Paleo Kitchen: The Method Behind My Madness

vegYou know how when you’re daydreaming about packing a little travel case and hopping on the Concorde to Paris (because in your daydream the Concorde still exists and you can get to Paris in three and a half hours), you think about how if you take black boots and a black skirt and a black turtleneck and a black silk blouse and, like, six different scarves, and pink AND red lipstick and a newsboy cap AND a beret, you can make, like, a million outfits and won’t that be chic and fun and so Frenchie!

Well, that’s what I do in the kitchen.

I make a food LBD and accessorize! And I’m going to tell you how to do it, too.

First, a few disclaimers:

1. I don’t mind leftovers. Never have. In fact, when I find delicious, pre-cooked food in my fridge, it makes me feel like someone else made me dinner. I HATE making food then immediately sitting down to eat it. Chopping and stirring and figuring out the timing of getting everything to the table at once is a completely different mindset than eating – and I strongly dislike the collision of the two.

2. I love Cooking and hate making dinner; see above. Cooking is art and love and experimentation and relaxation and fun. Making dinner is “If I don’t get that food from its ingredient state into dinner state and into my mouth soon, I’m going to murder someone.”

3. I tend to really like what I like. I never grow tired of listening to Social Distortion on my iPod. I ALWAYS cry at the part of When Harry Met Sally when Harry runs through New York on New Year’s Eve – in that really terrible jacket and lame sneakers – to get to Sally to tell her he loves her. And I can eat the same thing for a long time, especially if it’s delicious. Who gets tired of delicious?!

NOTE: If you differ on the points above, you can still learn from some of my tricks – just think about how you can modify them to work for you.


You need BPA-free containers with tight-fitting lids. Over the summer, when we had our food epiphany, we got rid of all the mismatched containers and bought rectangular ones that stack neatly, allow us to see what’s inside, and fit inside our not-very-large refrigerator. I know it’s nerdy, but you should do it. Really.

How Long Can You Keep Food In The Fridge?

I get asked this question a lot. I keep my cooked meat and veg about 5-6 days. That makes some people nervous; it is a personal choice. Here are some other articles that offer guidelines for how long to keep cooked food in the fridge:
Food Safety 101 from TheKitchn
Leftovers Guide from The Daily Meal

Planning Snacks & Meals

Every week, I eat almost the same snacks every day. That way, when I go shopping, I know I need to buy a bunch of X. For example, my snack for the last few weeks has been a salad made with cucumbers, olives, and olive oil, with some kind of protein on the side – and sometimes, an additional vegetable either on the side or thrown into the salad.

I calculated how much of the ingredients I needed to make it every day for five days (That’s a LOT of cucumbers!), so when I go shopping, I know I need 10 cucumbers, a few cans of olives, and “support veggies” that I can choose on the fly. Sometimes I add green pepper or tomatoes, or eat a pile of snap peas on the side. The spontaneous veggies help me from getting bored, and the consistent veggies mean I don’t realize at 6:00 a.m. that I don’t have food to pack for a work snack. The added bonus is that I also know I’m hitting good nutrition: I’ve got at least 2-3 servings of vegetables, some quality protein, and two sources of quality fats in each snack pack. Score!

Meat… Ready-to-Go

I build most of my meals from the protein up… so I grill a TON of meat at once. You might have seen my previous post about how much it takes to keep both Dave and I fed. It’s a lot of meat, and grilling means I have raw materials for lots of kinds of dishes. I’ll do a few pounds of chicken thighs and turkey sausage and pork chops on the grill – and then I’ll sauté a few pounds of ground beef or lamb with garlic powder and salt. I just package it all up in the containers and stack it in the fridge so we have a base for our meals.

Cooked meat can be served “diner style” with veggies on the side… or diced for a stir fry… or simmered in a quick coconut milk curry. We also often eat what we call “Piles.” I sauté cabbage or broccoli or green beans with some kind of ethnic seasoning (Ras el Hanout or Italian herbs or Mexican chili powder), then pile the meat on top.

