This week’s tester is: Melissa Freas-Kampf and family from Horsham, PA. Melissa is a mom of two and a professional program manager. She trains with her husband Steven at CrossFit Five Star, and she tested 16.34 for us earlier this year. So without further ado, a little word from Melissa:

“When I’m not in the gym or at work, it’s all about quality family time. We have busy lives with all the sports and activities the kids are involved in, but when we have down time I love to cook with my kids. Not only are they more likely to eat the meal when they help create it, but the pride they display when it’s all finished is great to see as a parent. I know I am setting them up for a healthy successful future in the kitchen. My two kids helped with the items that they could for this meal plan. I love getting the kids involved in the cooking process. My husband helps with the onions because they make me cry.

“I recently tried the Plantain Breakfast Deep Dish. AMAZING! This was a great change up for my normal breakfast routine and had enough fuel for my post morning gym recovery. It was a great way to start my day and sometimes end it too, because I loved it so much I may have had it for dinner as well.”


Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:

Chain grocery store (Kroger): $206.50
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $179.00

Your final tally will depend on your geographic location and how much you rely on bulk purchases. As an example, you can get one quart of extra light olive oil at Kroger for $19.99 or you can get four quarts at Costco for $16.50. You follow? Meat and produce will also be less at the warehouse stores, but might mean you’re buying more than you’ll need for this plan.

Customize Your Plan and Shop It Up!

I have created a customizable grocery list in the form of an Excel spreadsheet. Even if you’re no good with Excel, I’ve set it up in a foolproof way that even “The Jo!” could handle. Just 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 Almond Chocolate Chunk Cookies – just change the “1”  to a “2” and it will increase the ingredients for this recipe. Make sense?
  3. Click back to the tab that says “Meal Plan 16.50 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 make sure to scroll down to the notes on each meal below. They are listed beneath each picture.

In cooking session one:

  1. Prepare the Chuckwagon Brisket Pot Roast, place it in the slow cooker, set the slow cooker on a foil-lined sheet pan, and leave it on your counter or in your garage to cook overnight.
  2. Prepare the Chianti Braised Short Ribs. Enjoy a portion of this as your dinner. Properly store any remaining portions in your refrigerator for three to five days or freeze.
  3. Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.

In cooking session two:

  1. Portion out the Pot Roast and refrigerate for up to seven days or freeze for up to six months. Clean out the slow cooker and load it up with the Cinnamon Infused Short Ribs with Butternut Squash. Set the slow cooker on a foil-lined sheet pan and place on the counter or in the garage to cook for the next eight to twelve hours.
  2. Prepare the Almond Chocolate Chunk Cookies. Portion these out into small containers or zip-lock bags and freeze.
  3. Prepare the Pastel de Papa. Enjoy a piece for lunch or dinner. Portion out and store in the refrigerator for five to seven days or freeze for up to six months.
  4. Portion out the Short Ribs once it is done and store in the refrigerator overnight to cool. Place some of the portions into the freezer in the morning, once they have cooled completely.
  5. Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!

In finishing session:

  1. Prepare the Banana Currant Muffins. Enjoy a muffin for a snack and properly store the remaining muffins or share with your friends.
  2. Sit back and take it all in. Your Paleo Bank Account is stocked and you’ve become a Culinary Ninja ready to tackle life with energy, clarity, and confidence. Be sure to tell your friends about!

Chuckwagon Brisket Pot Roast

Notes: “I liked how easy this was to make. I don’t eat turnips that often, so I like that this recipe incorporated something different,” Melissa shared.

Melissa’s husband Steven was not a huge fan of the turnips, but she still managed to get him to eat them in this recipe. She also used sweet onions instead of white onions and did a half batch of this recipe, due to having a smaller sized slow cooker. She chose to season her brisket and let it sit overnight in the refrigerator.

The recipe has an option of searing the brisket before placing it into the slow cooker. If you have the time, this will add some bonus flavor to your dish.

Melissa spent twenty minutes prepping this dish, ten hours cooking it on low, and yielded five portions from a half batch of the recipe.

Chianti Braised Short Ribs

Notes: “These were so easy to make and smelled phenomenal,” Melissa said.

