5

votes

Eating out versus home cooking

Answered on August 19, 2014
Created January 22, 2012 at 6:38 AM

I've been trying to follow a "Paleo" lifestyle as best I can, but I have to admit that it's a real challenge for me, especially since I have a "fear of cooking" (and probably, a dose of laziness too), and haven't cooked a real meal - Paleo or not - (unless you consider zapping "something" barely edible in the microwave a "real" meal?!) at home in many years. Is there any way that I can still follow (more or less) a Paleo way of eating by continuing to eat out, &/or by eating primarily packaged, "Paleo-friendly foods (for example: grassfed meat jerky, canned tuna & sardines, boiled eggs, organic pre-cooked turkey breast, fruits, etc.)? Or, in order to truly eat healthy Paleo (and to prevent becoming bored out of my mind with the limited food options available to me if I don't do some home preparation/ cooking!), do I need to "bite the bullet", take the time to learn and experiment with cooking, without taking it too seriously (play, make mistakes, have fun with it) - with the goal of ultimately enjoying home cooking and REALLY eating Paleo healthy? I'd welcome any feedback. Thanks!

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on January 23, 2012
at 12:42 AM

+1 because I appreciate the refreshing lack of dogmatism. I agree, there are some very loud voices that will tell you how to do this, but in reality the best way is the way that will work for you and be sustainable in the long term.

03f5a69fde4012b827ebdb6d93b71e7a

(2007)

on January 22, 2012
at 07:53 PM

My husband and I had one for a year and it was wonderful :) And yeah, it can be less expensive than you'd think (especially if it's replacing eating out). Even though I've always been a foodie and a good cook, I learned a ton and it was a huge relief while we were so busy and commuting.

70285e77758a3f288ebf2979dc361757

(20)

on January 22, 2012
at 01:38 PM

Oh yeah, and if you like Jerky for a snack, try making your own. There are lots of recipes on-line that you can do in your oven at low temp. or better yet, invest in a dehydrator. You can get a pretty good one from Bass Pro or Cabellas for about a hundred bucks. You can also use it to make fruit roll ups and dried fruits. That way you can control exactly what goes into your jerky.

0c875e97044bf838a074470caa5d630d

on January 22, 2012
at 11:58 AM

I LOVE the idea of a private chef!

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16 Answers

5
5e36f73c3f95eb4ea13a009f4936449f

(8280)

on January 22, 2012
at 06:45 AM

IMHO, Bite the bullet and learn/experiment.

Unless you're independently wealthy. In which case, pay for your own personal chef to cook to your specifications.

Any other way is just limping along, and in some cases, quite substandard. Adequate for a stopgap, but not what you want to do longterm.

4
22212e9ba2a041e6da6c963d4d41615a

(5773)

on January 22, 2012
at 01:30 PM

I'm going to take a different approach and say yes it is possible to be paleo and eat out. There are always ways to remain gluten free, so that shouldn't be an issue. However, it's the vegetable oils that will be your toughest challenge. Most restaurants cook with canola, vegetable, and soy oils. Of course most meats with not be free range/pasture fed but supplementing with fish oil could help or at least eating breakfast at home with some free range eggs and wild smoked salmon or something like that.

Your still going to eat much better than 80% of Americans and IMHO improve your health. I would have 4 suggestions for you:

1). Tell the waiter you have a gluten allergy as some meats are either dusted win flour or cooked on the same grills as sandwiches and other breaded items.

2). Ask them to use olive oil or no oil to cook your food if possible.

3). Look for farm to table restaurants and stick with them. There are more and more of these out there and even some of the chains do this now. I am on the east coast and I went into a Silver Diner chain and most every meat and egg option they have is farm to table. It was surprising to see.

4). Try to eat 1 meal a day at home. Obviously breakfast is the easiest and quickest...eggs and Bacon with some smoked salmon would get you off to the right start.

Don't let the evangelical paleo folks fool you.....you don't need to be perfect to have a paleo lifestyle and see the paleo benefits!

F5f742cc9228eb5804114d0f3be4e587

(7660)

on January 23, 2012
at 12:42 AM

+1 because I appreciate the refreshing lack of dogmatism. I agree, there are some very loud voices that will tell you how to do this, but in reality the best way is the way that will work for you and be sustainable in the long term.

4
4f7ccde03addfc07a66a21a77b0a46c8

on January 22, 2012
at 12:12 PM

The (presumably large amount of) money that you are spending on restaurant meals is going toward conventionally-raised meat, produce, and dairy, cooked in bad oils, and it's a guess as to how fresh any of it is. That is the downside of eating out; no control over the ingredients or quality.

By re-allocating that money to buying and cooking your own food, you can ensure the food you are eating is grass-fed, pastured, organic, locally grown (as much as possible), and/or raw. You will know the food has not been cooked in bad oils such as canola or peanut oil, or hasn't had margarine added to it.

