This week’s tester’s are: Mel Payne and Marie Manuel from Portland, OR. I had the pleasure of meeting Mel last May while helping Nick feed the staff at Regionals in Portland. Mel is the Operations Manager and our go-to in the kitchen we used to prep all the meals we served during the competition. Marie is Project Manager at a local nonprofit.

In their spare time, Mel and Marie spend a great deal of time camping and hiking through the PNW. They also enjoy live music and have seen a number of great shows this past summer.

“I met Nick when he rented out some of the space at the kitchen I manage. He was a delight and one of my favorite out-of-town clients!” Mel shared “Eating Paleo has definitely changed my life. I struggle with my weight, but I always come back to eating Paleo. Once I am eating Paleo for awhile, I start to gain energy that I never knew I was missing out on.”


Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:

Chain grocery store (Kroger): $140.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $112.00

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 would like to make a double batch of the “Super Radical Plantain Chips” for your Nachos this week, change the heading from “1” to “2” and it will increase the ingredient amounts for you. Make sense?
  3. Click back to the tab that says “Meal Plan 16.40 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 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.
  2. Prepare the Nachos and SR Plantain Chips and a batch of Massie Mayo(if needed). Eat a portion as your dinner. Portion out and properly store the remaining servings in your refrigerator for 5-7 days.
  3. Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.

In cooking session two:

  1. Portion out the Carnitas 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 Shrimp and Sausage Stuffed Zucchini and Salsa Chipotle. Eat a portion for lunch. Portion out and properly store any remaining servings.
  3. Prepare the Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Portion them out into 2-3 cookie bags and freeze for up to 6 months.  This way you won’t eat them all at once. Or share with your friends at the gym.
  4. Portion out the Tomatillo Pork Green Chile. Properly store in a few in the refrigerator and freeze the others in your Paleo Bank Account.
  5. Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!

In finishing session:

  1. Prepare the egg and avocado option with some of your Pork Green Chile and enjoy this meal for breakfast today.
  2. Prepare the Paleo Green Monster. Portion out and add to your refrigerator or freezer and accompany any protein heavy meat meal you may have.
  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!

Slow Cooker “Carnitas”

Notes: Mel didn’t get a chance to complete this recipe with her testing, so I don’t have tester feedback for you on this meal. What I do know though is this recipe is AMAZING and if you are a lover of Mexican food, you are in for a real treat.

The recipe has the garnish options of red onion and cilantro. You can skip these ingredients if you are planning to stock these portions into your freezer. It has an optional ingredient of annatto. If you can’t find it at your local store, just skip it. Also, it calls for 2 tablespoons of chipotle paste or 2 chipotles in adobo. Use whichever item you can find first.

This meal should take about 15 minutes to prep, up to 12 hours to cook (depending on your slow cooker, mine cooks hot, so I always use the low setting even when the recipe says high), and makes around 10 portions.

Paleo Nachos Part Deux

Notes: “The flavor of the beef was great! I just think cooking protein in bacon fat in general will always taste delicious along with guacamole. Something new for me was the chipotle sauce – I never really like salsa, but the smokiness really added another element to the nachos that I never would have tried. My plantain chips turned out crispy and delicious!” the ladies shared.

“I would honestly say the only thing that was a bummer was that I ate nachos the first night I made them, and they were great – but I didn’t like them as much re-heated. While I think this nacho recipe is great, I don’t think it is the best option for meal planning,” Mel thought.

I can see your point Mel. Chips never taste good re-heated. If you keep the meat mixture separate from the condiments and chips you could always make it a quick snack another time. Mel also included a batch of Super Radical Plantain Chips to go with her nachos. The recipe is included in this weeks plan, so if you don’t want to make them, be sure to change the 1 to a 0 on the spreadsheet tab of the grocery list. It’s a small recipe, so go ahead and give it a try if you have never attempted them before.

Mel spent 20 minutes prepping this meal, 30 minutes cooking it and yielded 4 portions.

Tomatillo Pork Green Chile

Notes: “I am a sucker for chile verde, so I automatically knew I had to try this recipe! It did not disappoint! I just ate it straight out of the containers without the egg and avocado option. Using a slow cooker to help with meal prep is just smart. It cuts out a lot of time by making it that way and there was no fuss. Great recipe!” Mel noted.

“I felt like mine right out of the slow cooker was a little dry, so I ended up making more tomatillo salsa and adding it in. Smooth sailing after that!” Mel said.

This dish can be used so many different ways all equaling pure, tasty perfection. Try the egg and avocado option shown in the picture above, add it to a burrito, or just eat it as is. I do believe that it is a very wonderful breakfast option.

She spent 10 minutes prepping, 6 hours cooking and made 6(big) portions.

Sausage and Shrimp Stuffed Zucchini

Notes: “I think this is a smart way to combine meat and veggies in an easy package. They were so easy to plop onto the campfire and then eat them straight out of the foil. This is another easy no-fuss meal and it is a great option to make ahead,” Mel shares.

“We made them without shrimp, due to an allergy, so I just added more sausage to my boats,” Mel noted.

Be sure to try the Salsa Chipotle and Massie Mayo garnish options to best enhance the flavors.

Mel spent 20 minutes prepping these, 45 minutes cooking, and made 6 portions.

Paleo Green Monster

Notes: “I liked having a lot of healthy vegetables being ready for me to heat up and eat so easily. The green monster recipe had all of the best green vegetables in there. I really enjoyed the addition of the toasted macadamia nuts to add that crunch in the sea of al dente vegetables. Nice touch,” Mel exclaims.

If you have trouble finding any of the ingredients in season, feel free to replace them with any other option you may prefer. This one is a great recipe to play with as far as the greens go. I know I struggle the most with eating enough vegetables each day, so this recipe takes the guess work out of that issue.

Mel spent 15 minutes prepping her monster, 35 minutes cooking it and made 7 portions. That’s one for each day of the week.

Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Notes:  “These cookies taste better than regular cookies in my book! They have the exact same texture and feel. We ended up using Paleo chocolate that had freeze-dried raspberries so we had a little additional flavor in our cookies. They were eaten very quickly!” Mel proclaims.

I’m not sure where you can get Mel’s Paleo chocolate, but I do know you can find Enjoy Life brand chocolate morsels at most natural grocery stores, including Whole Foods or Sprout’s (and I’ve even seen them at Target).

Mel spent 15 minutes prepping her cookies, 10 minutes baking them and made 10 portions.

Here are the picture from Mel and Marie’s meals:

Groceries for 16.40
Paleo Green Monster
Nacho prep
Chocolate Chunk Cookies

A great big “THANKS” goes out to Mel and Marie for completing this task. I talked Mel into doing this meal plan while I was in Portland in May, knowing she would do an amazing job due to her love of cooking. She did not disappoint! I am still waiting on the recipe for the chocolate avocado moose you had me try while I was there….my mouth is watering just thinking about it.

From Nick:

Mel! My girl! So great to see this. It made my day. Thank you for riding the Paleo train with us and for taking time to put in the work for this week’s meal plan. I hope you enjoyed your time in the kitchen as much as your time outdoors. It was a pleasure meeting you in May. Give the crew at KitchenCru my best and, as always…

“Keep It Paleo!”

Your Pal,

Paleo Nick

Mel and Marie enjoying the great outdoors

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