One of the biggest roadblocks to following the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP), is the amount of time it can take to prepare all of your meals. Most of us lead very busy lives and don’t have the time, let alone the energy, to prepare an AIP feast every night. Cooking fatigue is a real thing, my friends! But preparing your food for the Autoimmune Protocol doesn’t have to take a lot of time and effort in the kitchen. You can eat delicious, quick AIP meals in minutes, and easily stick to the autoimmune protocol.
Here are five tips for quick AIP meals for those of us who always seem to be in a hurry:
1. Keep AIP meals simple.
You don’t need to create elaborate meals every night! To make your AIP meals quick and easy, keep them simple. Save the elaborate or adventurous meals for weekends or special occasions.
I have found that sticking to one or more of the following recipe rules helps me cut down on time spent in the kitchen, especially for weeknight meals:
- limit meals to 30 minutes or less
- limit ingredients to 10 or fewer
- and/or limit dishes to one pot or pan for less clean-up!
You’ll find that when you use fresh, quality, whole-food ingredients, you don’t need as many of them to make your dishes really pop. And you don’t need to spend hours in the kitchen to create a delicious meal.
All of the recipes on this blog follow one or more of these rules. Yes, all of them! To start, try these Easy Cabbage Roll Bowls, or Hearty AIP Chicken Vegetable Soup. Or even this 6-Ingredient Breakfast Hash could make a great dinner!
Sometimes, I’ll even just chop up some fresh vegetables and some chicken, toss everything with a little avocado oil and my AIP All Purpose Seasoning and pop it in the oven at 425º for a quick no-recipe sheet pan meal.
2. Keep your pantry and fridge well-stocked for quick AIP meals on the fly.
Have you ever suddenly realized at 5pm that you don’t have a plan for dinner? If you’re following AIP, grabbing takeout is not an option, unfortunately. A well-stocked pantry and fridge make it so much easier to create a quick healthy meal on the fly. When you have a few key ingredients on hand, you can easily throw together a quick AIP meal.
See my list of AIP Emergency Staples for a comprehensive list of pantry, fridge and freezer staples to have on hand.
For a quick AIP meal, just grab your favorite protein out of the fridge and a couple vegetables you already have on hand, and make an easy stir fry with this Easy AIP Stir Fry Sauce. Or throw together a quick sheet pan meal. Or toss everything in a soup pot, cover with bone broth and simmer for 30-60 minutes. Easy peasy.
3. Meal plan for quick AIP meals.
I’ve said it before and I’ll say it a million times more: meal planning is the key to success on AIP (or any other dietary protocol). Your meal plan doesn’t have to be fancy, or set in stone, but having a general idea of what you plan to eat in a week can reduce the amount of time you spend every weeknight preparing meals, or trying to decide what to eat. And it will save you from the dread that sets in when you get home from work and realize you have nothing to eat for dinner.
Just set aside 15-30 minutes once a week to make a rough outline for your meals. Or plan out exactly what you’re going to eat. Do what works for you.
For me, every Saturday I open a google spreadsheet and plug in breakfasts, lunches, snacks and dinners for Monday through Sunday. I only pick one or two recipes to prep for breakfast (i.e. a breakfast hash I can prep once and eat all week). Then, one or two recipes for lunch (i.e. mason jar salads, soups, or nourish bowls). And then I pick three to four recipes to make for dinners. I often make enough food that we have leftovers, so I only have to plan to cook about every other night. Last, I plan one or two snacks to have on-hand if I get hungry between lunch and dinner.
I’ll share some more tips for AIP meal-planning in a later blog post, so be sure to subscribe for email updates!
4. Prep ingredients ahead of time.
If there’s one way to keep your AIP meals quick and easy, it’s meal prep. But there’s more than one way to meal prep.
One meal prep strategy is to pre-make multiple meals and save them for later. Mason jar salads, pre-made breakfast hashes, and soups are great examples of this strategy. I also have a few meal prep recipes you can check out. A couple of my favorites are this Nightshade Free Korean Chicken Meal Prep and Sheet Pan AIP Winter Meal Prep Bowls (which also makes a great weeknight sheet pan dinner!).
Meal prepping can suck up a lot of your free time, though, if you let it, or if you don’t have a system down.
Another option is to food prep, rather than meal prep. Food prepping helps to streamline quick AIP meals by simply prepping ingredients or “meal building blocks” to be used in quick meals throughout the week, rather than pre-making the entire dish.
Food prep building blocks include:
- pre-washing and chopping veggies to use in salads, stir-fries, or just for snacks.
- pre-cooking meat (in the slow cooker, instant pot, oven, or stovetop) to add to nourish bowls, salads or stir-fries.
- pre-making sauces and pestos to add a flavor boost to quick sheet pan meals, salads or nourish bowls.
- making a big batch of bone broth to use in soups, braises, or Instant Pot or Crock Pot meals.
I usually combine both prep strategies. I often meal prep breakfasts and lunches, and then food prep for quick weeknight dinners. At most, I spend 2 hours in the kitchen on a weekend for meal prep, but it saves me hours throughout the week.
5. Learn to love leftovers.
What meal is faster than leftovers? Trick question! There isn’t one!
In order to minimize time spent in the kitchen, I almost never cook a dish that only feeds me for one meal. If you double a recipe, it only adds a couple extra minutes to your time in the kitchen, but now you have two AIP meals instead of one! Or multiple meals instead of one!
If you’re making a recipe, make as much as you can fit in your pot or pan, eat what you’re hungry for, and store the rest for later! These leftovers are perfect for lunches or weeknights when you want to just come home, grab a meal out of the fridge, and plop your butt on the couch (no judgement! That’s me most nights!).
There you have it! Those are five of my best tips for preparing quick AIP meals at home, so “I don’t have time to do AIP” is no longer in your vocabulary! ?
What are some of your favorite tricks for cutting back on time spent in the kitchen? Share your strategies in the comments!