This week’s tester’s are: Meghan and Russ from Peachtree Corners, GA. Megan is a design manager for a major bedding company, while her boyfriend Russ work in private security. Meghan also coaches CrossFit and leads a weekly sport yoga and mobility course. On top of that, she finds time to feed her entrepreneural instincts with a side job distributing meal replacement shakes with IsaGenix, and she’s developing her own line of women and dog scarfs for her online boutique Bulldogbleu.com, which should launch in spring 2017.
Meghan and Russ work out at CrossFit Tipping Point in GA. In their spare time (really Meghan, you have spare time?), Russ and Meghan enjoy spending quality time with friends and family, including their dog Frenchie Bleu and their parrot Utku.
Here’s what Meghan had to say about Paleo Nick and her experience with this meal plan:
“I learned about Paleo Nick when I was looking into my CrossFit Level 2 requirements. Culinary Ninja was a certificate program offered through CrossFit HQ and Paleo Nick leads that program, which led me to his website where I discovered the opportunity to be a meal tester. I thought it would be fun. This is my first experience with the Paleo Nick recipes, and it was a blast trying them. So much so, that I hope to do it again.
“My boyfriend Russ helped me with most of the recipes, over half, and we had a great time prepping and trying new ingredients we typically wouldn’t know to look for. One night we cooked, we had a dinner party for a friend of mine that was in town, so all of us pitched in on the shrimp and scallop recipe. It was a hit!”
Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:
Chain grocery store (Kroger): $143.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $115.00
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 would like to make a double batch of the “Almond Chocolate Chunk Cookies” this week, change the heading from “1” to “2” and it will double the ingredient amounts for you. Make sense?
- Click back to the tab that says “Meal Plan 16.46 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 Southwest Chicken, 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 Kung Pao-leo Shrimp and Scallops. Eat a serving as your dinner tonight. Portion out and properly store the remaining servings in your refrigerator for 5-7 days or freeze for up to 6 months.
- Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.
In cooking session two:
- Portion out the SW Chicken and refrigerate or freeze. Clean out the slow cooker. Prepare the Three Pepper Turkey Chili 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 8-10 hours (if you are using breasts instead of a whole chicken, you will want to check this at the 6 hour mark).
- Prepare the Almond Chocolate Chunk Cookies. This will fill your home with a yummy aroma while you prepare the other meals today. Portion out into small containers or ziplock bags and properly store the servings in the freezer. This way you won’t eat them all at once 😉
- Prepare the Paleo Nachos. Enjoy a portion for lunch/dinner and properly store any remaining portions in the refrigerator for up to 5 days.
- Portion out the SW Chicken once it has finished cooking and properly store in the refrigerator or freezer.
- Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!
In finishing session:
- Prepare the Prosciutto & Apple Crusted Salmon with Whittled Asparagus 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.
- 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: “I liked the Ingredients, recipe and using a whole chicken. It was a first for me – cooking the chicken in a crock pot/pressure cooker combo – so I enjoyed the new experience,” Meghan said.
“I added water to the recipe because there wasn’t enough liquid to cover the whole chicken initially. After eating it the next day, however, I wished I did not add the water, because the chicken tasted a tad over done or mushy in my opinion. You do have to watch out for bones and pick them out. I may not make it again, but it was a huge hit with my boyfriend, Russ; He loved it!” Meghan shared.
You always have the option of using chicken breasts or thighs with this recipe instead of the whole chicken. I myself, dislike the bone issue, so I prefer it with chicken breasts. If you go this route, you will need to lower your cooking time to 6-8 hours to avoid drying out the meat.
Meghan and Russ spent 45 minutes prepping this meal, slow cooked it overnight and made 4 portions.
Notes: “THIS RECIPE WAS A HIT. It was super simple, fast, and tasted AWESOME. It was the perfect welcome dinner for a friend of mine that was visiting. The whole dinner party wanted the recipe afterwards because it was healthy without sacrificing taste and had the perfect amount of spicy that every guest was pleased with,” Meghan exclaimed.
