This is #5 in a series of articles about the fears that may be stopping you from getting started with AIP…
Fear #5: I don’t have the time…
…to spend all day in the kitchen.
…to make every meal from scratch.
…to clean up all the dirty dishes.
…to do all the grocery shopping and food prep that AIP is going to require.
…to make my lunch for work each day.
…to cook a separate meal for my family (who’s not on AIP).
…to get organized and learn all the things.
…because I have a demanding job…my kids are little…I’m a single parent.
…because I’m sick and tired and in pain.
Out of all seven of the fears that keep us from starting or staying committed to AIP, this is the one that I still constantly struggle with. I’m a wife and a mom of two little boys and I run two separate businesses—plus I have to deal with symptoms of an autoimmune disease. I get it. And I believe that EVERY SINGLE ONE of us has multiple things that we are struggling with and the lack of time to deal with it all is quite daunting. Adding one more thing to our routine, much less an entire new protocol, just sounds totally overwhelming.
I want you to know that I hear you on this one, and while I’m not perfect in this area, I do have a few ideas that will not only save you time but also change your perspective on how to make this work no matter what you’ve got going on in your life.
Make meals with as few dishes as possible. If a recipe requires a lot of steps, I don’t make it! It’s just not worth it. Not only does this take a lot of time with prep and cooking, it generally means more dishes and more time for cleaning as well. I also use a large cutting board to chop multiple veggies on at once.
Make simple meals. Most of my meals take 20-30 minutes or less, and that’s usually just because roasting vegetables takes about 25 minutes in the oven. Actual prep time is often just 5-10 minutes.
One of my favorite “recipes” is protein on top of chopped veggies covered fat and a spice mix.Yep, that’s a real recipe!What’s so great about it is that it can be changed up each time you make it.Plus, it only takes 3 dishes—a sharp knife, cutting board, and roasting pan.Prep and clean-up are both easy-peasy!
Stick to tried-and-true recipes. I found a week’s worth of recipes at the beginning of AIP and kept cooking them. If something new or more complicated is really calling to me, I’ll make it on the weekend when I have a little more time to figure it out. But I have a rule that I will try no more than one new or “fancy” recipe per week so that I don’t overload myself.
Grocery pick-up or delivery. If you have been following these articles you have seen this suggestion before, and that’s because it saves me time, energy, and money. This is my biggest time saver each week, saving me at least 2 to 3 hours at the grocery store, plus gives me more energy to invest in other areas of my life.
Don’t make separate meals for your family. My husband and boys are not AIP, but that doesn’t mean that I have to cook them a separate meal each night. The main meal that I cook is AIP-compliant, then I add a simple side for them like bread, pasta, or rice that takes me virtually no time (or my husband will often make it) but keeps them happy. My boys have gotten more used to vegetables over time, but there are a few that they just flat out refuse to eat, like Brussel sprouts. In that case I give them baby carrots or sliced cucumber instead (something that just takes a few seconds to prep). They are still eating a vegetable, and I don’t have to spend all of dinner nagging at them to eat one bite. Win-win!
Plan ahead. While this may seem to take more time initially, it ends up saving a ton of time in the long run! I look at my schedule for the next few days and figure out if I need to pack my lunch or when I’ll need to just grab food and go. I also plan out my meals and order enough groceries for at least the next 3-4 days at a time. A few minutes of planning means that I’m not taking the time later to scramble trying to find food that might work or go hungry instead. It also means less trips to the grocery store and less cooking; I simply make larger portions than I will eat at any given meal so that I have leftovers for lunches.
Don’t worry about perfection. It can be so easy to get caught in the trap of thinking that if you’re going to do AIP the “right way,” you have to go all-in and start doing things like dehydrating your own plantain chips and growing a garden in your backyard. Nope. It works for some and many people even enjoy it, but that’s just not me or how I choose to spend my time. I buy fun AIP snacks like plantain chips and dried fruit, as well as convenient ingredients like AIP spice mixes, no-mato marinara, and bbq sauce. Could I make these things myself? I’m sure that I could figure it out, but I choose not to, and that’s ok.
While the tips above are all helpful, they don’t compare to the difference that AIP has made in my life. I admit that it was difficult at first to change my meals and habits surrounding food, but after a few weeks of eating this new way I noticed that I no longer had the daily headaches that had plagued me for years. I started waking up about 30 minutes earlier to get my day started, and I surprisingly felt more energized rather than drained. My brain fog started to lift and daily tasks began to feel more doable.
These changes made me realize that despite taking extra time to plan and cook, I became much more productive and managed to actually get more done. In fact, after just a couple of months I was able to start my own business, which I never would have dreamed was possible before!