That’s my strategy for lunch, too. I put two vegetables in a container, pile the right amount of protein on top, and bring along some tahini dressing or Moroccan dipping sauce to drizzle over the pile. Homemade condiments are magic; see below.

Vegetables in Advance

We eat a lot of fresh veggies, but I almost always prepare them in advance. On Sunday, I take an hour, and I become a Veg-O-Matic. I chop and sauté a bunch of different veggies with garlic powder and salt: cabbage, zucchini, snap peas. I roast heartier veggies in the oven: Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, spaghetti squash. I chop cauliflower in the food processor so it’s ready to be turned into cauliflower fried frice or cauliflower “couscous.” And I steam green beans and broccoli so they can be sautéed with olive oil and garlic later. Same rules as the meat apply: I mix-and-match the veggies to make all kinds of dinners and flavors.

Some veggies are “special”… like lettuce, fennel, snow peas, and kale. Those I prepare just before we’re going to eat them, but because everything else is usually good-to-go, my earlier rules about cooking vs. making dinner don’t apply.

I always have chopped frozen broccoli, spinach, and collard greens in the freezer. I like all of those for breakfast. They’re great to throw into eggs with some protein. You can add herbs to make it like a French omelet (thyme is good), or coconut aminos  (or homemade substitute) and then it’s kind of like egg foo yung.

The frozen veggies are also great for a quick packed lunch: I just throw the plain, defrosted veg in a container and top with diced, cooked protein. In a pinch, I’ve been known to throw FROZEN veggies into my lunchtime container. They defrost by noon in the fridge and then the microwave heat-up process makes them tender. Once the tahini sauce hits the veggies, it doesn’t matter too much that they were frozen.

Breakfast for Dinner

By Thursday or Friday, we’re often starting to run low on stuff and no one wants to go to the grocery store on Friday night. That’s when breakfast for dinner saves the day. Eggs with veggies (I like well-done fried eggs on a bed of greens with chopped tomatoes on top) are super filling and nutrient-rich. Bacon on the side is a super bonus.

Condiments and Spices: The Accessories of the Food World

If you always have tahini, coconut milk, sunbutter, and almond butter on hand, you can make a lot of flavorful food from basic ingredients.

Tahini Dressing
Sunshine Sauce
Moroccan Dipping Sauce
Homemade Olive Oil Mayo
The Best Stir-Fry Sauce Ever

And here’s a giant post about the spices I always have on-hand to make sure my food is an international whirlwind of flavor fun.

New Recipes

Even I, the least spontaneous girl you know, like to shake things up once in a while, so Dave and I usually pick a new recipe every other week or so. I like to choose a non-dino recipe and adapt it or test out others’ paleo recipes. But I only pick one new dish at a time because those usually take longer, and I think it’s really important to balance time spent in the kitchen against the result. (If I was at work, we’d be calling it ROI.) Grilling a ton of meat takes about 15 minutes from start to finish; I made a fish recipe once that was delicious but had me fussing in the kitchen for an hour. That’s not a good ROI for the week.

But sometimes experimentation really pays off.

For New Year’s Eve, we made a smoked and roasted pork shoulder that kept us in meals for a full week. It was delicious and easy and all-together wonderful. And now it will be a staple that I’ll probably make a few times a month.

And that, dear friends, is how I make sure we don’t run out of food or spend way too much time in the kitchen. I hope this is helpful to you. Post questions to the comments section.

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  • Barbara says:

    I just love the fact that your blog is always FULL of kickass recipes, ideas and fun!


  • Mary says:

    Such a great post! It makes me feel less crazy to see all the food you buy. Sometimes I feel like my husband and I buy twice as much food as our friends, and go through it twice as fast.

    But now I think we may be in line with other paleo-eating couples — just not with people who stock up on chips and eat out a lot.

