This week’s tester’s are: Sarah Gresham, her husband Brian and their two rad kids Zack and Elsie from Bend, OR. Here is what Sarah had to share with us this week about her family and her experiences with CrossFit and eating Paleo:
“This last year my family relocated to beautiful Bend, Oregon. We have found an amazing community here and at Oregon CrossFit.
My husband and I are, you could say, passionate about CrossFit. It has made a really positive impact on our lives and drives our ambitions for a healthy lifestyle. Since moving to Ben,d we’ve also picked up some hobbies we enjoy doing together as a family: golfing, biking, pickleball (yeah, it’s a thing), hiking, kayaking, paddleboarding. This winter has been epic… We’ve spent A LOT of time playing in the snow!
My first introduction to Paleo was a few years back when my husband and I were CrossFit affiliate owners and part-time coaches in Portland, Oregon. I started learning more about Paleo so that I could engage in informed discussions about nutrition and swap meal ideas with clients and friends who were making the switch to a Paleo lifestyle. I learned about Paleo Nick through social media (I love the cooking videos!) and I distinctly remember watching an episode of Shark Tank where Nick was pitching the Ice Age Meal idea.
Since moving to Bend, I’ve been able to take this last year to really focus on my family’s nutrition and incorporate more Paleo meals into our weekly meal plans. I’m super passionate about fitness and food. Through my personal experience I hope to inspire my family, friends and clients who I work with one-on-one to help meet fitness and nutrition goals. The Paleo Nick recipes and videos have been and continue to be a fantastic source of inspiration!
I really enjoyed cooking this meal plan. The meals were practical, family friendly and a few of the meals were perfect to portion out to use as grab-and-go lunches later in the week. The two meals we enjoyed the most were the Shrimp Zucchini with Pistachio Pesto and the Ham Yam Scram. Both meals were simple in their ingredients and quick to prepare. I plan on incorporating The Paleo Pecan Chicken Salad and the Seafood Stuffed Yams into my meal plan rotation this summer when it’s just too hot to cook. We enjoyed both slow cooker meals but I was a little impatient with how long they both took to cook. However, both of those meals were delicious, so comforting and made excellent meals for prepping and portioning out lunches for the week.”
Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:
Chain grocery store (Kroger): $179.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $145.00
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:
- 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 half batch of the Pecan Chicken Salad just change the “1” to a “.5” and it will decrease the ingredients for this recipe. Make sense?
- Click back to the tab that says “Meal Plan 17.10 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 beneath each picture.
In cooking session one:
- Prepare the Spaghetti Bolognese, place it layer by layer into 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 for twelve hours overnight.
- Prepare the Pistachio Pesto first and then complete the Shrimp Zucchini with Pistachio Pesto dish. Enjoy this as a dinner for two. Properly store any remaining portions in your refrigerator for three to five days.
- Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.
In cooking session two:
- Portion out the Spaghetti Bolognese and refrigerate for up to seven days or freeze for up to six months. This one freezes and reheats very well. Clean out the slow cooker and refill it with the Beef Bourguinon ingredients. Place it on a foil lined sheet pan and place it on the counter to cook for the next 6-10 hours.
- Prepare the Massie Mayo and Pecan Chicken Salad. Eat a portion for lunch and divy up the remaining salad for a quick lunch or dinner meal the remainder of the week. Refrigerate for up to seven days.
- Prepare the Seafood Stuffed Yams. Eat this for dinner. Refrigerate any leftovers if needed. Eat within three to five days.
- Portion out the Beef Bourguinon and allow to cool in the refrigerator overnight. Place any portions you wish into the freezer once completely cooled or leave in the refrigerator for up to seven days.
- Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!
In finishing session:
- Prepare the Ham Yam Scram. Eat this for breakfast today and properly store remaining portions. Eat refrigerated portions within five to seven days.
- 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 PaleoNick.com!
Notes: “This one was the perfect comfort meal on a cold day and reminded me of my childhood favorite spaghetti and meatballs. Since cutting out pasta, I’ve been roasting spaghetti squash more often and this was a great way to incorporate it into a meal! We had enough for dinner and portioned out several lunches for the week. I liked the simplicity of the ingredients and how easy it was just to throw it in the crock… set it and forget it,” Sarah says.
She did note that she had a hard time fitting this into her slow cooker. I have made this recipe a handful of times now and have filled my slow cooker to the brim with all the ingredients. I believe I have a six-quart CrockPot. I always place my slow cooker onto a foil-lined sheet pan as suggested in the recipe and in the step-by-step instructions above. This helps if anything bubbles over while cooking. Also, the ingredients will cook down into the crock once they get going, so if it’s full to the brim, that’s perfectly okay.
Sarah spent forty-five minutes roasting her spaghetti squash, ten minutes prepping the veggie ingredients, twelve hours slow cooking on low, and yielded eight to ten portions from this recipe.
Notes: “This hands down was my favorite meal for the entire week. It was so easy and full of flavor! If you prep your zucchini and pesto ahead of time, this meal is the perfect super quick post workout or weeknight meal. This meal would be great subbed with pre-cooked chicken for those who don’t like shrimp… ahem, like my kids,” Sarah noted.
