You guys asked for it, so I am sharing my favorite tips, tricks and resources for making healthy cooking at home as easy as possible. We’re chatting meal planning, meal prep, grocery shopping, meal kits and more.
Real Food Resources for Meal Planning, Grocery Shopping & More.
How-to Make Cooking at Home Easy.
Whether you are brand new to cooking at home, or an old pro, I think we can all agree that it can definitely help to have some tricks in your back pocket for staying organized, getting ahead and being well-planned. Cooking several real food meals a day, every day, every single week, this is no small feat. So first, #1) I want you to give yourself a big-ass high five for doing it at all (or even just getting started thinking about it). You are killing it! and #2) Your future self will thank you for making it sustainable by keeping it easy and approachable for the long haul. Whether it’s for one, a couple or a whole big happy family, cooking at home takes planning, organization, practice and of course – commitment. I’m here to help.
I can say that no matter what approach you take to eating: paleo, keto, gluten-free, Whole30 or just a healthful, traditional, real food focus – having quality, fresh, nutrient-dense whole foods on hand, a pantry full of quality staples plus a solid plan of action, this is about the only way you can guarantee success when it comes to cooking at home and living your best (and most healthy) life!
Real Food Meal Planning:
I think it’s a given, but being planned out is an absolute necessity. You can certainly make your own meal plans, week in and week out and plan every single meal, creating your own grocery lists, planning it out appropriately to your ever-evolving schedule, but here are a few options to make things even easier on you:
Personalized to you, your family, your likes, dislikes, dietary preferences, allergies, etc., these real food meal plans are created just for you, taking into account your schedule and your family’s size and your unique needs. This is literally a game changer for cooking at home. There are options, for gluten-free, dairy-free, paleo, keto, Whole30, vegetarian, vegan, etc. You get perfectly planned grocery lists on whatever device you’d like. It’s loaded with hundreds and hundreds of Tasty Yummies original real food recipes plus thousands more from their archives. It’s the real deal, we use it and I cannot recommend it enough. Read more about Tasty Yummies Customized Meal Plans here.
Batch Cook / Meal Prep
One of the best tips I can off for eating and cooking at home is to cook foods in bulk, make extra servings than you need for that meal and plan consequent meals around the leftovers. I repeat: LEFTOVERS, LEFTOVERS, LEFTOVERS – I cannot say this enough. Make large batches of shredded chicken or beef, hardboiled eggs, make a double batch of salmon patties to throw on salads and in veggie-loaded bowls, roast a bunch of seasonal vegetables at the start of the week. Make sheet pan meals in doubles, they store well and you are already doing the work (we love Sheet Pan Fajitas and Sheet Pan Roast Chicken and Veggies). These store great in the fridge. Have already made cauliflower rice on hand for building epic bowls with various proteins, fats and other veggies. Keep tons of greens in the crisper to build epic “Big F*&king Salads”. Make your favorite sauces (might I suggest the green tahini sauce or homemade BBQ sauce) and salad dressings in bulk (try my dairy-free ranch or Dad’s famous Greek dressing). Make bone broth every week to have for sipping or as a base for soups and sauces. Soups and stews are easy to make in large portions and leftovers are easy.
At the start of the week make chia pudding, grain-free granola with your favorite flavors or maybe keto granola, make enough breakfast sausage for the week, cook a dozen eggs in the Instant Pot, make a batch of egg bites or sheet pan eggs or grain-free almond flour muffins or savory paleo muffins. These are all great ways to have healthful, real food, ready-to-go breakfast options available all week. No excuses.
- Leftover dinners make epic breakfasts, too. Forget the idea that you need to only eat traditional breakfast foods at breakfast. Nutrient-dense, fat and protein forward, savory meals are amazing in the morning and it’s a sure-fire way to set up a day of healthy eating, by avoiding massive blood sugar spikes and that dreaded crash, first thing!
- Get some good glass mason jars, leftover containers or divided meal prep containers. This will help you stay organized and planned out.
- We either buy a whole rotisserie chicken or make a roasted chicken in the slow cooker every single week. The meat is great on salads, veggie bowls, in scrambles, for tacos, wraps, etc. We always are mixing it with different sauces and dressing. It’s an easy protein. Then I take the bones and make bone broth.
Stay tuned for a super robust post all about meal planning, prepping and batch cooking that I am finishing up now and it should be live in the next couple of weeks. We will talk even more in depth about meal planning.
Shop Local. Farmers Markets and Grocery Stores:
It’s 2018 and the future is now. Finding high-quality, organic produce, pasture-raised meats and eggs, wild-caught sustainable seafood and quality pantry staples you can trust – truly has never been easier. When I started on this real food / gluten-free journey, back in 2005, it wasn’t quite this simple. Obviously depending on where you live, it’s going to be easier than for others, but for all of us the accessibility to better foods has certainly come a long way.
