The meal plan tester for this week is: Antonio Carballo and his wife Lori of 15+ years from Hoover, AL. Antonio is a software developer and flips houses on the side. He also attends weekend classes at the local culinary school and speaks 3 languages. Antonio started Crossfit at a gym in his town in 2010, but now does his own WODs at home.

Here are a few pics from Antonio’s experience:

Meatball Minestrone Looks Amazing!!
Chicken Tortilla Soup with homemade tortilla crisps
Portioned out Brisket Pot Roast
Lemon Pepper Chicken with Asparagus
Pacific Cod Piccata
Antonio and his wife Lori

Antonio totally rocked this meal plan and went above and beyond with his feedback and pictures. I really appreciated the information you were able to send us on prep and cook time and how much you were able to portion out from each meal. Thank you Antonio for all your hard work! It appears that your culinary classes are really paying off. Keep it up and I look forward to having you test another meal plan for us this year.

From Nick:

Hey guys!

I think you’ll all agree that Anthony did a bang up job on this week’s plan. I love seeing the photos, all of them are great as they prove that this stuff can be done. While it might seem overwhelming at first, if you follow the steps we lay out for you, it is totally doable. Great job, Anthony!

I hope you are having a great week and I’d like to share a quick story… @jessiesmassie and I were at Safeway in our town of Truckee on Monday and “The Jo!” and “The Bro!” were in tow. They had found a Smoky The Bear frisbee and brought it into the store. I didn’t think much of it, but the next thing you know, they were throwing it back and forth as I checked out the portion sizes of the frozen meals in the freezer section.

Smokey the Bear.

Again, not thinking much of it, because I was occupied, they were essentially playing frisbee in the freezer aisle at the grocery store. I even showed them how to throw the thing properly without thinking about what we were actually doing. Then, Mama Bear came around the corner and brought to my attention that the boys were playing frisbee in the freezer aisle at the grocery store. I wasn’t too concerned, but she wanted them to stop, so we asked them to stop.

“The Jo!” gave the frisbee one last throw and it ended up hitting an older lady who had a shopping cart full of TV Dinners. She was not alarmed, however. In fact, she encouraged the behavior and wanted the boys to go outside and throw the frisbee with her in the grass by the trees. She said that she worked at a daycare and had recently broken the window a neighboring while playing baseball with a toddler.

She went on to say how the owner of the house was so upset, but she couldn’t see why. She said she’d gladly pay to have it fixed and that there was no reason to fuss. It ended up costing her $30.00 and she paid the bill with a smile. She then told me to enjoy my time with my boys, that they are at an amazing age and that it all goes by quickly.

It seems that everywhere I turn, older people are sharing the same sentiment. Life passes quickly. It is almost like children represent a ticking clock of your life that has passed since they were born. Samson is now 7 years old and in 5 years, he’ll be 13! The Bible says that life is like a mist that appears for awhile and then vanishes (James 4:14). Merle Haggard has a line (that I once bellowed on the Nicaragua Culinary Adventure) where he says, “baby’s in the cradle fast asleep, just think in no time, he’ll be up and gone.”. Crazy stuff, right?

I’ll finish by sharing how my conversation with the freezer section lady finished. The last thing she said was, “enjoy yourself”. That was it. Not “enjoy your time with your boys”, not “enjoy your evening”, not “enjoy the rest of your summer”.

She said, “enjoy yourself”. It caught me off guard and made me think. I hadn’t heard it in so long, that I questioned if it even made sense. What great advice, no? Two words. Super simple. Enjoy yourself.

So, there you have it. My grocery “store-y”. I want to encourage you today to make the most of every moment. While we cannot control the actions of others, we can enjoy ourselves…

“Keep It Paleo!” my friends.

Your Pal,

Paleo Nick

(Speaking of enjoying ourselves. We are picking this bad boy up today to  head North-Northwest in search of Hyperion, the world’s tallest tree…)


Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:

Chain grocery store (Kroger): $245.00   
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $210.00

The amount you will spend will depend on your geographic location and how much you rely on bulk purchases. As an example, you can get 1 quart of extra light olive oil at Kroger for $19.99 or you can get 4 quarts at Costco for $16.50. You follow? Meat and produce will also be less at the warehouse stores, but might require you purchase more than you’ll need for this plan.

Customize Your Plan and Shop It Up!

I have created a customize-able grocery list in the form of an Excel spreadsheet. Even if you’re not good with Excel, I’ve set it up in a foolproof way that even “The Jo!” could handle. Follow these instructions:

  1. Open the document and click on the tab at the bottom that says “Menu item & Ingredient Brkdown”.
  2. At the top, you’ll see the number “1” in bold just below each menu item. You can change this number to correspond with the number of portions that you’d like to make. Say you really like muffins and want 3 dozen, you’d change the “1” below Bacon Berry Muffins to a “3” and the grocery quantities will be updated.
  3. Click back to the tab that says “Meal Plan 15.9 Grocery List” and your quantities will be updated.
  4. Print out the grocery list.
  5. Compare what you need to what you have on hand and finalize your list. Then, head to the grocery store and make your purchases swiftly and efficiently.

