Automate Your Life

Scalability: The million dollar question.

When we last met, essentially we discussed how to begin living the Paleo lifestyle.  Evolving it from a strict engineering process into an art form in “The Art, Science, and Engineering of Lifestyle”.  This time  we’ll discuss how to automate your life for scalability.

Scalability simply means you want some thing, process, or system to be capable of growing as large as necessary with as little effort as possible. Ideally, you do the work to build it once and reap that effort well into the future.

In the context of our lifestyle, we really want to answer the question: “How can I convince others this lifestyle is worth practicing?”.  People won’t change unless *they* want to change. They will come up with every excuse possible to resist change. We can’t remove every excuse, but we can work on the “It’s too hard!” one.

 

Easy Button

Everyone wants an Easy Button!

We can show them it doesn’t have to be difficult, and we do that by showing them how to automate their lifestyle. As I discussed in my previous article, habits move from being a chore or process to being an art-form over time. Therefore, we first need to be proficient in the practice of the Paleo lifestyle. We need to move beyond the part where it’s a process for us before we can convince others that it’s worth their time to make this investment. So, let’s get to work on figuring out how to automate our lifestyle!

Cartoon photo of food assembly line

Automation is essential to scalability!

Until now, we have automated our lives in a sense, by accepting a trade-off between convenience and quality. Food manufacturers have listened to our demands for convenience and responded with “faster & cheaper”, but the compromise allowed quality to suffer. Clearly, we adapted as we have wholeheartedly adopted the convenience and low price, and built our lives around the speed of food preparation now available. We rip open boxes and bags, “zap” things in microwaves, grab various “food bars” for the ride or to stuff in our kids’ backpacks and lunches, etc. It’s time we turn the tables and get automation to work for us!

The key to automation is first knowing what you have to work with and second, having the right tools to do so. In plain English, that means you need kitchen gadgets! Not any gadgets, but specific ones. And you needn’t go out and spend a fortune either. This lifestyle doesn’t have to break the bank, it can be done affordably

So, let’s talk gadgets!

Inspector Gadget

It’s all about the gadgets!

I’d like to introduce you to June. I’m sure if you look around your house, buried in a closet, or stuffed at the back of a shelf under the basement stairs, you’ll find a June hiding in your house too. Yes, I’ve named my crockpot after Wally & Beav’s Mom. Why? Because, she does all the cooking and has a delicious meal ready for me when I walk through the door after a long day!

June and Beaver

June always has dinner ready when I walk through the door after a long day!

The crockpot is possibly the most useful and versatile piece of equipment in your kitchen when it comes to time-saving devices. You simply fill it up with stuff, turn it on, and walk away. Here are a few meals I’ve made in my crockpot with very little effort:

Each required a little prep work; usually just cutting up some veggies. Others like the beef stew or roasts take a little more, but once the prep work is done, so is your time in the kitchen, and June takes over!

In addition to complete meals, June can make a variety of other things nice to have on hand. Bone broth is a staple cooking ingredient for me, and it’s so much better and cheaper to make it yourself. And, as previously mentioned, I make my own homemade applesauce, which, besides being cheaper and tastier than store-bought alternatives, and  it’s a delicious lunchtime snack.  And who can forget this favorite:

[youtube=http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=8wgDdgXjjN0&feature=youtu.be&t=16s&end=21s&version=3]

My other favorite device is my immersion blender. I don’t really have a name for it, but I suppose I should come up with one, huh? Anyway, I use this thing daily! It’s pretty much always on my counter. It’s quick and simple to clean so you can whip up a cup of Bulletproof Coffee, rinse it quickly, and turn around to make your own mayonnaise, rinse it again, and puree the applesauce June just finished making for you. The time saved using this thing around the kitchen is amazing when you consider how often you’d need to lug out the blender or food processor and clean all those parts just to do the same small job!

Batch jobs. This is an old concept from computer science. Basically you do a bunch of the same work all at once in one big batch. On Sunday evenings after dinner I like to do my veggie chopping for the week. I’ll grab a bunch of food storage containers of various sizes, a bunch of different veggies and chop them all up in various ways. Peppers and onions, get diced with the chef’s knife, mushrooms on the mandolin slicer, carrots and sweet potatoes will get shredded in the food processor, and zucchini will get noodle-ized on the spiral slicer. All of this takes maybe 30 minutes, and at the end I have a week’s worth of sliced veggies all ready for use in cooking breakfast, putting together salads for lunch for the CaveWife and me, or anything else that needs them. No more delays because I first need to chop something up, it’s all right there in the fridge!

Batch jobs. This is an old concept from computer science. Basically you do a bunch of the same work all at once in one big batch. On Sunday evenings after dinner I like to do my veggie chopping for the week. I’ll grab a bunch of food storage containers of various sizes, a bunch of different veggies and chop them all up in various ways. Peppers and onions, get diced with the chef’s knife, mushrooms on the mandolin slicer, carrots and sweet potatoes will get shredded in the food processor, and zucchini will get noodle-ized on the spiral slicer. All of this takes maybe 30 minutes, and at the end I have a week’s worth of sliced veggies all ready for use in cooking breakfast, putting together salads for lunch for the CaveWife and me, or anything else that needs them. No more delays because I first need to chop something up, it’s all right there in the fridge!

Now, if you combine the ideas of batch processing and bulk cooking, you’ve got a huge winner! Take one day every now and then and spend it in the kitchen. Sure, I can see that being about the least desirable place possible for some people. Frame it as an investment in time, bring the kids in to help, and make this a fun family event to bring you all together!

Start out by batch processing all your veggies. Then move into making something that can go into the crockpot for a few hours. Then get something in the oven. While that’s going on, Make a soup or something on the stove top. Spending 4-6 hours in kitchen all at once could mean you don’t need to cook for quite a long time in the future.

We’ve sacrificed our health for the sake of speed and convenience. Automation thus far, has worked against us. We, as a nation, have ended up fat, sick, broken, and once we start paying those health bills, just plain broke! It’s time to eat delicious meals that don’t take all day to prepare and cook. It’s time we bring a little modern convenience and technology into our caves, and free up some of our time. It’s time to turn the tables and make automation work for us!

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