeling like I have to follow a recipe to make something good. Although, it did take me a while to get to that point, and there were some not so great dishes along the way. But once I started learning along the way, there’s not much you can do wrong to whole, fresh ingredients! (Except burn them, maybe.) I LOVE cooking now, and like many others have said, my food tastes better than typical restaurant food.

      Stacie M wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Check out the book, “The Flavor Bible”.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2013
  8. If I had to cook my meals would be low carb but much less Primal.

    Groktimus Primal wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • I cook because it needs to be done. I do it for all the reasons mentioned here: it’s healthier, more control and more options, and economical. But if I could, I’d be happy to let my husband take over every meal and just clean up. (Husband loves to cook but has the main income.) I have to admit I don’t understand the enchantment with cooking — it just feels like work to me. :(

      Amy wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • Couldn’t agree more. I do cook for myself but it is hardly gourmet. It’s food with seasoning but I look at recipes and just roll my eyes. It is SO much cheaper and I have pretty much always prepared my own meals and never bough lunch like my co-workers do ( i don’t know how they afford it!) but I don’t love cooking or preparing my own meals. At all.

        Linda wrote on May 16th, 2013
        • Cooking our family meals is the biggest effort at the end of the day compared with running a house and looking after 2 toddlers!!

          But is well worth it knowing that it nourishes 2 growing young men!! And us on the side ;)

          Ionela wrote on June 3rd, 2013
      • I agree as well. Growing up one of the things I hated doing was eating, we just ate!!! But it’s a must so I do it at least two times a day now. I told my husband when we got married “don’t ask if I can cook, ask if I will. The answer was: sometimes.” However, now I like to make foods that are primal so that my husband and son eat better when they eat at home. They are not yet converts but they like the food, woo hoo. I made some chicken breasts that had cream cheese and green onions inside and wrapped them up in bacon and baked them. Big hit. I think I’d like cooking more if I didn’t work all day and them come home and work there too.

        2Rae wrote on May 16th, 2013
  9. I love cooking (always have) it’s my wind-down time when I get home.

    I reckon I spend around ten hours a week cooking. Going primal has knocked the few pre-made foods we used to eat out of the menu (Friday night frozen pizza or a chicken kiev) which does mean more time cooking, but even when I’m tired I don’t mind knocking something up. (and if I’m that tired I can always skip the mean in favour of sleep)

    I’ve become more inventive in my cooking since going primal, but I have learned the hard way that you have to stay stocked up on vegetables or risk going off-plan. When the only veg in the house is frozen peas it can be dispiriting :-)

    And honestly, I don’t think it would be at all easy to be Primal and not cook most days.

    Primal V wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Just spotted:

      “There are the smells, the blood and the flames”

      Mark – are you cooking jugged hare and black pudding, or do you need to improve your knife skills?

      :-)

      Primal V wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • I don’t think I enjoy cooking as much as you do. It’s more something I have to do. But like you, I’ve turned it into my “wind down” time. I have my music going loud enough to drown out my bad singing. It’s quite the show!

      And I have my “go to” meals that are easy to make for days I’m busy, and whole foods hot bar is nice on 2 dollar off Wednesdays!

      Luke wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • I take advantage of the Whole Foods hot bar once in awhile as well, but most of their offerings include non-paleo ingredients like canola oil, soy, CAFO meats, sugars, etc. They also don’t use their organic produce in their recipes most of the time, salmon is farm-raised, etc. Better than the average restaurant fare, but be sure to read the ingredients carefully, and be aware that the fruits and veggies are rarely organic.

        dianekjs wrote on May 18th, 2013
  10. I cooked and baked before going primal. Since going primal my cooking has simplified. Recently, I’ve added some rice back into my diet and a tiny bit of soaked legumes like chickpeas and split lentils. I find I do more elaborate cooking and more delicious meals when I go back to my Lebanese food roots, so to speak, which I really do miss. It’s also more enjoyable than the steak/chicken/fish and vegetable thing. I’m trying now this thing of making my way from traditional Lebanese food but making adjustments along the way to make it primal. It keeps me connected to the food culture I grew up with.

