When You Don’t Feel Like Cooking- Traditional Foods in a Hurry


Would it shock you if I said that I don’t always feel like cooking?

What if I told you that I ordered a dozen packages of hot dogs last month?

This fall I’ve been having such a good time playing outdoors with my kids, trying out herbal remedies, organizing/cleaning out my home, and getting a home management binder in place that honestly cooking has taken the back seat. Streamlining cooking, while staying within the budget and keeping food from becoming unhealthy can be done with a little planning.

I’ve used the ‘traditional foods in a hurry’ approach when moving, when illness is going through our family, and when I just wanted to spend less time in the kitchen. The goal is to sacrifice time, not nutrients. In the process, variety also gets sacrificed. That’s okay. We may enjoy a wide variety of foods but it isn’t nutritionally catastrophic to eat the same thing even two meals a day for three days in a row.

Tips for cooking traditional food in less time

1. Focus on quality proteins and fats.

Foods that are comprised of mostly proteins and fats are the foods that need to be the highest quality.  Low quality animal protein is not only low in nutrients like omega 3 fatty acids, but it is more likely to have pathogens in it like salmonella and e. coli.  Grassfed meat from healthily raised animals are full of nutrients needed for our bodies to thrive.  High quality fats are full of the nutrients that produce satiety- they make us feel full!  Butter from grass fed cows such as Kerrygold or Pure Indian Foods Ghee contains the nutrients in it needed for good bone formation, resistance to diseases, and to keep our teeth healthy.

I get grassfed nitrate free hotdogs from US Wellness Meats, (their pastured chickens are the best chickens I’ve ever tasted too!).  You can order 12  packages of hotdogs and got a discount for purchasing 12, and coupon code RC0810 entered at checkout will give you an additional 15% off for the month of November.

Even when life gets busy, I still keep buying whole raw milk a priority, and a friend picks up eggs straight from the farm for me so we have those healthy fats and proteins every week.

2.  Limit grains.

The easiest way to keep meals fast, easy, and nutritious is to limit the amount of grains.  When we’re tight on time I do resort to store-bought non-soaked bread, but we make a point to use less of it.  Low quality grain products get us in trouble when we make them the bulk of our diet; a bagel for breakfast, sandwich with more bread than meat for lunch, and rolls again with dinner and for snack.

We can make the bulk of our meals meats, eggs, soups, fruits, and vegetables.  Properly prepared soaked or sprouted wheat bread doesn’t take much hands on time, but it does dirty dishes and require some time and planning.

  • A lunch in a hurry might consist of grassfed sugar and nitrate free hotdogs, saurkraut from a big jar in my fridge, and sliced apples.  And it’s okay to have the same lunch all week in my book!  Snacks are often taken from the ever-ready crockpot of soup on the counter.
  • A sweet I make to satisfy a sweet tooth often also doubles as breakfast. A double batch of black bean brownies, peanutbutter brownies, or a pumpkin pie custard are legitimate breakfasts.
  • Soups are easy, and it’s lovely to come home after a fun filled day to a hot meal waiting.  Soups can easily contain a day’s worth of veggies in one meal, mineral rich chicken stock, and when topped with yogurt or cultured cream they have probiotics as well.

3.  If you are going to eat grains, choose ones that are easy to prepare traditionally

Soaking oatmeal, millet, or rice overnight in water or raw milk with a tablespoon of yogurt only takes a minute of planning the night before, and properly ferments the porridge for ease of digestion and so you can easily absorb the nutrients.

veggie stew in crockpot

4.  Use the Crockpot.

By starting the week with roasting a whole pastured chicken in the crock pot, an easy week of fall Crockpot dinners is as follows.

  • Roasted chicken with veggies
  • Chicken stock
  • Veggie stew with shredded chicken meat
  • Bean burritos
  • Minestrone soup

Don’t be afraid to go against your ‘ideals’

Sometimes we eat off of paper plates.  “How long does it really take to wash a plate?” you might ask. Not long, unless you’ve got a hungry newborn, fussing toddler, are trying to potty train, or have boxes sky high because you’re moving.

