LAZY, NON-GOURMET PALEO MEALS

Beef and lamb burgers with mock-guac and steamed broccoli (topped with garlic, lemon zest and pine nuts).

Are we the only ones who have this problem? You get home at the end of the day, exhausted from work, housework, child care, etcetera, and it’s suddenly impossible to conceive of planning or cooking a meal — especially one that involves any amount of time or effort.

With that, I present a list of our “go-to” quick and easy Paleo meal options. None of these meals are gourmet masterpieces, nor are they remotely original ideas; this is merely a list of suggestions for those days when your decision making skills are fried (no pun intended) and you just need to get supper prepared as quickly and efficiently as possible, or risk falling prey to non-Paleo takeout.

1. Roasted chicken legs.
– Line a baking sheet with tinfoil (for easy clean-up).
– Brush chicken legs (bone-in, skin on) with a mixture of oil (olive and/or hazelnut works nicely), salt and pepper. If you want to get fancy, a little bit of Mrs. Dash Italian spice (sugar/salt-free!) is a nice accent.
– Bake for about 35 minutes at 385 degrees, then turn the broiler on high and broil for about five minutes to crisp the skin.
– While the chicken is cooking, dump a bag of pre-washed, chopped broccoli/cauliflower/carrot mixture into a steamer basket (or if you’re super lazy, these can even be microwave steamed right in their bag). Steam for five to eight minutes, then drizzle with olive oil.

2. Spaghetti squash and meatballs.
– Use any combination of ground beef/pork/lamb — about a half pound per person. The fattier the meat, the better.
– In a large bowl, mix the meat, with salt and pepper to taste. If you’re feeling really inspired, you can add an egg and/or a few tablespoons of almond meal to help keep the meat together, but this is by no means essential.
– Roll into bite-sized balls.
– Simmer in a pot of store-bought Paleo friendly tomato sauce (Safeway’s “Eating Right” brand contains no sugar, soy or canola!) until the meatballs are cooked through.
–  While the meatballs are cooking, cut a small spaghetti squash in half and remove all the seeds. Microwave in a shallow dish with about half an inch of water, cut side down, for 12 to 14 minutes, or until you can easily scrape the “spaghetti” out with a fork.
– Serve the squash topped with the meatballs and sauce.

3. Burgers.
– As above, you can do this with any combination of ground meats. Mix the ground meat in a bowl with salt and pepper to taste.
–  Form into one centimetre thick patties (thinner ones may fall apart when you flip them; thicker ones will take too long to cook, and will become even thicker during cooking).
– Pan-fry on medium-high, flipping frequently, until the juices run clear.
– Top with mock-guac (mashed avocado mixed with spices such as onion/garlic powder, chipotle and cilantro).
– Serve with chopped cruciferous vegetables (rainbow bell peppers, carrot sticks, celery sticks).

4. Breakfast for dinner.
– Pretty self-explanatory, and always a popular choice. Eggs any style, breakfast meat (optional) and some cut-up fruits and/or veggies. If we don’t have any fatty breakfast meat handy, I’ll usually add some avocado slices to boost the fat content.

5. Steak and salad.
– Ribeye or strip loin (New York) steaks tend to be our favourites for the best results in the shortest amount of time and with the least effort
– Use pre-washed mixed greens to save on prep time, and add cherry tomatoes and a sprinkling of nuts or seeds (e.g. hazelnuts, slivered almonds, sunflower seeds). Top with olive oil and balsamic vinegar.

So there you have it: five of our quickest, easiest — and most unoriginal 🙂 — Paleo dinners!

What is your “go-to” Paleo meal for those nights when you just don’t feel like cooking?

17 responses to “LAZY, NON-GOURMET PALEO MEALS

  1. Yes, this is a huge problem for us, and our baby hasn’t even arrived yet! I can’t imagine how difficult it will be to cook dinner once the baby is here!

    My favorite “lazy” paleo dinners are: taco salad (ground beef seasoned w/taco seasoning on lettuce w/salsa, avocado & tomatoes) and baked salmon (we also use the foil trick for quick cleanup) & steamed (frozen) veggies.

    • Taco salad — why on earth has that never occurred to us? I love Mexican food, but of course we rarely eat it because there’s nothing Paleo about a corn tortilla 🙂 Never even thought to wrap taco fillings in lettuce. I bet this would also work well with chicken tenders. Thanks!!

  2. I hear you. I love cooking, but despise cooking after a long, exhausting day! I try to cook one slow meal on the weekends (large roast or maybe ribs), but during the week I keep it simple.

    We also do burgers and steaks, usually each happen once per week! I also enjoy chicken leg quarters seasoned with salt, pepper, dry mustard, and some honey. I bake these ~45 minutes @375 degrees. Any leftovers are great for on a salad or stuffed into mini bell peppers for lunch the next day.

    I do taco soup a lot…although this isn’t necessarily quick, it’s fairly simple:
    Ground meat, browned with garlic/onions/diced bell peppers, then add ro-tel diced tomatoes (two cans: one of the cilantro flavor, one of the hanbanero–are these paleo?), mix in whatever taco seasonings you enjoy (mmmm, cumin) and then add broth or water until all the ingredients are swimming. I simmer/boil until the liquid is a bit lower than the top ingredients. Toppings may vary, depending on your paleo strictness. I usually add sour cream and cheese, but if you’re avoiding dairy, go for some avocado or even leave the toppings off. While I appreciate a hearty serving of fat, leaner ground meat seems to work best with this soup.

