This week’s tester’s are: Kristen and Chris Blom of Fort Polk, LA. Kristen and Chris have a 2 1/2 year old son Bo and are about to welcome their baby girl, Summer into the family any day now. Kristen is a small business owner and a stay-at-home-mom. Her husband Chris is in the Army.
Kristen and Chris have made Crossfit Leesville their box. Besides spending time with their Crossfit family, they really enjoy being outdoors, especially around the water. “We try to fish as much as possible, or take our kayak out in one of the bayous or rivers around Louisiana and SE Texas. We are HUGE Auburn Football fans, War Eagle!” Kristen says.
Here’s what she had to share about her experience with PaleoNick.com:
“I started following Paleo Nick after I got the Crossfit HQ email with his video for a delicious Frittata a year or so ago. We didn’t join the website right away, but I was having trouble coming up with delicious Paleo/zone meals that were good for meal prep. My husband does best when I hand him a meal that is already portioned out correctly for whatever block count he’s trying to achieve. (Haha). Paleonick.com makes it so much easier to do this, plus the food is actually flavorful and delicious! My favorite part, is that he doesn’t constantly email me with a bunch of spam trying to sell me other products, like some of the Paleo Recipe Bloggers out there. You get what you pay for with him, delicious recipes! He, or his staff, is also quick to respond to emails or if you comment on one of his recipes on the website with a question.”
“I don’t think eating Paleo has been life changing for us, but eating Zone certainly has. Portion control and managing macros have been key to us sleeping better and having more energy to hang with friends and play with our son, Bo.”
“I’m due July 20 with our second child, so as I’ve cooked these meals, I made them with the intent of freezing them all and having them for when I’m too tired to think after she’s born, so I didn’t do any of the suggested serving directions. I would try that next time.”
Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:
Chain grocery store (Kroger): $165.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $135.00
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:
- Open the document and click on the tab at the bottom that says “Menu item & Ingredient Brkdown”.
- 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 want to already some Massie Mayo on hand, change the “1” below the Massie Mayo to a “0” and it will remove the listed ingredients for you.
- Click back to the tab that says “Meal Plan 16.29 Grocery List” and your quantities will be updated.
- Print out the grocery list from the first tab only.
- 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.
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 the notes on each meal below. They are listed under each picture.
In cooking session one:
- Prepare the Slow Cooker “Carnitas”, place it in the slow cooker, set the slow cooker on a foil lined sheet pan, and place it on your counter or in your garage to cook overnight.
- Prepare the marinade for the Kalbi-Style Pineapple-Ginger Short Ribs. Get your meat soaking and place it in your refrigerator. We will cook this meal tomorrow.
- Prepare the Bacon Wrapped Chicken Fingers with Parsnip Puree and Massie Mayo. Enjoy this as your meal and store any leftovers in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.
In cooking session two:
- Portion out the Carnitas and refrigerate or freeze. Clean out the slow cooker. Prepare the Southwest Chicken and get it into the slow cooker. Place it on a foil lined sheet pan, and set it in your garage or leave it on the counter to cook for the next 10-12 hours (less if you use chicken breasts instead of the whole chicken).
- Prepare the marinade for the Beef with Broccoli recipe and get the beef into it. Store in the refrigerator until we cook this dish tomorrow.
- Prepare the Pineapple-Ginger Short Ribs. Eat these for lunch or dinner and properly store any remaining portions in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze for up to six months.
- Prepare the Banana Currant Muffins. Share these with your friends or bag them up 2-3 muffins each and freeze for up to six months.
- Portion out the Southwest Chicken once it is finished cooking. Store these in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze up to six months.
- Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!
In finishing session:
- Prepare the Beef with Broccoli and Cauliflower Fried Rice. Enjoy this as your lunch or dinner. Properly store the leftover portions for up to one week in the refrigerator or freeze for up to six months.
- 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 PaleoNick.com!
Notes: “Who wouldn’t like cooking this? The prep is so easy. The oranges in this dish were such a delicious surprise. The dish probably made 14 portions, but we couldn’t stop eating the pork while we were portioning them out,” Kristen shared.
“I think if we had cooked these the full 12 hours on high, the meat would have been burned. I don’t know if the type of crock pot I was using had anything to do with cooking times being off, but both of slow cooker meals’ cooking times were way too long,” Kristen noted. Great observation Kristen! I do think that the slow cooker you are using makes all the difference. I almost always just cook meals on low in mine, even when the recipe calls for it to be cooked on high, because mine seems to get SOOO hot.
Kristen spent 10 minute prepping this meal, 8 1/2 hours slow cooking it and made 13-4 block portions.
