The problem I find when researching paleo recipes and meal plans is that they often seem way more complicated than they need to be. Meal plans often expect you to make three meals from scratch in one day, involve multiple course meals and require special ingredients you need to go out of your way for. Those things can be fun to experiment with when you can, but day to day most people can't sustain that amount of time devoted to eating.
I know a lot of people interested in reducing processed foods and learning more about grain free, paleo or primal eating, but they don't think they have the time or energy needed to start. I've spent a lot of time learning about it myself, but I think in the end we can make things more complicated than they need to be. My goal is to give tips to simplify the process of eating well. For me, that involves cutting out grains and eating whole minimally processed foods.
The following meal plan is what a typical week might look like for me. I often eat leftovers for breakfast and lunch and rarely cook more than one involved meal in a day. They are also mostly one dish meals, since I find that the simplest approach to mid week meals. I also like to make big batches and freeze portions for future meals on the go. The recipes aren't always exact because I often play things by ear with what I have on hand and tweak them as I go. Most of them are fairly flexible with the specific kinds of meat, veggies and seasonings I use. They are also mostly kid friendly. I kept them Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) friendly, since it's easier to add in eggs, nuts, seeds and nightshades in than it is to take them out.
Realistic Paleo Meal Plan - Autoimmune Paleo (AIP) Friendly
Prepare snacks for the week including lots of veggies and fruit, trail mix with dried fruit and coconut (add nuts or seeds if not AIP). If you have a dehydrator, beef jerky (you can find a recipe here) comes in mighty handy for emergency protein. Also, making your own kale chips (recipe here) can give you a nice crunchy snack without the expense of the store bought kind.
A note on breakfast - eggs are a nice option if you can eat them, but be cautious going overboard. I believe I did early on so I had to take a break from them and am still not sure about them for me. Another great addition to my breakfasts are mini waffles like this one here. I'm working on an autoimmune friendly one, but I'm still working on the right density combination. I'll post the recipe when I've gotten it consistently fluffy. Also, I drink homemade broth every weekday morning since it's supposed to be good for healing and I make a chicken in the crockpot most weeks.
Breakfast - Yam or sweet potato hash browns and ground sausage (or other seasoned meat). Brown 1 lb of meat then take out of the pan. Melt coconut oil to coat pan and add 3 large shredded yams or sweet potatoes (a food processor saves a lot of time here). Cook on medium until soft (about 20 min) and turn up a bit to brown. Add the meat and season with seasoning salt (such as Herbamare) to taste. You can probably get the hash browns crispier by blotting some of the moisture out with towels before cooking, but I don't mind them a little soft.
Lunch - Tuna Salad on Spinach. Combine tuna with diced pickles and add some avocado and seasoning to taste. I've also used a touch of coconut oil, or mustard if not AIP.
Dinner - Stir Fry. Slice meat of choice thin and stir fry with veggies. Broccoli and mushrooms are some of my favorite. You can also add greens or cabbage. Season with coconut aminos, garlic, and a touch of powdered ginger. My son likes when I squeeze mandarin orange juice in and add some mandarin slices toward the end. (For an extra speedy meal, try a pre-cut veggie mix.)
Breakfast - Hash Browns
Lunch - Stir Fry
Dinner - Crockpot Chicken. Throw a chicken in the crockpot the night before with chunks of winter squash or root vegetables. Sprinkle with salt, garlic powder and onion powder or other seasonings of your choice. Do not add extra water since the juice of the chicken will keep it moist. Turn it on low in the morning. If frozen to start, check for doneness with a knife. If it's still pink, turn on high for the last hour or so. When ready to serve, pull the chicken out into a bowl so it doesn't fall apart in the pot. Cut off what you need and let it cool to pull off the rest of the shredded chicken. You can throw the carcass in with water to make broth and cook up to 24 hours with 1 T vinegar and 1 t salt. If you don't have a crockpot, try roasting, but I recommend a crockpot to save a lot of time! (For an extra speedy meal, try baby carrots and/or a bag of pre-cut butternut squash.)
Breakfast - Hash Browns
Lunch - Crockpot Chicken
Dinner - Shepherd's Pie. Brown ground meat of choice. Add veggies of choice. I like green beans, peas, mushrooms, carrots and other shredded root veggies. Season with garlic powder, onion powder and season salt, such as Trocomare, to taste. Steam a head of cauliflower or three peeled and cut up sweet potatoes per lb of meat. Mash with 1 T coconut oil and add garlic powder and season salt. Top the meat veggie mix with mashed cauliflower or sweet potato and bake for 20-25 min at 350. For a browner top you can brush with egg and/or broil for 5 min at the end, but make sure your dish is broiler proof. (For an extra speedy meal, try a frozen veggie mix with peas).
Breakfast - Shepherd's Pie
Lunch - Chicken Salad - Mix shredded chicken with avocado and season to taste. Eat over a bed of spinach or other green. Garnish with other veggies such as carrots or bell peppers.
Dinner - Crockpot Roast - Same process as chicken - try different seasonings and veggies. I'm still looking for my favorite roast recipe.
Breakfast - Shepherd's Pie
Lunch - Crockpot Roast
Dinner - Taco Salad. Brown ground meat. Season with garlic powder, onion powder and salt. Add to spinach or salad greens with olives, avocado and lime. You can season with a little red pepper and add salsa if eating night shades. This is a great option for group gatherings, since others can opt to add cheese, sour cream, tortillas etc. if they choose. It's a game night favorite for me!
Breakfast - Crockpot Roast
Lunch - Taco Salad
Dinner - Ham & Pineapple Stir Fry. Heat about a half cup of chopped pineapple with juice then add 1-1.5 lb chopped ham. Season with 1-2 T coconut aminos and 1 T maple syrup When I made it, the boy thought it was too salty with 2 T coconut aminos, so I will only add 1 T next time. Add veggie of choice.
Breakfast - Bacon and Sauteed Kale or Spinach (you can include egg if not AIP). Season to taste.
Lunch - Sushi Salad - Chop cucumbers, bell peppers and mangoes and place on a bed of kelp noodles. Add cooked shrimp and smoked salmon. Season with coconut aminos and sushi vinegar or flavored vinegar (I use Navidi's Honey Ginger White Balsamic). Top with ginger and sprinkle pieces of nori when ready to eat.
Dinner - Burgers, Broccoli Salad and Sweet Potato fries (or you can try parsnip fries). I make the Big-O Burgers with bacon and mushrooms inside found in the Nom Nom Paleo app (burgers pictured here), but you can use any recipe with quality grass fed beef or ground turkey. Combine broccoli with lemon juice or vinaigrette and raisins. Cut sweet potatoes (or parsnips) in fry sized pieces, coat with olive oil and bake at 415 for 20 min, flipping half way. Season with mustard or sugar free ketchup if not AIP.