This week’s tester is: Sharon Carnaby, her husband Jim, and their two children Timothy and Matthew from Henderson, NV.Sharon teaches kindergarten at Vanderburg Elementary School and just happen to be my daughter’s first school teacher. During an early morning meeting one day, we got to chatting about exercise and clean eating. She shared with me the new changes in her lifestyle and I asked her if she’d be interested in meal plan testing for me. She loved the idea and jumped right on board.
Sharon works out daily at a little gym called Sweat, Inspire, Live or SIL. “We do CrossFit like workouts; including tababta, max reps, weight lifting as well as yoga and meditation classes. This gym has truly changed my life; in the way I look at food and what I put in my body,” she shared.
I can account for this statement as I watched Sharon become more fit and lean as the school year went on. I’m sure she really appreciated that box of chocolates we gifted her before Christmas break….
Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:
Chain grocery store (Kroger): $135.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $115.00
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 double the Banana Chocolate Chip Muffin recipe, just change the “1” to a “2” and it will increase the ingredients for this recipe. Make sense?
- Click back to the tab that says “Meal Plan 17.34 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 and two cooking sessions. 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 meatballs for the Mexican Meatball Soup. Once the meatballs are done, place them and the rest of the ingredients into the slow cooker. Set the slow cooker on a foil lines sheet pan and place it on the counter or in the garage to cook for the next 10-12 hours or overnight.
- Prepare the marinade for the Beef with Broccoli. Place the meat into the marinade and put it in the fridge to marinade overnight.
- Prep the veggies for the Cauliflower fried rice if you plan to make it with the Beef for tomorrow.
- Prepare the Banana Chocolate Chip muffins. When they have baked and cooled, portion them out into 2-3 muffin portions and refrigerate or freeze.
- Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.
In cooking session two:
- Portion out the Mexican Meatball Soup. Store the portions in the refrigerator for up to seven days or freeze for up to six months. Clean out the slow cooker.
- Prepare Beef with Broccoli and Cauliflower Fried Rice. Eat a serving for lunch and properly store remaining portions in the refrigerator for 5-7 days.
- Prepare the Rosemary Roasted Sweet Potatoes. Pair these with a protein of your choice. Portion out and refrigerate for 5-7 days. (These are good reheated or cold)
- While the sweets are roasting, prepare the World’s Greatest Asian Chicken Salad. You may want to just dress each portion as you eat it to avoid soggy veggies. Eat within 3-5 days.
- 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: “This hearty soup is simply delicious! The sweetness of the butternut squash paired with the tender turnips and carrots. I just loved everything about this soup. It is over 100 degrees in Vegas, so this one will be in the freezer for a month or so,” Sharon stated.
“I used sweet turkey sausage instead of spicy. Next time, I will use spicy sausage. I think it will be much tastier,” she also noted.
This soup requires you to make the meatballs first and then add them with the other ingredients into the slow cooker. The butternut squash also needs to be precooked, so be sure to get that in the oven before starting the meatballs. Prep time is a little longer than most other slow cooker recipes on this site, but well worth the time and effort that goes into making it.
Sharon spent twenty minutes prepping, six hours slow cooking, and made 8-10 portions from this recipe.
Notes: “Awesome flavor, tender veggies, light and healthy!” Sharon proclaimed.
“There was lots of chopping in prepping this recipe. I would cut meat in small strips next time, the pieces of beef were a bit dry. After cooking the meat there was quite a bit liquid left in the pan. I poured that liquid out, which I should not have done. When I remade the recipe the next week, I sliced the beef thinner and kept the liquid. The second time around the meat was very tender. I loved it better the second time. This was a family favorite!” she noted.
Sharon spent one hour prepping this meal (including the fried rice recipe below), thirty minutes cooking it, and yielded six servings.
Notes: “The rice was delicious as well! I will use less ginger next time. It was a great deal of chopping, but well worth the time,” the tester said.
Sharon took this bonus recipe on to pair with the Beef and Broccoli recipe above.
Notes: “The flavor was wonderful. I made the dressing separate just because not everyone likes a dressing super spicy. I allowed my quests to add more spice as needed,” Sharon shared.
“Next time, I will chop all of the veggies super small. I felt as if I did a larger chop then recommended. I would also add shredded carrots,” she also noted.
Sharon spent forty minutes prepping this salad, thirty minutes cooking the chicken for it, and made 6-7 portions.
Notes: “This recipe is delicious, tender, and sweet!! I don’t usually keep the skin on when cooking sweet potatoes. I will never take it off again! It added such flavor and texture,” Sharon exclaimed. “I would NOT change thing about this dish! On Thanksgiving and Christmas I usually make a sweet potato casserole. It has butter, brown sugar, and flour, not healthy AT ALL! This recipe will now replace that!!”
The tester spent ten minutes prepping this tasty side dish, twenty-eight minutes cooking it, and made 5-7 portions
Notes: “I loved the softness that the bananas added to this recipe, and the dark chocolate was just enough sweetness,” Sharon noted.
“The first time I made the muffins, I forgot to add the eggs. The muffins were absolutely delicious! After I realized that I made them wrong, I remade them with the eggs. I actually enjoyed them more without the eggs. I think I may add a bit of protein powder next time and possibly substitute the almond flour with ground gluten free oats. I have a few recipes for protein muffins that I make about 2 times a month. This is going to be added into the rotation! My kids loved them!!” Sharon shared.
Check out the pictures Sharon shared from her meal plan testing journey:
I’d like to say “THANK YOU” Sharon for taking these recipes on and finding time in your busy schedule to prepare them. You will always have a special place in my heart and Lilly’s for being the very best kindergarten teacher a family could ask for. Your family is lucky to have such an AMAZING wife and mother in their lives that cares about clean eating and staying healthy. Keep up the good work!