For many (myself included) the Paleo diet is a sustainable solution, allowing us to eat our way to better health. I can tell you from experience, however, that you've got to be prepared. If you start the Paleo diet without giving your fridge and pantry a significant overhaul, you're setting yourself up to fail.
Many Paleo guides and cookbooks include grocery shopping lists. While fruits, veggies, meat, seafood and poultry will go a long way, a complete Paleo diet needs certain oils, flours/meals, nuts, seeds, sweeteners, and seasonings. Keeping these things on hand ensures that you can eat clean 24/7...even on those days when you're stressed and starving.
How To Stock Your Pantry In Preparation For The Paleo Diet
The first step is to purge your kitchen. If you don't, you're setting yourself up for temptation and failure. A week or two before your start date, take a few hours to dig through your pantry, fridge, and freezer. Read the label on every package. Anything that contains gluten, grains, dairy, soy, legumes, sugar or other processed food chemicals goes into a box for donation to friends or a local food bank. Don't throw it away (unless it's half open/eaten). Someone can use it, just not you.
If you're using prescribed meal plans like those included in "Practical Paleo" or the "21 Day Sugar Detox", much of the legwork has already been done for you. These and other books include weekly shopping lists and suggested pantry items. If you're going it alone (and let's face it, you can't use a meal plan forever) you'll need to put these Paleo diet essentials on the list. Note: this list focuses on pantry items, i.e. dry goods, that you should always have on hand. These ingredients are the glue that brings delicious recipes together, making meals out of whatever protein and vegetables you have on hand.
- Almond butter (be on the look out for added sugars)
- Almond flour/meal
- Apple cider vinegar
- Balsamic vinegar
- Beef jerky
- Cashews, raw
- Chicken and vegetable broths (homemade is best, but organic/free-range will suffice)
- Coconut aminos (a Paleo-approved soy sauce substitute)
- Coconut flour
- Coconut milk
- Coconut oil
- Diced, stewed, pureed tomatoes, and organic tomato sauce
- Dried fruit (berries are best)
- Honey, local raw
- Kalamata olives
- Maple syrup
- Mustard (whole grain/Dijon, gluten-free)
- Nuts (macadamia, almond, walnut, pine nuts)
- Sesame seeds
- Tahini (a sesame seed paste)
- Tuna/Salmon (wild or pole caught, in water)
In some cases, adopting the Paleo diet makes it necessary to upgrade some of your kitchen equipment. A few things I've discovered are helpful once you're eating clean.
- A spiral noodle maker (turns veggies into "pasta")
- A food processor or commercial grade blender like the Vitamix
- A garlic press
- A lemon juicer
- A good grater
- Parchment paper
- A slow cooker
- An immersion blender
With these ingredients and tools on hand, you'll be ready to embark on a successful Paleo diet adventure! If you keep these items in your kitchen and pantry, you'll be ready to combat cravings and create delicious, healthy meals, even when you're pressed for time.
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Image: Kevin Orbitz