I like routine. Routine means there’s less to think about, and when it comes to preparing 21 meals a week, a Protein Routine Meal Plan is a great thing. Paleo can send you crazy, regardless of the emphasis on living a stress free life. Having the freezer filled was never my problem: my issue was remembering to take the stuff out the night before. The fridge would either be empty of protein, or there’d be too much. Not any more! I’ve printed out our plan – and I’ve attached the pdf so you can download it, too. It has made life so much easier.
Even before starting the Autoimmune Protocol, we had certain rhythms in place. Wednesday’s lunch is always salmon, because that’s when the fishmonger comes to our town. On the weekend we cook up a roast. Paleo Pancakes were our Saturday morning treat, and eggs in some other form had breakfast covered three times a week. Taking them off the menu for AIP meant that things needed to reconsidered.
So just before our Start Date, I sat down, pencil and notebook in hand, and drew up a plan. Turns out it was the best thing I ever did with regards to following the AIP. With this in hand, AIP is not hard. The plan is neither complicated nor specific. It doesn’t require recipe consultation. It doesn’t expend vast amounts of creative energy. It won’t have you book-marking pages or sticking post-it’s wherever. It doesn’t chain you to the kitchen on Sunday in an olympic Batch Cook-up. It quite simply provides you with a short, succinct shopping list and a weekly menu so that you know what’s up the following day. At some point every evening I say, ‘What’s on the menu for tomorrow?’, and then take whatever’s asked for out of the freezer.The important thing for me was to find a way to rotate the nutrient dense protein sources, and to include those which I don’t volontarily reach for, such as sardines, mackerel, liver and heart. The plan makes it easy. When people ask me what we eat, I say, ‘We eat fish once a day, white meat once a day, and red meat once a day.’ That’s more or less true. If you look at the plan, which is colour-coded, you’ll see that we do eat fish once a day, and the red meat, white meat and offal is balanced. We make a big pot of meaty bone broth on Sunday, and use that for a soup, as well as for steam-sauteeing the vegetables in our Breakfast Base.
A couple of things to know about this Plan:
- Vegetables and Salad are not specified, apart from the Weekday Breakfast Base and the Zucchini Noodles for Tuesday’s lunch. I basically just buy loads of whatever catches my eye, and whatever is part of our kitchen basics. We eat 3 kilo’s of carrots a week, and, at the moment, 3 kilos of small oranges. Cauliflour, yucca, yam, green and black plantains. Loads of leafy greens, to eat cooked and raw. Onions and celery for stock. A couple of pears, apples, bananas and strawberries for our Saturday N’Oatmeal, and a mid-week fruit salad. Avocado of course, and a mango if I find one, maybe a couple of kiwi’s.
- Cooked Vegetables Twice a Day, Salad Once. That’s how we do it. Stress free. The Weekday Breakfast Base is our standard, so it’s cooked vegetables in the morning. Whether we have steamed vegetables for lunch or dinner is decided meal by meal. But almost always, salad once a day.
- I shop on Friday. That’s why we eat liver on Friday and chicken hearts on Saturday, so they’re fresh. But sometimes on Saturday night, we’ll eat out. As the weather warms, we’ll head up to Monte and barbecue a Fiorentina instead.
- We eat lunch at home, that’s why I make up my burger mixes and freeze them, uncooked. If you take your lunch to work, you’ll need to be a little more creative with your plan.
- Ground beef and turkey. Buy as much as you want. Mix it up with herbs, onions and garlic, and make up as many burgers as your freezer can handle. That way it’s done, and the next week or two you can have a break. Store them uncooked, because you’ll use them also for Tuesday’s ragù, and for any time when ground meat is just right. (Fried and crumbled into a soup, yum.) I usually buy ground turkey as opposed to breast, because when it’s wrapped in parchment paper in the freezer, it’s the only way I can distinguish it from chicken breast. (We store beef in one freezer drawer, poultry and fish in another, and the icecream maker and frozen banana’s in the third.?!)
- Tuna is Always an Option. It’s not listed on the meal plan, but about once a week, somewhere, we’ll have a huge tuna salad. Or for breakfast, instead of sardines. It’s way up there on our list of preferred meals, and it’s a great fall back for when, quite frankly, we can’t be bothered preparing anything else. I always, always have more canned fish than we need.
Routine is about creating enough of a structure so that things can flow freely. Routine provides a calm and predictable space which is free of tension, and it is exactly this which allows us to play. Routine is not dogma, set in stone. If we feel like chicken on Friday night instead of grilling up a burger, who cares? The important thing is that there is something nutritious to eat. One of the great things about any routine is going off-plan. Going off plan is fun – going out for dinner, or finding super-fresh squid which you can’t resist, or having the time and the motivation to try a new recipe, or just wanting to be lazy and open a can. Maybe you just want a bowl of soup, and bacon, and nothing else for dinner, and that’s fine. The important thing is that when you get up at 6.30 the following morning, you’re not stressing out over what to prepare. With an easy meal plan, a few extra cans of fish, and pre-prepared burgers, it’s easy to throw a nutrient dense meal together. No stress. That’s what we like.
And the shopping is effortless, too.
Here’s the pdf for our Protein Routine – download it and use it as a guide – make whatever adjustments you need – and I hope you find it as useful as I do.
Thanks for your comments, I really appreciate them. I’d love to know if you’ve come across other Meal Plans which work for you, and what your own routine is.
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Best Wishes, Good Health