We have started our “official” Whole30 month as of February 1st. We had initially intended to start it mid-December, but that was actually an ill-fated idea (one word: holidays!) We made it two weeks, and then Christmas came, and then we broke the diet and intended to get back on. And then we decided to just stick with real food and processed foods here and there, and start fresh in February. The upside was that we had almost two months to give Whole30-type grocery shopping and cooking a trial run, and made mistakes, and learned a lot about what not to do. We have the additional challenges of traveling once a month for my job, and I currently eat almost more than the Norseman, because I am breastfeeding and that burns sooo many calories. They say about 500 calories a day. All I know is, I am nauseous, dizzy, and moody if I don’t eat enough. And so I end up eating at least five times a day. One tip I read somewhere recently (and I cannot remember where!) was to eat like an athlete if you are breastfeeding, and you will be fine. No worries about deficiencies or a drop in supply. And honestly, the only time I have had a problem was back in December, when we first started and I grossly underestimated how much I needed to eat every day. Once I adjusted, I was fine (I’ll tell you how in a moment.)
What NOT to Do:
- Fail to menu plan. A menu plan is critical. It is a must-have. It will save your sanity, money, and time.
- Attempt to make everything yourself. Go ahead and buy pre-made, Whole30 approved condiments, spices, etc. if you need to. Unless you have been cooking this way for awhile, it will overwhelm you if you try to do it all, especially if you have never made many “from-scratch” foods before.
- Try to do the program based off of a blog or website that is not whole30.com. Use blogs to supplement, but read through the official website first. Even better, borrow the book from the library and read it. And then read the website and print out the resource pdfs found there. They will help so much.
- Try to make an entire menu of new foods the entire month. Meaning: realize that most recipes can be Whole30 friendly with some easy omissions or substitutions. Don’t go trying to make a bunch of new meals every week. You’ll be stressed out before you know it, and more prone to quitting.
- Fail to prepare foods ahead of time. If you aren’t really sure where to start, go to our favorite Whole30/Paleo recipe blog, and go through her weekly meal plans. If you are really lost, use them verbatim. But that will have you making a ton of new foods at first. I’ve broken down our meal planning process below so that you can completely copy it if you like.
- Think you can do this on the same grocery budget you previously had. Unless maybe you don’t use grass-fed/heritage/wild-caught meats or buy anything organic. Then it may work. But as a caution: we had to go up about $100 from our normal budget. We chose to buy grass-fed meats only. We buy some organic, and some not organic fresh produce (depends on which is cheaper.) That was the trade we made. Best meats, and okay fruits and veggies. We bought a fruit and veggie spray recently from Thrive Market to clean off the pesticides and nasty stuff.
What You Should Do:
- Menu Plan. Like I mentioned above, Mel Joulwan’s blog was where I got started. I branched out from there. What menu planning looks like for us:
- I create a meal plan on Fridays using a spreadsheet template, which is based on Melissa’s recommended weekly cookup. I look for what meats are on sale at Earth Fare, and those will be our meats for the week. It is generally three different meats: chicken legs (always super cheap), a roast of either pork or beef, and ground beef. Sometimes I add in ground sausage if it is on sale, or bacon, on sale or not. (The crossed out foods/meals are the ones we’ve already eaten this week.)
- I keep a tab in the spreadsheet with a running price list on canned goods and fresh fruits/veggies by store. That way I can quickly know if a sales price is actually a good deal, or which store is cheaper. We buy the same things regularly, so sometimes I can do it off of memory.
- I add prices into my meal plan, and estimate the trip’s total. The monthly grocery budget is divided into four weeks, so I compare the weekly figure against the estimate. If it doesn’t come in under cost, I delete any “nice-to-haves” or pick a different meal.
- I keep two separate tabs in the spreadsheet where I keep links to our “favorite recipes” and to “want to try recipes.” This speeds up the process considerably.
- Consider a Thrive Market subscription. It costs $60 a year, which you will easily make back in savings and then some if you plan to continue eating this way after your Whole30. Even if you aren’t sure, I recommend signing up for the 30-day free trial right before your Whole30, and placing a stock up order. The trial is no-strings attached, and the prices are often better than Amazon or Whole Foods/Earth Fare/Sprouts/normal grocery store. If you cannot afford the membership, you can apply for a free membership. Each paid membership covers you and a free one for another family. They ship via FedEx, which arrives in about three business days after your order. No, I did not get paid to endorse them. We place an order at the beginning of every month. But yes, I will get a $25 credit to my account if you sign up through my link and don’t cancel after your free trial – for now. I believe there is a limit on the number of “friends” who can sign up. So far, we love using this site. Items we normally order, and use a lot of in Whole30 eating (and a few my sister goes through regularly):
- Coconut oil
- Rice Vinegar
- Sauerkraut (for probiotics, because yogurt is a no-no)
- Coconut aminos
- Julian Baker Paleo wraps
- Traditional Medicinals teas
- Eat Cleaner Fruit & Veggie wash
- Equal Exchange French Roast Coffee
- Blue Ice Fermented Cod Liver Oil
- Epic Bars
- Various snacks & occasional treats
- Make a list of your various favorite dishes and then Google to see if there is a Whole30 or Paleo version. Just because it is Paleo doesn’t mean it will be Whole30. But there is normally an easy substitution to make it so.
- Have some “go-to” foods you buy each week. Ours are coconut milk, tuna, potatoes, avocados, sweet potatoes, carrots, and celery. We round it out after that. Avocados get eaten with breakfast (we eat 1/2 each), and potatoes go with just about everything. I eat one or two for the extra carbs during the day as well. It makes all the difference when you are breastfeeding. If you have to choose just one thing to help you keep your calories up, eat potatoes.
- Do some research on how to travel and eat while doing Whole30. Chipotle is one I’ve heard, and where we will probably be eating this weekend. When in doubt, order meat, potatoes, and veggies while steering clear of dairy, grain, beans, and bread. Especially at Red Lobster and Olive Garden. In fact, maybe just avoid those two for this month.
- Decide on some “emergency” or snack foods – Epic Bars, Larabars, and Jerky work great, but so do carrot and celery sticks, fresh fruit of any kind, and nut butters. Just remember moderation in all things. Only eat until you aren’t hungry anymore. We took Epic Bars and fruit with us when we traveled last month.
Helpful Websites/Blogs/Instagram Accounts
- Whole 30 Official Website
- Mel Joulwan of Well Fed
- Stupid Easy Paleo
- Nom Nom Paleo
Look for my second post later today to see what we ate this week (Monday – Friday morning.) I’ll try to update it for Friday afternoon – Sunday as I can. It will be a very busy weekend for us without guaranteed internet, so updates may be slow.