    Wafaa wrote on May 16th, 2013
  11. If you eat out too much or buy too much prepared food, unfortunately, you’re still outsourcing your health to people who don’t deserve the privilege. And you pay them for it! Which isn’t to say that the occasional convenient grocery store roasted chicken or special meal at a restaurant is bad, but it’s best to be conscious that you can’t control every detail (nor should you try). So it’s a sometime-treat.

    One of the biggest factors that’s gotten us into this whole mess is the lack of self-sufficiency in our food. We’ve been sold on the idea that food isn’t important, it should be easy and convenient, and it should be exactly how and what we want. These are all modern inventions that weren’t possible just a few decades ago before they started market-testing everything to death for abstract concepts like “mouth-feel.” So take control of your food, and by extension, your health!

    That being said, there’s a larger issue here, which is that food hunting/gathering and prep used to be communal. Nobody was doing this alone. I think part of why some people hate cooking is the loneliness around it and having to be the one to do all the work just doesn’t make sense to us. So if you can, get your kids involved, arrange with your partner/roommates to do the dishes if you cook, or just try to get folks to sit and chat with you while you chop. Why do you think when you live alone, it makes more sense to pour a bowl of cereal than it does to make an elaborate meal?

    Karen P. wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Beautifully written. A big +1.

      Nocona wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Another +1 here. :-) during the twentieth century, it became the norm for working women to come home and spend hours of cooking and housework while their husbands sat down to read the paper — no wonder convenience foods became popular.

      by one who is old enough to have seen this…. :-)

      Tess wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • I don’t think that’s wholly true. In my experience, they were marketed orginally, too, to full time homemakers. I have no fuzzy warm memories of my grandmother baking or cooking. She always used convenience foods and bought cookies, etc.

        From my grandparent’s point of view, the convenience foods were the ultimate in progress. It wasn’t about health or long term impact – it was just a miracle down the road at the new supermarket. My grandmother was born in 1919. She would have grown up in a house where running water would have been the ultimate in convenience. There’s a good chance she stood a good foot shorter than me because her final growing years coincided with the Great Depression. Any food might have been in short supply. The 50’s/60’s would have been an amazing time to live through given what that generation grew up with and then had to do (fight WWII).

        I, on the other hand, grew up with a mother who used many convenience foods. I’ve never known hunger. To me, growing up abundance, they do look like poor substitutes for the real deal. They might have not looked that way originally, though.

        Amy wrote on May 16th, 2013
        • Read the book United States of Arugula for an interesting history of when and how convenience foods came to be in the US. It’s a sad story.

          Susan wrote on May 16th, 2013
        • Reading Michael Pollan’s new book Cooked, he suggests that many convenience foods marketed towards woman were the direct result of WW2. Companies mastered making ration for the troops and when the war was over, they looked for a new market for their foods…. So, it wasn’t even necessarily for the convenience of working women. interesting.
          I am learning to cook and am loving it. And I love my cast iron pot from Le Creuset. What a difference it makes.

          Alexandra wrote on May 17th, 2013
      • Not in my house, LOL! The husband has his chores and I have mine. I have more because I’m semi-retired, but no one is sitting on the couch while the other is working. That would suck.

        Pure Hapa wrote on May 16th, 2013
  12. My cooking has definitely evolved from the pre-primal pasta-roni to post-primal stuffing a whole chicken with lemon/herbs/garlic. It’s sometimes exhausting to cook everything from scratch, but it definitely makes me feel better and thus is worth it.

    Though it is nice to have cans of fish, primal beef jerky and bags of lettuce ready for those days when I just don’t feel like dragging myself into the kitchen.

    katieCHI wrote on May 16th, 2013
  13. Becoming primal has definitely gotten me more interested in cooking. I used to hate it and avoid it at all costs. Now that I know why I’m making what I’m making, I’m so much more interested in preparing my own food.

    Stacy wrote on May 16th, 2013
  14. How does anyone eat primal and NOT cook? Well put, Maggie, primal is a foodie’s dream come true! Can I steal that from you? I love to cook and eat and I prepare virtually all of my own meals. Some things are so simple it doesn’t feel like cooking (bacon and eggs) but even the more elaborate stuff is fun and primal leftovers are better than anything you’ll find in a freezer case at the market.

