This week’s tester is: Melissa Deziel from Brooklyn, NY. She works as a product manager and also has an engineering degree. Her box of choice is CrossFit Virtuosity. When she has spare time and she’s not in the gym, she enjoys playing video games and working on hardware and software projects. She lives in a tiny New York apartment and managed to make the recipes she chose all by herself, but her friends did benefit from her work/travel schedule while she tested her meals.

Melissa heard about Paleo Nick when she joined her gym and found some of his videos on the CF YouTube channel. She has previously tried the Bacon Wrapped Jalapeno Poppers and Twice-Baked Sweet Potato recipes.


Approximate Meal Plan Cost As Prescribed:

Chain grocery store (Kroger): $250.00
Warehouse store (Costco or Sam’s): $195.00

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 Lemon Ginger Soup – 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 17.5 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 Beef Tongue Pot Roast, 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 Shrimp and Sausage Stuffed Zucchini. Enjoy this as a dinner and properly store any remaining portions in your refrigerator for three to five 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 Pot Roast. Clean out the slow cooker and prepare the Cabbage Wraps. You will have to blanch and shock the cabbage leaves and scallion first and then load up the cooker and place it on a foil-lined sheet pan and place it on the counter to cook for the next six hours.
  2. Prepare the Lemon Ginger Chicken Soup. Enjoy this for lunch today. Portion out and store the remaining soup in your refrigerator for up to five days or freeze for up to six months.
  3. Prepare the Kelp Noodle Curry. Enjoy this meal for dinner. Properly store any leftovers.
  4. When the Cabbage Wraps have finished cooking, portion them out and store in the refrigerator to cool. Clean out the slow cooker once more and add the corned beef which we will use tomorrow morning to make the breakfast skillet.
  5. Clean up the kitchen and polish up that sink!

In finishing session:

  1. Prepare the Corned Beef and Cabbage Breakfast Skillet. Enjoy this for breakfast this morning. Properly store any remaining portions in your refrigerator or up to five days.
  2. 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!

Beef Tongue Pot Roast

Notes: Melissa shared that she thought this recipe was super easy to throw together and that she will absolutely be making it again in near future.

She had a heck of a time finding the beef tongue. She had to ask a fellow gym member/butcher to get one for her. She also noted that she thought the end product was more soupy than she had expected. She would use tomato paste next time instead of the listed tomato puree. She substituted apple cider vinegar for the white wine due to doing the Whole30, which doesn’t allow alcohol.

Melissa spent thirty minutes prepping this meal, twelve hours slow cooking it, and yielded ten portions which she shared with friends

Shrimp and Sausage Stuffed Zucchini

Notes: “Once prep was completed, I found this recipe very easy to cook with few ingredients and had a punch of flavors! I think this would be good to serve to friends at a shindig as an appetizer, but in my experience it also makes for a great lunch that smells amazing,” Melissa said.

In terms of prep, I found it super long because I had to peel all of the shrimp which took the majority of the time. Overall I found this tasty but a bit oily from the olive oil and fat from the sausage. I didn’t know what to do with the insides of the zucchini, so I found that to be a bit of a waste,” she noted.

This recipe calls for both Salsa Chipotle and Massie Mayo as garnishes. The salsa ingredients are listed on the grocery list for you. Massie Mayo is a staple and should already be in all of your refrigerators. If it isn’t, shame on you, but you can find the recipe here. Melissa didn’t make the mayo, but wished she had after realizing how spicy the Salsa Chipotle was.

Melissa spent one hour prepping, twenty-five minutes cooking, and made six boats of stuffed zucchini.

Scallion Thai’d Chiang Mai Cabbage Wraps

Notes: Super easy recipe to follow even with the ingredient issues I had. Even without the additions, the recipe turned out well and flavorful. I think this was actually my favorite recipe in terms of flavor, and will definitely be a staple for lunches. I can’t wait to try this with all of the proper ingredients and with the added honey post-whole30,” Melissa shared.