We all know that our local farmers markets offer the best options for fresh, local, seasonal and usually, organic foods. Time permitting this is my first choice. (Local Harvest‘s website offers a gigantic directory of farmers’ markets) Beyond directly buying from farmers, of course, Whole Foods has always been mecca for organic, local, fair trade, grass-fed and beyond, but we can now step into even the most conventional of grocery stores and find many of these options easily available to us. The landscape sure is changing.
That said, we are also all busier than ever before, so I wanted to offer a list of some of my favorite resources to hopefully make cooking at home easier or for some of you, even possible at all. Because even I understand that some weeks getting to the farmers market or shoot, just my local grocery store – it might
seem be totally impossible.
And my opinion is, if this inability to get to the store to get the healthful foods to cook with becomes the road block to you achieving your goals of cooking at home and eating healthier – than we NEED to have other options available.
High-Quality Meat and Sustainable Fish Delivery:
ButcherBox – ButcherBox delivers 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef, free range organic chicken, and heritage breed pork, directly to your front door and shipping is always free. PSSST Sign up now and get free bacon for the all of 2018. That’s up to 12 months of free bacon. (offer ends 1/31) Each month, ButcherBox curates a one-of-a-kind selection of the healthiest, tastiest meats, humanely raised and free of antibiotics and hormones. Or you can customize your own box with your favorite cuts. The price works out to less than $6.00/meal. We get a monthly curated classic box and we love it.
Alaska Gold Seafood – Alaska Gold is a fishermen owned cooperative that is managed for sustainability, using traditional hook and line fishing. We love their wild caught salmon, halibut, albacore tuna and sablefish so much that we like our freezer stocked with it all! It’s so incredibly convenient to have it delivered right to our door, frozen. You can even sign up for their loyalty program which delivers Alaska’s finest wild-caught fish right to your door once a month, at a small savings. We love ordering the variety box, as needed, so we always have a selection of quality seafood available.
I have also heard great things about both US Wellness Meats for grass-fed meat and Vital Choice for seafood, but I have no personal experience with either – so I cannot say much beyond that they come very highly recommended.
Southern California / West Coast:
Diamond Mountain Ranch – This is my first choice for quality meat – always! Grass-fed, organic, sustainable, family-owned. I’ve literally shook the hand of the man that raises these animals and he’s the real deal. They have chicken, turkey, pork, beef, rabbits, lamb, yak, goat and their specialty: Bison. They are available at farmers markets throughout the LA and OC areas with options for delivery. Check their website for availability and to order ahead.
Primal Pastures – Another amazing option for pasture-raised meat. They are a family run farm in Murietta, California producing meat grown responsibly, sustainably, and according to nature’s brilliant design. They raise chicken, sheep and beef. The offer home delivery to California, Arizona, Nevada, New Mexico, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, Texas, Colorado, Utah, Wyoming and Montana. I have ordered single cuts of their meat in the past when I was looking for something specific.
You can also use Local Harvest‘s database to find farms that offer grass fed meat for sale. Join a meat share or a CSA.
Produce Box / CSA Delivery:
(since produce delivery companies are fairly location-specific these companies are local to Southern California):
Farm Fresh to You (use referral code ELIZ7477 to get $15 off your first delivery) – Organic Farm Box. Delivering organic fruits and vegetables right to your doorstep. Farm Fresh to You brings the season’s best mix of organic produce and hand-crafted farm products conveniently to your door by growing and partnering with local farms and artisans in your area. Choose the type of box you want and each week you can customize exactly what you receive by choosing from their long list of available seasonal produce. This is the company we get our weekly farm box from and we love it!
Imperfect Produce – Fighting food waste by finding homes for “ugly produce”, Imperfect Produce sources directly from farms and delivers to customers’ doors for 30-50% less than grocery store prices. You are getting quality produce and helping to fight food waste. Currently they deliver to the entire Bay Area; Los Angeles, CA; Orange County, CA; Portland, OR; Seattle, WA; and Chicago, IL, they are expanding quickly so be sure to check back often to see if your area is serviced.
Milk and Eggs – exclusive to the greater LA area, they have a very wide selection of groceries, produce, organic and grass-fed meats, sustainable seafood, pantry staples and more. I have ordered from them once and I was really impressed with their selection and their customer service.
I suggest doing a search for Community Supported Agriculture businesses in your area that might offer weekly CSA box delivery. Local Harvest‘s website — it’s a gigantic directory of farmers’ markets, family farms, Community Supported Agricultures (CSAs), and other sources of organic and sustainably grown food in the United States.
Grocery Delivery + Pickup / Online Ordering Companies:
- Amazon Fresh – Grocery delivery. Amazon Fresh offers a great variety of produce, with lots of organic, meats and provisions from select local purveyors and a lots of staple pantry items, including specialty diet foods, organics, and harder to find things. Depending on where you are located and when you order, same day may be available, otherwise you have select windows to choose from to schedule your delivery. I have used Amazon Fresh several times and it’s really great for busy weeks or when I am shopping for recipe development and need basic items and would rather spend my time getting more work done than grocery shopping. Since Amazon acquired Whole Foods the organic and natural foods selection is much larger and they carry the WF 365 brand, too. Amazon Fresh charges a yearly fee for AmazonPrime members plus a monthly fee on top of that, but offers free delivery on all orders over $50. While the groceries are comparable if not cheaper than local stores, the membership fees can be somewhat pricey, but if you have a super, busy life or hate the grocery store and not going to the grocery store to have fresh foods is what keeps you from making good decisions and being organized and planned out, than in my mind it’s an amazing option.
