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“If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail.”
~ Benjamin Franklin
A Guided Tour of My Fridge
- This is what it looks like after “grocery shopping and batch cooking day.”
- Top left: Salad greens, washed and ready to eat. A few bowls of batch cooked roasted vegetables.
- Top right: A container of batch cooked meat patties, and a whole batch of breakfast soup.
- Upper crisper drawer: lemons, ginger, avocados and herbs.
- 2nd shelf: Eggs (AIP reintroduction), celery root (ready to go in my beef stew this week), juice jello, and two bowls of leftovers for dinner tonight.
- 3rd shelf: Fresh vegetables, all chopped and ready to eat or cook.
- Lower left: Meat defrosting for tomorrow night's dinner.
- Lower right: Carrots and celery (soup staples).
- Door: Filtered water, bone broth, kombucha, sauerkraut, duck fat, reserved bacon fat, Red Boat fish sauce, coconut aminos, juice (my husband's – I don't drink juice), sherry (used in my magic sauce recipes), and applesauce.
How I Meal Plan
- The day before we go grocery shopping, I sit down and plan out all of our meals for the week.
- Breakfast is easy, because we always make Breakfast Soup which feeds both my husband and I for the workweek. Then on the weekends, we make some type of skillet breakfast. If you're not sure what to cook for breakfast, check out our cookbook: 85 Amazing AIP Breakfasts.
- For lunches, I depend on food that is already prepared. I don't have time to cook at lunchtime. I eat a lot of Big@ass salads (as Mark Sisson lovingly calls them), and I do some batch cooking on the weekend so that I have some meat and veggies that I can grab and reheat. This week I made a big batch of roasted butternut squash and Perfect Breakfast Sausage (which tastes good at any time of day.) For other ideas for lunch, check out the e-book AIP Snacks and Quick Lunches.
- For dinner entrees, I do a combination of quick meals and meals that produce a lot of leftovers. When we're following a healing diet, we spend enough time in the kitchen without making every meal a chore. Here's this week's dinner meal plan: Monday – Leftover Curried Chicken and “Rice” Stew, Tuesday – Slow Cooker Beef Stew, Wednesday – Leftovers, Thursday – Leftovers, Friday – Salmon Primavera, Saturday – Simple Marinated Chicken Hearts, Sunday – Carrot Ginger Halibut Soup (which will give me leftovers for Monday)
- Vegetables are the foundation of the AIP Food Pyramid. So, I buy a wide variety every week. We chop them all up when we get home from grocery shopping and put them in Tupperware Fridgesmart containers, because they keep produce fresh a really long time. Then they're ready to grab for lunch salads and quick dinner side dishes. Looking for inspiration? Here's an A-Z Vegetable Recipe Roundup.
- Snacks – I actually don't snack any more. I find my digestion works best when I eat 3 large meals daily and give my body a break between meals. That said, my blood sugar is well-controlled and I don't suffer from adrenal fatigue. If you have blood sugar or adrenal fatigue issues, you'll need to eat snacks between meals. The key is to choose satiating snacks. That means you don't want to grab an AIP dessert; instead, make your snacks mini-meals that have fat, protein and carbs. This is how you will heal over time and eventually be able to widen the times between meals. An ideal snack would be Liver Pate with Apples. For a satiating snack on-the-go, I recommend Wild Zora's AIP-Friendly Meat and Vegetable Bars or Epic Bar's AIP-Friendly Varieties: Bison, Beef or Pork.
- Healing Foods – I also check on my stock of healing foods like bone broth, sauerkraut and kombucha, to see if I need to buy the ingredients to make new batches this week.
- Grocery List Staples – Once I've written all of my recipe ingredients on my grocery list, along with a good list of vegetables, I look around my kitchen to see if I'm running low on any staple foods. I use an AIP grocery list as a reference.
- Last Tips – (1) When you write down your meal plan, also note which meat/seafood needs to be defrosted each day for the next day's meal. (2) Plan batch cooking and veggie prep. on your days off, so you can pull dinner together quickly on a worknight. (3) Choose a variety of foods for your weekly menu. The more diverse our choices, the better our nutrition. We all end up having favorite recipes, but it's also good to try something new once in a while to keep us from getting into food ruts. Check out the weekly AIP Recipe Roundtable for inspiration. (5) Has your food seemed bland lately? Spice up your meals with this Condiment Recipe Roundup. (6) Are you a new cook and feeling a little intimidated, or just finding the transition to the AIP challenging? Listen to my recent podcast: Cooking and Baking Tips from the Paleo Masters.
- Printable PDFs – If you bought my book, A Simple Guide to the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol, just send me your receipt for some free bonuses – a printable PDF of the AIP Food Pyramid, AIP Foods to Avoid, and AIP Grocery List.