Scrambled eggs can be eaten as a quick meal any time of the day, they don’t have to just be for breakfast. You can even skip veggies for a few days and I don’t believe that anyone will be permanently harmed.  We had an unexpected move this past spring, and we literally lived on a triple batch of black bean brownies, orange juice from the store, and a jar of cashews for 2 days until my kitchen got set up again!

I have a child on GAPS- a special diet for autism and other disorders- that can’t cheat at all, but if this wasn’t the case, I wouldn’t have an objection to occasional take-and-bake pizza either.

Most of all

While cooking traditional foods to nourish our family is a wonderful thing to do, we want to make sure that we’re not becoming so focused on it that we miss out on other important things in life; collecting leaves as they quickly turn from green to gold to red to brown, savoring each stage our babies are in, enjoying the last warm days before winter, or taking a spontaneous walk in the park.

Part of Monday Mania!

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  1. says

    Thanks so much for this post! I needed these ideas :-D We are leaving this weekend for a vacation with my husband’s family (SAD eaters- gotta love that boxed mac and cheese). I’ve been stressing about what to do in regard to food, and I got some great ideas after reading this!!!!

  2. Michelle says

    This post couldn’t have been more timely in my life, and something is telling me to share why.

    My almost 4-yr. old daughter has been on SCD since July and as I was gearing up to change her to GAPS, I found out that from an ultrasound that my 12-week-old baby stopped growing at 6. I have been completely thrown off in the past five days eating out and staring at my kitchen like it’s foreign, paralyzed by the rest found in the bed or the couch. Ugh. So Emma’s only mishaps were some corn tortillas, but I am another story.

    Anyhow, thanks for your encouraging post. Balance is so tricky when life gets tough, isn’t it?

  3. says

    Great post! My husband and I have been sick for the first time in years (I blame a quick trip to NYC and being in the subways) and so have been relying on good quality products, in lieu of spending a lot of time in the kitchen.

  4. Libbie says

    Great post Cara! I completely identify, and I really appreciate the tips. Oh…and those really are the cutest little pumpkin hats!

  5. says

    I’ve invited the family to ours this xmas for a traditional dinner, so obviously the roast is pretty important! I found an archive of ideas at this roast recipe site, but cant decide on one in particular – there’s so many to choose from! It is fun planning such a big xmas dinner though!

  6. Jessica says

    wow this is my life exactly.

    We were doing GAPS and eating the grassfed hot dogs frequently (almost 1/day for my boys). We are now doing the intro diet of gaps and i am wondering if when we are off intro, if we should eat them again. Are they healthy – how processed is a hot dog? Ours are applegate farm or whatever that mainstream brand is – organic, grassfed, sugar and nitrate free.

    Do you think they are gaps legal?

    • Cara says

      Those sound like they’re legal, I heard about them from a menu plan subscriber this week too. How processed are hotdogs… I’m not really sure! But grassfed/sugar/additive free is good enough for me right now ;)

  7. Gabriella says

    Great ideas. I’m not averse to using store-bought organic peanut butter and plain yogurt to save time. No one’s perfect! As long as we’re eating grass fed animal products and limiting junk, we’re doing well.

  8. Heather says

    Thank you!! I needed this reminder today. I also LOVED the US Wellness Meats link you shared – I will be buying from them SOON!

  9. says

    Thanks for this post – esp for the wellness meats link.
    I’ve just started my 7 y.o Asperger’s son on GAPS, so any tips on making cooking easier is VERY helpful for me.
    PS Those pumkin hats are really cute!

  10. Debra says

    Ha! I put the wrong email address probably because I was nursing twins and that is exactly why I needed that advice, that it is okay if you don’t do this perfectly…

  11. says

    Thank you for making this website. My2 yr old son has been on GAPS for 12 months and is finding immense healing for his FPIES. The rest of us are just trying to eat better this year so I’ve started trying to incorporate more GAPS style cooking into our lives. This site is going to be very helpful. Thank you!

  12. Kelli says

    Thanks Cara, I’m just starting on my GAPS journey, but I love that you just gave us “permission” to not be perfect. Thank you.

  13. Christine says

    Thank you Cara, I was wondering, do you know if US Wellness still sells those hotdogs you wrote about? I would love to buy some, but I can’t seem to find them. Are they under a special name? Thanks so much! You’re blog has been so helpful to us as we’ve done GAPS Intro and now full GAPS (3 months in).


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