- Instacart (use this link to get $10 when you place your first orders) – Grocery delivery. Instacart offers grocery ordering and delivery from your local grocery stores. Same day. It’s a great option for when time is limited. You have a personal shopper assigned to your order and in real time they will contact you if products are unavailable or need to be replaced. You either pay delivery fees and receive a two hour or a one hour delivery window or if you plan to use Instacart often and want to dictate your delivery time, you can pay a yearly membership fee to be an express member and all deliveries over $35 are free within your selected window of time. Note: like Uber, Lyft or Postmates their fees do increase at “busy times”. They also often charge more for items than the stores do and additionally will tack on a service fee that you can opt out of and you can choose to tip the driver or not. It definitely does add up, but I suppose you are paying for the convenience.
- Thrive Market (use this link to save an additional 20% on your first 3 orders) – Thrive Market is amazing!! An online members-only market place with wholesale pricing on healthy and natural foods. You can join for free with a 30-day trial and if you love it you can join the community for a yearly fee. Because you are essentially buying direct, you are saving 25-50% on items. With every member that joins, you are also sponsoring a free membership for a low-income family. While Thrive Market isn’t as quick as Amazon Fresh and doesn’t offer produce and fresh foods, it’s an incredible option for healthy pantry staples at discounted prices, without the need to buy in bulk. You can easily find, options for gluten-free, paleo, keto, Whole30 and more.
- Barefoot Provisions – An online market place specific to paleo, primal, traditional foods. AKA real food. Brands you can trust. They have snacks and mini-meals, to primal cooking essentials. This isn’t a grocery delivery or discounted member community, but it’s an incredible resource for products that have been well vetted by a company who has your best interests at heart and are walking the walk and their product curation illustrates it.
Grocery Store Delivery / Pickup. Grocery stores like Ralphs, Kroger, Vons, Wegmans, Costco, etc often have their own grocery delivery and/or curbside pickup options. Curbside is where you order ahead and simply pull up to the store for pickup. They’ll literally come right out to you and load the bags into your car. Some grocery stores offer their own front-door delivery services, as well
Additionally, there are lots of other companies offering similar grocery delivery / pick-up services FreshDirect, Safeway, Peapod, etc – the above listed are just the ones I have personal experience with.
Southern California Specific:
Milk and Eggs – Milk & Eggs is exclusive to the greater LA area but they have a very wide selection of groceries, produce, organic and grass-fed meats, sustainable seafood, pantry staples and more. I have ordered from them once and I was impressed with their selection and their customer service.
Meal Kit Delivery Services
- Sunbasket – this is the only meal kit delivery company I have any personal experience with, but I can speak very highly of their quality. I was thoroughly impressed when I had an opportunity to test it out two years ago. The recipes were easy and super delicious and the quality of the food was amazing. Their produce is organic and non-GMO, their protein is antibiotic free and humanely raised, and their seafood is approved by the Monterey Bay Aquarium watch list. You have the option to choose your meals each week.
- Green Chef – I haven’t personally experienced this company’s services or know anyone who has but they are the only meal delivery kit company that I know of that offers 100% verified/certified gluten-free meal kits and can guarantee no risk of cross contamination, great for those that have to be extra, ultra careful. They offer paleo, keto, gluten-free and more.
Ready-to-Eat Meal Delivery Services
- Pete’s Paleo – Pete’s Paleo offers fully prepared, ready-to-eat seasonally-inspired strict paleo meals made with organic, non-gmo produce, grass fed meats, etc. delivered right to your front door. Nationwide, including Alaska and Hawaii. They even have direct relationships with farms and ranches. Just reheat and serve. They offer an Eat What You Love line where you can pick your combo of meals. They even offer AIP & FODMAP friendly meals, as well as a line of Ketogenic meals.
- Model Meals – Clean eating meal delivery service, Model Meals has a wide variety of meals and snacks and absolutely everything is Whole30 and Paleo approved! They have a new weekly menu where you can select the items and quantities to choose from, which means you are in control of the types of meals, frequency, how much you spend, etc. They serve San Francisco Bay Area, Los Angeles, Orange County, San Diego, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino and Riverside. No subscription necessary.
I haven’t personally used either of these two ready-to-eat meal delivery services, but both come very highly recommended by many highly respected folks.
There are loads and loads of companies offering similar meal-kit deliveries and ready-to-eat meal services all over the country. Do a quick Google search, look at reviews and find what will work for your needs.
Hope you liked this list of real food resources for making cooking at home easier and hope this helps!
Do you meal plan / meal prep at home? I would love to know your tips for staying organized, for shopping, meal planning and prepping. Please leave a comment and share your thoughts, tips and tricks!