This weeks tester is: Rachel Keele and family from Berrien Springs, MI.
Rachel is Level 1 certified and works out at CrossFit Berrienin her Michigan town. In her spare time she enjoys anything food related, CrossFit, Zumba, watching movies, hanging with her husband and their two dogs, hitting the beach, etc.
This is what Rachel had to say about her time spent preparing these meals:
“It was a really good challenge. I don’t cook meat very often (my husband is vegetarian and I grew up that way too), so it was a good learning experience in that respect. The crockpot meals took a lot longer to prep than expected, but that’s my own fault! I love to cook, but probably don’t do it 6 times in one week usually, so it was fun to get in the kitchen every day and share the results with friends.”
Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:
Chain grocery store (Kroger): $130.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $108.00
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 want to make a double batch of the Coco Choco Ice Cream, change the “1” below the Ice Cream to a “2” and it will halve the listed ingredients for you.
- Click back to the tab that says “Meal Plan 16.8 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 your Beef Bourguignon, place it in the slow cooker, set the slow cooker on a foil lined sheet pan, and place it in your garage to cook overnight.
- Prepare the Caveman Cobb with Honey Pepper Vinaigrette. Enjoy this for your meal this evening.
- Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.
In cooking session two:
- Portion out the Beef Bourguinon. Refrigerate or freeze your portions and clean out the slow cooker. Place the 80 Clove Garlic Chicken into the slow cooker, set it on a foil lined sheet pan and set on your counter or in the garage to cook for the next 6-10 hours.
- Prepare the Lemon Pepper Chicken with Asparagus. Eat a portion and properly store any leftovers.
- Prepare the Coco Choco Ice Cream with Bananas and Mango. Portion out into individual servings and place this in the freezer to set. Enjoy a portion once it is frozen to reward yourself for a great day in the kitchen.
- Portion out the 80 Clove Garlic Chicken once it is finished and refrigerate or freeze.
- Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!
In finishing session:
- Prepare the Pan Seared Lamb Chops with Balsamic Beets and Parsnip Puree. Enjoy this as a meal today. Portion out the leftovers and properly store.
- 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:” The recipe was simple and easy to follow. Produced a very hearty stew with good flavors” stated Rachel.
“The pearl onions were a total pain in the butt. Some instructions in the recipe would be nice for how to handle them. I looked something up online, and it said they would be “easy” to peel if I blanched them for 30 seconds. I think I blanched them for a minute, and they still took forever. Then they still seemed a bit firm after everything had cooked. Everything was soft and tender except for those little pearl onions. It might be good to note in the recipe that this will require a very large crockpot. I have one, luckily, but it was stuffed to the rafters” Rachel said. You can always purchase pearl onions from the frozen food section to avoid having to peel them. And be sure to place your crockpot on a foil lined sheet pan to avoid a mess in case it boils over a bit.
Rachel spent 60 minutes prepping this dish, due to the onion issue and cooked it for 6 hours on low. She yielded 8-9 large portions from this recipe.
Notes: ” I loved the dressing! It was beautiful and delicious. Also the butternut squash was such a great addition that I wouldn’t have thought of. My husband is vegetarian, and it was still a filling meal for him, even without the steak portion” Rachel said.
Rachel said that she thought including the roasting instructions for the squash and beets would be helpful in this recipe. Those instructions can be found here. You will also be using roasted beets in the Balsamic Beets with Majoram recipe that accompanies the Pan Seared Pork Chops, so go ahead and roast the 2 beets that go with that recipe at the same time to save some prep work for later.
She spent 45 minutes prepping this meal with a 30 minute cook time and fed 3 people with this recipe.
Notes: Rachel stated “This recipe was simple enough and made the house smell great.”
“This might sound crazy, but I felt like the chicken didn’t really taste very garlic-y. Just chicken. This was a major let down after spending like 15 minutes peeling cloves of garlic! Also, I’m not used to working with whole chickens. Halving them was an exciting experience! At the end of 10 hours, they were fall apart tender, but it took a long time to sort out all the bones, veiny parts and sinew, and portion them off. I think if I tried it again, I’d probably just go the chicken breast route (very provincial of me, I know). Also, it might be good to note in the recipe that you will need a very large crockpot for the full recipe. I happen to have one, but it was full to the top” said Rachel. Using breast or thighs as a substitute for the whole chickens is always an option. Do whatever is easiest for you.
Rachel spent 45 minutes prepping this recipe, cooked it on low for 10 hours and yielded 8-9, 3oz servings.
Notes: ” I loved how lemony it was! I never would have used so much lemon juice, but it truly made the recipe. Everyone that tried it loved it” Rachel said.
“I forgot to buy a rotisserie chicken, so I used some frozen chicken breasts instead. Thawed them out, seared them in a pan until they were just a little underdone, chopped them up and threw them in. They worked great. A friend tried the recipe, but used a rotisserie chicken. She said she would have liked just the breast better” she stated.
Rachel spent 15 minutes prepping this dish, 15 minutes cooking it and yielded 4 hearty portions.
Notes: “Even though I’m not a chocolate lover, I really liked the dark chocolate with the mixture. I wouldn’t have thought to add chocolate to something with mangoes. Great flavor!”
“I used an ice cream maker since I have one. The ice cream came out more like a sorbet texture than ice cream. I think I would have liked more bananas and coconut milk and less mangoes for this reason. I was hoping for a creamier texture. However, my mangoes were just barely ripe, so that may have contributed” Rachel said.
Rachel decided to cut this recipe in half when preparing it. She spent 20 minutes prepping due to cutting mangoes that weren’t quite ripe, 45 minutes in the ice cream maker and fed 5 people with no leftovers.
Notes: “This meal was super simple, but seemed impressive. I really liked the parsnips and will do that again in the future in place of mashed potatoes. They were very flavorful and had a nice sweetness. I added some curry powder for a little kick, and that was great with the lamb” Rachel thought.
“To me, the beets were just OK. I actually don’t like beets that much (although they were very tolerable in the cobb salad!), and I think I would have liked them better with a little more balsamic. Maybe 1.5 tablespoons instead of just 1. Also, some specifications on the size of some of the veggies might be helpful. The parsnips at the store were HUGE, so I only did 4, but I’m thinking a lot of people who have never used them wouldn’t have know that, and the parsnip to coconut milk ratio might have been a little off” stated Rachel. We always want to encourage you to go with your gut on these recipes. Be sure to taste before platting in case you need more salt, coconut milk, etc. You are the Culinary Ninja, so go with your Ninja feelings and adjust the recipe accordingly when cooking.
Rachel spent 20 minutes prepping this meal with a cook time of 60 minutes, which included roasting the beets and fed 7 people with her portions.
Here are a few pictures from her experience:
Thank you Rachel for the time and effort you put into preparing these meals! Your pictures and feedback are great.
Rachel! Nice work! Especially for someone who is not a big meat eater. I like your pictures and the fact that you enjoy CrossFit AND Zumba :). Thank you for taking time to “Chef It Up!” and provide such great pictures and feedback. You are a Culinary Ninja no doubt and I hope to cook with you someday.
Please give my best to your husband and dogs and do your best to…
“Keep It Paleo!”