Ancestral Eating Meal Prep Tips and Tricks
Updated: Sep 7
The information and other content provided in this blog, website or in any linked materials are not intended and should not be considered, or used as a substitute for, medical advice, diagnosis or treatment.
This post contains affiliate links. If you use these links to buy something we may earn a commission. Thank you.
One challenge to eating an ancestral diet is that it largely consists of cooking meals from scratch! Because most pre-prepared, convenience foods are highly processed, this means food should be cooked from scratch. Even foods like bread usually have unnecessary added ingredients and are made with low-quality flours.
I won’t talk too much about ancestral eating in this post. There’s a lot to say! I’ve written an entire post on What is Ancestral Eating, where you can read all about it!
Want to learn more? See this post on 5 books that led me to an ancestral diet!
Currently, both I and my husband work full-time. We’re gone during the day, and when we’re home in the evenings, we don’t usually want to devote more than maybe 30-45 minutes to preparing a meal. Most people have busy schedules and are in the same boat! For my family, the key to sticking to an ancestral diet is meal prep!
Why we love ancestral eating:
One thing about ancestral eating is that it’s not restrictive! Yes, it cuts out processed foods, BUT that does not cut out any food group! Carbs and meats are encouraged! We eat pizza and ice cream almost weekly! BUT, we use whole foods, like organic milled and fermented flours, homegrown and canned pizza sauce, raw pasture-raised milk, organic maple syrup, eggs from our own free-range hens, and so on. This may sound intimidating, but don't be intimidated! See my post here for how to avoid processed foods, AND let me show you my tips and tricks to meal prep!
After a few months of eating ancestral foods, prepared at home, processed foods just aren’t as good anymore! I used to LOVE store-bought ice cream! And now, depending on the brand, I feel like I can literally taste the chemicals. Now, I prefer my own home food as not only is it healthier, but it also tastes better!
Meal Prep Tips and Tricks:
Assess what your family needs.
For example, I’m meal-prepping for just my husband and myself. I like to have 1 prepared breakfast item and 1 prepared lunch item to eat throughout the week. And I like to have 7 dinners to choose from. We often eat leftovers for lunch, but if we don’t have enough leftovers for 2 (or someone wants to eat something else), I usually have something else available, like a casserole or pot of soup.
I don’t assign specific meals to specific days as it’s nice to look at the menu and then choose based on “what sounds good to us” or how tired we are and how easy the meal is to prepare. It's nice to have multiple dishes to choose from, and all the ingredients are on hand.
The key to making this work is to have delicious easy meals on the menu. From experience, when we get hungry in the evening, and the meals we have to choose from are not easy or don’t sound good to us, odds are we’ll go out to eat somewhere. So, I always try to have both easy and delicious meals to choose from.
Before you make your weekly menu, assess the food you already have in your home. What do you need to use up? Do you have produce that needs to be used? Do you have staples you should use such as rice, flour, or canned goods? Focus on using these foods first when making your menu.
From there, make your menu for the week. Use up the foods you need to or can that you already have at home. Also, think about your family’s eating habits and how much time you unusually have to prepare meals.
For example, I get home late in the evenings on Tuesdays and Thursdays. So in my weekly menu, I need at least 2, but probably 3 fast and easy meals that my husband can prepare before I get home, or crockpot meals that will be ready when I get home. The other nights of the week, we usually have more time to devote to cooking a meal.
Get your groceries. Eating an ancestral diet, this can be a lot more than just going to the grocery store. We still go to the grocery store frequently, but a good majority of the food we use comes from our farmer’s market, a local farm stand, and our own backyard! We try to source high-quality meats, raw dairy, organic grains, fruits, and vegetables. A large part of that for us is growing our own food and keeping backyard chickens. See my homesteading posts for more info. The other large part of that is establishing relationships with local farmers. It can take some time to find farmers with food farming practices that you trust, but don’t give up! Most communities have at least one farmer who practices regenerative farming.
Our “grocery shopping” happens all throughout the week. On Wednesdays, I meet the dairy farmer at noon during my lunch break to buy the raw milk. Thursday after work, I meet the farmer who sells meat and pick up our order for the week. And usually, we take an additional trip to the farmer’s market on Saturday morning to get anything else we need that is in season, such as produce I don’t grow, honey, or sometimes other dairy products like cheeses.