    Siobhan wrote on May 16th, 2013
  15. After a divorce, I am learning how to cook and am expanding my choices to items that seemed tasty but that didn’t excite my spouse. As a result, I am eating better foods with a greater variety. My young daughter is preparing and eating along with me. This can only be good!

    Kent H wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Cook on Kent!

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • that’s so true Kent – cooking and eating together is a great cross generational bonding activity. My otherwise sulky teenager has just cooked a lovely grass fed sirloin steak with jerk seasoning, sweet potato fries and roasted broccoli with a dollop of mayonnaise – which was not only delicious, but gave us some precious common ground to start a real conversation!

      cavemama wrote on May 16th, 2013
  16. I prefer cooking my own meals most of the time, although I do like to eat out a few times a week.

    melissa wrote on May 16th, 2013
  17. I love to cook. I’m in the process of designing my new house and one of my big focuses is my kitchen…I spend a ton of time there. Cooking for me is creating, and family time at the dinner table is a value to me and my family. A perfect example is last night, a grilled grass fed ribeye with grilled shrimp and sauteed asparagus….and I have leftovers for today’s lunch at work.

    On the separate topic, eating primal without preparing my own meals would be difficult where I am. I’m in ‘meat and potatoes’ country. Meals at virtually every restaurant here come with a hearty helping of potatoes, pasta or rice, and a breadstick or two. There’s really no reason for me to go out for supper anymore other than to be social with friends and family, which I do…and I order a green salad with no dressing, then ask for balsamic and olive oil. about 1/2 the time I end up over-paying for an average salad.

    Bryan wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • I’m with you, where I live being primal is incredibly frustrating. My husband just laughs when I order a wrap with no sauce and end up eating the “innards” and paying double for a tiny salad. Ask for grass fed beef and people roll their eyes and look at you like you just came off a space ship. I cook just about all my meals and make sure I have leftovers for the next day.

      Vettech wrote on May 16th, 2013
  18. I’m with you, Mark. I love to cook and do nearly all the cooking in our house. I also love to dine out, which I don’t get to do very often. When I dine out, I take my best shot without worrying. Right now, I am eating at a tapas restaurant (Tapas the World, Sacramento) once a week. (because I have a class next door that starts at 5:30.)

    Primal has changed what I cook some (I was already gluten free) but it hasn’t increased how often I cook.

    Harry Mossman wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Yes, when we eat out, it’s our “20%”. We eat more low carb than primal out but we don’t stress. Most of our meals are in anyway. :)

      Amy wrote on May 16th, 2013
  19. I always loved to cook since I was a kid but ignorantly bought into the low fat paradigm. Heck, I was also a neocon. Whew, what a mess! Anyhow, when I first picked up Dr Atkins Diet Revolution and realized I could cook with all those other things that had thence been banned, the depth and breadth of my abilities took off. It’s no mystery to me why people like my cooking. FAT TASTES GOOD! Fresh, real food. I love it!

    Joshua wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Congratulations on being a recovered neocon. You’re in good company, Dr. Tom Woods Jr also recovered… even after being the president of a Harvard republican club when he attended there!

      I’ve noticed a strong correlation between people who eat paleo/primal are more free market and property rights oriented. Joel Salatin does a great job explaining food problems and the government regulations, not to mention tax subsidies and big Agriculture. I wonder if looking for certain food coupled with being exposed to Joel Salatin is an “a-ha!” moment in their life.

      Check out Liberty Classroom.

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2013
  20. I always cooked most of my own meals because I can’t afford to eat out. Even the occasional outing with friends requires some reworking of the budget. I have always enjoyed cooking and baking – living Primal has just changed what I cook and bake. I love it because, when I’m in the kitchen, everything else just falls away. I usually even forget that I was hungry to start with :P

    Susie wrote on May 16th, 2013
  21. I love using a slow-cooker (crockpot). Cooking meat slowly for 8 hours makes for melt-in-your-mouth goodness every time. Plus, when I’m tired at the end of the day, I don’t have to cook, it’s ready.

    I made an India-influenced duck and chicken stew for friends (and served it over rice for them). They went back for more until there was nothing left!

    Crockpots are highly underutilized, in my opinion.

    Kim wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Agreed! I love my slow cooker! Cooked some delicious lamb in it the other night!

