With the New Year just around the corner, it’s time for me to get prepped for another Whole 30 Challenge. Last January was my first go at it and I saw amazing results. While I’ve stuck to a balance of about 80/20 true paleo, the Holidays have been a little gluttonous and I’m ready to clean up my diet!
In today’s post, I’ll be sharing how I prep my kitchen and create my grocery list to start the Whole 30 off on the right foot.
Let’s start with the basics. A paleo/primal diet is based off what our paleolithic ancestors ate - whatever they could hunt or gather. A modern approach includes more than just meat, fish, berries and nuts to include veggies, fruits, eggs and some fats.
A Simple Primer
There’s a bit of fine print to go along with it, so I suggest you read the full rundown of what you can and cannot eat from the experts. (Things like soy, peanuts, honey and white potatoes are not included as approved foods during the Whole 30).
You probably also want to check out It Starts with Food - a great book that explains why the list is created and the health detriments and benefits that each of these foods these foods have. Trust me, I never thought I could give up a bagel and cream cheese breakfast until I read this book (and haven’t had one in over a year!)
Cleaning Your Kitchen
First things first - you’ve gotta clear out the no-nos from your refrigerator and pantry. If there was ever a time to read labels - now is it! Any condiment with added sugar (hello ketchup!) will have to either get tossed or be hidden for the next month. Speaking of hiding things - we don’t throw everything away (although this is also a good time to check your expiration dates). For things like craft beer or condiments we want to keep, we store those on the bottom shelf of our fridge, but covered up. Outta Sight, outta mind!
Planning Your Meals
You’ll be spending a lot more time in the kitchen and the more prep work you do, the easier your 30 days will be. I start my planning by writing down what I want to eat for each dinner and starting my grocery list from there. A few paleo cookbooks will show you there’s no shortage of delicious ideas! Well Fed and Primal Cravings (read ingredient lists to make sure they are Whole 30 compliant!) are two good ones! Plus there are tons of ideas online.
Here’s what our first week’s dinners will look like:
Turkey Meatballs with Steamed Broccoli and Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Cuban Burgers with Plantain ‘Buns’ and Garlic Spinach
Coconut Chicken Breast with Green Beans and Roasted Carrots
Ground Beef Chili with Sweet Potato Chips
Kale, Chicken and Mushroom Stir Fry
Bacon Lattice BLT
Plus breakfast foods and a few snacks (we always make four portions at dinner to eat as leftovers for lunch the following day).
And here’s the grocery list to accompany it:
1 lb Ground Dark Turkey
1 lb Ground Light Turkey
1 lb Ground Pork
2 Steaks (filets)
16 Chicken Breasts
Pork Belly (cut into strips like bacon)
2 Pork Chops
2 Dozen Eggs (we get ours from a friend who raised them free range!)
Bag of Yellow Onions
Red and Orange Bell Peppers
Large container of Spinach
4 Sweet Potatoes
1 head of Garlic
Best priced berries
Light Olive Oil
If you’re looking for places to splurge and save, spend more on quality meats (like grass fed beef and free range chicken). We love our local butcher and trust me, you will taste the difference! Take your list as a guideline. If something else is fresh and looks tasty (and falls within the parameters of the Whole 30, go for it!)
We’ll probably pop back into the grocery mid week to restock any fresh produce that’s running low as well!
I’ll also pick up little extras that come in handy when you’re winging it or are good substitutions for what you normally cook with - things like almond flour, coconut oil, coconut aminos (a soy sauce alternative), almond butter (great for sauces or spread of apple slices). Spices go a long way in paleo cooking as well!
A little prep goes a long when you’re learning a new style of eating. Adam and I like to spend a little time on Sunday (or in this case, New Year’s Day) prepping foods in advance. Here are some of the shortcuts we take:
Hard Boil eggs
Grill and chop chicken
Chop Veggies (for omelettes and stir fries)
Make condiments (like fresh Mayo)
The main concept of the Whole30 is to clean up not only the food you’re eating, but your habits, including mindless eating. You’ll want to avoid making paleo versions of junk food during your 30 days, but I also think it’s important to have some treats (not cheats!) to keep your sanity. I also reach for these if I’m super starving before a workout. I enjoy:
Bananas or apple slices with almond butter, raisins and unsweetened coconut flakes
Carrots with Homemade Guacamole
Muffin Tin of Homemade Trail Mix (nuts, coconut flakes, raisins)
This time around, I’m not aiming to lose any weight, instead to tone up a bit, get my complexion under control, sleep better and generally feel more awesome! Skip the scale for the entire 30 days and measure your progress by how you look and feel versus the number on the scale. You can follow my meals on Instagram!
You’re going to see amazing changes after completing this diet, but I’m not a physician. Please consult with your doctor before starting any health or fitness regimen!
And… You can do it!