For Epicurious, by Anna Stockwell.
Following the Paleo diet — any restrictive diet, really ― is a challenge that is met largely by cooking at home. And as we’ve talked about many, many times on this site, nothing makes cooking easier than having a well-stocked kitchen fridge (and freezer!).
So what should somebody on the Paleo diet have on their grocery list? To help answer that question, I hopped on the phone with Paleo blogger and cookbook author Julie Mayfield, whose new cookbook (coauthored with her husband Charles) Weeknight Paleo is all about making Paleo cooking easy and approachable for busy families.
Mayfield told me that most of her trips to the grocery store (or local farmers’ market) are for stocking up on lots of fresh seasonal vegetables. “People always think that Paleo is like this Fred Flintstone diet,” Mayfield said. But “if you look, for the most part, at people who are eating a paleo diet, more than half their plate is vegetables.” And since vegetables are typically the things that have the shorter shelf life, vegetables are the things you’re going to need to keep buying every time you go to the grocery store.
For the protein choices that are an important part of the Paleo diet, Mayfield likes to keep a well-stocked freezer. (She and her husband are actually raising their own cows and pigs now — taking the stocking of protein even a few steps further.) But for the rest of us, if you have room for a chest freezer, buying meat in bulk will always keep the price point down. But even if you’re not going to chest freezer extremes, if you find something in the freezer at the grocery store, or buy something when it’s on sale and then freeze it, Julie thinks it’s still a great practice, because “then you always have your protein source when you’re ready for it.”
Besides having a freezer full of meat, fish, shellfish, and poultry and a fully stocked spice cupboard, there are a few items that it helps to always have in your kitchen to make Paleo eating easier and more fun. No, this is not a complete list. But it’s a start.
The options are endless for how to cook with this powerhouse green, so it’s a good one to grab every time you’re at the store. Mayfield always has it on hand because her son doesn’t like to eat vegetables unless they’re crunchy, so she makes a lot of kale chips, which he loves.
Get the recipe: Kale Chips
2. COCONUT AND/OR ALMOND FLOUR
Breaded chicken or pork cutlets can always be in the dinner rotation when you you have coconut or almond flour on hand. And of course if you want to do any paleo baking projects, these are the flours for you.
3. SWEET POTATOES
Get the recipe: Sweet Potato Fritters with Poached Eggs and Avocado
Eating Paleo is all about eating healthy fats, such as those you get from avocados (avocado oil is a favored cooking fat). Mayfield makes a lot of guacamole and pairs it with ground beef and salsa in lettuce cup “tacos.”
Get the recipe: Guacamole with Aleppo Pepper
5. COCONUT OIL AND FULL-FAT COCONUT MILK
Speaking of healthy fats, a jar of virgin coconut oil and a can of full-fat coconut milk deserve permanent homes in your Paleo pantry. That coconut oil is great for sautéing and roasting, and that milk makes amazing soups, curries, smoothies, and more.
Get the recipe: Coconut, Beet, and Ginger Soup
It helps to always keep a lot of fresh fruit around to satisfy the need for a treat — especially when feeding kids on the Paleo diet, which prohibits refined sugar. Apples and almond butter are a favorite snack in Mayfield’s house.
7. ALMOND BUTTER
See above! Also: it’s a great addition to green breakfast smoothies.
8. BRUSSELS SPROUTS OR BROCCOLI
“I’m a sucker for Brussels sprouts,” Mayfield says. “My mother is still shocked by this.” Mayfield has also been on a big broccoli kick recently, and loves to make a raw broccoli salad.
Get the recipe: Brassicas Bowl
9. A JAR OF SALSA
Found a jarred salsa that you like the flavor of and has a clean ingredient list? Never be without it! Stash it in your pantry or fridge to reach for it to top roasted sweet potatoes, spice up eggs, or braise some chicken.
Paleo or no, reaching into the fridge for an egg and not finding any is the worst feeling in the world. Don’t let it happen to you.
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