      Naz wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • I LOVE my slow cooker too! Use it at least once a week, some times more, and I always make sure there’s leftovers….mmmm….leftovers…….

        Luckylegs wrote on May 17th, 2013
    • Is there a good primal crockpot cookbook out there? I would also love to know what you put in your Indian duck and chicken stew!

      One of my fave new tools is my Nuwave oven. I resisted it for years b/c of the infomercial vibe, but it’s fabulous for taking frozen cuts of meat to cooked in a decently short time. My results with it have been fantastic.

      Rhonda the Red wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • You can paleoify or primalize nearly anything in the Set It And Forget It cookbook :)

        Meagan wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • What spices did you use for the Indian-esque crockpot meal? It sounds delicious!

      Catherine W wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • What some people call Friday night pizza night we call it oxtail night…NO cooking just switch on my lovely crockpot on high throw in ox tail pieces marinated, turn the oven on throw in a tray with sweet potatoes skin on, while watching a movie dinner is cooking…so good!!!

      My 3 years old son calls it the magic pot cos he knows it can cook by itself so cute!!

      Ionela wrote on June 4th, 2013
  22. Before going paleo/primal, I looooved baking pizzas and became very, very good at it. The problem with this is I started making them way too often, since I would always have a bucket of the dough ready to go in the fridge. I could crank out a home made pizza in less time than it took to order one.

    I miss pizza dearly but with most other foods I have found my cooking skills were transferable.

    Jesse wrote on May 16th, 2013
  23. The number one cooking technique is THINK.

    If you learn cooking techniques and flavor profiles you can cook anything. Any meal can be paleo-ized. Ingredient substitutions are easy on paper, but how will they affect the outcome?

    My top three go to cookbooks:
    1) Ruhlman’s Twenty – all about cooking techniques
    2) The Flavor Bible – the ultimate cross referenced source to flavor profiles
    3) Sisson’s 30 Minute Meals – get the idea of paleo ingredients and dishes

    I also like:
    Nourishing Traditions – developed by Sally Fallon of the Weston A Price Foundation
    Ratio- learn to scale sizes up and down
    Rick Stein’s Seafood – I love seafood

    Learn how to hold a knife correctly, this separates the contenders from the pretenders, basic knife movements and care, keep your work area clean, and always practice mise en place. A sharp knife is a happy and safe knife. Check out chefknivestogo.com

    Bon Appetit!

    Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • +1 to this list! I also absolutely love Melissa Joulwan’s Well Fed paleo cookbook. She includes a “you know how you could do this” feature after each recipe where she offers spinoff suggestions that use that recipe as a jumping off place for kitchen experimentation. For busy people, she also has a whole section on doing a weekend cook-up that makes it much easier to prepare dinners for the rest of the week. I just love this cookbook!! (And Melissa didn’t pay me to say this. I don’t even know her, but I would sure love to meet her!!)

      Rhonda the Red wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • I’m not sure if it’s still running, but Jacques Pépin was very big into teaching basic cooking techniques, including properly using knives. I learned a lot by watching his shows on PBS. Added bonus that French cooking has a heavy emphasis on stock prep.

      Amy wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • Yes, Pepin is awesome. Amazon Prime has all 10 seasons of The French Chef wit Julia Childs. These shows are a treasure trove of culinary info. The first few seasons are black and white. (Totally randow: I met Pepin’s son-in-law, who is, wait for it, a chef! He joked around how his father in law will call him and ask him to prepare a dish. You know, no pressure).

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2013
        • Just wow – no pressure at all. :)

          Amy wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • Pepin is awesome, learned quite a lot, he had an offal show also. You can watch some of his shows here: http://blogs.kqed.org/essentialpepin/

        raydawg wrote on May 20th, 2013
    • I’m a big Ruhlman fan and have several of his books, too. Ratios and Twenty are great for technique, even if they aren’t paleo. For advanced meat-heavy books, Charcuterie and Salumi are amazing. I tried his home-made bacon recipe and it was awesome – actually pretty easy too.

      Mantonat wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • I’m looking forward to Ruhlman’s new release “The Book of Schmaltz: Love Song to a Forgotten Fat” summer 2013.

        Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • I agree! This is the issue I see with many of my friends that don’t know how to cook. Being able to follow a recipe is not knowing how to cook. Oddly I have this 1947 “American Woman Cookbook” (Yes, it’s as sexist as it sounds, but it’s outdated so it’s just funny) and it taught me more about how cooking works in general than anything else. Knowing the basics like how fats, starches, heat, water, binders etc. work is really really important to cooking. I recommend looking at thrift stores for old general cookbooks like that. They can be handy. Then you can convert your own recipes to primal. I don’t even need to look up primal recipes because I know by now what is primal, what is not, and how to substitute. (Last night’s experiment: Salmon Croquettes. Easy.)

      Willow wrote on May 16th, 2013
  24. Sadly, the fact that Primal usually calls for cooking at home has prevented me from going completely Primal/paleo these past few years. As a chef, I eat whatever scraps are leftover in the kitchen (we have lots of great food, especially meats and veggies, but it’s rare to have something without vegetable oil), especially because there has been no time to cook at home the meals I want to eat, let alone time to buy all the ingredients with such a busy schedule. The times I do buy fresh produce it will usually go bad since I’m not around to eat it; just this past week I had to throw away about 30 Euros of fresh meats and veggies. I am relying more and more on non-processed frozen foods, though, which seems to be a good compromise.

    You are right, Mark. It’s nearly impossible to be Primal without cooking unless someone is doing it for you (like a personal chef or a restaurant). For that reason, I would love to see Primal TV-Dinners make its way on to the market!

    Brian Kozmo wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • One problem: shelf life

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Oh dear, you have the “shoemaker’s children” phenomenon. One of my chef friends of the nationally-celebrated, local/sustainable variety said her favorite thing to eat after a long day at work was Kraft mac and cheese.

      I don’t know if this helps, but I used to work a solid 70-80 hour week; I lived alone; and I really only eat once a day. As a survival mechanism, I developed about four meals I could make in 10 minutes or less that were still local, fresh, etc. and just shopped for and cooked them without having to think. At the time, I watched zero TV and my total food time/day (shopping, cooking, eating) was probably about 20 minutes.

      That sounds horrible, but I was actually pretty happy. It was simple.

      I nominate the Primal TV Dinner line as quote of the week. Or at least oxymoron of the week.

      Juli wrote on May 17th, 2013
  25. I love to cook, I even have a paleo/primal based food blog – cinnamoneats.com

    I grew up with my mum and sometimes dad always cooking, so we never had the microwave dinners or things like that, yes as a kid I would occasionally eat at fast food places and restaurants but the majority of my food was home cooked. I never learnt to cook from my parents, my mum tried many times but I was never THAT interested back then. Then I lived on my own for 3 years during university and after a while 2 mins noodles and take out was becoming sickening! So I started to learn how to cook on my own and now I cook all the time! Husband cooks also but I do the majority and I love doing it! I love creating new dishes and having a blog kind of forces that out of you.

    Naz wrote on May 16th, 2013
  26. I definitely cook more now that I’m eating primally, but get very lonely in the kitchen when I have to cook alone.So I drag people in there to keep me company and we end up having the best discussions and the most fun. Kitchen = heart of the home? Probably. So for our homes’ heart health, maybe we need to be much more mindful of our time in the kitchen.

    Also, I shared a cauliflower rice recipe with a customer the other day and she came in today to tell me how much she loved it. She never knew cauliflower was so versatile. That conversation led to sharing the website with her. Maybe this recipe will be the first step in turning her health around. My favorite part of weight watchers meetings back in the day was all the recipe sharing that went on there! How much better for us to all share primal recipes with people!

    Rhonda the Red wrote on May 16th, 2013
  27. I liked to cook before but I think preparing one’s food can be a big barrier to primal eating if no one in the house likes to cook. I use even less prepared ingredients now so it does take more time. And I don’t want to eat most food outside the house b/c it’s so lacking . . .

    Colleen wrote on May 16th, 2013
  28. It’s the clean-up. Props to all of you who eat every single meal at home, but lawdamercy. Eating out is FUN. And what’s even more fun is being waited on and not having to do the dishes. If you spend all your eat-out at Denny’s, you should maybe slink away in shame, but life is for living, and the social experience of eating out is not one I’ll give up.