  • jencereghino says:

    Really great post!

    I get the same heart-warming sensation when I open the fridge to really tasty leftovers. And, to me, it seems most of these concoctions actually taste better the next day. But then again, I was that girl with the tupperware containers, full of last night's meal, in my school lunch sack growing up. Maybe that's why I never really had any bartering power…those kids didn't know what they were missing out on!

    The thing I love most about your blog, besides the incredibly useful info, is the way it always leaves me wanting more! Love your writing, love your info…keep it up!

  • StacyD says:

    I do something similar with salads. I start with a real head of lettuce (not the bagged stuff), tear it by hand, wash it thoroughly, and spin it dry. Then I put it into either three or four good containers, then pile stuff on top. I use sun-dried tomatoes because they don't get all mushy and are consistent tasting. I de-seed cucumbers so they don't get all mushy. I vary the protein (grilled chicken, beef, salmon, etc). As long as I start with "real" lettuce, my salads will still be fresh after 5 days and I'm more likely to make them. Takes me about 1/2 an hour to make 4 salads. Voila!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Barbara –> Thank you! I'm glad you like it.

    Mary –> I know what you mean! And yeah, you need a lot more food if you don't eat out. But the money and calorie/crap savings totally make up for it.

    Jen –> Thank you for the kind words. I have plenty more to come!

    StacyD –> I love the sundried tomato idea. I bet they'd be stellar on my cucumber & olive salad. Thanks for the tip!

  • Erin says:

    Mel – thanks for the (as always) fantastic post. Reading this has made me realize that I definitely spend too much time trying to get dinner on the table – time for me to streamline that process! Thanks for the insight into your methods.

    I'm loving this series – keep 'em coming!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    I wish I could say all of this frees me from the kitchen. But… it does save me time, and if that helps you, too, I'm glad.

    I packed my lunch in record time last night, and dinners this week have come together really well — but I spent about three hours playing around in the kitchen, on and off, on Sunday.

    I try to think about it this way: In the wild, animals spend a pretty good chunk of their day finding and eating food. If they could wander up to feeding troughs (aka, restaurants), they'd have more free time. But I'm not willing to just waddle to the trough 🙂

  • Lindsay says:

    There are some great looking recipes and yummy-stuff here. I am enjoying learning more about the paleo lifestyle and philosophies. The only thing that I couldn't get on board with is the recommendation to to store food in plastic. Do you know about xenoestrogens?

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Thanks for bringing that up, Lindsay! For readers unfamiliar, like I was, with xenoestrogens, here's a basic primer:

  • Cydney Smith says:

    Love this. I use pyrex glass storage containers. They nest as well. I also tend to store soup and sauce in big Mason jars.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    I considered glass containers. I REALLY did. But I drop things EVERY time I go into the fridge. Truly. I'm very dropsy.

    I'm newly committed to not heating anything in plastic, but I'm still storing in my unbreakable, disposable Ziploc containers. I'm hoping that's a good compromise.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    I should also mention: I know pyrex is unbreakable, but it's also kind of heavy… I ride the bus to and from work and pack my lunch every day, so I need lightweight containers.

    I know. I have many excuses.

  • dazzlingbetty says:

    excellent post. I'm a black belt in the kitchen, speedwise. I have three little boys and work a ton but putting a decent dinner on the table every night is important and we do it. This post helps me figure out new strategies and ways to take it to the next step as I figure out the path to Paleo eating for myself (starting with myself). so thanks, I love that you took the time to explain your methods, and I am your sister in Penzy and Pyrex.

  • dazzlingbetty says:

    oops – bad reading on my part. you are not so much with the pyrex. I drop those suckers all the time and they survive. not to take your excuses away! I remain your sister in Penzeys.

  • Melissa says:

    Just found you from Austin360. Love the site and this is an awesome post. Adding you to my reader 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Hooray! I’m glad you found me — and welcome to the Melissa Club. We have about 6 or so that regularly read and comment… it gets confusing around here with all the Mels. Thanks for the compliment!