IMO you're doing a 'quasi-paleo' diet because you don't really know what you're eating. I think you should definitely learn to cook, and as you said to make it fun. Don't let it get stressful!

Cooking can be as easy as putting a roast, some vegetables, and seasoning in a crockpot and leaving it to cook unattended. Or you can set aside a couple hours each week to prepare and freeze several meals so that you don't need to cook daily- just reheat. There are a plethora of paleo food blogs around, and many of them emphasize simple meals and recipes.

4
6b8d12fc3e43179f9ae1765a4d1a9dc2

(5914)

on January 22, 2012
at 07:01 AM

Nate Green has a post for the kitchen lazy

http://www.thenategreenexperience.com/blog/how-to-get-a-cheap-private-chef?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%253A+TheNateGreenExperience+%2528The+Nate+Green+Experience%2529

I love cooking and after a while the food you can cook at home will be better than eating out. I find cooking enjoyable though.

0c875e97044bf838a074470caa5d630d

on January 22, 2012
at 11:58 AM

I LOVE the idea of a private chef!

03f5a69fde4012b827ebdb6d93b71e7a

(2007)

on January 22, 2012
at 07:53 PM

My husband and I had one for a year and it was wonderful :) And yeah, it can be less expensive than you'd think (especially if it's replacing eating out). Even though I've always been a foodie and a good cook, I learned a ton and it was a huge relief while we were so busy and commuting.

2
6714718e2245e5190017d643a7614157

on January 22, 2012
at 10:48 PM

I had zero cooking skills when I started paleo about 6 months ago. I'm still not a very good cook but I'm learning. Cooking simple paleo meals often involve about 4 ingredients:

1) Some meat 2) Some vegetables 3) Healthy fat of choice 4) Some spices

I cook in bulk and eat the same thing for a 3 or 4 meals to save cooking time for a couple of days.

It gets easier after you find a few recipes your really like and make a few times.

2
F44b15b2fd1ad134200793d6b474fc4c

(938)

on January 22, 2012
at 04:03 PM

I don't think you have to be much of a cook to eat Paleo. Due to chronic illness, I can't spend a lot of time in the kitchen. For breakfast, I have a smoothie made in my blender using coconut milk, some berries or half a banana, some raw spinach, cinnamon or cocoa powder, three ice cubes, and a spoonful of whey isolate (the latter isn't necessary -- I just like a higher protein diet).

For dinner, I almost always grill meat on an outdoor propane grill. I have a small one and the biggest hassle is getting the new propane tanks when one runs out. No kitchen clean-up and the meat tastes fantastic. I make a salad to go along with it: lettuce with veggies cut in and a dressing made with olive oil and vinegar. Or sometimes, I cook broccoli or another vegetable.

For dessert, I mix up pureed sweet potatoes, pumpkin, and butternut squash, all of which I buy organic in cans from Farmer's Market Organic Foods. I make sure I use enough sweet potato make it sweet (I just like to have the other two in there because they're lower in carbs, plus variety in food is good). Then I put cinnamon, cocoa powder, and coconut oil or coconut cream on it. I put it in the micro with a paper towel on top so it doesn't spatter. It all melts together. When I take it out, I put some cold coconut milk from the fridge on top. It tastes fabulous and the carbs help me sleep at night.

For lunch, I try to eat leftover meat from the night before and some veggies. If I have no leftovers, I fry up some bacon and then throw spinach in the bacon grease. (Lunch is more of just a light snack for me.)

And there's paleo eating from a non-cook! (You can also eat eggs and they are easy to cook; they're just not on my stricter diet.)

2
D30ff86ad2c1f3b43b99aed213bcf461

on January 22, 2012
at 02:12 PM

Learning to cook is key if you ever want to yield all the benefits of a paleo lifestyle. You can get a rough approximation eating out, but will always be dealing with doses of sugar, gluten, corn syrup, and industrial oils (soybean and canola oil) in various amounts, depending on what is ordered.

Lazy + scared does not necessarily have to result in no cooking.

The ultimate solution for a beginner home cook who is both self-described as lazy and scared of the learning curve? Crockpot cooking. Slow cooked meals are typically very low maintenance and low effort.

Get yourself a decent slow cooker. Throw a giant 2-3 lb. + hunk of meat, a few potatoes, carrots, turnips, onions, etc. in there. Liberal amounts (small handfuls each) of garlic powder and onion powder, and salt to taste. Add enough water to at least mostly cover the meat and veggies. You can experiment later with changing the flavor profiles by also adding any of the following: ginger, curry powders, paprika, etc.

Set the crock pot on low for 12 hours, or high for 4-6 hrs. This works with beef, whole chickens, pork loin...pretty much anything except ground meats and seafood.

