So, you’ve decided, you’re gonna do it! Now what… As I said in my post about why I do a Whole30 every year, even though I decided we were going to do it, it took me a long time to actually pull the trigger. While I don’t think you need to prepare months in advance as I did, a little prep before your start date will go a long way!
My biggest advice for anyone starting Whole30 is to plan. Planning will be your ultimate success tool. At the start, planning your meals for a week may seem daunting but I promise it’s a practice that will become easier with time. Just to be clear meal planning doesn’t have to be this major event of cooking all weekend either. It can be simple, creating a weekly menu for your dinners, what you’re going to do for lunches and breakfasts for the week. Just a simple roadmap for success.
Know the Rules and remember you have one job, eat real food
Whether it’s your first time or your 5th, go to https://whole30.com/ and read the rules. Please. It’s simple and they tell you everything you need to know. Do this even if it’s not your first time as the rules change as research continues in this space. For instance, peas were just added! A long time ago, white potatoes were added which were originally not part of the program. So it’s a good idea to refamiliarize yourself with the program.
One of the best resources on the site is the “Can I have guide”, https://whole30.com/the-official-can-i-have-guide-to-the-whole30/. This will answer almost all of your questions, I swear. It covers everything that is in or out of the program and there’s a forum that is constantly updated to ensure all your questions will be answered. Another great page to familiarize yourself with is the Whole30 approved brands: https://whole30.com/whole30-approved . Lots of available options and you can see my go to’s on my Whole30 Pantry Favorites and Fridge & Freezer guide.
Prepare your kitchen, pantry and fridge…read your labels
Alright, now that we are familiar with the basic rules, time to prep your kitchen to get started. Go through your cabinets and your fridge and read your labels. Remember, no added sugar, no carrageenan, MSG or sulfites. So check your nut milks, your condiments, everything to make sure what you have is compliant. Nowadays there are so many compliant options I promise you’ll be able to find everything you want, need or love for your 30 days.
Reading your labels means reading the ingredient list. Just because something has a sugar value in the nutritional information doesn’t mean it’s added sugar. Sugar, in all its forms, and there are many ways it’s snuck in, will be listed in the ingredients.
Common Sugar Forms: maple syrup, honey, agave nectar, coconut sugar, date syrup, monk fruit extract, stevia, Splenda, Equal, Nutrasweet, and xylitol. Anything ended in ose: dextrose, fructose, glucose, lactose, maltose, sucrose.
Once you start reading labels you will be so surprised how many things have sugar added, and it is so frustrating at times! Like I said though, I promise there are plenty of compliant options out there and when you have the options without the sugar you’ll wonder why it was ever there to begin with! If you’re having trouble finding something, leave a comment below I promise I can find you an option!
With your pantry and fridge cleaned of non-approved items, time to plan for what you want to have on hand for pantry staples, any snacks or quick meal options, to help keep you on track. There are so many great options. I’ve compiled a list of my favorites in my Whole30 Pantry Favorites Guide and my Whole30 Fridge & Freezer Guide. If you’re having a hard time finding some of these in your local markets consider trying Thrive Market. They carry all of these brands and more delivered right to your door. You can use this link to get 25% off your first order with Thrive market!
Set yourself up for success
I like to have quick options available for when I either forget to take something out of the freezer or just don’t have the time! I always keep a box of Applegate Farms Turkey Burgers in the freezer. They’re great for a quick meal as they cook from frozen. Another option I love having on hand is compliant sausage. Cooked sausage will last a while in your fridge and you can quickly slice it up to saute with veggies and potatoes. Wellshire farms has a compliant chorizo, andouille, and turkey kielbasa (their regular kielbasa has sugar). Whole Foods also has a compliant italian sausage. There tons of options in this arena, just read your ingredient list carefully. There are also Whole30 approved freezer meals available from Primal Kitchen as well as Great Value brand available at Walmart.
For our meats we subscribe to Butcher Box and get a monthly delivery of compliant options, including bacon. Nature’s Rancher has options for compliant bacon and other meats as well. Butcher Box isn’t for everyone, but we’ve found it useful and if you’re interested in trying it you can use this link for $30 off your first box! They usually have lots of promos going on, like free bacon or free ground beef for life. Once you’re a member you can always add on the new member features for a one time fee. So far it’s worked out well for us!
Plan, plan, plan
As I said in the beginning of this post, planning will be your best friend throughout this process. You notice I haven’t mentioned buying any fresh produce and very little on your proteins. This is on purpose. You need to meal plan in order to know what you need to stock in your fridge so as to avoid wasting your money on tons of veggies and wasting food you just won’t get to before it goes bad.
You need to meal plan to properly stock your fridge with fresh produce and avoid money and food waste.
I typically do this on Sunday when I’m going to do my grocery shopping. First starting with dinners, planning at least for 5 nights. Then I layer in lunches knowing some meals will be leftovers. Lastly, breakfasts for the week. Focus your buying on specific meals and options so you don’t overspend and waste. I’ll do a whole post on meal planning, but that’s the basics.
You can do it, you can do hard things
All of that to say…your success with this program starts with knowing the rules, prepping your kitchen, practicing reading your labels and planning your meals. Like I said, it may seem daunting and time consuming but will get easier with time and practice. Need some inspiration? Hop over to my meal planning post or follow me on Instagram to see some of my weekly meal plan ideas!
Other questions or tips on how you can be ready? Leave a comment below. I’d love to help with any of your challenges and would love to hear how you’re getting ready for your 30 days!