Sunday, August 12, 2012

Cook Ahead No Deprivation Weight Loss Plan

Today I am adding a new section to my blog.  You will find a new tab above labeled WEIGHT LOSS and here I am going to be posting for everyone who want to eat Paleo not just for the health benefits, but also to lose some extra weight.  (Image from

I include myself in that group, and today I want to introduce you to my particular version of the Primal Blueprint plan. If you have been following my posts I'm sure you will assume that this will include cooking ahead to save time, and not giving up any of the foods that I love. And of course you are right.

First, let me say that I am not a dietitian or a doctor.  I have no special training in nutrition. (This might actually be a good thing.)  What I am is a normal person who has struggled for many years with her weight and has finally found an approach that really works.  (If you are new to this blog and don't know what the Primal Blueprint is, you can read my quick summary here.)

This plan is my version of the Primal Blueprint that I worked out for my own use because I have better things to do with my life than constantly be thinking about food or spending hours in the kitchen. I wanted to create a plan for myself that was quick, simple and easy - and convenient at the same time.  I wanted the convenience of "frozen dinners" but the health benefits of eating Paleo.  And I wanted to lose weight without having to give up my favourite foods -  chocolate, wine and cheese.  So that is the kind of plan I created.

I wrote some posts a while back with an example of my plan and I was pleasantly surprised at the interest those posts generated.  I received a lot of emails with questions which I was happy to answer, but it also made me realize that I needed to write some more posts with more specific information on how I make my plan work for all those people who requested this information.  Because I love this plan, and others that have tried it tell me they love it as well, I want to share it with anyone else who might find it useful.

Even though you don't need to count anything when you eat Paleo, when you are eating Paleo and also wanting to lose weight, you do need to keep your carb intake between 50 and 100g if not lower.  As you can see on Mark's graph, this is what he calls the "sweet spot"for weight loss.  Since you are not eating grains or legumes, this in itself will probably do the trick which is why many people don't have to even think about this, however if you are not losing as quickly as you wish, this is the first thing to check.

To see how my plan fits into these guidelines, check out my sample menus. (here, here and here) I have also posted all the calories, protein, fat and carbs for my sample menus, and shown how they fit into Mark's specific recommendations.  Remember this is only an example and not a plan that I recommend you follow to the letter. I am constantly changing my meals, and that is also what I recommend you do.  Flexibility is what will make this plan work as long as you keep within Mark's general guidelines.

So here is how my plan works.

Many diet plans suggest that you find one breakfast that you love and stick with it all week, and do the same with lunch. This would of course make life a lot easier, but possibly a lot more boring as well.  Also, one of the big reasons my plan works so well is that I allow myself lots of variety, and I don't tie myself down to eating specific foods at any specific time.

For those who want them I have many options for each of these meals. Read my post "Do we really need breakfast?" for some suggestions as well as my brunch post.  You will find many other suggestions under the RECIPES tab.

I advocate eating a salad most days for lunch as part of my Kaizen plan, but sometimes you just feel like something else, and I have other suggestions here including sandwiches and soups that you can have either with or instead of your salad for a change of pace.

I also have a list of snacks to have on hand for when I feel hungry between meals. These are all easy to buy or make foods that I can keep on hand throughout the week.  Now that my body burns fat instead of carbs, I rarely eat snacks any longer, but it's always nice to know I can if I decide I want to.

Even though I give you lots of suggestions for every meal, you are not limited to my suggestions.  You can make up your own breakfasts, lunches and snacks, just as long as you keep within Mark's guidelines and keep your carbs well under 100g per day.  Some people like to have dinner leftovers - and that's perfectly okay.  Others don't eat until lunch, and that is fine too.  My plan is not so much a specific set of meals that you have to eat as just a way to make Mark's guidelines work for you in a simple, quick and easy manner.

Remember, for most people, just following the basic guidelines - not eating grains, processed sugar and oils, and legumes - is enough and as long as you don't stuff yourself you can eat as much as you need to feel satisfied and still lose weight at the recommended rate of 2 to 3 lbs. a week.  However if you feel more comfortable keeping track of your carbs for the first week or two, you can use a Journal or an online resource and I give many examples of how to do this here.

Dinner is when most people really want variety, and I think the key to a successful plan is to make sure you have lots of different options available so you are never tempted by fast food.

 Intermittent Fasting  is a great tool to add to your weight loss plan, and is especially good for breaking weight loss stalls, but as the joke goes .....

My dinner plan consists of three parts.

The first is a list of slow cooker recipes.  (To read why I think you need a slow cooker read my post here. ) You can choose your favourites and schedule one or two - or more - to make each week.  Slow cooking is usually cooking in large batches, and it's a great way to create "frozen dinners" for later use.  For tips on freezing your meals, read my post here.

The second part is a list of meals that can be made under half an hour. These are all simple and easy to make. Again, choose your favourites and how many of these you want to make each week.

The third part is a list of marinates and rubs as well as stir-fry techniques to use on meat, poultry and fish that you can either barbecue or pan-fry.  This, with a salad and some steamed vegetables is another great way to make a quick and easy Paleo dinner.

The flexibility of this plan is that you decide how many of these meals you want to cook each week.  On an average week you might want to eat out of the freezer for 2 or 3 meals, make quick meals a couple of times a week, and then fill in the rest of your menu plan with a quick barbecue meal using some of my marinate and rub recipes.

On the other hand, if you're having a really busy week you might prefer to eat out of your freezer all week, or just stock up on meat, poultry and seafood for the barbecue.  It's your choice.

You can also choose to add treats and desserts to your plan and if you do I have some recipes for those as well under the RECIPES tab.