They spent 15 minutes prepping this dish, 15 minutes cooking it and made 5 entrees.
Notes: “This is an awesome recipe for meal prep. Great taste and super easy to portion out and freeze for later. We will be making this one again!” Meghan shared.
“The spiciness is medium/hot, and I’d recommend adding guacamole to the dish to help cool it down. The recipe had soo many servings that it would not fit in a typical crock-pot. I have a super large one and still had spillage. I’d cut the recipe servings in half to ensure users can fit all the ingredients in their crock pot at home,” Meghan noted.
I have heard this from a few other testers that have chosen this recipe, but not all of them. I have also made this recipe and did end up with a few more vegetables than would fit into my Crock Pot. Always be sure to place your slow cooker onto a foil lined sheet pan to avoid any overflow that will leave a large mess on your counter top.
The tester’s spent 25 minutes prepping this recipe, cooked it overnight and yielded at least 10 portions.
Notes: “I loved learning the ingredients for Almond Chocolate Chunk Cookies for a Healthy Paleo Treat. I ended up subbing out the Chocolate Bar with Chocolate Chips since I already had those in-house,” Meghan said.
“After eating them, I had wished there were Pecans or Walnuts in the recipe because I felt like the actual cookie flavor was not savory enough on it’s own. I’ll try the recipe again, but get creative like adding coconut flakes, walnuts, and chocolate chips,” Meghan noted.
Meghan spent 20 minutes prepping the dough, 20 minutes baking them, and made 15-20 cookie.
Notes: “One thing about turning Paleo is you miss corn chips when eating Mexican food. These Chipotle Nachos were a great substitute using the Plantain Chips to stay on your Paleo plan. I LOVED this recipe and will be making it again,” Meghan proclaimed.
“I ended up with Sweet Plantain Chips, but wished I would have bought the Salty Version after the fact – the sweet version is still good don’t get me wrong with the Chipotle Beef recipe. I also wish I would have diced the Canned Chipotles into small pieces to disperse the flavor more throughout the dish, and make it easier to handle using the Plantain Chips. I subbed the Yam with Sweet Potatoes,” Meghan shared.
This recipe calls for ground Bison, but you are always welcome to substitute the Bison with any ground protein. You can also adjust the heat by adding more or less chipotle peppers in adobo sauce.
Meghan and Russ spent 25 minute prepping the nachos, 25 minutes cooking them and made 5 portions.
Notes: “I loved the creativity of this dish and presentation,” Meghan said.
“I would have cooked the Salmon longer since I prefer a Medium/Well finish. All around, I would have cooked everything a tad longer and maybe on a grill instead of stove top/oven. While I appreciated the introduction of Prosciutto and apple slices to a salmon dish, I would make this again and modify it for a better fit for me – maybe cooking the salmon with prosciutto together and grilled apples on the side to ensure the prosciutto and salmon cooked through,” Meghan noted.
She spent 15 minutes prepping this recipe, 25 minutes cooking it, and it yielded 2 portions.
Here are the pictures from Meghan and Russ’s meals:
Meghan and Russ! I can’t say enough about how blown away I am at the feedback you supplied us with for your chosen meal plan! You two are just the cutest couple, with the cutest little animal family, living in a town with the cutest name I’ve ever seen. It shows that you had a blast completing this task and stocking your Paleo bank accounts with some great recipe choices. The pictures that marked your meal prep journey came out beautifully and really captured the cooking process for each recipe you prepared. Thank you so much for volunteering your time and following through with your commitment.
As Nick always says, cooking with family and friends makes any meal taste better. You guys took a chance with a new recipe while hosting friends for dinner, and it sounds like it paid off for all. I think I need to come to dinner at your house, just so I can say I’ve been to Peachtree Corners, Georgia, and steal your absolutely adorable little dog with his super sweet scarf. Okay, okay, I won’t actually steal him.
Keep up the good work, Meghan and Russ, and please, please, please test for us again next year. In the meantime…
“Keep It Paleo!”