    • Chicken-stuffed peppers sounds like a great idea! Do you cook the peppers, or leave them raw? I think the taco soup could be a really good “make a big batch and freeze it” dish, and I could just add the avocado (and maybe a bit of cheese for a treat) afterwards.

      • I leave the peppers raw and eat them cold using them as a sandwich replacement: finger food that you fill with your favorite stuffing! 8)
        Yes, I’ve frozen the taco soup into individual servings and taken them to work for lunch. It works perfectly!

  3. Fish tacos on romaine. Sometimes I get the fish marinating in the morning and then I just need to saute it in the pan for about five minutes–serve it up on some romaine with avocado and whatever other veggies I can find in the fridge.

    We always have leftovers–I make a whole oven chicken once a week with a bunch of sweet potatoes or a whole kabucha squash. Then when I need a quick meal–just reheat some chicken, squash, and add a salad.

    Canned salmon (one local brand here even uses BPA free cans–hooray!) over salad greens with a basic lemon/olive oil dressing is another easy favorite.

    Oven fish–just a salmon fillet with oregano, salt, pepper, a drizzle of olive oil, topped with lemon slices and baked 10-15 minutes. Pop in some brussels sprouts at the same time for some yummy roasted goodness (not while breastfeeding in the early days though–gassy foods make for gassy babies!).

    Zucchini noodles are great in the spring/summer with meatballs.

    Burgers on romaine.

    Sometimes we’ll do chicken sausages, with cauliflower rice and a squash thing of some kind.

    I love food :-).

    Our wee girl arrived safely at home on 1/9! Phew, breastfeeding does seem to be easier the second time around, but there could be many factors contributing to this, in addition to experience. We’re all about the easy food these days!

    • Huge congratulations!! I was wondering when we’d hear the good news. Sounds like everyone is healthy and happy. 🙂 How is your older daughter handling being a big sister?

      I’m not a huge fan of canned salmon, but I really love canned tuna mixed with avocado (instead of mayo) and spices as a lunch or snack. It’s a nice, tasty fat and protein bomb.

      Haven’t tried zucchini noodles yet, but I saw a recipe that called for them, and they sounds pretty simple to make. I’ve heard they have a pretty neutral flavour that absorbs whatever sauce is used with them. Do you find that to be the case?

  4. Thank you so much for this! I’m headed into the 3rd trimester with our second child (first one just turned 2) and am starting to find some of the more complex meals I like to be less fun to make. As it turns out, our grocery store had chicken legs on sale today so guess what’s for dinner! 🙂

    • Another nice thing about chicken legs is that they’re usually cheaper than breasts. I actually prefer cooking the moist leg/thigh meat because it’s very forgiving and doesn’t dry out, and the fact that it’s less expensive is kind of a bonus. Congratulations on your little one on the way! 🙂

  5. Thanks for all of the great ideas! One thing that I do to save time is throw something in the crockpot overnight or in the morning. It does take a little prep time, but we sometimes just throw a pork shoulder or beef roast in with some chopped tomatoes, onions, and herbs and let it go! We also do jambalaya this way. It is so nice to walk in after work and dinner is already done!

    • We went through a crockpot phase for a while and I don’t know why we haven’t been using it much lately. It was really nice to make huge quantities of stews and then freeze them. Like you said, there’s a bit of prep time involved, but it’s really not so bad when the work is done during a period of motivation, as opposed to right before dinner, when we’re hungry and tired.

  6. I made these the other day, which I think more or less tick all the paleo boxes….. they were DELICIOUS! I think you could batch cook them, freeze them and then defrost and re-heat by steaming them (in a steamer on greaseproof paper, I re-heated some yesterday like that and they were lovely and moist…..).

    http://www.guardian.co.uk/lifeandstyle/2011/sep/30/turkey-cake-yoghurt-dip-recipes

    Also, I have a good chicken thigh + chorizo + smoked paprika slow cooker dish which is perfect for the winter, and freezes well too…. let me know if you are interested!

    • That recipe looks insanely delicious! We’d love to have the slow cooker dish recipe too – it sounds like a great one to make in bulk 🙂

  7. The steak and salad is my go to meal if I’m feeling a bit lazy. I also like to keep cooked chicken in the fridge and alternate between the two. Salmon is another favorite choice of mine as well.

    -Mitchell

    • Lots of votes for fish. I am a big fan of fish (J not as much) and I’d like to start including it in our meals more often, both for the health benefits and the fact that it is relatively quick and easy to prepare.

  8. What I’ve been doing recently is trying to do most of the cooking on Sunday when I have more time. I’ll roast a whole chicken in the oven and then prep or cook something in the crockpot like a pot roast or pulled pork. I might also cook a third dish like a soup. I’ve been making meatball soup and beef soup a lot lately. I try to cook or prep at least some of the veggies for the week too. If we have 2-3 vegetables cooked and 2-3 proteins that tends to get us through most or all of the week (there are only 3 of us) and I mostly just have to re-heat things in the evening. One go-to meal I like is salmon burgers. I use two 6oz cans of salmon and mix it with a little flax meal and water (my husband won’t eat eggs, but I think they would hold together better if one egg was used instead of the flax and water) and make 3-4 burgers out of the mixture. Then I cook them in some sort of fat until they are crispy on the outside (about 4 min each side). My son loves these!

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