    Julie wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • I’m with you. But there’s an important distinction between a nice meal out for pleasure, and a food court lunch break for convenience. I think for most people, the majority of dining out experiences are not great.

      Emily wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • Yeah, that’s what I was trying to get at with the jab at Denny’s. I completely agree and it’s rather sad, isn’t it?

        Julie wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • I love to do the dishes. Easiest accomplishment of the day. One reason the ideas posted about collective eating are really on target: The division of labor of prep, cooking, and cleaning when done together (preferably trading off who is sitting around with a glass of wine) makes the whole process much more satisfying.

      Where do you live? I also scrub sinks and counters.

      Juli wrote on May 17th, 2013
  29. I loved to cook before going primal, and I thought of myself as someone who did a lot of home cooking. Then I tried a Whole 30 and realized I couldn’t follow the rules without cooking literally every meal from scratch at home, and I finally got into the hang of really owning all my meals. Now that I have the hang of it I can’t go back – it’s so much nicer to make something wonderful (even if it’s something quick and easy) at home with all the best ingredients I can find then to try and special order a dish to be “close enough” to paleo at a restaurant.

    Emily wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • A: Quick and easy.
      Q: What are my preferences in meals and ladies?

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • really? wouldn’t you rather have satsifying and memorable?

        cavemama wrote on May 16th, 2013
  30. I was just starting to get into cooking for myself more when I decided to go Primal. Now I spend the majority of my time online looking up new recipes or searching for improvements on old ones. I get so excited when a recipe turns out right. Every time I talk to my friends and family we end up discussing my latest culinary adventure.
    I still go out to eat, but one of the great parts of being a regular at a small-town cafe is that they get to know your dietary preferences.

    Annika wrote on May 16th, 2013
  31. I cook 5 stars meals every day, planning to open a blog soon for contributing.
    Btw, it doesn’t take much time, one just needs to get organized :)

    primal_alex wrote on May 16th, 2013
  32. This post goes to what I’ve been very aware of lately: how much I enjoy being in my kitchen preparing food for my family and me. The time and the process are a cathartic stress reducer. I get into really nice flow.

    I’ve long been aware that there’s no food out there better suited for me than what I make myself. Mostly, I stick to my simple staples (like batches of bone broth for drinking from a mug). I’m one of those folks who’s happy with the same fare most of the time. To me, first rate ingredients (which I’m lucky enough to have, most of the time) don’t need a lot of embellishing – so I prefer simple prep (and the time saved as a result, so I can move on to other things).

    For people who are new to cooking, I suggest really small steps. Recipes of 3 to 5 ingredients max – if you use a recipe at all. It’s OK to lightly steam veggies and enjoy them just like that – with really good olive oil drizzled and course sea salt sprinkled. Same with plainly cooked fish, poultry, and meat. Same with a plain old baked sweet potato (my personal fave). As long as you have AWESOME olive oil, you’re well positioned to make simply prepped food taste amazing.

    As you get comfortable in the kitchen, take on a few challenges. Slowly but surely, you just might get to where you love your time in the kitchen.

    Susan Alexander wrote on May 16th, 2013
  33. I cook almost all my own food because it’s the only way I can keep to the primal/fodmap hybrid diet that keeps my gut working correctly and my body/brain working well and feeling good. Also, restaurant food is “underwhelming”- as the other commenter put it. (Other than sushi or the ribs at a little place near here…maybe a tamale out now and again.) Day to day though, I cook. Day AFTER day. While I do enjoy a creative cooking project at times, mostly it’s a chore. This time of year especially, there are other things I’d rather do. Couples in which both people cook-and you people who have someone else cooking primal for you-you’re lucky! Then again, I’m lucky to be able to buy quality food and cook it up in my nice kitchen . That’s what I try to remind myself. I should allocate more time for relaxed cooking projects. Or visit my brother more…he’s an amazing primal cook!

    Danielle Thalman wrote on May 16th, 2013
  34. I’ve learned to cook well and simply and my partner now actually loves the meals I make. We both like to eat in better than out now, with the exception of good sushi and fine French restaurants. I love to indulge in an expensive French restaurant for my birthday. My last time I had quail and steak. I decided I would try to make quail at home and it came out just as good. I think that was the day my partner realized I’m a damn good cook now. He even took a picture of dinner it was so amazing.