2
70285e77758a3f288ebf2979dc361757

on January 22, 2012
at 01:04 PM

You definitely need to learn to cook. Some grocery stores have cooking classes, or you can take a night class at a community college. In the mean time, try doing a Google search for delivery services in your area. We have a great one in South Florida that has a Paleo menu. They also offer vegetarian and HCG menus. It's called Deliver Lean. If you are stuck eating out some times, there's an app called PaleoGoGo that gives you tips on sticking to the Paleo diet at hundreds of different restaurants.

70285e77758a3f288ebf2979dc361757

(20)

on January 22, 2012
at 01:38 PM

Oh yeah, and if you like Jerky for a snack, try making your own. There are lots of recipes on-line that you can do in your oven at low temp. or better yet, invest in a dehydrator. You can get a pretty good one from Bass Pro or Cabellas for about a hundred bucks. You can also use it to make fruit roll ups and dried fruits. That way you can control exactly what goes into your jerky.

1
E57d8e182251b61ccc6ada197c359d7e

on January 22, 2012
at 08:41 PM

I think you biggest issues would be the oils like others have said. I may be considered quasi paleo as I eat mostly conventional meat. I do use organic/local produce,egg, and wild fish though. I personally think you should learn to cook just for the joy and cost savings but I think you can be a grain free paleo style person eating out.

To eat paleo all you really need to learn to bake/pan fry some meat and steam some veggies (microwave is fine). Its easy. You don't have to get complicated. I bet you can have a meal cooked and eaten faster than you can go to the restaurant and order.

1
0c875e97044bf838a074470caa5d630d

on January 22, 2012
at 11:55 AM

Without cooking from scratch, you're going to find your choices are very limited. Virtually no pre-packaged food is Paleo-friendly. I was looking for jerky to keep around for a emergency snack and EVERY brand I found had sugar, wheat and soy! The only protein/granola bar I could find that was Paleo-friendly was the Lara Bar brand. I've had some luck at restaurants mostly by ordering completely off the menu.

I'd recommend starting with easier things to cook like a baked chicken breast or a crockpot meal. I make a lot of meals at once and freeze some to save time. It doesn't really take more time and effort to cook two meals than one!

If you have other people in your community who eat Paleo, you could look at starting a food coop. Everyone could make one dish and trade their cooking for others. (In your case, you could bring a salad with Paleo fixings or something from a restaurant.)

1
1a98a40ba8ffdc5aa28d1324d01c6c9f

(20378)

on January 22, 2012
at 06:43 AM

Learning to cook is key to eating healthy. I try to eat out as little as possible. Maybe once a month.

0
F92e4ca55291c3f3096a3d4d3d854986

(11698)

on January 23, 2012
at 02:25 AM

Echoing everyone else here, it's so worth learning. I am fairly lazy, I don't do complicated recipes, but I can grill a hunk of meat or fish, roast some root veg in the oven, saute some chard in bacon fat and presto, dinner. Same with breakfast: fried eggs and bacon, sauteed mushrooms and spinach, freshly ground black pepper, done. Doesn't have to be complicated. I'd say it's far easier to cook Paleo than to try to tailor the word of restaurants, takeout menus and pre-prepared foods to a Paleo diet.

0
De641ff2accb4975e1f42886b43009db

(2227)

on January 22, 2012
at 09:13 PM

Learn to cook. Besides that the only true Paleo meals that I order out regularly are either "unwiches" (lettuce wrap instead of the bread) from Jimmy Johns or a modified steak bowl from Chipotle.

0
Ce41c230e8c2a4295db31aec3ef4b2ab

(32566)

on January 22, 2012
at 05:00 PM

There are plenty of "learn to cook" videos on YouTube & TV. Make it fun for yourself!

Do a trade with a friend who cooks--have them teach you!

Watch "foodie" movies. You can absorb a lot by osmosis.

0
77877f762c40637911396daa19b53094

(78467)

on January 22, 2012
at 02:41 PM

To use your words: "BITE THE BULLET " and learn to cook!.Where do you live? Pay a local Paleohack to come over and show you what to do. or find a Weston Price person and have them come over. Good luck.

0
1d9af5db8833413037be3ac48964714f

on January 22, 2012
at 02:14 PM

I think the biggest overall barrier to paleo adoption, as it becomes more mainstream, will be the cooking thing. Lots of people don't want to learn how to cook and would rather pay someone else to do it for them (via restaurants and pre-made convenience meals). Easy access to cheap highly palatable convenience food is lot of why Westerners have become so unhealthy over the last 30 years.

The effect will be that a lot of people try paleo and drift away after awhile because cooking every day is a drag. There will also be suppliers of "paleo" convenience food that are not all that much better than the generic stuff you find in the supermarket.

Not sure what to do about this.

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