Brain Fog? Too Busy? There are Meal Plan Resources Available
When you look at my process above, it may seem overwhelming. Brain fog is a common symptom of autoimmune disease. At its worst, it's hard to carry on a conversation, never mind organize a week's worth of meals. The good news is that this is one of the first symptoms that improves on the Paleo Autoimmune Protocol (AIP). However, if you're just starting, or simply very busy, you might want someone else to do the meal planning for you. There are now lots of great resources available:
- A Free 2-Week Online Meal Plan: This was compiled by petra8paleo, with recipes from some of your favorite AIP bloggers, including me.
- Meal Plan E-Books: Christina Feindel is a meal plan master. Check out my review of her first one: 28 Days of AIP. She has since created another one called 28 Days of One-Pot AIP – Less dishes makes us all very happy! And her latest one is 28 Days of No-Cook AIP, designed for preparing healthy meals while traveling.
- Meal Plans in Printed Cookbooks: Two of your favorite AIP cookbooks contain meal plans that incorporate those cookbook's recipes. The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook has 8 weeks of meal plans and The Healing Kitchen Cookbook has 12 weeks of meal plans.
- Low-FODMAP AIP Meal Plans: If you have SIBO, you might be on a Low-FODMAP diet in addition to the AIP, making meal planning especially challenging. Here are some meal plans available to help: the FODMAP-Free Paleo Breakthrough and 28 Days of Low-FODMAP AIP. And Michelle Hoover recently published a 30 Day Gut Healing Diet Plan. Every recipe is 100% AIP, but it also includes both Low-FODMAP and GAPS (Low-Starch) modifications, allowing people to personalize the meal plan to their needs.
- Wahls Protocol Meal Plan: Terry Wahls' healing diet is slightly different than the AIP. You can find the details in my article: Wahls Protocol Book Review. For those of you following her protocol, she has an annual meal plan subscription membership.
- Subscription Meal Plan: Update 2/21/16 – I have been working with RealPlans to make sure their AIP filter is true to the protocol. They are such great people! When they originally started offering AIP recipes, they accidentally included some non-AIP ingredients. My readers let me know, I reached out to them, and they put a lot of work into correcting those mistakes. Now, they have 143 true AIP recipes available through their subscription service. So, what is RealPlans? It's a monthly subscription meal planning service, and it's very cool. When you first login, go to to “Settings” and select “My Diet”. Select the AIP meal plan, and it will automatically search for recipes that fit the protocol. But here's where it gets fun! You can add extra restrictions if you have additional food sensitivities. And if you have successfully reintroduced some foods, like eggs or white rice, you can include those foods back into your search. It's totally customizable to your dietary needs: When you are ready to select your recipes, always check the box “my diet” so that the recipes offered meet your needs. Then, you can filter recipes by additional criteria, like the ingredients you have on-hand in the kitchen, or how much time you want to spend cooking. And for my international friends, you can choose measurements in US or metric! Once you've planned your menu, it generates the shopping lists for you (and lets you check off any items you already have at home). Lastly, it gives you a suggested timeline for preparing the meals, even reminding you to do things like defrost the meat or seafood. You can tell that real home cooks created this service! Learn more here: RealPlans.
The Genius of Batch Cooking
What is batch cooking? It's spending an hour (or a few hours) in the kitchen, preparing a lot of food at once so you can eat quick meals the rest of the week. There are some great AIP Batch Cooking tutorials online:
- The Batch Cooking Guru in the AIP Community is Mickey Trescott, the author of The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook. She created a video tutorial which includes recipes and meal plans to cook an entire week's meals in just 2 two-hour sessions. It's called AIP Batch Cook.
- Phoenix Helix Podcast: In Episode 55, batch cooking masters share their tips.
- Adventures in Partaking put together a Batch Cooking Recipe Roundup, which also includes some tips for batch cooking success.
- Sweet Potatoes and Social Change shares her batch cooking routine in this post: How To Spend Less Time in the Kitchen.
- Ayce to Better Health loves batch cooking with her grill: Batch Cooking a Healing Diet in the Summer.
- Lastly, The Healing Kitchen cookbook contains 2 weeks of batch cooking meal plans.
Ready? Set? Cook!
When I started the AIP 3 years ago, none of these resources were available. We've come a long way, baby! That's because the AIP community is now full of thousands of people reclaiming their health. We're a movement, and it's both empowering and inspiring to see! What are your best meal planning tips? Please share in the comments below.
I've written a series of articles to guide you through the autoimmune protocol, step by step. It includes FAQ, mistakes to avoid, book reviews, and more. Click here to see the whole list.