Unlike my paleo ancestors, I don’t have to hunt and gather daily to provide sustenance to my family. However, I do find myself on a weekly hunting and gathering trip to collect groceries. This has been a cultural transition for me! Back when I ate large amounts of processed foods, I would make a monthly trip to the grocery store and stock up on all kinds of prepared packaged and frozen foods. Now, I make a weekly trip to several stores to purchase fresh, and as often as possible organic, foods.
The main difference? The foods I eat now can go bad! I purposely seek out fresh, organic produce and fresh (or frozen) organic meats. We do have staple foods that don’t require weekly renewal such as dried fruits and nuts, but generally, our daily foods need frequent refreshing. In choosing to shop this way, I’m following several of my favorite food rules from Michael Pollan’s book “Food Rules – an Eater’s Manual” including:
- Eat only foods that will eventually rot
- Don’t eat anything your great-grandmother wouldn’t recognize as food
- Shop the peripheries of the supermarket and stay out of the middle
- Avoid food products that contain more than five ingredients
These rules really help me continue to purchase only those items that support a paleo diet. More and more I find that as I wander through the supermarket, there is nothing for me in the center aisles (with the exception of tea and coffee). All the good, fresh, and natural foods are around the edge. Even then, I carefully read any labels to make sure no sugar or high fructose corn syrup has been added to what looks like a healthy product. Dried fruit is often a victim of this type of addition – and added sugar can quickly turn a healthy snack into a health disaster.
Once I’ve finished with my hunting and gathering at my local farmer’s market, health food store, Trader Joe’s, and Costco, then it’s time to haul my finds home.
The next key to successfully implementing the paleo lifestyle is to organize all these wonderful grocery finds and plan for the weeks meals. Organization starts with the fridge where I make sure I clean out any old stuff and stock all the new fresh veggies and fruits in the bottom of the fridge. Fresh meats that I plan to eat in the next two days and eggs also go into the fridge in the middle section. The top is reserved for almond flour, hazelnut flour, filtered water, and any open boxes of milk (almond, coconut, or hazelnut) and broth.
Next is the freezer. I sort the meats into stacks on the top shelf so I can easily see what I have: beef, lamb, pork, chicken, goat, alligator (yes, alligator), and anything else I’ve found. Meats should be easy to see for planning purposes and also to reduce frantic early morning hunts through the freezer for something for dinner. Frozen veggies and fruits – new bags only, go on the next shelf down. Open bags of veggies and fruits go in the freezer door. Remember to rotate, putting new frozen meats, veggies and fruits to the back or bottom of the stack so you use the older products first.
Finally, the pantry. Now everyone has their own method to organize the pantry. Mine is again based on category. I have an entire shelf dedicated to veggies – canned tomatoes, tomato puree, beans, beets, carrots, sauerkraut, pickles, marinated mushrooms, pickled asparagus, etc. Next is a shelf dedicated to fruit – bags of fresh apples, pears, and mandarin oranges and canned peaches, pears, pineapple, lychee, and cherries (if you purchase canned fruit try to purchase fruit canned in water or in the lightest syrup possible. If you get it in any kind of syrup, rinse the fruit in a colander before eating.) The dry goods shelf contains pumpkin seeds, nuts (except for walnuts and pecans which I keep in the freezer), dried fruit, Lara Bars, Bumble Bars, and 100% fruit bars.
Organizing all my “hunted and gathered” foods makes it faster and easier to put together three home cooked meals a day and maintain our paleo lifestyle.