In future posts I will be discussing specific treats such as sugar-free chocolate, sugar alcohols, and other low-carb foods you might want to consider adding to your diet. You can find these under the WEIGHT LOSS tab.


Now I want to recommend a couple of extra things that you can add to the No Deprivation Plan that can really help to make it even healthier, easier and more successful.  I first learned about these when I did my Elimination Plan, and I found they worked so well that I decided to add them both to my regular daily routine.

The first is to make up a big pot of beef or chicken bone broth (use my recipe here) and keep it in your fridge so you can heat a cup in your microwave and sip it throughout the day.  This is mainly water so the calorie and carb counts are negligible, but you will find that the broth is not only delicious, it also gives you lots of extra nutrients which will make you feel a lot more energetic, and it will fill you up so you will find yourself eating less.

Make as big a pot at a time as you can.  To make your bone broth even more tasty and nutritious, when you are making it add a couple of cups of beet greens (you can substitute any greens) a cup of chopped cabbage, a 2 inch piece of fresh ginger root, a couple of cloves of garlic, and a cup of sliced fresh shitaki mushrooms. (You can also used dried.)  I also add a container of organic vegetable broth for the extra nutrients and also for the added flavour. Once cooked strained the broth and after putting what you will need for the week into your fridge, freeze the rest.  This way you will always have it on hand but won't have to make it every week.

If fact, if you don't want to make your own broth from scratch, an easier way is to just use organic chicken broth and vegetable broth as a base and just add the other ingredients.  You will only have to cook this for an hour or so in either your slow cooker or a large saucepan, then drain and you have basically the same thing.

The second thing is to have a hot bath each day with an epsum salt, baking soda mixture that I have described in detail in my post here.   I recommend adding Lavender essential oil because it's so soothing, but you can use your favourite scent instead if you wish. Use water that is as hot as you can stand, and try to stay in it at least 10 to 15 minutes. Drink a glass of filtered water before, during and after your bath to help with detoxification.

This helps to draw out impurities from your system and also helps with weight loss.  It is recommended that you have this bath just before you go to sleep at night so you can go right to bed. It does tend to make you feel relaxed and drowsy, and as an added benefit, I found this really helps you get a good night's sleep.

For all of you reading this who are not into baths, you can have a sauna at some point during the day instead, if you have access to one, and get the same detox benefits.  

In future posts I am also going to write about specific problems that you might face while working on your weight loss goals such as weight loss stalls, problems with specific foods, and many others.  You will find all that information under the WEIGHT LOSS tab as well.  

If eating out of your freezer appeals to you, check out the posts under the COOK AHEAD tab.  There you will find information on how to get started cooking ahead and how a month's worth of cooked ahead dinners were all stored in this small fridge freezer above.

For those who like to follow a specific menu plan, check the MENU PLAN tab for ideas.  These weekly plans are suitable for the whole family, so you won't have to cook special meals just for yourself. 
My No Deprivation plan is very flexible and can be adapted to any specific food requirements.  If you want to eat strict Paleo and leave dairy out of you meals, then you will find that most of my recipes are non dairy.  In the ones that do contain some cheese or cream, you can substitute canned coconut milk for the cream and just leave out the cheese.  The flavour might be slightly different, but it will still taste good.  (I wouldn't do this with recipes where cheese and cream are the main components such as quiche, but making Frittata instead is a good option here.) Also, in any recipes where butter is used, Gee or coconut oil can be substituted if preferred.

If you have food allergies, there are enough choices in my meal lists and recipe options that you can just avoid the ones you cannot eat.

One of the big negatives that is always associated with Paleo eating is that you have to cook everything from scratch.  It's true that eating at home is the best way to make sure you are eating quality food, but this doesn't mean you have to spend lots of time cooking.  I have given you lots of options for quick (30 minutes or less) and easy (slow cooker) meals, but even if you want to avoid cooking in your kitchen all together, that is possible with a bit of planning and thinking outside the box.

Men especially seem to love to barbecue, and if you want to make all your meals that way it's quite doable. I've given you lots of recipes for rubs and marinades so your grilled meals never need to be boring.  As for sides - already washed salad greens and better option salad dressings are readily available in ever grocery store vegetable section.  There you can also find already cut up vegetables that can just be tossed with a bit of butter or oil, wrapped in some foil, and cooked along with your main course on your grill.

Another way to avoid cooking if you can afford it is to hire someone to come in and cook all your meals for you.  That might sound far-fetched but it really isn't.  Many students who have learned cooking skills at school, or stay-at-home Moms with tight budgets, will be happy to make some extra cash by cooking for you for a few hours every month. With all the recipes on this blog, you can hire him or her for a day or even just an afternoon, show them this website, and have them cook some meals to fill your freezer.  If you are a busy with your career and many other responsibilities, this is something to really consider.

And finally, remember you can always use my plan as a basis and add recipes and favourite foods of your own that fit into the guidelines. Just concentrate on using quick and easily prepared meals and cooking ahead as many meals as you can and you really can't go wrong.

The basic Primal Blueprint guidelines have been tried and proven over and over again. (Go to and read some of the many success stories.) If it's worked for so many before, chances are it will work for you as well, and if you follow my plan you can do it all simply, quickly and easily and enjoy not only the final destination (weight loss and better health) but also the journey while you're getting there.

 “Life isn't about finding yourself.  Life is about creating yourself.”   - George Bernard Shaw

Want to try Paleo, but .....

... think it's too hard to do?
... don't have enough information?
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  2. Wow! Thank you! I am specifically starting the paleo diet (not primal) because I know that I have many food sensitivities that are contributing to my expanding abdomen and gut issues. SO...I love that you have a specific tab just for weight loss!

  3. Nice post and Thanks for this useful information.

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