Notes: “I love the flavor of this dish! It’s one of the first things I made from paleonick.com, and it’s one of my husband’s favorites. We love how spicy it is, and how flavorful without having to add any salt or other spices. This would be great for a BBQ or group get together, even though prep takes a little bit of time and effort,” Kristen said.
“The prep time for this dish takes a little while, but the payoff is pretty big in how nice they look. I’ve made this dish in the past, where I double it. I usually end up spending about an hour (or longer depending on my 2 year old) prepping, but then have lots of poppers for the week. This is not a dish I would try and cook most normal afternoons because of the prep time. I live in an area where it’s really difficult to get meat that isn’t already prepacked. Most of the chicken I’ve come across is 3 breasts per package. I made this recipe with the 3rd breast. I needed a second jalapeno pepper. I only needed the two bell peppers to make it work. In all, I made 18 poppers. I could also only purchase parsnips in a package. Each package was 1 lb of parsnips, which was actually nice because once cooked, the 2 lbs of parsnips yielded right at 4 cups of puree. I saved some of the cooking water to help loosen up the puree. I ended up using ¾ C of the parsnip cooking water for that,” she noted.
Kristen spent 45 minutes prepping this recipe, 25 minutes cooking and made 4 freezer meals, each containing 2 fingers and 1 cup of puree.
Notes: Kristen said “This was our favorite meal out of them all! I didn’t actually even get any pictures because once my husband took them off the grill, we dug right in. Once they were all gone, I asked if he’d taken a picture, and neither of us did! The prep on this was so easy. Honestly, we could probably eat these every day. I’ve already told him I’ll make them again this week. Our 2.5 year old was even tearing into them. I’m not sure that I could ever get enough of these prepped to put any in the freezer. We ate the 2 lbs in about 20 minutes. Chris said he could’ve eaten about 10 more lbs. These are permanent additions to our kitchen, and we’re making them for friends over the 4thof July!”
The only change she would make to this recipe is to be sure to double or triple it each time she prepares it.
Kristen spent 10 minutes prepping this dish, allowed them to marinade for 20 hours, cooked them for 10 minutes on the grill and yielded 3 portions.
Notes: “This makes a ton of food! The flavor is pretty good. We’re planning on eating this as a lettuce wrap/taco type dish. The flavors are really hearty, and it’s so hot here in Louisiana, that I’d probably prefer this dish in the winter. I ended up pulling it off the bone and shredding the chicken,” she shares.
“I think this cook time was off by hours. I cooked it for 10 hours without much monitoring because we were out running errands and working in the yard. The chicken ended up dry and a little burned tasting. If I make this again, I’ll start checking to see if the chicken is done around 5 hours. Or maybe turn the temp of the slow cooker down to low,” Kristen noted.
She spent 30 minutes prepping, with a cook time of 10 hours on high in the slow cooker and made a ton of food.
Notes: “This muffin is delicious! It’s my new favorite Paleo Muffin. It may not look the prettiest, but its so good!”
“The only changes I made was that I had to use coconut oil in the place of the macadamia nut oil. The recipe and yield did not seem to be affected,” Kristen shares.
She spent 15 minutes mixing up these muffins, 25 minutes baking them and made 24 muffins.
Notes:“This is delicious! The Beef with Broccoli was really easy prep and very flavorful. It took everything I had not to eat this while I was cooking it! Can’t wait until I can just pop this in a skillet to reheat after baby gets here,” she shares.
Kristen was doing her best to measure out and count blocks while prepping the Cauliflower Rice to accompany this meal, so she said the prep time seemed rather long.
She spent 1 hour prepping this dish, allowing the beef to marinade for 20 hours, 20 minutes cooking the beef and 30 minutes on the “rice”, and made 8 servings of Beef with Broccoli and 14 cups of the Cauliflower Rice.
Here are the meals Kristen and Chris made:
A great big “Thank You” to Kristen and Chris for being rock star testers for us this week! You guys did an amazing job providing excellent feedback and pictures of the journey! Good luck with Baby Summer. I’m glad you will be eating well over the next month or so while you nurture your newborn.
Kristen and Chris! You guys rocked the show. Great recipe selections, great pictures and perfect feedback. Katie said she enjoyed working with you and I hope that you’ll test a plan for us again soon. It was a great idea to prep some meals for your upcoming “new human” adventure. I loved reading what you said about the site, especially my lack of “newsletters” trying to sell you stuff. I am not a fan of that junk, so I don’t push it on other people. I’m glad you enjoy the recipes and I’m with you in that Zone is more life transforming than Paleo. It all depends on where you are coming from, but tracking Macros is an eye opener and the only sure way to make sure you have the energy for Bo and you stay in The Zone! Thanks again for your effort and be sure to update us on the new baby…
In the meantime, “Keep It Paleo!” and Zone!