  • brenna says:

    umm i love you-

    you have just taken a butt load of stress off of my shoulders. Now cooking for my 7 block guy doesnt seem like the end of the world!

    Just ordered your book and can’t wait to use it.

    thanks so much!

    • Mel says:

      So glad this is helpful — and Well Fed has even more detailed info like this that should really help make prepping enough food for everyone much easier. Enjoy!

  • kosherdino says:

    you are totally changing my world. i really needed a kickstart to get more veggies into my diet. i went out last week and bought and steamed veggies like you said and felt amazing all week! high energy, no sugar crashes (this is my problem…) thank you so much for all this well-organized help!

    • Mel says:

      YAY! That’s great news… it’s a nifty trick, right?! So much easier to eat well when the fridge is packed with good-to-go veggies.

  • Kathleen says:

    Just a quick question. When you are precooking all of your meats, how do you keep them from being overcooked in the final recipe? Thanks so much!

    • Mel says:

      Hey, Kathleen. Since the second cooking is really a “re-heat” the grilled/browned meat holds up pretty well. BUT, I like my meat pretty well done. If you’re concerned about that, you can always heat the fat, warm up your veggies, then throw in the meat at the last minute to just make sure it’s heated through. HOpe this helps!

  • Nicole says:

    This is all kinds of awesome. Thanks!

  • Katie Lewis says:

    I just found you and think I already love you 🙂 IM starting Paleo on Monday. Im already gluten and soy free so it wont be too much of a change.
    Just a quick question though…in the omlet you mentioned above you also suggested adding soy sauce. Isn’t soy banned on Paleo?Like I said Im super new to this so Im was just curious?

  • Elicia says:

    This is great. You are great. Your blog made me decide to try paleo, but I am a teacher and have been waiting until the end of the school year, because I figured it would be too hard to manage. But this post has changed my mind. I can do this! I am starting this weekend!

  • Tianna says:

    Made my first hot plate today….cabbage, ground pork and zucchini noodles w/ tsardust memories, paprika and caraway seeds….could have done without the caraway but still couldn’t get it in my face fast enough…snarf snarf. I love your cookbook so very much. <3

    • Mel says:

      That sounds super yummy. Glad you liked it! Sorry about the caraway seeds 😉

      Thanks for the Well Fed love. I really appreciate it!

  • Tina says:

    I love your site! My 6yo daughter and I have been gluten/dairy free for a few months now and as we listen more to our bodies, we are learning that there are a lot of foods we can’t tolerate. The list of foods I can’t eat are longer than hers, but with rice being one of my main problems, it cuts out most anything that is gluten free. In my search for foods I can cook, I keep coming across paleo recipes and I have to say I love the idea. I downloaded the sampler of your cookbook and I am hooked. The information you provide is fantastically practical and now I need to buy your cookbook!
    Thanks so much for sharing your knowledge with the world 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations on going gluten and dairy free… that is SO great. It’s amazing how you can feel how foods affect you when you start taking away the offenders, right?!

      Glad you liked the cookbook sampler — I hope you enjoy Well Fed. There are lots of tasty ideas in there, so happy cooking to you! Thanks so much for taking the time to comment.

  • Bill says:

    I’ll be brief. We (my wife, 13 year old daughter, and I) just started Paleo a month ago and we love it! I am 48 years old and haven’t felt this good in at least 25 years! My clothes are fitting differently now, and I wore a pair of trousers to church this past Sunday that I haven’t worn in a year.

    My wife got your cookbook for me yesterday, and I already love it! I am making the Scotch eggs tonight, and I am very excited about it!

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations on making the switch to paleo — it sounds like you’re doing great. FANTASTIC! Hope you feel like a million bucks.

      Thanks so much for buying Well Fed. Enjoy the Scotch Eggs!

