Paleo Plan: The first few days

So, apparently I still know how to log in here.

I needed a place to write up my thoughts about trying out Paleo Plan, and this seemed like as good a place as any.

Intuitively, I like the idea of the “paleo” diet (though I’m not a huge fan of its adherents). An emphasis on whole foods, with a side effect of being lower carb by default (and not to hard to make totally low carb) seems like something that should work for me. Nerd 2 and I gave “going paleo” a try for a couple of months last year but couldn’t stick with it, non-paleo foods are just so much easier. And so very _there_, you know? I also felt a fair bit of guilt over foisting such a drastic lifestyle change on Nerd 2 when I had no reason to believe that it would do any good.

Anyways, between trainings and deployment, Nerd 2 is going to be out of the picture for the vast majority of 2014. In addition, 2014 is looking to be a crazy year for me what with working a new job, graduating school, bar exam, then (hopefully) working an even more stressful new job and all. I tend to be a bit control freaky in the kitchen, but I think that this year is not such a bad time let go a little, and have someone else tell me what to do.

Enter Paleo Plan. The basic idea is that for $10/month, they will prepare paleo friendly meal plans for 2 adults, cross-indexed to a shopping list and their recipe database. Essentially taking the thought out of meal planning, but still allowing me the actual cooking time that I enjoy.  They have a 14 day trial period, and I figured I’d test it out while Nerd 2 is away on his first stint.

Shopping

Right now, it’s Tuesday of my first week. I went shopping last Saturday. The shopping list was _long_. Even with trying (to some extent) to size things down for 1 person and taking into account the staples that I already have around the house, it was the fullest my shopping cart had been in a long time. I probably spend 20 minutes in the produce section getting everything together. The checkout lady even complimented my “healthy eating”. All told, I spent about $136 at Cub Foods to get most of the items on the list. I needed to make another detour to Mississippi Market for tapioca flour for another $5ish. This is a pretty high grocery bill for me (especially considering that Nerd 2 isn’t eating off of this), but the plan is structured to cover breakfast and lunch and will hopefully help me kill off my nasty skyway lunch habit.

Recipes

The recipes (which are all available for free on their site here) have been hit and miss so far. They seem like they were either written by someone who doesn’t have a lot of cooking technique, or someone who does have a lot of cooking knowledge but isn’t good at writing recipes. That being said, they are simple enough to improve on the fly if you have a bit of a clue about working in the kitchen.

For example, let’s take the Teriyaki Chicken that I made last night (that was supposed to be Monday night’s meal, but I have switched some meals around in order to better plan for freezing and thawing and ripening based on a Saturday shopping day — that’s something that I wish the Plan did better by default). First, I am not sure what universe there is that this recipe counts as Teriyaki Chicken. Pineapple? Really? If it had been called Hawaiian Chicken, I could have believed that.  Next, the cooking order seemed a little broken: cooking onions at the same time as _all_ the chicken? It seemed like a recipe for overcrowding the pan and getting disappointing caramelization.  Instead, I browned the chicken in batches, then sweated the onions some before adding the rest of the veggies and returning the chicken – pretty standard stir-fry technique. The recipe is also desperately lacking in spices – if I make it again, I’ll be liberally adding garlic/ginger, but as it was I just ended up dousing heavily with sriracha after it was finished (sriracha has a fair bit of sugar, but for the 80/20 paleo that I’m trying to achieve here it’s just fine).

The Gingery Broccoli Beef was similarly underwhelming. Which is pretty hilarious if you look at the comments on the recipe complaining about how “spicy” it is. Sigh.

On the other hand, these Pumpkin Flatbreads were pretty amazingly good. Entirely worth making an extra trip for the tapioca flour, and they solve a standard breakfast time problem for me — I tend to eat breakfast on the go, and for that I usually need something wrapped in something. So tortillas or lefse or bread or other non-paleo things end up sneaking in right first thing in the morning which just throws the whole day off. They are pretty carby, but I’m not trying to go into ketosis or anything here so I’ll take it.

So, after the first few days, it seems to be going OK. I’m not blown away (except by the flatbreads), and I’m going to need to insert my brain into things more than I had hoped (but hopefully it’s just things like reordering the meals on the schedule, upping the spice level, and tinkering with technique). I’ll definitely ride this out through the 14 day trial, and maybe pay for one month while Nerd 2 is around.