9 AIP Cooking Hacks to Save Time and Nourish Your Body

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This is a list of some of my favorite hacks in the kitchen. You’ll notice that most of these tips involve a little more work upfront, to make things more convenient and quick on the back end. After embarking on the Autoimmune Protocol and committing to a real-foods lifestyle post reintroductions and recovery, I’ve learned a LOT of things about how to make eating this way more doable! On to the list…

1. Always have a sauce on hand.

Sauces help you make a quick meal or reimagine leftovers. If you’ve got some plain protein and leftover vegetables, a nice sauce makes your meal more flavorful and fun! Try these: Golden Turmeric Sauce, Green Curry, Nomato Sauce or Apricot-Thyme BBQ Sauce!

2. Don’t like chopping? Use your food processor!

For recipes like my “Magic” Chili, you can easily use the grater blade on a food processor to cut your vegetables instead of chopping them by hand. While you are at it, grate some fresh vegetables for salad too – carrots, beets, cucumbers, and zucchini are all great options!

3. Use the Instant Pot to pressure cook winter squash before peeling!

Who else hates peeling hard winter squash? Pop that baby, whole, on the steaming rack and pressure cook for 10 minutes, quick releasing the pressure. Your squash will be perfectly cooked, and separate easily and perfectly from the peel. (If you don’t have an Instant Pot, consider getting one — they make cooking SO much easier!)

4. Freeze sauces and herbs cooked at the peak of the season.

Produce not only tastes best, but has the highest nutrient content at the peak of the season. I like to batch-cook sauces with very seasonal ingredients and freeze them for the rest of the year, to lock in that flavor and nutrition. If you are freezing fresh herbs, mince and pack in ice cube trays packed with bone broth or olive oil. Once they’ve frozen, transfer to another container for long-term storage.

5. “Batch” juice and freeze lemons and limes.

Just like the herbs above, you can batch juice and freeze citrus — if you do it in the wintertime, when citrus is in season, you not only get the best tasting fruit but you also save yourself the hassle and mess of squeezing them fresh every time you need some. You can even use this trick for raw, grated or juiced ginger! Like the herbs, simply freeze in an ice cube tray and transfer to another container for long-term storage.

6. Freeze complete meals in pint size mason jars.

Have a busy season coming up and want to get “ahead” on your cooking? Batch-cook some freezable favorites (like my Carrot and Sweet Potato “Chili”, Healing Green Soup, and Moroccan Inspired Breakfast Skillet) and freeze in pint-size mason jars (make sure to get the wide-mouth ones without shoulders!) with BPA-free lids. Pro tip: Once you portion your meals into jars, let them “rest” in the refrigerator for 24 to 48 hours to let the flavors combine. This also helps them cool slowly, and reduces the chance of breakage in the freezer.

7. Reduce your broth and freeze in ice cube trays.

After making your bone broth, you can continue to cook it uncovered until most of the liquid evaporates, leaving you with the ultra-concentrated leftovers (all the good stuff!). Freeze this in an ice cube tray or muffin tin and transfer another container for long-term storage. This tip is especially helpful for those who lack freezer space!

8. Pre-make vegetable “noodles” or “rice” for the week.

You have probably seen the exorbitantly priced already-spiralized or processed vegetables at your local Whole Foods or Trader Joe’s. Spend some time on your batch-cooking day prepping these staples to save you time and money! Use a food processor to “rice” vegetables like cauliflower and hard winter squash, or a countertop or handheld spiralizer to make zucchini or sweet potato noodles. 

9. Keep ingredients for a couple “pantry meals” on hand for when you are in a pinch.

Life happens, and even those of us who are obsessive planners (raises hand!) end up needing to make a meal without any fresh ingredients. Having some pantry items on hand at all time can make this a heck of a lot easier. I always stock canned tuna, canned salmon, sardines, and cans of coconut milk in my pantry, along with storable vegetables like onions, garlic, ginger, sweet potato, and hard winter squash. With my reserve of frozen bone broth, herbs, lemon juice, and maybe a sauce or two, I can make a meal out of almost nothing!

There you have it — some of my favorite kitchen hacks to make AIP more affordable, achievable, and nourishing for you and your family.

If you found this article interesting you may like Stocking the AIP Pantry, my comprehensive guide to clearing out and setting up your pantry for the elimination diet.

What is your favorite AIP kitchen hack? I’d love to know if I missed something!

About Mickey Trescott

Mickey Trescott is a co-founder here at Autoimmune Wellness and a co-teacher of AIP Certified Coach. After recovering from her own struggle with both Celiac and Hashimoto’s disease, adrenal fatigue, and multiple vitamin deficiencies, Mickey started to write about her experience to share with others and help them realize they are not alone in their struggles. She has a Master's degree in Human Nutrition and Functional Nutrition, and is the author of three best-selling books--The Autoimmune Paleo Cookbook, The Autoimmune Wellness Handbook, and The Nutrient-Dense Kitchen. You can watch her AIP cooking demos by following her on Instagram.


  • Sheryll Ziemer says

    Love these hacks! Especially #3!! I’ve frozen a whole lemon before. I just pull it out and grate the whole lemon (peel and all) into a dish. Haven’t tried it with a lime yet, but that should work too.

  • Alicia culver says

    These are much needed tips. Now I just wish you were next door so I can take a kitchen course with you 🙂 ps. I’m in Florida, very inviting weather except for summer lol.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Thanks Alicia! This time of year in the PNW, I WISH I was in Florida…

  • Cassandra says

    Some great tips that I need to add to my kitchen routines. Is there a particular reason you use the plastic mason jar lids vs. the metal rings and lid inserts? I freeze using the wide mouth jars and the rings, wondering if I should upgrade to the lids you mentioned.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      I just find the plastic lids much easier to work with, but they aren’t a requirement!