Step-By-Step Instructions:

I want you to knock this out in one shopping session, two cooking sessions, and one short finishing session. I’ll explain these now, but want you to scroll down to read my notes on each meal below. They are listed under each picture.

In cooking session one:

  1. Prepare your Chuckwagon Brisket Pot Roast, place it in the slow cooker, set the slow cooker on a foil lined sheet pan, and place it in your garage to cook overnight.
  2. Prepare the Meatballs for the Minestrone you will make tomorrow. Cover them with plastic wrap or put them in containers and store in the fridge overnight.
  3. Prepare the Chicken Tortilla Soup (tortillas optional) and enjoy some for dinner. Portion out any leftovers and store in the refrigerator or freeze.
  4. Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.

In cooking session two:

  1. Portion out the Pot Roast and refrigerate or freeze. Clean out the your slow cooker and load it up with the Beef Bourguignon. Place in your garage, on a foil lined sheet pan, and cook overnight.
  2. Prepare the Pacific Cod Piccata and enjoy a some for lunch. Portion out any left overs and refrigerate or freeze.
  3. Now we will use our meatballs from yesterday. Finish the recipe for the Magnificent Meatball Minestrone. Portion out the soup with meatballs into containers and refrigerate for a week or freeze for up to 6 months.
  4. Prep your veggies for Lemon Pepper Chicken with Asparagus, which will be tomorrow’s last meal.
  5. Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!

In finishing session:

  1. Portion out the Beef Bourguignon and clean out your slow cooker. Properly store your meals in the refrigerator or freezer.
  2. Prepare the Lemon Pepper Chicken with Asparagus. This one should be quick and easy if you prepped your veggies yesterday. Eat some and store any leftover in the refrigerator for up to a week.
  3. Sit back and take it all in. Your Paleo Bank Account is stocked and  now you are a Culinary Ninja who is ready to tackle life with energy, clarity, and confidence. Be sure to tell your friends about!

Chuckwagon Brisket Pot Roast

Notes: Our tester for this week used a 6qt crock pot and had a prep time of 30 min. Antonio yielded 7 meals from this recipe. He allowed his meat to cook for 11 hours on low and let it to cool for an additional 3 hours.

Paleo Plus Corn Tortillas – Chicken Tortilla Soup

Notes: Antonio’s wife went bananas over it and said ,”Don’t change anything in the recipe”. I completely agree with her. Antonio on the other hand thought it was a little spicy and he would cut back a pepper or have left them out completely, had he known. He got 8 servings from the recipe. He used an emulsifier to blend his soup, but a regular blender also does the trick. He also said his tortillas cooked really quickly, about 10 min and he almost burnt them, so be sure to keep your eye on that if you make them.

Paleo Pacific Cod Picatta

Notes:  Antonio made this recipe for lunch one day and had a prep time of 20 min with a cook time of 20-25 as he only fried one filet at a time. Be sure to follow the recipe suggestion of varying the total amount of  oils (olive and coconut) you use by the size of your pan and heat the oil to 350F before adding the breaded filets to achieve your best results.

Magnificent Meatball Minestrone

Notes: Antonio thought this was the best recipe from his choices this week, by far. “Recipe is a masterpiece” he stated. The prep time was 2 hours with a cooking time of 1 hour on this baby because of all the meatballs that you pan fry. To achieve the fried affect with the crusty carmalization, cooking these in a pan is best, but you could also bake them in a 350F oven until fully cooked. He cooked his meatballs in a pan, with olive oil, 15 at a time. He also chose to make the soup in a separate pot and mix them together at the end. He allowed them to sit together for another 30 min. He suggests a 16qt stockpot if you are going to make them together. Antonio got 16-3cup containers from this meal and put 4 meat balls into each portion. He had 66 meatballs in total.

Beef Bourguignon

Notes: “Great taste with an oaky flavor thanks to the bacon. I used a full bottle of cabernet sauvignon. Prep time was about 1.5 hr. I let it cook for 11 hrs on low setting.Meat was very tender and amazingly aromatic. The yield was 9 pint containers” Antonio said.

The Pearl onions that I used were fresh. It does require the person to remove the skin by boiling them first. Instructions on how to remove the skins can be found here (provided by Antonio). One can use frozen ones but the box I bought ($1.99) was tiny and barely 1/4 C. Two bags of fresh pearl onions ($3.99/bag) was 2C.

Lemon Pepper Chicken with Asparagus

Notes: “This recipe was easy to make and tastes great! Prep time is less than 30 minutes. Cook time is about 20. I got 5 yields using my black containers”Antonio said. This recipe is a new selection for the meal plans and looks fabulous! I am going to have to try it out very soon. It calls for rotisserie chicken which will cut your prep time for sure, but you can always roast or grill 2 chicken breasts if you have them on hand.

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