  • WeaZel says:

    This idea makes a lot of sense to me, thanks! I am a little curious about how long it is safe to keep pre-cooked meat and veg in containers in the fridge though?

    (Husband is just starting to come around to the idea of not eating crap and getting him to eat leftovers can be tricky. He likes convenient crap foods but often overlooks perfectly good leftovers that he could just stick in the microwave)

    • Mel says:

      General guidelines say 4 days for leftovers — I keep my cooked meats and veg in the back of the fridge and usually stretch that to 5-6 days. But if you’re concerned, 4 days is the standard.

  • Cyd says:

    I’ve done a ton of reading on paleo and have read that a lot of times women don’t have the same results as men do. Do you think women and men should tailor their diets differently? And if so, how? Should women restrict the fruit and fats more if they want to lose weight? Thanks!

    • Mel says:

      This is going to an annoying answer, and I’m sorry — but within the paleo framework, it really is different for everyone. In my limited experience, I have found that it’s not a great idea for women who want to lose weight to go too low carb — and we should try to keep fat moderate, rather than high. You might want to start with 40 fat, 30 protein, 30 carb — or even 35-35-35 to see how you do. If you feel tired, eat more or adjust the carbs up a little bit.

      1-2 servings of fruit per day is about right — then get the rest of your carbs from veggies and some sweet potato.

      For more, check out the info on and

      • Cyd says:

        Not annoying, helpful! In order to figure out what percentages work best, do you use a calorie counting app or what is the best way to do this? Thanks!

        • Mel says:

          I use but there are lots of good ones out there. I like FitDay because it’s easy to get to the calorie breakdown to see the proportions of fat/carb/protein macronutrients. BUT the online site is a pain to use — I recommend the app if you have an iPhone or iPad.

          • Cyd says:

            This is all so helpful. Last question i PROMISE! What advice would you give to someone trying to start counting their macros? Like during the day if you see they are way off, how do you know how to adjust these numbers? Also, how long should you give your macronutrients a try? I am unsure on my percentages completely or what my goals should be.

  • Jennifer says:

    I love the fact that you watch When Harry Met Sally…my favorite movie of all time. Maybe that ages me(as I not so silently approach 50).

  • Mel says:

    Cyd, I’m sorry but those kinds of questions are way outside my area of expertise and they’re really specific to each person. My advice is to start with a Whole30 and work from there, using the guidelines for food quantity/proportions in It Starts With Food or the Whole30 Success Guide. There’s a free PDF on the Whole9 site that explains how much to eat as a starting point — then you can adjust from there.

    The food quantity guidelines are here:

    Scroll down to “Meal Planning Template”

  • connie says:

    I just got done reading it starts with food and made my way here looking for recipes. I am not the type that wants to spend time cooking meals and I was very surprised to see someone that could teach me to cook all at once! What a concept. Only cooking once a week is going to make healthy eating enjoyable instead of a chore. Thank you for opening my eyes to a new way of life. Thank you thank you!

    • Mel says:

      Glad you found this helpful! There are a lot more helpful tips in Well Fed, if you want more info on cookups and making paleo a little more manageable — plus lots of Whole30-approved recipes, in case you want to give a Whole30 a go.

      Happy holidays!

  • Konnie says:

    I am on day 4 of Whole30.I am a teacher going back to school on Monday. I was very nervous about fitting in enough time for my meal planning until I began reading through your blog. Your ideas are SO helpful. I am also hoping they will get healthier, more Paleo-like, lunches into my kids too. Thank you for what you do! 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Congrats on Whole30-ing! And best wishes for a smooth transition back to school. You can do it! A little bit of prep and you’ll be in good shape. YAY for you!

