Hey guys - Matt here! We’ve now been at this whole paleo thing for 3 and 2/3 years. We think we have it down pretty well. It’s no longer much of an effort to stay paleo because it’s become so second nature to us.
But we continue to get questions on the blog, the podcast and in real life that essentially ask “How do you actually do it?” Apparently, we’ve forgotten how hard it was in the beginning to figure out how to leave behind the old paradigms and step into the brave new paleo world. In response, we wrote 3 Phase Paleo to help people with that switch. But we wanted to provide even more insight to satisfy people’s curiosity.
We’ve said before that we don’t meal plan. At all. Frankly, I don’t organize myself to begin with and prefer the spontaneity of choosing something in the morning to make in the evening and organizing my day around that. That’s probably not helpful to you, but what if instead I tell you what I actually feed the people and you reverse engineer a meal plan that way?
So, without further preamble, here’s what we actually eat.
Every Sunday, Stacy and I try to do brunch for the boys. That means, yes, you may have a banana or apple when you wake up, and we will make you breakfast by 11 AM. Sunday brunch is a big deal to Stacy and it’s the only meal of the week she will reliably participate in making. In addition to making bacon and sausage (usually our farm’s bacon and sausage), we’ll also make pancakes or waffles and a frittata or egg scramble. Sometimes we’ll make egg muffins, with lots of extras so boys have an easy reheat breakfast for hurried mornings. On special occasions we’ll even bake muffins or a bundt cake for on the side.
In the afternoons, I’ll usually start a pot or two of stock on the stove. The stock I make on Sunday is used throughout the week, especially in Stacy’s Soups. Sometimes we’ll either make cookies or another treat with the boys or use the time to experiment and invent new recipes. This week, we made kombucha gummies and will have them on the blog soon!
Often this will be a grocery shopping day, as well (or else I go when boys are in school). Other than a list of staples we’re running low on (buy 6 dozen eggs, if it’s wintertime, 4 bunches of bananas, cold brew coffee, bacon), I simply look for sale items and what looks good to me for the week. I try to focus on cheaper produce items, like cabbage, carrots, the largest butternut squash I can find. I’ll also sprinkle in some more expensive varieties too, like Brussels sprouts and asparagus. Variety is key to me. I want to make sure that the family eats as many different types of vegetables in a week as possible. I have a vague cladogram in my head of what the different vegetable families are.
Cole saw these at the store and was excited by the “paleo” label, but when he read the ingredients and saw “brown rice syrup” he said,
“Don’t buy these – they are NOT paleo!” So proud of him!
But it’s not all frugality here. We also have some more expensive favorites that tend to end up in the cart. Like roast beef, prosciutto, or smoked salmon alongside the mortadella, turkey, salami and bologna.
You know, come to think of it, other than the occasional can of pineapple or olives, a couple frozen items and cold brew coffee, I do mostly buy produce and lunch meat at the grocery store. 3 Phase Paleo breaks down the full list of items we buy and which stores we’ve found to have the best deals, if you want more information on how we shop.
For dinner on Sunday, I find that comfort foods work best. I’ll throw together a meatloaf or a bacon chicken with some sauteed greens or cabbage. Something starchy on the side like a sweet potato or roasted butternut squash.
Monday through Friday Mornings
During the week, I am woken with the children running through the halls, not preparing themselves for school in any way.
Usually, I’ll throw on some pants around 7:15am and start making food for everyone. This is a process that takes me anywhere from 20 minutes to 90 minutes every day and I do it without taking a shower, which is strictly forbidden until everyone is out the door.
First I make Stacy’s breakfast, which is almost always a soup or a stir fry of some kind. I’ve detailed how I make Stacy’s Soups, and it’s honestly something I really enjoy doing. It’s a lot of fun to try new combinations of vegetables and meats and to throw different herbs and spices in an attempt to get that elusive text around 10 AM: That soup you made was great! What did you do?
Next I’ll make breakfast for boys. Usually, this is eggs of some kind. Jeremiah insists on “plain eggs”, but I don’t feel that that’s enough of a well-balanced breakfast. So I try to throw things in with the eggs. Making egg scrambles is easy. Simply saute some veggies (like onions, mushrooms, broccoli, zucchini, spinach or root veggies) and meat (like pulled pork, sausage, or bacon), then, when cooked through, pour your scrambled eggs on top and cook as you normally would. We serve that with some fruit on the side.