“Short ribs are expensive so when I make them I want to LOVE them. This recipe smelled so much better than it tasted. The taste was not bad by any means and the whole family had no problem finishing the entire meal, but the flavor was very underwhelming. It was almost missing something,” Melissa noted.

You can make the sweet potato puree for this meal while the short ribs are cooking. You can roast them in the oven with the ribs (which will take a little longer than usual due to the lower oven temp) or boil them skin on until they become fork tender. To achieve a good puree, use a food processor. If you prefer a little more texture to your sweets, mash them with a fork instead.

Melissa spent thirty minutes prepping her short ribs, two and a half hours cooking them, and didn’t get a good portion count because her family devoured this meal.

Cinnamon Infused Short Ribs with Butternut Squash

Notes: “This recipe was easy to make and the whole family loved it! Even my husband, who hates butternut squash, ate the whole thing with no complaints. (I also didn’t tell him it was butternut squash),” Melissa said.

Melissa chose to cut the salt down from three tablespoons to one for this recipe. She also made a half batch of this recipe, again, due to a smaller sized slow cooker.

Always be sure to place your slow cooker on a foil lined sheet pan on the counter. This little hint will save you in the case of an overflow. It also allows you to fill your slow cooker to the brim and not worry about coming home to a huge mess. The ingredients will settle into the crock once they start cooking.

Melissa spent twenty minutes prepping this meal and nine hours slow cooking it.

Almond Chocolate Chunk Cookies

Notes: “This was a great one to make with my four year old daughter. She had a blast smashing the chocolate bar and mixing everything together.  I love how simple the recipe was as well,” Melissa shared.

“I used 90% caco dark chocolate bars. I LOVED it this way but maybe give a recommended % and cook time would be helpful for other people,” Melissa noted.

The recipe calls for two bars of dark chocolate. Most bars you would find in the grocery store come in a three to four-ounce size. These cookies will most likely take between ten and fourteen minutes to bake, depending upon your oven. Check them at the ten-minute mark and then keep an eye on them until the edges start to toast.

Melissa spent twenty minutes prepping her cookies with the help of her daughter Brynn, twelve to fourteen minutes baking them, and yielded thirty-six cookies.

Paleo “Pastel de Papa”

Notes: This recipe has been one of the most popular to date on this website. The first time Nick made it for me, I was a little unsure about the flavor combination that the raisins, green olives, and hardboiled eggs would produce. I was so surprised by the outcome! It was fantastic! It reminds me of a shepard’s pie with a Spanish twist. The sweetness of the raisins and sweet potatoes paired with the saltiness of the olives is sure to send your taste buds into a frenzy, craving another bite.

The recipe calls for two 28 ounce cans of any tomato product, which can include crushed, puree or sauce. Mix and match or use whichever you may already have in your pantry at home. It also states to use either grass-fed beef or elk, but really, any ground meat will do. Be prepared to stock your Paleo bank account with these meals, as the recipe yields eighteen large portions.

This meal takes a little longer to prep, around forty-five minutes, and cooks for thirty minutes once it is all set up in the 9×13″ pans (3). It freezes and reheats wonderfully.

Banana Current Muffins

Notes: “These were easy to make, VERY delicious, and a great on-the-go snack,” Melissa said.

She noted that she couldn’t find currents so she went with raisins instead. She also found that the macadamia nut oil was rather expensive. If you don’t have it on hand at home already, feel free to substitute with coconut oil instead.

Melissa spent ten minutes prepping her muffins, twenty minutes baking them, and made twenty-four muffins.

Here are the pictures from the Kampf’s family meals:

Chuck-wagon Brisket Pot Roast
Chianti Braised Short Ribs
Cinnamon Infused Short Ribs with Butternut Squash
Almond Chocolate Chunk Cookies
Paleo Banana Currant Muffins

A great big “thanks” goes out to Melissa, Steven, Blake and Brynn for doing a great job on this week’s meals! Teaching young children how to work in the kitchen and being a part of preparing the meals they eat is always a good move. I admire you!

(Melissa with family and friends

Leave a Reply