A Whole30 can be intimidating if you've never done one before. Use these helpful Whole30 tips and tricks to make your Whole30 as simple as possible!
The other day I was on Instagram, and the main Whole30 page posted a question: "What is one thing you're doing to make your Whole30 a little bit easier?"
There were hundreds and hundreds of comments. In reading through them, I started to see common themes.
Throughout the hundreds of responses, there were five things that people mentioned again and again that helped them stay on track for their Whole30 experience. Here are the top five Whole30 tips and tricks from the masses:
1. Meal Prep
This is an obvious one, sure, but it is also the most common. It’s like that old saying, “Fail to plan, plan to fail.” The thing with Whole30 is you’re eating a LOT of food (you’ll be surprised how hungry you are!)
If you’re not ready for that, you get caught with nothing made in a pinch, find yourself paying the pizza delivery man, and telling yourself you’ll start again tomorrow.
Set aside some time on your weekend to make a few things for the week. When Wednesday rolls around and you don’t have the time or energy to make dinner, you’ll be glad you spend the time earlier in the week getting those meals ready so you have something to eat.
2. Food Prep
Yes, it’s different than meal prep! If you don’t like eating the same thing multiple days in a row, food prep is for you. For food prep, you’re not necessarily making meals, you’re just prepping ingredients.
For example, you might spend a couple of hours on Sunday baking some sweet potatoes, cooking up some meat in the crockpot, and chopping fresh veggies.
Then, during the week, you can go in and make different combinations so you don’t get bored!
There are so many options here. You could throw a Boston butt in the crockpot all day to turn into pulled pork. While that’s cooking, bake some chicken breasts in the oven.
Chop some peppers and onions. Dice a tomato.
Even something a simple as taking a head of broccoli and cutting off the florets so they’re ready to get dropped straight into the steamer pot or roasted on a pan can make a world of difference when you’re tired and looking for something quick and easy.
If you need some guidance on how to do this the first few times, check out my meal prep post here.
I have a saying that I use all the time: “Sauce is king.” And on Whole30, it really is.
Having homemade sauces on hand is awesome – you know what ingredients went into them, and they taste so much better than store bought. Sauces add flavor and texture to your food.
Ketchup, ranch, mayonnaise – nothing is too basic. I’m not a fan of complicated recipes, so I try to keep my sauces simple and flavorful. Both my Garlic Cream Sauce & Cilantro Lime Dressing are Whole30 compliant sauces!
If you don’t have the time or the druthers to make your own sauce, there are still lots of options out there for you. The New Primal makes a line of Whole30 compliant sauces and marinades, as does Primal Kitchen.
4. Seltzer water
La Croix is the name brand, but the store brands from many places are just as good in my opinion, and way cheaper. I’ve had Harris Teeter, Whole Foods, and Aldi’s store brands and they’re all tasty.
Some people prefer plain with a with a lime or lemon. But really, it’s the option for bubbles, and to have something with flavor other than plain old water. Another option is the Spindrift brand – it uses a touch of real fruit, but isn’t sweet.
Be careful with seltzer, though – if you drink a lot of soda, and you’re prone to the habit of popping open a can of something bubbly, this won’t help you break that habit.
And while it is technically Whole30 compliant, part of a Whole30 is breaking yourself of your unhealthy habits, both physically and mentally. You know your own triggers better than anyone else, so just proceed with caution.
This was mentioned a lot, and with good reason – on Whole30, the dishes get OUTTA CONTROL. For real, they like multiply and make baby dishes while you are sleeping at night or something.
A lot of people mentioned staying on top of the dishes, cleaning as they go with meal prep, and making sure the kitchen stays tidy as ways to help keep them organized, and I can’t say I disagree.
Personally, when I do meal prep, I just keep on prepping and load up the sink. Then at the end, once all the food is made, I load what I can into the dishwasher, run it, and hand wash the rest.
There is nothing worse than waking up in the morning to a sink full of dirty dishes. Even if you’re tired, wash the dishes the night before. You’ll thank yourself in the morning.
Another idea is to employ your partner, roommate, or other Whole30 buddy – if they’re going to be eating the food, have them wash, dry and put away as you keep cooking. By the time you’re done cooking, all the dishes will be done too!
If you feel like you just can’t possibly look at another dish, try meal sharing. You’ll only need 1 or 2 other people who are on a Whole30. Everyone makes a dish, divides it in half or thirds, and then you get together and trade.
You only had to make one dish, but you now have three different meals for the week!
Now, five tips for your Whole30 is a great start, but let's be real- we've got 30 days of this, so a few more tips & tricks might be helpful. I want to share some of the other great comments I found from the Instagram post.
Other things of note that made the top of the list were "self-care" (pedicures, massages, extra sleep, etc), Ziplock bags and parchment paper (food storage), sharing meal prep with a friend (see above!), journaling, meal planning in a spreadsheet, and staying busy with house projects, or just staying busy in general.
But my favorite of all the comments was this one:
"Saying "I'm not" vs "I can't" seems to make things easier mentally and doesn't annoy my family as much. Like, "I'm not having cheese" vs "I can't have cheese" -- something less negative about the first!"
So true. When you tell someone you're making a CHOICE to not have something, they usually look at you funny, but leave you alone.
If you tell them you can't have something, they want to know why, what for, how come, have just one, it won't hurt.
I'd much rather express that I'm making a choice for me and my body to do a Whole30, and that my choice is my choice, thank you very much. You do you.
I'll leave you with that thought, and a sampling of some of the other great comments I came across. Hopefully these help for motivation, ideas, or just to realize you're not alone in your Whole30 journey.
