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Fitting Paleo into a Busy Schedule

Tips for fitting paleo into a busy schedule; eating and living for a healthier you.


Do you need some help fitting paleo into a busy schedule? Trying to add a paleo eating and lifestyle into your hectic juggling of career, home-upkeep, kids, carpool, workouts?  I really do understand. I’m right there with you.  As a nurse who rotates shifts, never has a set schedule and is surrounded by stress on the job for 12 hours straight, I get you!  Though life can be chaotic, it is still possible to live and eat a paleo lifestyle through it all.


     Let’s squeeze some paleo into your busy lives:


Here’s a real life example of fitting paleo into a busy schedule. This is what I did during the last 10 days, when I worked 9 of those days, doing 8 and 12 hours shifts.


First, prioritize. You might find it surprising that I believe the most important factor of a paleo lifestyle, which affects all other parts of your health and life is, sleep.(1)  If you get enough sleep you can maintain the energy, stamina and focus you need to deal with everything else.  Enough sleep and your body has time to recharge your brain, rebuild your tissues, reboot your hormone and immune systems and keep you on an even emotional keel.  Without enough sleep, your ghrelin (hormone that makes you feel hunger) and cortisol (hormone that can raise your blood pressure and slow your metabolism) levels climb, and your leptin (hormone that tells your brain you’re no longer hungry) levels fall and your body goes into fight-or-flight, stress mode; elevating stress hormones, raising blood pressure, holding onto body fat, and impairing your brain’s ability to think clearly.  What good is living a life so fast-paced that you can’t actually feel, remember, or enjoy any of it?


Next, plan your food/meals ahead of time.  I guarantee you failure with healthy paleo eating if you do not make the time on your days off, to plan and shop for your upcoming workweek.  Now listen, I’m a pragmatic paleo eater.  Local, organic, freshly made, grass-fed are the ideal goals for our diets…that said, – reality check – we’ve got to work with what we’ve got.  Last week money was tight, time was short and I knew I would have very little time to eat and sleep,  much less cook fresh for each meal.  12 hour shifts means preparing and packing a lot of food ahead of time to bring to work,  3 meals plus snacks.


      Here’s how I did my paleo shopping ahead of time:



Fully cooked canned fish, smoked oysters, smoked clams, smoked trout, wild salmon, albacore tuna, herring, sardines, all bargain prices, full of healthy omega-3 oils and protein, and all paleo enough for a real-world work week and budget. BPA free can brands are out there, take the time to find them. Ditch the soy based mayo, unless you like the potential estrogenic effects from GMO soy exposure.  Instead, use olive oil, a splash of truffle oil, dried onion flakes, cumin and salt. You’ve never tasted Paleo Tuna Salad like this before!


Ground lamb patties and ground beef meat sauce.  I made raw lamb patties with chopped onion, spinach, and spices, put them into individual baggies and froze them. When wanted, these can be packed in a lunch, will be defrosted by noon and microwaveable to desired level of doneness.  I also made a simple meat sauce with ground beef, garlic, onion, kale, spices, Paleo Bone Broth and froze it in individual serving size portions.


Organic eggs were on hand as bargain priced protein, used for omelets with greens, peppers, spices, and a few hard-boiled eggs, which pack easily.  Bags of frozen chopped spinach store well in the freezer, and chopped spinach blends well into last-minute smoothies and omelets.



Organic sweet potatoes, with a dollop of ghee or butter on the side, are easily portable and microwave very well in minutes. Same goes for organic white potatoes and white rice. Major bonus with white potatoes and white rice, if you cook them ahead of time and cool them down; you obtain the benefit of their resistant starch content. Even if you re-heat them later, after they have been cooled, the resistant starch remains to feed all the helpful good bacteria in your gut. Cooked in this resistant starch fashion, they also will not be absorbed like other carbs, and will not effect your blood sugar levels, or insulin release, as regular cooked white potatoes would. (Look here for more info on safe starches.)


Trader Joe’s Organic Jasmine Rice in freezer packs is fully cooked and microwaves to ready in minutes. I mixed it with my basic ground beef sauce I mentioned above, and I eat it with any canned fish. Try it with a few other easy to pack ingredients that can all be microwaved and stirred in together: Paleo Smoked Oysters and Jasmine Rice.



Fresh or frozen: pineapple, mangoes, raspberries, bananas, blueberries (these are my favs, you chose yours).



Paleo Granola, bagged, peeled, washed mini-carrots, Paleo Energy Bars, Trader Joe’s organic beef jerky, nut butters, Paleo Toasted Maple Coconut Flakes, almonds, walnuts, dried cranberries and raisins. Paleo Carrot Cake Muffins, and other paleo muffins and bars that have been frozen, conveniently defrost themselves by noon when packed in a lunch.


Emergency stash:

Frozen Paleo Banana Apple Flaxseed Muffins, Paleo Chocolate Chip Brownies and Paleo Chocolate Chip Cookies, and a jar of almond butter and homemade Paleo Chocolate Chips.


By committing to a few hours of prep on my day off, there was no more cooking (except breakfast egg dishes a few times), for the next 10 days.  Everything else was packed in the lunch/dinner bag and heated in the microwave as needed. I could decide what I felt like eating that day, pack up and go.  I keep spices, sea salt, a mixed bottle of olive oil and balsamic for dressing, and grass-fed butter and ghee for potatoes, rice, and veggies, in my lunch bag.


Best of all, I never go hungry, always have healthy paleo foods on hand, and can skip any SAD (standard American diet) unhealthy food in the cafeteria, or the ubiquitous, dreaded, junk food potlucks that seem to lurk around every corner of the hospital, which might derail my health.


I’ve come so far in the last few years, it is like second nature for me to eat this way now.  Plus, I’ve said a permanent goodbye to the old tired, cranky, bloated caffeine and sugar fueled me, and look forward to the rest of my life as the new calm, rested, focused, energetic and happy,  “Paleo Payton”.  If I can fit paleo into a busy schedule, you can too!