This week’s tester’s are: Sarah and David Munn from Irvine, CA. Sarah is a lawyer for CrossFit HQ and her husband David is an engineer for FoxHead, Inc.

Sarah and David both workout at Ruination CrossFit in Laguna Hills, CA. “When we are not in the gym or working, we enjoy hiking, mountain biking, spending time with our dog, going to movies, comedy shows and of course EATING!” Sarah shared.

When asked how she had heard of, she said “I think I first heard about Nick when I saw the tent at one of the Games or Regionals awhile back. I then knew he was coming on board for the Culinary Ninja Course so I began to follow his site and make some of his recipes etc. I think my favorite is the Butternut Squash Lasagna.”


Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:

Chain grocery store (Kroger): $149.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $122.00

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 want to make a double batch of the Thai Ginger Basil Chicken, change the “1” below the Chicken to a “2” and it will double the listed ingredients for you.
  3. Click back to the tab that says “Meal Plan 16.31 Grocery List” and your quantities will be updated.
  4. Print out the grocery list from the first tab only.
  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 the notes on each meal below. They are listed under each picture.

In cooking session one:

  1. Prepare the Cinnamon Infused Short Ribs, 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.
  2. Prepare the Sesame Chicken with Broccoli. Enjoy this as your meal tonight. Portion out the leftovers and refrigerator for up to 5 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
  3. Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.

In cooking session two:

  1. Portion out the Short Rib servings and refrigerate or freeze. Clean out the slow cooker. Prepare the Tomatillo Pork Green Chile 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 7 hours.
  2. Prepare the Pastel de Papa. Eat a serving for lunch and portion out the rest. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze for up to six months.
  3. Prepare the Thai Ginger Basil Chicken for dinner. Store any leftover portions in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  4. Portion out the Tomatillo Pork Green Chile once it has finished cooking. Store in the refrigerator for up to one week or freeze up to six months. Clean out your slow cooker. Leave a portion in the fridge for breakfast tomorrow.
  5. Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!

In finishing session:

  1. Prepare a portion of the Pork Green Chile with eggs and avocado as shown in the recipe and enjoy this as your breakfast today.
  2. Prepare the Sesame Crusted Salmon with Tomato Sambal. Enjoy this as your lunch or dinner. Properly store any leftover portions for 5-7 days in the refrigerator.
  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!

Cinnamon Infused Short Ribs with Butternut Squash

Notes: “I really love crock pot meals so this one was high up on my list of favorites due to the fact that once you have all the ingredients, you just leave it. I also thought the flavors were amazing, I’ve never had cinnamon used in a meal like this before and it added a really nice touch of flavor to the whole meal.  Also, it was really filling.  My husband and I are both big eaters and were totally satisfied with aprox. 1/8 of the crock pot. And, I loved how many leftovers there were!” Sarah shared.

“Although this meal was easy once everything was prepared, I was really overwhelmed by all the prep for chopping. Unlike Nick in the video, I was unable to find chopped butternut squash so I bought a whole one and it took forever to cut up and gut. I also had to have my husband make the first cut because it was so hard to chop through.  That, and the onions and other veggies, I felt like I was chopping for hours. I probably wouldn’t make this meal again unless I can find the pre-diced squash. And, I think it needed more salt. The end product was delish but really brought to life when I added some kosher salt on top,” Sarah noted.

She spent 40 minutes prepping this meal, 8 hours cooking it and made 8-10 portions.

Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

Notes: “SO fast and easy! I will definitely make this again because I literally made this whole meal in aprox. 20 minutes. I bought pre-cut broccoli for this and it made it even easier,” Sarah said.

“I honestly don’t have anything I would change about this recipe. It tasted great and was super fast and easy.  I will definitely make it again – perhaps next time I will double the recipe so we have some leftovers,” she noted.

Sarah spent 20 minutes prepping, 10 minutes cooking and made 2-3 portions from this recipe.