She also mentioned that the pistachio pesto ingredients yields way too much pesto. This is true, but look at the bright side, after you eat this meal for the first time, you are going to be super pumped that you have more on hand to make it again any time you want. You can refrigerate or freeze the leftover pesto and pull it out as needed. I have learned that with refrigerating pesto, it’s a good idea to keep it covered and sealed. I usually keep mine in a mason jar with plastic wrap tucked down into the jar touching the top of the pesto with the lid screwed on tight. This will allow it to keep much longer.
Sarah spent 20-30 minutes prepping this recipe, ten minutes cooking it, and yielded two to four portions with a lot of leftover pesto.
Notes: “I picked this meal because it’s one of my husband’s favorites! So easy to just chop and dump… set it and forget it! This recipe yields several portions so I took this as an opportunity to do a little experiment and split the recipe into two slow cookers – one set on low for ten hours and one set on high for six hours. Ten hours won by a landslide! So tender and the flavor was on point. This meal makes the perfect Sunday slow cooker comfort meal. I portioned out all the leftovers into containers and we had lunches prepped and ready to go for the week,” Sarah shared.
This recipe has a few notes listed at the end of it. Be sure to read through those on the recipe compilation before heading to the grocery store. It also calls for pearl onions. These can be found fresh, but if you go this route, you will have to boil and peel them in order to remove the skins to make them edible. Look for them in the frozen food section if you want to save some time here.
Sarah spent twenty to thirty minutes prepping this slow cooker meal, six and ten hours cooking it with her experiment on taste, and came out with twelve plus portions for her Paleo bank account.
Notes: “I call this one a meal-prep delight! Make this on the weekend and portion out for your family’s lunches all week! While I roasted the chicken in the oven I embarked on my very first experience making my own mayo. While I was making the mayo I just kept thinking ‘Why haven’t I done this before?’ It was so stinkin’ easy to make… and out of this world delicious! Chicken salad is a staple in our family. I usually make a curried chicken salad so I was excited to try something new! Once the chicken was cooked, cooled and cut, I prepped the dressing, sliced grapes and diced the celery. Combined everything in the bowl and voila! This one was a hit and I’ll be making it again,” the tester says.
For real now people, if you haven’t yet tried to make a batch of Massie Mayo, WHAT ARE YOU WAITING FOR!? It is so simple and SO much better for you than the store-bought kind. Sarah did say she was a little hesitant to feed it to her kids due to the raw egg factor, but the lemon juice takes care of that worry for you. This is why Nick notes in the video that you don’t want to add this to the mix until you are ready to blend, because it will “cook” the egg if it is put it too early.
Sarah chose to decrease the amount of grapes and celery in her recipe from eight cups to four, noting that she thought eight cups would have been way too much. I love this recipe and make it often. I never actually measure out my ingredients, I just use a head of celery, a large bag of red grapes and four to five chicken breasts. I do measure the dressing ingredients though and the recipe always turns out wonderfully. If you don’t have a family to feed, or you don’t want to eat this meal every day for a week straight, you may want to do a half batch of the recipe.
Sarah spent thirty minutes prepping the ingredients for this meal, thirty to forty-five minutes roasting the chicken breasts and yielded eight to ten portions using half the amount of grapes and celery listed in the recipe.
Seafood Stuffed Yams
Notes: “I liked this meal because we always have sweet potatoes on hand and this was an easy way to incorporate more seafood into our weekly meal plan. This is a great go-to when I want to have a quick and healthy weeknight meal without a ton of leftovers. The addition of the Veggie Victory really spiced things up. Since making this meal I’ve been using the spice blend on all my weekly meal prepped veggies… no more boring veggies,” Sarah says.
“I absolutely loved the shrimp but disliked the bay scallops… I was using a large non-stick pan and the scallops probably would have been better seared in a cast iron,” Sarah noted. This recipe calls for the PALEO GRIND Veggie Victory spice blend.
Sarah spent forty-five minutes roasting the sweet potato and ten minutes prepping the veggies for this meal, ten to fifteen minutes cooking the veggies, shrimp, and scallops, and yielded one to two portions from this recipe.
Notes: “I loved loved loved this one. A couple times a week I meal prep dice sweet potatoes and keep in the fridge ready to warm and serve with eggs at breakfast. The addition of ham and fresh basil made this meal a winner! I could have this meal for breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner… I mean who doesn’t like breakfast for dinner? This meal is definitely going on our meal plan rotation and will be a staple brunch for when we have guests,” Sarah shared.
This recipe can be made with precooked ham or you like Nick did in the video by buying a whole bone-in ham chunk and roasting it beforehand. Sarah decided to spice hers up a bit by using some Veggie Victory on her sweet potatoes. Great option Sarah!
She spent thirty to forty-five minutes roasting the sweets for this recipe, five minutes prepping the basil and ham, ten to fifteen minutes cooking the dish and yielded four to six portions.
Here are the AMAZING photos Sarah took of their meals from start to finish:
Wow Sarah, just wow! Your meal plan photos are so awesome! And the feedback you provided is top notch. You and your family did an outstanding job with this week’s meal plan. Thank you so much for completing this plan, taking amazing photos and “Keepin’ it Paleo.” I can’t wait to have you do another round!