When making this recipe, you will want to find the largest cabbage you can. If you can’t find large leaves, grab two smaller cabbages instead so that you have plenty. You will also want to find the longest scallions you can. You use these to tie up the wraps, so the longer the better. Melissa had a tough time with both of these steps. She had a ton of meat mixture left over and her scallions were too short to tie.

She spent forty minutes prepping this meal, six hours slow cooking it, and made five cabbage wraps.

Lemon Ginger Chicken Soup

Notes: “This recipe is filled with flavor! I love how they build on each other by first tasting the ginger and garlic, followed by the lemon and finally well-rounded with the fat from the chicken thighs and stock. This is definitely a recipe that makes for great comfort food on a cold day and for days where you find yourself sick with a cold – I actually treated some of my friends at the gym with some of this soup who are experiencing the cold that is currently going around,” Melissa says.

Melissa did have a lot of questions to go along with this recipe, but she didn’t watch the video prior to preparing this meal. I always suggest to everyone to watch each video and read through the recipe before starting to prep any meal. The video gives you a visual on all the details of how to put the recipe together step-by-step. There are almost always little bits of wisdom from Nick in each video and this recipe’s video is loaded with them. Be sure to check it out.

She spent an hour and a half prepping her soup and one hour cooking it.

Kelp Noodle Curry

Notes: I’ve never had kelp noodles before and although the smell of them out of the bag wasn’t enjoyable, the flavor and the texture were amazing and very similar to that of ramen noodles… an amazing substitute that I will continue to incorporate. I tasted the broth before and after adding the chicken, and it was amazing both ways (the perfect amount of heat from the curry paste and the chilis),; however, the flavour was especially nice once I added the juice of one lime at the end,” Melissa says. 

Melissa ran into some small kitchen/ supply issues when preparing her soup. This recipe yields 8-10 quarts when it’s all said and done. A large soup pot should do the job. This is a great option for stocking your Paleo bank account during cold season.

She spent thirty minutes prepping the soup, twenty minutes cooking it, and yielded six and a half large portions.

Corned Beef and Cabbage Breakfast Skillet

Notes: I used my instant pot on the slow cooker setting to follow the instructions, but I’m sure if i used the pressure cooker settings this would make for a super quick weekend brunch for the family and/or friends – not to mention it’s so pretty to look at!” Melissa said.

Again, she didn’t watch the video provided with this recipe and had trouble cooking it properly without burning the final product. She loved the flavor and the beautiful colors this meal produced. She added some of the leftover Salsa Chipotle as a garnish to the dish and liked the extra kick it added to the eggs.

Melissa spent twenty-five minutes prepping this recipe, twelve hours slow cooking the corned beef, forty-five minutes cooking the skillet, and made ten portions.

Here are the photos Melissa had to share from her recipe choices for this week:

17.5 Groceries
Shrimp and Sausage Stuffed Zucchini
Scallion Thai’d Chiang Mai Cabbage Wraps
Lemon Ginger Chicken Soup
Kelp Noodle Curry
Corned Beef and Cabbage Breakfast Skillet

For having a tiny kitchen and limited cooking supplies, you did a GREAT job Melissa! Thanks for busting it out and sharing your feedback with all of us! I am sure your friends were happy that you shared your meal prep meals with them. I know I would love to have a friend who shared their cooking with me 🙂

From Nick:

Melissa! Living the New York City life and “Keeping It Paleo!” is not an easy task. My family and I were there in August and I found it more difficult than expected. Thank you for pitching in and leading by example with this week’s plan. The fact that you did it in cramped quarters is as impressive as your amazing meal selection and beautiful pictures.

If you’re ever in Reno, be sure to stop by the kitchen. Keep up the good work in the gym and…

“Keep It Paleo!”

Your Pal,


Melissa killing it in the gym and out on the town

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