This week’s tester’s are: Natasha and Doug Pucillo from Killingworth, CT. Natasha is a police officer. In her spare time, she enjoys working out, running, cooking and spending time with her husband and their rescue dog Sundae.

Here’s what Natasha had to share about her meal prep experience:

“I enjoyed learning a little more about Paleo recipes and cooking something different.  I have made traditional versions of some of these recipes in the past and this was really cool to see and taste the difference.”


Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:

Chain grocery store (Kroger): $115.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $94.00

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 Pineapple Chicken with Broccoli – 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 17.25 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 Southwest Slow Cooker Chicken, 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 for 10-12 hours overnight.
  2. Prepare the Pineapple Chicken with Broccoli. Enjoy this as a dinner for two. Properly store any remaining portions in your refrigerator for five to seven days.
  3. Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.

In cooking session two:

  1. Portion out the Southwest Chicken.  Divy up the portions and refrigerate for up to seven days or freeze for up to six months. This one freezes and reheats very well.
  2. Prepare the Pastel de Papa and invite your friends over to share or stock up the Paleo bank account by portioning out and freezing for up to six months.
  3. Prepare the Butternut Squash Lasagna. Portion this out and allow to cool in the refrigerator for three to four hours. Freeze any portions desired once cooled for up to six months, or store in the refrigerator for up to seven days.
  4. Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!
  5. 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!

Southwest Slow Cooker Chicken

Notes: “We loved the ingredients in this dish and it was so very easy to make!” Natasha proclaimed.

“We went with chicken breasts instead of the whole chicken and I used jalapenos and cubanelle peppers in this dish because I couldn’t find poblanos,” she shared.

I always recommend to anyone trying these recipes to make any substitutions you see fit. Using chicken breast instead of a whole chicken makes prepping this meal even easier and allows you to just shred the chicken when it has finished cooking rather than having to pick out all the bones from the whole chicken option.

Natasha and Doug spent forty-five minutes prepping this meal, eight hours slow cooking it, and made a LOT of portions.

Pineapple Chicken with Broccoli

Notes: Natasha spent ten minutes prepping this meal, thirty minutes cooking it, and yielded six portions from the recipe.

“It was so simple to make and we love chicken, pineapple and broccoli,” she shared.

Pastel de Papa

Notes: Natasha made a half batch of this recipe and still yielded nine portions. She took this meal over to her parents’ house for Father’s Day dinner and everyone loved it.

She spent twenty minutes prepping and thirty minutes cooking this meal.

Butternut Squash Lasagna

Notes:  “This was sooo good!!  We loved it!! We are new to Paleo and don’t eat strictly Paleo by any means, but we did not miss the cheese or noodles at all!!” Natasha exclaimed.

“I don’t eat sausage, so I doubled the beef and added some Italian spices.  I completely forgot to buy basil, so I stripped my window plant and added some dried basil!!  The squash was difficult to cut thin,” she noted.

The trickiest part of this amazing recipe is cutting the squash into thin strips. Be sure to check out the video prior to prepping to get Nick’s quick tips on the best way to achieve this goal. Once you get the technique down, you will be making the recipe again and again. It is one of my all time favorites!!

Natasha and Doug spent forty-five minutes prepping this meal, almost two hours cooking it, and yielded six large portions.

There are the photos Natasha and Doug took while prepping and cooking their chosen meals:

Southwest Slow Cooker Chicken
Pineapple Chicken with Broccoli
Pastel de Papa
Butternut Squash Lasagna

Thank you Natasha for taking the time to test these recipes for us! You made some great recipe choices and now have some new culinary ninja skills under your belt. It sure looks like Sundae enjoyed helping with clean up too!

Natasha, Doug and Sundae

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