This week’s tester is: the wonderful Rachel Kelle and her family from Berrien Springs, MI. Rachel has completed four meal plans for us this year and she knocked it out of the park once again. But we threw her a curve ball this time – she didn’t get to choose the recipes!
Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:
Chain grocery store (Kroger): $120.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $102.00
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 four 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 customizable 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 “Spicy Chicken Stir Fry” 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 16.51 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 make sure to scroll down to the notes on each meal below. They are listed under each picture.
In cooking session one:
- Prepare the Spicy Chicken Stir Fry. Eat this as a meal and portion out any remaining food. Store properly in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.
- Prepare the Sweet Potato, Shrimp and Chicken Chowder. Portion out and set to cool overnight in the refrigerator. This soup freezes well, so throw some in the freezer in the morning once completely cooled if you’d like. Use any refrigerated portions within seven days.
- Place the corned beef into the slow cooker. Place the slow cooker onto a foil lined sheet pan and place the pan on the counter or in your garage to cook overnight.
- Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.
In cooking session two:
- Prepare the Balsamic Braised Lamb Shanks. Place them in the oven to slow cook.
- Portion out the corned beef from the slow cooker. Use about one and a half cups to prepare the Corned Beef and Cabbage Breakfast Skillet. Eat a portion or two for breakfast and individually wrap any remaining portions and store in the refrigerator for five to seven days or freeze.
- Prepare the Sesame Orange Peel Chicken. Eat a portion for dinner and properly store the leftovers.
- Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!
In finishing session:
- Prepare the Sausage and Porcini Pizza at any point today and Enjoy!
- 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: Rachel noted that this meal was simple and quick. She had never used Sambal before and she really enjoyed the new flavor it brought to her dish.
She made a portion of this dish with tempeh instead of chicken for the vegetarians in her family and also added some soy sauce for extra flavor. Did you know that a great substitution for soy sauce is Tamari or coconut aminos?
She spent fifteen minutes prepping this meal, fifteen minutes cooking it and yielded six portions. She spent $15 on the chicken, Sambal and celery and had the remaining ingredients on hand.
Notes: “This is perfect for a cold, winter night! Very comforting and filling and the recipe is very simple,” Melissa proclaimed.
She did make a handful of changes to her version of the recipe, skipping the celery and adding extra sweet potato puree. Rachel doesn’t enjoy shrimp, so she added mushrooms to add a squishy, meaty texture to her soup. She also used turkey instead of chicken, because she had a hard time finding ground turkey at the grocery store. I always suggest asking the Butcher when you can’t find something specific. They are always ready to help. This recipe also calls for Ga Ga Garlic, which Rachel did not have, so she used garlic powder, garlic salt, and black pepper to the mix. You can get your very own bottle of Ga Ga garlic, or use Rachel’s combo to season your soup.
Rachel spent ten minutes prepping her soup ingredients, twenty minutes cooking it, and yielded eight to ten portions. She spent $8 on the coconut milk, ground turkey and mushrooms she used and had all the remaining ingredients on hand.
Notes: This was pretty easy and tasty. I’d never used arrowroot before, so that was cool,” Rachel said.
Like most testers who try this recipe, Rachel thought the orange peel itself was a little bitter tasting, so she would do less of it next time. Using the juice of the orange and some of it’s zest is a great option for this recipe also.
She spent twenty minutes prepping, fifteen minutes cooking, and made a half batch of this recipe, yielding six to eight portions. Rachel spent $20 on the ingredients she needed to make this meal, while having a lot of the dry ingredients on hand.
Notes: “This was really filling and delicious! I loved the eggs with the soft cooked yolks interspersed,” Rachel shared.
She made two versions of this dish in order to have a vegetarian version. She struggled with pre-cooking the corned beef, because the package said to cook for six hours while our recipe said to cook for twelve. She went with the package directions and wished she’d had cooked it longer. She also substituted sweet potato for the yam, because she couldn’t find yams at her grocery store.
Notes: “This was so easy! And the lamb came out so tender. Very yummy too. And I couldn’t believe how inexpensive the meal was! I’m not sure if regular shanks would have been more, but the shoulders were pretty inexpensive,” Rachel noted.
“I couldn’t find lamb shanks at my local grocer, so I used lamb shoulder. Since I figured my 2 shoulder cuts were about a quarter of what the recipe called for in shanks, I figured it wouldn’t cook as long. It took just under 3 hours to braise. My parsley that’s been growing out in the yard finally froze the night before I made the recipe, so I used some freeze dried parsley instead,” she said.
This recipe has yet to show it’s pretty little face in the weekly meal plans, so I am excited for everyone to make it! When Nick finished this shoot he talked about this meal for days.
Rachel spent twenty minutes prepping this meal, three and a half hours cooking it, but only made a quarter portion of the recipe included. She only spent $10 for the lamb(because she went with shoulder cuts that were really cheep!), celery, carrots, and oranges. This meal would cost closer to $40 as per the recipe included.
Notes: “This was by far the easiest Paleo pizza crust I’ve ever made, and it actually held up so well and tasted good!” Rachel exclaimed.
“I halved the recipe but accidentally put 2 TBS of olive oil in the crust and it still came out fine. I left off the tomato paste and just put the roma tomatoes directly on the crust. I skipped the sausage and made it vegetarian. I used some kale/spinach mix, red onion, artichokes, the porcinis, some pan fried capers, and cheese. Then I topped it with cilantro. So yummy!” she noted.
Rachel spent fifteen minutes prepping her pizza, crust and all, twenty minutes cooking it, and yielded one large pizza. She spent $12 on the ingredients she needed for this meal, which was mainly the toppings she used.
Photographic evidence of Rachel’s six meals this time around:
Rachel, even if I said thanks a million times, it wouldn’t be enough when I think about all the work you have put in for us this year! You’ve done a wonderful job of showing just how easy it can be to make these healthy meals in your own home. Here’s hoping you’re game to test for us once (or twice or three times…) in the coming year. You are a true Ninja in my eyes, and so we say it once again – thank you! 🙂
Rachel! Nice work! I love the pic below and remember meeting you at The Games. I hope both you and I make it to Madison this summer so we can hang out and eat Reina Pepiada together once more… Thanks for all your work this year. I know that Katie has enjoyed working with you and a friend of hers is a friend of mine! Have a very Merry Christmas! Don’t take yourself too seriously, be sure to indulge a little, but for the most part, I hope you…
“Keep It Paleo!”