We have in the past purchased a quarter cow, and I would recommend doing that as it’s convenient and saves money in the long run!
Whatever foods we still need, I buy from our local grocery store. If it’s available, I always buy organic. Some items I order online or have to go to our health foods store to purchase.
I usually take Sunday afternoons to spend a few hours prepping all food for the week. By no means do I cook every single meal ahead of time! I essentially just get us into good enough shape that meals are easy for us throughout the week.
Again, having options is key to making this work for us!
There are a handful of tasks I do every week, regardless of what’s on the menu.
I make a breakfast casserole.
I cook a whole chicken, shred it, put it in the refrigerator, and make bone broth from the bones.
I make one meal that we can eat for lunch throughout the week or use as a backup dinner if we’re too tired to cook. This is usually a casserole, soup, or another 1-pot meal.
Depending on the week, I might add in an extra baked good, like banana bread.
All of these tasks usually take me about 2-3 hours total in the kitchen, cleanup included.
Every few weeks:
I make sourdough baked goods to freeze.
I freeze baggies of blended beef organs to add to any ground beef dishes.
Because sourdough is such an involved process, I like to make my sourdough baked goods in bulk and then freeze them. I keep sourdough bread slices, pita bread, tortillas, bagels, and pizza crusts in the freezer. Whenever we want a piece of sourdough toast or a pizza, all we have to do is heat it up! When I bake sourdough, that can turn my regular 2-3 hours of work into 5-6 hours! BUT, I only bake sourdough every few weeks. I never make ALL of these foods at once, but when I run out of one (say bread slices), I’ll also go through and see what else I’m low on (maybe pizza crusts), and go ahead and bake both of those items to freeze for later. This works for my family, as it’s just me and my husband. We don’t usually blow through baked goods, so they last a while in the freezer.
We try to eat beef organs about once or twice a week. Beef organs, especially the liver, are nature's multivitamins, and incredibly healthy! What I blend up to save depends on what my local farmer has available. This last time, I only blended up the liver to add to dishes. In the past, I’ve done a liver and heart mix. I freeze about half a cup of the mixture in baggies, and when we make a ground beef dish, I simply thaw a baggie with the beef, and mix it in. It’s such an easy way to boost the nutrient density of a dish!
See my post here for 10 Meals to Sneak Beef Liver Into
Breakfast casserole or eggs and banana bread or eggs and toast or a bagel
Leftovers or chicken and rice soup made with bone broth
Sausage and honey pizza on a sourdough crust
Steak and risotto with peas
Sourdough Biscuit Skillet Chicken Pot Pie
Marinated salmon, sweet potatoes, and asparagus
Chicken stir fry cooked in bone broth
Meatballs with rice cooked in bone broth
This menu may not look like typical “health food”, BUT all the ingredients are organic with high-quality proteins and dairy, we will add beef organs to any beef dish, and we use bone broth whenever we cook rice, pasta, and many casseroles! This menu is made up of whole foods, and fermented grains, and is nutrient-dense! Our snacks are also whole foods such as beef sticks, raw milk, dates, or dried fruit. See my post here for 5 fast and easy pro-metabolic snack ideas!
See my post here for 10 Dishes to Sneak Bone Broth Into
That’s a lot of work, time and money! Is it worth it?
Yes! Eating good nutritious food is foundational for health and longevity! Nourishing our bodies should be a HUGE priority! It’s a lot of work to not only make the food, but source the food! But it is worth it to invest in ourselves and build our health! Eating good food is one of THE most important things we can do for our health!
Again, everyone’s household is different, with different food preferences, and different amounts of time to designate for food prep, so make your plan of action according to what works for your family! BUT, I would so so encourage you to devote some good time to the food you eat! Let me know what you think in the comments!
Want more ancestral eating tips?
See my post here for 10 Meals to Sneak Bone Broth Into!
See my post here for 10 Meals to Sneak Beef Liver Into!
See my brand new post here on Principles of an Ancestral Lifestyle!