Sophie Van Tigelen is a passionate foodie, recipe developer, author, and photographer. Diagnosed with Hashimoto’s thyroiditis in 2009, she used the Autoimmune Protocol (AIP) to reverse her condition and today, Sophie lives a full and vibrant life free from the anxiety and flare-ups that often accompany autoimmune diseases. With her food and lifestyle blog, A Squirrel in the Kitchen, Sophie shares her AIP experience and empowers others to develop new habits to promote good health and wellness. Through years of experience, she has developed simple strategies to be successful on AIP, including numerous mouth-watering, allergen-free recipes that everyone (even those without autoimmune diseases) can enjoy. Sophie is on a mission to make the Autoimmune Protocol – and all that it encompasses – more accessible and sustainable for anyone looking for a more nutritious, more delicious, more health-conscious life.
Learn the Art of Batch Cooking
This is number one on my list for a very good reason. Batch cooking, or preparing food in large quantities for later consumption, is an awesome way to save time and stay on track with AIP. You know those days when you are too busy to cook, feeling under the weather, or just plain need a rest? Those are the days when it is easiest to fall off the proverbial wagon. Batch cooking is here to save you. Having something tasty and AIP-safe in the freezer will keep you from making poor “I don’t want to cook” choices.
During my batch cooking sessions, I like to prepare at least two or three meals – a soup, some kind of stew or casserole (preferably in the slow cooker), and perhaps a sheet of roasted root vegetables. I will usually eat one of the meals on the day of preparation and then store the rest in the freezer for later in the week. It may seem like a lot of work all at once, but I can’t tell you how many times batch cooking has saved me! Just choose a time when you have a few hours (I like Sundays), put on some good music, and get yourself set for the week.
Check out my favorite batch cooking recipes.
Meal Planning isn’t for Weaklings
Once or twice a week sit down and decide which recipes you will make for the coming days. I’m not going to lie to you – this takes a bit of discipline, but once you’re in the habit, it’s a terrific time-saver. I generally try to plan four to five days ahead. Write up a master shopping list with all the ingredients you will need for the recipes you have chosen and then go shopping once (or maybe twice, honestly, it’s almost impossible to not forget something).
Keeping a few basic AIP pantry staples on hand also makes your job easier. Think healthy fats (olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil), coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, AIP-compliant herbs and spices (link), and the like.
See what I keep in my AIP pantry.
I like to keep a few “emergency” foods on hand at all times. They are always on my shopping list whether I need them or not because honestly, I just don’t know what I would do without them and I certainly don’t want to find out!My go-tos include canned tuna, canned chicken, olives (green and black), plantain crackers, avocados, and romaine lettuce.
Why are these seemingly mismatched items always in my pantry? Because I can whip up a terrific, nutrient-packed Mediterranean-style salad in minutes with these ingredients. Mmmm, who’s hungry?
What’s for Breakfast?
Usual breakfast staples such as eggs, toast, waffles, and cereal are off the AIP menu, which might leave you wondering what you can actually eat for breakfast! The best advice I can give you is to redefine “breakfast foods” for yourself. My favorite move is to simply reheat my leftovers from the night before. Soups and stews are great breakfast options as they tend to reheat well (sometimes tasting even better than the night before!) and often provide the added bonus of delivering a dose of much-needed nutrients to build up your energy tank for the day ahead.
Learn more about breakfast on AIP.
If All Else Fails …
Okay, I’ll admit it. Even with all this good advice and planning, there are days when I still fail to be prepared. That’s when I switch to plan “Chicken Fryer!” This is my easiest, most basic, most “I’m too tired” meal for when I need more than a salad. I get an organic chicken fryer from my local Wholefoods (warning: the pepper they use to season the chicken is a necessary AIP reintroduction). To this, I add a baked sweet potato (five minutes in the microwave with a few holes poked in it and wrapped in a wet paper towel), and a few handfuls of greens. Voila, dinner! You’re welcome for that one. Trust me, you’ll use it!