Updated: Sep 16, 2022
If you are considering trying the Whole30 experiment, I highly recommend that you read this post to help you prepare. Just like my favorite quote by Ben Franklin, "If you fail to plan, you plan to fail." This could not be more appropriate for the Whole30. I'll outline a few things that I did to prepare before launching into this Whole30 experiment.
Read, Read, Listen, and Read.
I listened to two separate podcasts by Melissa Hartwig Urban, the co creator of the Whole30, that were SUPER helpful in getting my mindset right. I prefer audio to text reading, so the podcasts really were right up my alley. The first podcast linked here outlines what exactly the Whole30 is and how to do it. The second podcast linked here is by Melissa Hartwig Urban and Gretchen Rubin. The outline the Whole30 based on which of the 4 tendencies you are - obliger, upholder, rebel, or questioner. That one was so interesting, and side note if you've never taken the quiz to see which of the four tendencies you are - DO IT.
In addition to the two podcasts linked above, I checked out three Whole30 books from my local library. I read The Whole30: The 30-Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom first. This outlines the reasons to do the Whole30, why it was created, how it works, and exact step by step guidelines. If you like to refer back to what to eat vs. not to eat, I'd recommend just purchasing from Amazon so that you can keep it as long as you like. The book also includes several really great recipes; the entire last 1/2 of the book is all recipes!
Because I love a good cookbook, I also checked out two different Whole30 cookbooks from my library. I did NOT know that the library was going to be such an amazing resource for the Whole30 planning and prep. Here's a hack to keep and organize all the recipes I wanted since I had to return the books back. Take a photo of the recipe you want to keep (the finished product + the recipe page) and save to your notes app. Create a new note labeled, "Whole 30 Dinner Recipes," and then you can share the photos to that specific 'note' in your Notes app. That way the photos don't have to live in your photo library taking up space in your phone! GAME CHANGER. The Whole30 Fast & Easy Cookbook is a great place to start if you only want to get one cookbook. If you've got a slow cooker, I would recommend grabbing this book as well. Personally, I only use my slow cooker in the fall or winter. I'm doing the Whole30 in August, and it's hotter than you know what here in Georgia right now. No slow cooker just yet for me.
Grocery Shop til you Drop
I can't stress enough how important this step is in your preparation to start the Whole30. After you're armed with the knowledge of why and how to properly do the Whole30, you're going to need pantry staples. I'd suggest first looking at every single nutrition label of your normal go-to condiments to see what may already be compliant. Spoiler alert: many of them will not be Whole30 compliant. Many condiments and dressings have hidden sugar or soy or dairy that you probably aren't used to searching for. I was shocked at how little was truly compliant in my refrigerator.
After taking inventory of what you've already got, consider some of the items on this Whole30 grocery list I found directly from the Whole30 website. It's a downloadable PDF. You don't need to purchase everything on this list, but it's a good place to get some ideas. Make your own list after reviewing this list and keeping in mind what you typically like to eat (or will want to eat)
Head to your local grocery store and stock up! I had fun going to a different grocery store to see what kinds of Whole30 friendly items I could find. I'd recommend finding a Trader Joes, Sprouts, Whole Foods, or Earth Fare if there are any near you. You can most likely find a lot of Whole30 compliant brands at your usual places like Kroger, Publix, and even Wal-Mart. I was surprised to see how much at my local Kroger was compliant.
Meal Plan Like Your Life Depends on it
One of the best ways to prepare for the Whole30 is to plan ahead. I cannot say it enough...PLAN YOUR MEALS AHEAD OF TIME. If you wait until noon when you're hungry to figure out what is your lunch (and what's compliant) you'll be in trouble. Same story rings true for dinners. Here's what I've been doing each and every Sunday ahead of the next week of Whole30.
I write out 1-2 breakfast options, 2-3 lunch options, and dinner ideas for each night of the week. Writing it out helps me organize it, and it helps to see it all on one page. I make sure I jot down the ingredients needed for each meal and add to my grocery list for the week, as well. Here's an example of one of my meal plans for the week (and you can see it's nothing fancy...just a plain notebook and my thoughts)
After making this list, I feel so much more prepared and ready for the week ahead. My grocery trips are more organized, and I tend to have (*almost) all the ingredients on hand that I need each week.
You can keep it super simple and repeat the same breakfast all week like I have done here. I usually pick a few options for lunch, as I like more variety in my lunch. I am such a creature of habit, so I don't mind repeating the breakfasts or lunches often. Once I find something that I like and that works for my body, I stick with it.
If it's not broken, don't fix it. Right?
Also note that I planned for Whole30 compliant takeout options, too. I have a Zoe's Kitchen very close by, and I have found a few Whole30 compliant meals there that I love. So on the day where I know I"m going to be exhausted or coming home late, I plan for *healthy*takeout. That is totally allowed, and it's a total life saver some days.
Doing this once won't help you, though. You have to repeat this process each and every week. I tend to do it on Saturday or Sunday depending on our social schedule. You MUST MUST MUST plan ahead if you want to keep your sanity and complete the Whole30 the way it's designed.
Was this helpful? Do you meal plan like this or do you do it differently? Tell me in the comments below how you plan your meals out each week.
Until next time...