  • terry says

    for # 3… how much water do you put in the instant pot for steaming the butternut squash? such a good idea!

  • MarlaM says

    Mickey, my classic KitchenAid mixer (DH bought it for $20! at a garage sale years ago) has been, “AIP-refit.” Investing in the spiralizing attachment it makes fast work of veggies into AIP ‘pasta’! It also mixes those big batches of ground meat for patties/meatloaf. I will soon invest in the grinder for locally sourced grassfeds (for recipes, including making our own AIP jerky, etc.!)
    My family, aka ‘my guys’, love the (nutrient-dense) meals and lunches they eat now that I am fully AIP. They have their own cabinet stock to occasionally pull from.
    (How ‘bad’ is it when my 11yo DS reads ingredient labels in the store, for in/out AIP, and knows immediately whether it can go in the cart or not!?!)

    I hate to think where my family would be healthwise, if I hadn’t come across this site over a year ago!
    Thanks a million Mickey and Angie!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Marla, love that repurposing, what an awesome tool! Wishing you and your family continued health!

  • Paloma says

    This is super helpful Mickey, thank you. I’ve been on the autoimmune paleo diet for over two months now and I’m not feeling a significant difference in my health yet. I’m only 28, so I figured the elimination phase would be less for me, but that’s not how it’s turning out. My joints hurt less so that’s the one improvement I’ve noticed. One thing I know I could do more is drink bone broth and eat organ meats (although they aren’t my favorite). Any other suggestions as to why I might not be improving as quickly as expected?

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Paloma, at two months I would start to think about enlisting the help of a practitioner to help you troubleshoot any underlying root causes, like gut infections, that could be impacting your progress. Seeing improvements in joint pain means you are on the right track though! I would suggest both looking for the little benefits that tell you you are on the right track, as well as get some help and testing for further issues. Good luck!

      • Paloma says

        Thanks Mickey. I love my general practitioner (the one that finally diagnosed me w/ Hashimotos), however she doesn’t seem to know about Hashimotos to the extent I would like her to. I am seeing an endocrinologist next week, but not sure what other steps to take. Mostly I’m afraid I may have other autoimmune diseases, especially after listening to and reading all of the suggested materials (Your recipe book, your podcast, Amy Myers book, and The Root Cause). Perhaps I have an intolerance to some of the foods in the elimination phase and that’s causing my slow progress. I’m thinking next step then would be getting a food allergy test? From what I know, I’m following all the right steps so any further suggestions are much appreciated.

        • Mickey Trescott says

          Hi Paloma, we don’t recommend food allergy tests, here is why: https://autoimmunewellness.com/why-food-intolerance-testing-doesnt-work/

          Instead of chasing down other diagnosis, I would see if your thyroid levels are optimized – are you on the right type and dose of medication? This, in addition to diet and lifestyle, can have a HUGE effect on symptoms. Don’t go too far down the rabbit hole of further restriction or other diseases if the cause may be just that your Hashi’s is not currently managed properly. This is where educating yourself about proper thyroid testing and treatment comes in handy. Wishing you luck!

        • Lisa says

          Hi paloma, hashimoto411 is a great group for hashi info.
          Hashimoto is more than diet, nutrients and thyroid hormone. There can be other factors at play that are slowing your healing. Izabella Wentz has just launched a book hashimoto protocol that may help you get to your root cause

        • Vesna says

          Hi Paloma, you should really get a comprehensive stool sample and an organic acids urine test done. I had Hashimotos 3.5 years ago and found out the I had leaky gut, SIBO and Candida overgrowth as well as hidden mold in my basement. I have now been in remission for 2.5 years and have switched away from AIP and just eat really well. I did fine out that autoimmune diseases flare when you have leaky gut. And for me leaky gut was caused by gut infections. Use a functional medicine doctor to help you navigate this path. My functional medicine doctor is Dr Kristina Bosnar at BOSNAR Health. She’s amazing. Good luck

  • Sarah says

    Save time and your precious energy by ordering meats chopped to order. The butcher my farmer uses for half and quarter cows will cut everything to order, with some limitations. My grocery store will cut chicken and beef down to 1/2 inch cubes, slice meats to order, and package to a desired weight. I just call ahead and my order is ready to pick up when I am, for no extra cost! They’ll even let me know what’s on sale when I order, so I can stock up. The meat is ready to toss in the instapot, or freeze in ready-to-use quantities. This trick keeps me cooking on my weakest days and during long flares of MG.

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Sarah – super smart tip right there! Thanks for sharing!

  • Cara says

    Thank you for the great tips! Especially the idea to refrigerate meals in jars before freezing them, and to use jars without shoulders. I have cleaned up a couple of frozen messes caused by broken jars, but hopefully by using these tips it won’t happen again! Also, I just wanted to tell you that your Nutrient Dense Kitchen cookbook is one of my favorites!! I’m a registered dietitian and have followed the AIP diet for 6 months. I thought I knew a lot about nutrition, but switching to the AIP (due to a long journey with Sjogren’s syndrome) felt like starting all over again, with both nutrition and cooking. Your cookbook has been so helpful, and has encouraged me with new delicious meals to try when I felt like I would scream if I had to eat yet another salad. Thanks so much!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hey Cara! Thanks for the thoughtful comment, I’m so happy you love the recipes! Wishing you continued health on your journey!

  • MARY says

    Hi Mickey! The link to the food processor is not working, I would like to know which one you recommend.
    Thank you!

    • Mickey Trescott says

      Hi Mary! I have a KitchenAid food processor that I love. It has taken many years of hard use and is still functioning well!

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