Tomatillo Pork Green Chile

Notes:  Another great slow cooker recipe, if you haven’t made this one get, GET ON IT! You have the option of just eating the meat as an actual chili in it’s juices or preparing it as pictured above as a breakfast meal. It is a great alternative to the normal breakfast food and you may never go back.

This recipe takes about 15 minutes to prep, 7 hours to cook and makes 8-10 portions.

“Pastel de Papa” (Potato Pie)

Notes:  Again, if you haven’t tried this recipe yet, you are totally missing out. This is like a South American version of shepards pie and is so satisfying and filling, that you will find yourself making it over and over. It is also a great freezer meal!

When I prepare this dish, I occasionally leave out the green olives, just because they aren’t my favorite ingredient, but when I leave them in for my husband’s sake, I don’t mind the added flavor.

This meal is a bit time consuming in the preparation department, but trust me, your time is well worth it. It usually take me about 45 minutes to prep this recipe, including the boiling of the sweets, 20 minutes to cook the meat mixture and 30 minutes in the oven. You can achieve 6 large portions, or 8 smaller ones. I prefer the 8 smaller portions, but that’s just because I think this meal is very filling.

Thai Ginger Basil Chicken

Notes: “Super easy to make, inexpensive.  It was also super tasty and delish and the flavors all went together really well. I will definitely be making this again, with some tweaks mentioned below,” Sarah shares.

“I used pre-chopped ginger instead of the fresh ginger, it tastes the same and it’s way easier than grating/preparing the fresh ginger in my opinion.  If I make this again I will also double the recipe, it’s not very much food for my husband and I who are big eaters. There were no leftovers.  I also added Jasmine Rice with it, which was really good too.

My only complaint is the presentation of this. There is no real color in the meal and although it tasted great, I love when my meals look pretty too. Finally, I need to be more careful when cutting the Thai chilies, my fingers STILL have the “sting” on them (from last night) and when I touch my face or eyes everything is on fire,” Sarah said. Wearing gloves for the chili slicing is a great idea.

Sarah spent 10 minutes prepping this meal, 10 minutes cooking it and made 2 portions which she served with rice.

Sesame Crusted Salmon with Tomato Sambal

Notes: This is a newer recipe on the site and has yet to be tested. Sarah didn’t get a chance to complete this meal, so there is no feedback to share on it.

This meal is pictured with the Creamy Coconut Cauliflower Risotto, which I made immediately after it came out on the site and it is a great addition to any meal.

Here are some pictures from Sarah’s meals:

Cinnamon Infused Short Ribs with Butternut Squash
Sesame Chicken with Broccoli served with rice
Thai Ginger Basil Chicken

A great big THANKS to Sarah and David for volunteering to test this weeks plan and choosing six great recipes! Even though you didn’t get the opportunity to complete all of the meals, we still appreciate your time and effort, and look forward to having you give it another ‘go round’ at a later date. Keep washing those dishes David and I am sure Sarah will continue to cook your meals 🙂

From Nick:

Behind every good cook is a great dishwasher! It looks like this rang true for David and Sarah and I know it is the case in my house. It’s usually a productive relationship. One person doesn’t love to cook, but doesn’t mind washing dishes. The other likes to cook, but doesn’t want to wash dishes. So, the symbiotic relationship lives on. Dishwashers need to eat and cooks need clean dishes! Enough on that!

Thank you David and Sarah. I appreciate you taking time to put together this week’s plan and share pictures and feedback of your journey. It was a pleasure meeting and cooking with Sarah at my very first Culinary Ninja course in Del Mar in April. I thought she was a ninja when she showed up, so she left as a “Next Level Ninja!”. Keep getting outside, riding bikes, hiking and spending time with your dog. I also enjoy movies and comedy and eating, so you could say that we have a lot in common. But, the biggest thing that ties us together is that we are all Ninjas and we all like to… “Keep It Paleo!”

Thanks again, guys!

Your Pal,

Paleo Nick

Super proud of my new nephew! Today, he turned 4-days-old

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