    Diane wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • Sushi is absolutely my eating-out weakness. My favorite local shop now stocks gluten-free soy sauce… not really primal, but mmmmm…. every once in a while I just HAVE to have it!

      Paleo-curious wrote on May 16th, 2013
      • Sushi really is the only thing I go out to eat too… Well, that and Greek/Spanish food :)

        GiGi wrote on May 16th, 2013
  35. when I agreed to pay my wayward son through college the deal was that he would cook me all my meals (he gets home 2 hours earlier than I do). A year later he has no idea that he has been primal for over a year but is pleasantly surprised by his new svelte physique – and I’ve never eaten better!

    cavemama wrote on May 16th, 2013
  36. Primal Chef! THAT’S what I want to be when I grow up! Thanks for the idea, Mark!

    Now, If I only wanted to grow up…

    Erok wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • How about a mash up between Epic Mealtime/Epic Chef and Paleo. Maybe call it “Boy Meats Bacon”

      Paleo Bon Rurgundy wrote on May 16th, 2013
  37. I’ve been an enthusiastic cook since the age of fourteen, when I went vegetarian & my mother said I’d need to learn to cook my own meatless meals. However, I was an especially avid baker. Oh the gluten that flew around my kitchen! When I found out I had Celiac Disease I spent the first year baking more than ever, experimenting with gf flours. But over time I realized My health improved with more whole foods & fewer starchy treats. And I discovered the delights of a sardine salad for supper– now that’s my idea of convenience food!!

    I probably spend slightly less time in the kitchen than I did back in the day, but now instead of baking I’m making bone broth, roasted meats, stews with bacon & sausage… things I never thought I’d eat again, let alone cook. My husband & kids love the change & rarely seem to miss the starchy & sugary treats!

    Paleo-curious wrote on May 16th, 2013
  38. I was completely one of those “convenience” eaters, especially after I finished college sports. I was sooooo busy as a student that I couldn’t find time to cook, so I ate a lot of Ramen and frozen turkey burgers, and way too much fast food. Obviously, my weight sky-rocketed. So I started doing some reading and came across the book “I’m Mad as Hell, and I’m Not Gonna Eat It Anymore.” The author (I forget her name) really made an impression on me and that was my wake up call to all the marketing ploys in the food industry and how we are typically consumer food that isn’t really food. She promoted a vegan lifestyle so I thought I would give it a shot…that’s when I really started cooking, and I’m thankful for that experience because it woke me up to how amazing veggies really are! Roasted root vegetables anyone?

    Obviously, the vegan thing didn’t last (and thank goodness!). Now I’m here and enjoy cooking so much. It’s relaxing after a long day (chopping veggies seems to melt my stress away…something about hacking peppers into tiny pieces), and I find it makes my day more fulfilling since I’m not spending as much (wasted) time watching TV or perusing the Internet. While my sister is a culinary chef, I like to think I have some pretty stellar home-cooking skills…I have a tiny desire to be a contestant on Master Chef! Maybe someday….

    Anyway, my boyfriend loves my cooking and I’ve even shown my mom some great recipes for her and my dad (slowly making them Primal, yeah!) Great post Mark!

    Stacie M wrote on May 16th, 2013
  39. I always find it odd when people never cook. Like, seriously, how can some people never ever ever cook for themselves, ever?

    It’s lazy, and most likely unhealthy.

    Mark P wrote on May 16th, 2013
    • so true – from the age of 24 to 33 I did not have a stove in my kitchen, I ate out most nights or microwaved frozen meals. Goodness knows how much hydrogenated oil I consumed in those years. It was only when I had children that I realised I had to learn to cook, and guess what – food never tasted so good!

      cavemama wrote on May 16th, 2013
  40. let’s just say, if Pinterest was similar to Etsy, I could quit my full time RN job because of the traffic to my primal recipe boards haha! exaggerating… Seriously, since becoming primal I have discovered a world of delicious food! I used to do low fat, high carb and trying to find decent recipes was ridiculous! I am absolutely obsessed with cooking now. I would love to someday own a food truck or at least have a spot in a popular farmer’s market.

    Erin wrote on May 16th, 2013

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