This week’s tester is: Mark Matthey and his family from Oregon. Mark is married to Kayce and has three children, Karson(8), Konner(5), Madelyn(3). Mark is an Army Officer, currently teaching ROTC at Oregon State University. He and Kayce workout together at CrossFit Ubiquity. In his spare time Mark enjoys hunting, fishing, watching football and hanging out with his family.

Mark tackled this meal plan on his own,but did get a little bit of help from Kayce when it came to chopping onions. (Kayce can dice them without tears!)

“My wife does all the cooking in our house, but I wanted to take this on by myself,” he shared.


Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:

Chain grocery store (Kroger): $55.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $42.00

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 double batch of the Tamarind Lacquered Chicken Satay, 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 17.49 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 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:

  1. Prepare the Tamarind Puree for the Chicken Satay. Prep the chicken and place it in the marinade in your refrigerator for up to two days.
  2. Prepare the Beef Stew with Green Chiles & Yams. Place the ingredients into the slow cooker on put it onto a foil lined sheet pan and cook for six hours on high or 10-12 hours on low.
  3. Prepare the Sesame Chicken with Broccoli. Enjoy this meal for dinner. Portion out any remaining food and store in the refrigerator for up to five days.
  4. Clean up the kitchen and pat yourself on the back for a day well done.

In cooking session two:

  1. Portion out the Beef Stew and refrigerate for up to one week or freeze for up to six months. Clean out the slow cooker.
  2. Prepare the Beef and Butternut Braise and place it into the slow cooker. Place the slow cooker on a foil lined sheet pan and cook for eight hours on low.
  3. Fire up the grill and get the chicken satay’s cooking. Enjoy this as a snack or pair it with a salad as a meal.
  4. Portion out Beef and Butternut Braise once it has finished cooking and store in the refrigerator for up to seven days or freeze the for up to six months.
  5. 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!

Beef Stew with Green Chiles and Yams

Notes: “I added extra green chiles and really enjoyed the  spiciness. This stew smelled amazing when I came home from work after it had been cooking all day,” Mark shared.

While he thought there was a little too much onion in this recipe and noted that that was his least favorite part about his meal plan prep, he really enjoyed this meal.

Mark spent twenty tearful minutes prepping this meal (all those onions!), ten hours slow cooking it, and yielded nine portion. He spent a total of $18.70 on this meal.

Sesame Chicken with Broccoli

Notes: “Anything with chicken is great for us! We buy boneless, skinless breast meat in bulk and always have a bunch on hand. This was my favorite meal of the four. I will be making a double batch in a couple of weeks to use as lunches at work. Also, cooking this meal was easy but also made me feel like I was actually cooking my meal instead of throwing all the ingredients into my slow cooker, which was fun,” Mark proclaimed.

“This recipe was a little heavy on the sesame flavor for me. I think when I make this again I will cook the chicken without sesame oil before I combine the sauce with the chicken. I wish I would have bought minced garlic and ginger. I am not great with a knife in the kitchen and I have sausage fingers so it was really time consuming to mince those small pieces. I forgot to put the onion in this one,” he noted.

Mark spent thirty minutes prepping this recipe, fifteen minutes cooking it, and made four portions. He only spent $7.48 on the ingredients he needed for this meal with already having the chicken on hand.

Beef and Butternut Braise

Notes: “This was super easy to prepare. This was the first meal that I made and I was nervous that my minimal cooking skills would not be enough to get through these four recipes. After dropping all of the ingredients into the slow cooker I felt like Nick Massie himself!!! Great flavor in this meal as well. I brought the leftovers into work and shared them for lunch the next day and everybody loved it,” Mark said. 

“There was a lot of veggie chopping in this recipe (not my best skill). I will be making this again but will be adding quite a bit more beef and carrots to the slow cooker next time. Also, I’m not sure how important having grass fed beef stew meat was. 3.2 pounds of regular beef stew meat was around $11 for one of the other meals. 1.98 pounds of grass fed was almost $16,” the tester noted. 

While grass-fed beef is always the best choice, we understand that it’s not always the most cost effective option. Use what you’d like.

Mark spent twenty-five minutes prepping this meal, eight hours slow cooking it, and came out with around eight portions. He spent a total of $20.68 on the ingredients for the recipe.

Tamarind Lacquered Chicken Satay

Notes: “I really enjoyed trying something totally new for me (Tamarind). Again, I felt like a real cook going into the specialty food store and finding the tamarind pulp! Maybe that’s crazy but oh well. My sons loved these “chicken sticks”!” Mark said.

“I was not a huge fan of the tamarind flavor. It was hard to describe but was pretty tart/sour and that is not how I like chicken. Again, mincing the shallots and serrano chile was a struggle for me.  Also, it took me quite some time to get the tamarind puree to the consistency that it needed to be,” Mark shared. 

Tamarind puree can be found at any local Asian market and sometimes in the Asian section of your local grocery store. Be sure to look for seedless.

This recipe pairs well with the Papaya Salad recipe found on this site. If you’d like to make it also, you will need to add the ingredients to your grocery list. Mark spent thirty minutes prepping this recipe and marinated it overnight. He cooked it for a total of ten minutes and made four portions. Mark spent $8.23 on this meal.

Scroll down to see how the recipes turned out for Mark this week:

Beef Stew with Green Chiles & Yams
Sesame Chicken with Broccoli
Beef and Butternut Braise
Tamarind Lacquered Chicken Satay

Mark! Thank you for being an awesome sport and taking on these four recipes with little cooking skills. I’d say you did a superb job with each and every recipe!! I am super impressed with the final products, even though you had to call Kayce in for a little help. Onions can be the worst! Your sausage fingers and lack of knife skills really didn’t show in your photos at all. Congrats on becoming a “Culinary Ninja” and keep up the good work!!

Mark and his beautiful family

Leave a Reply