This week’s tester is, once again: Rachel Keele and family from Berrien Springs, MI. Rachel has tested a total of 3 weeks worth of meal plans for us in 2016. She enjoys cooking and trying new recipes on this site. She has completed 6 great recipes for each of you to try in your own kitchen this coming week.


Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:

Chain grocery store (Kroger): $135.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $118.00

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 half batch of the “Super Radical Chicken and Potatoes” this week, change the heading from “1” to “.5” and it will reduce the ingredient amounts for you. Make sense?
  3. Click back to the tab that says “Meal Plan 16.44 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 Chianti Braised Short Ribs. While they are cooking over the next hour and half, you will prepare the recipes listed below.
  2. Prepare the Chipotle Bison Stuffed Yams. Eat a portion as your dinner. Portion out and properly store the remaining servings in your refrigerator for 5-7 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
  3. Prepare the Super Radical Chicken and Potatoes, 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.
  4. Portion out the Short Ribs once they are completed and store in your refrigerator to cool overnight. Freeze some of the portions in the morning. Eat any refrigerated portions in the next 5-7 days.
  5. Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.

In cooking session two:

  1. Portion out the Chicken and Potatoes and clean out the slow cooker. After the portions have cooled properly, freeze as many as you’d like and refrigerate or enjoy any others in the next 5-7 days.
  2. Prepare the Baked Fruit Cups. This will fill your home with a yummy aroma while you prepare the other meals today. Portion out and properly store the servings when it has finished baking.
  3. Prepare the Tom Kha Gai – Chicken in Coconut Soup. Enjoy a portion for lunch/dinner and properly store any remaining portions in the refrigerator and freeze the others in your Paleo Bank Account.
  4. Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!

In finishing session:

  1. Prepare the Pacific Cod Picatta recipe and enjoy this meal today. You most likely won’t have leftovers, but if you do, properly store in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
  2. 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!

Chianti Braised Short Ribs

Notes: “Very simple. Hardest part of this recipe was getting the bottle of wine uncorked for me because I don’t have a good opener. That and being patient enough for the short ribs to braise,” Rachel shared.

She decided to cut the recipe in half, but stuck to the full amount of wine, because she doesn’t drink wine and didn’t know what else to do with it. She said she wasn’t sure how a full batch would fit into the suggested 9×13″ baking dish or 4″ hotel pan. She had trouble fitting her half batch and the whole bottle of wine into one. May I suggest splitting it into 2 pans or using a extra large foil dish or a full hotel pan. This way you can split the bottle of wine into the 2 pans. Rachel also said she cooked hers for 3 hours and while the meat was cooked, it wasn’t very tender by this point. She chose to go with a baked sweet potato instead of the listed pureed option.

Rachel spent 15 minutes prepping this dish, 3 hours cooking it and made a half batch which yielded 4 portions for her.

Chipotle Bison Stuffed Yams

Notes: “These were SO GOOD! I had several people over for dinner and we smashed these. There was hardly anything left. The recipe is surprisingly easy. The hardest part for me was peeling the poblano peppers after roasting them,” Rachel said.

The only downfall to this recipe was the amount of spice. While Rachel enjoyed the amount listed with the recipe, some of her dinner guests got the spice sweats while eating their portions. You are always welcome to adjust the spice of any recipe to your liking. Chipotle peppers can sure pack a punch if you’re familiar with the amount of heat they produce. The recipe calls for 2 peppers and 1 tablespoon of the adobo sauce they come packaged with. If heat isn’t your thing, cut back on this amount. Rachel also served this dish vegetarian style with tempeh and some added tomatillo salsa. Rachel also had an issue finding yams at her local grocery store and went with sweet potatoes instead. She went home and educated herself on the difference between the two. You are always welcome to swap the 2 out for one another in any recipe you may find them listed. You also have the option of substituting the ground Bison for any other ground meat of your choice, if Bison doesn’t appeal to you.

Rachel spent 20 minutes prepping this recipe, 20 minutes cooking them and made a double batch, yielding 12 portions.

Super Radical Chicken and Potatoes

Notes: “This recipe was so easy and I just can’t say enough about the rib rub. I also kept very well. It took me about a week to eat the half batch of the recipe I made,” Rachel proclaimed.