Meal prep! I can't do this without having good foods prepared and ready for when our family gets home from work and school!
meal planning.... but a close 2nd is lots of self care. Pedicure, a massage, lots of walks, home facials etc....
Ziploc bags and parchment paper get the gold star!
Pre-cut veggies from @traderjoes and embracing simplicity!
Making a huge batch of compliant soup for my work lunches all week!
Not running out of food....shopping and prepping ahead of time.
Honestly? No portion control and no restriction on when I wanna eat. It's whatever I want, when I want, as long as it's whole30 approved.
Meals on re-re-re-repeat.
Made a big vat of chili and froze it in meal sized portions so there's always something to eat in a pinch!!!
Fresh herbs are the key to making your meals still taste as delicious as you remember them. And eggs/avocados really do help with my longing for cheese in my foods - they add a creaminess that you can't get otherwise that's really comforting!
This sounds inane, but we're trying to get in the habit of doing dishes morning and evening so we don't always feel like the kitchen has imploded every day.
Meal Prep. Sweet potato. Exercise. More water.
I'm doing the Whole30 with two work buds and it's amazing! Not only do we keep each other accountable, but we also take turns bringing in lunch for each other. It's the best. The. Best.
Definitely by washing dishes as I cook (as much as possible).
Knowing I will feel better! That keeps me going and seeing all the creative ideas of others.
Multitasking!! I toss some sweet potatoes in the oven while cooking breakfast, Pressure cook a whole chicken for lunches while we are eating dinner and chop some veggies while watching Netflix! I always keep some fun compliant hot tea on hand when a craving creeps up. It really helps!! Food prep is really the most important!! Making a fun sauce for the week is great too! If I start to get bored I make spicy avocado mayo or something similar!
This round I've been doing ingredient prep instead of meal prep which has been very helpful. During previous rounds I found myself getting burned out on meals so it helps to have ingredients prepped and then I can turn them into whatever I'm in the mood for that day.
Two words: crock. pot.
Remember that you have the rest of your life to eat non-compliant foods if you decide that they're worth it. For the remainder of this @whole30, you're choosing your health and how you feel.
Club soda w lemon or lime.
I make extra of the meals I know I love so they are on hand and easy to grab and eat.
Having pre chopped veggies makes prepping dinner super quick and hard boiled eggs make breakfast portable for days I'm in a rush.
Meal prepping every Sunday and looking up new recipes to add more variety!
Actually making and sticking to grocery lists!
When making a meal, I always make extra to ensure I have leftovers for times I'm to tired to cook or need something fast so I have no excuses to cheat.
Focusing on what I CAN have and not dwelling on what I can't have.
Chopping and storing frequent flier veggies - onions, peppers, celery, tomatoes, etc. - it helps make cooking during the week less of a to-do, and SO MANY LESS dishes somehow, even with the added Tupperware.
Parchment paper! So happy I have it! Herbal tea in the evenings, Lara bars I can throw in my purse, cooking large portions of food at a time and googling "before and after whole30" to stay motivated !
Lots of trips to the grocery store.
Every night I am taking journaling seriously and writing about my little victories for the day. I feel like it helps me reaffirm why I am in this and reiterate the good it's doing for my body. The mental part of this is harder than the physical, in my opinion, and I think you have to keep your head prepped as much as your food.
Hot sauce and avocado. I have one or both in every meal and I don't know what I'd do with out them. And honey crisp apples with almond butter. It's super sweet, but doesn't feel like a dessert, and sometimes all the meat makes me feel heavy so I like to lighten it up with a fruit meal.
Pinterest for meal ideas and Trader Joes for alot of compliant food in one stop.
Having a number of compliant mayos, vinegrettes, sauces and all the pico de gallo to throw on meats and veggies.
Hard boiling eggs! I boil a dozen on Sunday. So great to have on hand for snacks, salad toppings or an easy lunch when my meal planning falls apart.
Using an excel spreadsheet, I Plan a 3 meal a day menu for a 2 week period and make my grocery list at the same time on all the same spreadsheet. I print it out and take it with me to the grocery store so I am certain not to forget anything. This also helps the budget!
I would say not going out to eat definitely makes it easier. It gives me less opportunity to make a bad food choice and eliminates the temptation. And I save sooo much money in the process too.
I love making a list on the fridge if what I can eat for snacks, plus the meal plan for the whole month. It's fun to cross if days on the calendar too!
Surrounding myself with positive messages and healthy food pages. Seeing healthy food pics in your newsfeed is so helpful!
Less temptation equals higher success. No restaurant and no social gatherings I can avoid. I know you can survive and still go out but making it easy on ourselves at the initial part of this!
I've given myself time this week to rest! I've gone to bed earlier than usual every night and have even taken some naps....the extra rest has helped me a lot!!
Eating leftovers from dinner for lunch the next day. It's so nice to not have to think about lunch!
Have meat thawed and pre-cook meat. If the meat is ready it's just easier to throw in veggies.
Hand writing myself notes and sticking them on the fridge to stay focused. E.g. - You've done harder things, It's only 30 days, Don't you dare give up, 100% is easier than 99%.
Cleaning out the fridge, pantry and freezer made a HUGE difference.
Stay busy with house projects.
Appreciating each bite of every food I choose- everything that crosses my lips with full of nutrients I need, so why stress about ratios, macronutrients, high carb, low carb blah blah blah.
Spending time with others also doing the Whole30.
What's your favorite Whole30 tip or trick? Leave it in the comments!