  • Lori says:

    This was super helpful, Mel. I have major migraine issues and am trying to go full-on clean to drop the frequency of them. Considering it is IMPOSSIBLE to eat out and eat clean, I’ve been trying to prep three meals a day for myself, and considering I work 10-12 hour days, it’s become a real chore. I feel like I’m ALWAYS in the kitchen when I’m not working. I’m on week two of make everything myself and I’m exhausted… and bored. I made a great curried chicken salad last Sunday, but made too much of it, and wanted to vomit when I opened my lunchbox today. Guess the trick is to make variety. Any suggestions how to keep my lunches interesting? (I work in the field so have no fridge or microwave.)

    • Mel says:

      I’m the wrong person to ask for variety ideas because I eat the same things for breakfast and lunch almost every day.

      Lunch is either leftovers from the day(s) before, or one of the following:

      tuna with homemade mayo + raw veggies
      sardines + raw veggies
      grilled chicken + raw veggies

      See? Sorry!

  • Missy says:

    So grateful to have found your site. I have been researching for a week. Have read Gut and Psychology Syndrome, It Starts with Food and The Maker’s Diet. I am the mother of 5 and have 2 with milk allergies, severe constipation and some other vague symptoms. I originally started looking for natural ways to help with the GI stuff to get the kids off the laxatives, and ended up down the rabbit hole!
    So much information it is overwhelming. But your blog is awesome and has talked me off the ledge. Feel a little less anxious and more confident about overhauling our family diet. Thanks for the fun, relaxed helpful info and recipes.

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations to you for taking on this challenge — you can do it! It Starts With Food is my favorite book for making sense of it all… you’re in good hands there.

      If you like the organizational info here on my site, you might want to get my cookbook Well Fed, which has more consolidated info on how to manage all the cooking. You can get a free preview of it here:

      If you have any questions as you continue your research, feel free to send me email!

  • Karen Mackee says:

    I love your Method and am ordering the book to find out more! I am wondering more about sauteeing the veggies up separately. Is there a reason beyond having the veggies available to throw into different dishes? I am thinking if I am going to make a particular dish during the week, why not steam/saute them together? Eager to learn more ways to improve food prep! Thanks

    • Mel says:

      I cook them separately so I can mix and match — also, some tougher veg need a little longer to steam than others, so if they’re cooked separately, you can monitor their mushiness vs. firmness. But you can mix them together to cook, if you like.

  • Also Melissa says:

    I’m still working on transitioning to a more Paleo diet. It’s hard because I am definitely addicted to sugar and knowing there is a restricted list just triggers my cravings even more.
    I definitely agree that it’s key to have lots of pre-cooked protein ready to go at all times. (Getting enough protein helps me fight off the sugar/carb cravings.)
    I also just discovered massaged kale. I wash and de-stalk one bunch of kale (you could probably do more for more people in the household). Put into a big bowl. Tear it up into mostly bite-sized pieces. Drizzle with olive oil (but could use other types) and some sea salt, then grab the leaves between both hands and twist in sort of a grinding motion (think wringing but with palms facing one another instead of clenched fists). Work through the entire bunch once or twice & let sit for at least 4 hours. This tenderizes the leaves and makes it ready to grab and toss into any salad like you would regular lettuce, but with all the added benefits of nutritious kale! And it keeps for several days in the fridge without getting too wilted, unlike regular lettuce or spinach. LOVE!
    Happy to have found your blog. Keep up the great work.

  • Sarah B. says:

    I love your website! I’ve been checking in for a while, but just found this post from a few years ago. Not sure you’ll still reply to a question from such an old post, but I’m wondering how you reheat the things you cooked earlier in the week? Especially roasted veggies and grilled meats. Just in the microwave? I’m not anti-microwave, as I know some paleo-ers are. But I’ve tried to reheat roasted broccoli (my absolute favorite veggie) in the microwave and it’s G.R.O.S.S. And a microwaved pork chop? Does that dry it out? After reading a bunch of your site, I’m guessing that you don’t settle for gross food, so I’m wondering how you do it?

    • Mel says:

      When I’m at home, I don’t reheat in the microwave – I get a non-stick skillet very hot, add a little bit of cooking fat (coconut oil or ghee), and quickly saute whatever it is I’m reheating.