Alternatives from the boys include grain-free granola with coconut milk yogurt along side plain eggs or hard boiled eggs (if we’re super pressed for time) or frozen waffles if we have some leftover in the freezer . Also, bacon. Or sausage.
Monday Through Friday Lunches
Everyday, I buy a Big Mac from McDonalds with large fries and a large Mountain Dew for lunch……
Just kidding. McD’s doesn’t sell Mountain Dew.
First I’ll package Stacy’s lunch. Often she’ll just have a salad with meat (cooked chicken, tuna salad, smoked salmon, or steak). Or leftovers. Stacy’s only rule to me is No bones! I’m very self-conscious about chewing off a bone at work! which seems a tad paranoid and neurotic to me, but whatever!
Then the boys pack their lunches. We stick to the five part lunch: meat, vegetable, fruit, water and treat. Ensuring also, we have a fat, protein and carb. For more on how we pack lunches see this post or this post and check out Eat Like a Dinosaur! And this podcast with rapid fire ideas should cover you for months!
Finally, if Wes goes to school that morning, I pack his snack. We bring his snack to school each day because often times the communal snack consists of something like cheese sticks, goldfish crackers, and a muffin. To me, his snack must consist of one meat, one fruit and one vegetable. I’ve traditionally give him salami or meat sticks or chicken for his meat, apple sauce or grapes or clementines or raisins, and carrot sticks or black olives or seaweed.
Monday‘s dinner is often a soup or stew made with the stock I have just cooked. Nothing is more comforting than a hot stew in the wintertime and few foods are so delicious and nutritious as homemade stock! Not only can you use your stock to make a soup, but we also braise meats in it! Stacy is always begging me to braise her some beef or lamb and serve it over cauli-mash!
On Tuesday, since I sometimes have to work in Wesley’s school, which is exhausting, I find that it’s the perfect day to use the crockpot. I just got a new one with a temperature probe and I’m quite excited about it! Crockpot cooking is dead simple. All you need to make a great crockpot meal is some cheap braising meat, some hearty veggies, some herbs and some broth. Maybe some wine as well. Then it cooks while you find better things to do!
For more information on using a slow cooker, Arsy knows the scoop!
Wednesday is Stacy’s Strongman night so that’s our “leftover and hot dog night”. If Stacy’s not eating with us, and since Jackie works nights, I don’t find much motivation to make a big dinner. We usually have some sort of leftovers to pull out from the fridge to let the boys pick from. If we’ve consumed everything in our path, we’ll cook up US Wellness Meats hot dogs or something of that nature. We may even do breakfast for dinner if the mood strikes us.
Seriously, the hot dogs are amazing!
Thursday is a good day for a lighter meal. Stacy doesn’t workout that evening, so maybe a zucchini pasta would be a good choice. Often we actually go for seafood that night. Some salmon or shrimp or tuna or even mussels would work really well on these evenings.
Friday is often our ethnic night. As I’ve said before, I’m a big fan of Thai food. So perhaps I’ll make some pad Thai or Panang curry. Other nights might see me make Mongolian beef or fried cauli rice. Perhaps I’ll be really adventurous and try something Russ made for The Domestic Man with a nearly unpronounceable name!
Saturdays start off with family CrossFit, so we are all grabbing breakfast on the go. Grab some chicken! Grab some lunch meat! Grab a banana! Make a smoothie! Quick!
From there, our Saturdays become crazy. If there’s a day of the week we usually eat out on, it’s a Saturday. Where would we go? Our favorites are Elevation Burger or Cava Mezze Grill or Chipotle for a fast meal. For slower sit down fare, Red Robin or Thai or Vietnamese is our choice. And you know what? We do not feel guilty about eating out once a week. At all.
And after that, we go home and relax after our family fun day!
So that’s how we do it here at the Toth-McCarry house! We hope that gives you a better idea of how we eat paleo everyday. For more ideas, I have a suggestion for you… most of these recipes and ideas – plus a whole lot more – are in the 118 pages of 3 Phase Paleo!
For more ideas on how to make paleo work for your family, try our new ebook!