Rachel felt intimidated by the whole chickens listed in the recipe, so she went with tenderloins instead. You always have this option with any of the poultry recipes that call for whole chickens. While the whole chicken does add more flavor to the dish, fabricating the chicken and picking through the bones once cooked can be difficult or undesirable for some. Here is a quick video where Nick shows us all how to fabricate a whole chicken. If you do choose to go the easier route and use chicken pieces of any kind, you will also want to lower the cooking time by 2-3 hours to avoid drying out the meat. Rachel ran into this problem. She slow cooked her meal for 5.5 hours and then finished it off in the oven due to her chicken being cooked, but her potatoes not having softened to her liking. You can also find a recipe for the rib rub here if you don’t have any on hand.

She spent 10 minutes prepping this dish, 5.5 hours slow cooking it and made about 8 portions.

Baked Fruit Cups

Notes: “This was so simple and quick. I really like the richness that the coconut milk added, as well as the crunch from the nuts. I was wondering if it would be a little lack luster without a crumble top by the nuts really took care of that. This would make a great breakfast dish,” Rachel noted.

Rachel also decided to do a half batch of this recipe and made it in a 8×8 pan instead of the suggested ramekin dishes. She was happy with the way it came out.

She spent 15 minutes prepping this recipe, 20 minutes baking it and made 4 good sized portions from a half batch.

Tom Kha Gai – Chicken Coconut Soup

Notes: “This was so much easier than I expected. It was simple and came together quickly. I made it really spicy and it would be the PERFECT cold buster. My husband had a cold this weekend, and it totally did the trick. Next time I’m sick, I’m making this,” Rachel said.

“I could not find Kaffir lime leaves anywhere, so I just omitted those. I also could not find a Thai chili, so I subbed a jalapeno and used the whole thing with seeds. I feel like I used the lemongrass wrong… I’ve never used it and assumed it would cook and be soft. Maybe I was supposed to remove the pieces? They were very woody, so I just picked them out as I ate. If they’re supposed to be removed, I think that should be added to the instructions! Or maybe I just used the wrong part? Not sure,” Rachel noted.

Lemongrass is added to this recipe for flavor, not to be eaten. You can either remove it once you portion out the soup, or leave it in and just eat around it. I will make this note on the recipe for further reference.

Rachel spent 15 minutes prepping her soup, 20 minutes cooking and again halved the recipe, yielding 4 portions.

Paleo Pacific Cod Piccata

Notes:  “This was pretty easy and full of flavor. I actually don’t usually like cod very much, but with the almond flour breading and sauce, it was delicious!” Rachel exclaimed.

“I halved the recipe, which I think should have made two servings, but I hate it all myself! Most of the ingredients I had on hand, which was nice. There seems to be a little confusion in the recipe with the amount of oil. It lists a half cup of coconut and olive oil and says to fry the fish in the oils, but then it also says to use the olive oil for the sauce, but there’s no clarification to how much. I just sort of guessed and I think it came out OK (I probably did 3-4 Tbls). But some clarity in the recipe would be good,” she said.

I believe the amount of olive oil for the sauce is just a teaspoon or 2 to aid the toasting of the garlic.

Rachel spent 10 minutes prepping this dish, 20 minutes cooking/frying and made 2 portions after halving her recipe.

Here are the pictures from Rachel’s third round of meals:

Chianti Braised Short Ribs
Chipotle Bison Stuffed Yams
Super Radical Chicken and Potatoes
Baked Fruit Cups
Tom Kha Gai – Chicken in Coconut Soup
Paleo Pacific Cod Piccata

Rachel, you have outdone yourself once again! Your recipe choices this week were a great variety of seafood, chicken and beef. It has been so nice relying on someone who takes pride in their cooking and has completed 18 recipes for us to share this year. Thank You, Thank You, Thank You! I look forward to working with you again next year 😉

From Nick:

Great job, Rachel! Thanks for being awesome once again. We have not had many triple testers. I like how you made the entire fruit cup recipe in a baking dish and I especially like the picture of your family below.

Let us know when you are in the Reno area and we’ll have you up to the kitchen so we can “Chef It Up!” together. In the meantime…

“Keep It Paleo!”

Your Pal,

Paleo Nick

Rachel and family enjoying a Christmas past

Leave a Reply