      When I worked in an office, I used the microwave… the trick is to add a little liquid (like, a tablespoon of broth or water) to steam the food, rather than just “nuke” it.

  • Kat says:

    Stumbled across your blog, love it! Came for the recipes and thyroid info…staying for the joi de vivre. ” Waiter, I’ll begin with a house salad, but I don’t want the regular dressing. I’ll have the balsamic vinegar and oil, but on the side. And then the salmon with the mustard sauce, but I want the mustard sauce on the side. ” =)

  • Karen Thompson says:

    Hey, love your blog and am going through WF1 now. (I’m on day 12 of my first W30). I have a dumb question about your grilled chicken thighs – do you pull the meat off as soon as it’s cooked and dice it up before storing? I want to have plenty of options how I use it later but if I leave it on the bone, it’s harder to remove it all when chilled. I assume most of your recipes are for small pieces of chicken, but do you use whole thighs for things like your snack packs? thanks

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations on Whole30-ing!

      I always use boneless, skinless thighs, and I usually store them whole after cooking so I can decide in the moment how I want to cut them.

      Hope that helps!

  • Karen says:

    Ah, hadn’t even thought about boneless thighs. I tend to buy the regular ones with bone and skin b/c they are so much cheaper. Leaving them whole seemed best to me too until I tried to cut off meat later. I’ll get some boneless next time. thanks

  • Skully says:

    This post is a LIFESAVER for me! Thank you!!!! I mean, your whole site is, I am so incredibly grateful for it and everything you do, but this post- OMG this post!!! I feel silly that I never even thought to go about things in such a simplified way, and my mind is blown at how perfect and easy this makes everything! THANK YOU!!!! (Can you tell that I’m a bit excited at having a new perspective and have just made a list and idea of everything I’m going to do this week? lol!) 😀

    • Mel says:

      Hooray! I’m really glad you think this strategy is going to help you stay on track. It really does save time in the kitchen. Happy cooking to you!

      • Joy Bedford says:

        Hi and thankyou for this. I am on day 10 of my second whole 30 and I am finding if much easier this time, I think I might be getting more organised. I don’t have a set day to do a cook up but when I do cook I always make a huge batch so I can save some for work/breakfast. As a mum of 3 + my daughters friend, who works shifts there is never enough time. My husband and kids don’t follow the paleo lifestyle but they eat a lot of paleo food and enjoy it too. I love your cookbooks and your blog. Thanks again.

  • Laura says:

    Your disclaimer #2 is why my heart sinks a little at least once a day after having gone paleo. I ABHOR cooking to eat. And then dishes afterwards. It makes eating like going to the gas station in a hurry. Meal time becomes refueling instead of enjoyment.

    While 5-6 days in the fridge isn’t for me, I can stand doing something like this twice a week. That’ll give enough change, since I don’t share your sentiments with disclaimer #3.

    Thanks for sharing your methods. Maybe I can stick with primal eating.

    • Good luck to you! I think the trick is to find a system that works for you… and then it all gets much easier. You can use these tips as a starting point to find a way that will make it manageable for you. Happy cooking (and eating)!

  • Jamie says:

    This post is also very helpful. I think I am kind of in the same boat as Laura above. While I don’t mind leftovers at all, I can only stand the same type of protein for dinner maybe a couple nights in a row. Yet, I don’t really mind storing food for almost a week. My boyfriend, who doesn’t cook at all, may benefit from me “training” us to put together meals with the already cooked food, but I would still have to write out instructions and recipes for us to follow because we really are not ones to just come up with ideas on the fly. I do like cooking but I need some sort of recipe if its not something standard that I’ve cooked numerous times before. I’m the type that would probably have to look up what recipes I want to make that week and just precook everything I need for them. Also, it kind of scares me thinking of spending one of my days off just cooking all this meat and veggies in my small apartment kitchen, in my one frying pan and on my indoor electric grill!! Oh boy… lol
    Lunch on the other hand, I guess I kinda luck out because I work next to a grocery store and I can just get a quick salad from the salad bar with some oil and vinegar. Unfortunately, I know that most of the meat is probably packaged and the veggies on the bar probably aren’t organic but I try not to think about it to much. It’s just me being lazy for the most part. Not wanting to precook lunches at home for both my boyfriend and myself. Hes stuck in an office all day and usually ends up going out to eat for lunch or ordering lunch with his coworkers or most likely not eating anything at all all day. He works from around 9-6 usually and I don’t go in till 3 and get home around 9:40, so he waits till I get home for us to eat. So I usually start a lot of meals in the slow cooker before I go leave for work but I don’t get around to it all the time and those nights are often difficult! Breakfast is even more of a foreign concept for us as we wake up at completely different times. Usually it’s fruit and maybe some nuts on the go. If we are going to eat some natural fats and sugars every day, better for it to be first thing in the morning I guess. My boyfriend wouldn’t consider trying to cook up eggs and bacon for himself at 7am, while I’m still sleeping. Let alone adding anything interesting to the mix such as mushrooms, onions or herbs. It may sound like I’m making him out to be lazy but hes a complete workaholic when it comes to his career. Hes just not one for doing anything domestic unless I practically beg or bribe him! haha

  • Andrenna says:

    I did my first weekly cook-up thanks to you yesterday! It was rough, ugly and took me 4 hours to complete, but I think it’ll all be worth it this week when I have all my food prepared! Thanks for taking the time to share your method with us – I’m learning a lot from Well Fed and your blog.

    • Congratulations on your first cookup! I know it seems like a lot of time, but if you figure 45-60 minutes per night for making dinner and then also packing lunch, 4 hours isn’t so bad — it will save you TONS of time throughout the week. Enjoy eating the food you made!

      • Andrenna says:


        I had to come back a week later to let you know how much your weekly cookup has changed my life! This week has been a dream. First off, I eaten more veggies than ever because they were ready to go. I wasn’t tempted by takeout all week because the food I prepped was super yummy and easy to throw together. It’s actually faster, tastier (hello Sunshine Sauce!), cheaper and healthier than takeout! Secondly, and this one I hadn’t considered, the weekly cook-up has simplified my life! My kitchen was clean all week because I wasn’t in a mad rush to do a healthy meal in less than half a hour. I have more time after work to do what I want to do. I never would have thought about keeping a full week’s worth of meat and veggies in my fridge. Thank you so much for changing my life!

        • You are so thoughtful to come back and leave this lovely comment. Thank you!

          I’m really glad the cookup helped you this week. I have a big work week coming up, and I’ve started planning my cookup so I have good food ready to go. Even after almost 6 years paleo, the basics still really help me, too!

          Happy cooking & eating to you!

  • Alice Michael says:

    Thank you so much for this great article! I learned a lot! I have Well-Fed One and Two and I love your work.

  • Cheryl says:

    Mel…the level of thoroughness of your site is impressive and very apprciated! I’m on day four of W30. Your mayo has been a lifesaver for us. It started with the basic recipe, then I added a clove of garlic just for fun (amazing), then when I was trying to make a sauce for zucchini noodles tonight, I pureed some roasted sweet potatoes and added 2-3 T of your mayo to that…life will never be the same. I give the credit to you with all those tips and tricks for the mayo. Thanks a lot, Mel – looking forward to learning more from your site.

  • I just found out the most disturbing and sad news. Apparently, if you now rent When Harry Met Sally (possibly my fave movie of all time, too) THE MUSIC IS NO LONGER It Had To Be You for that scene. SACRILEGE!

  • allison says:

    AMAZING page!! Will saute steaming help veggies last longer in the fridge? i’m single and I like to have an assortment of stuff but I can never finish all of it.