Get my best 7 Whole30 Meal Prep tips to set yourself up for success with this nutritional reset, whether it's your first Whole30 or your 10th!
Have you ever tried doing a Whole30?
I have. While it can be challenging, I also think it's totally doable…with the help of meal prep that is.
Obviously, I think meal prep is important all of the time. I mean, I've built my career around it. Trust me though, meal planning and meal prep are never more important than when doing a reset diet like the Whole30.
This is especially true if your current eating style is substantially different from the Whole30.
When I did my first Whole30, I knew I'd only be successful if I had enough delicious, healthy food prepped. I never wanted to find myself hungry with nothing compliant to reach for.
I learned a lot along the way and wanted to share my best Whole30 meal prep tips with you today. Whether you're completing a Whole30 this September, next January, or any time of the year, these will help you find success. First though, I want to share a little bit of background about Whole30 for anyone who's totally new to it.
And if you'd like to hear more about my personal experience, including pros, cons and plenty of Whole30 tips, I talk about it here!
What can you eat on Whole30?
Whole30 is actually fairly similar to the Paleo diet, but with a few more restrictions. With Whole30, you'll avoid alcohol and all sugar (including honey and pure maple syrup). These can all be consumed in moderation as part of a Paleo lifestyle. Like Paleo, Whole30 does not include dairy, grains, legumes or processed foods/additives (including carrageenans, MSG or sulfites).
I also chose to abstain from caffein for my first Whole30, but that part's totally up to you!
So what can you eat on Whole30?
Rather than focusing on foods that you'll be missing out on, focus on all of the delicious foods you can have on Whole30.
Fruits, vegetables (including starchy ones) and high quality proteins like unprocessed meat, seafood, eggs and nuts are the foundation of the Whole30 diet. Healthy fats like olive oil and coconut oil are also allowed. You can also enjoy tea, coffee and sparkling water.
Whole30 Meal Prep Tips
Now that we've covered the basics, let's move on to my best Whole30 meal prep tips! I know meal prep can seem like a lot of work. Trust me though, you are not going to want to start from scratch cooking healthy dinners each night when you get home from work.
1. Prep Your Pantry
Before you plan your meals and make your Whole30 grocery list, scan your pantry for items that aren't on the approved list.
If you have things like rice, beans, quinoa, crackers, honey, etc., remove them from your pantry for the month. Just place the items in an air-tight container and get them out of your kitchen! That way you won't have to stare at any favorite foods you can't currently have during your Whole30.
2. Prep Your Produce
This is actually quite similar to the meal prep advice I always give, regardless of Whole30.
The number one thing you can do to set yourself up for healthy eating is to wash and prep your produce for the week. I actually love doing this right when I get home from the grocery store (or receive my grocery delivery).
I leave my produce, and anything else I plan to prep, on my kitchen counter and tell myself I can't put it away until it's prepped. Clutter-free counters are my happy place, so this is a big motivator for me.
So what does prepping produce for the week look like?
- Wash and Chop Fruit – I always wash all of my fruit and chop things that need to be chopped like melons, pineapple, strawberries, etc. If you're tight on time you can also opt for fruit that takes little to no prep. This might include apples, oranges, blueberries, raspberries, bananas, etc.
- Wash and Chop Snacking Veggies – I don't know about you but I am so much more likely to choose veggies for a snack if they're already prepped, sitting in their beautiful glass containers, waiting for me. This may include bell peppers, cucumbers, carrots, etc. Again, you can also choose items like baby carrots, sugar snap peas and cherry tomatoes that require little prep.
- Roast a Big Pan of Veggies – In addition to raw vegetables, I like to have roasted on hand. I frequently use these as part of my lunch or as an easy side for dinner. Don't forget to include some starchy veggies here, especially if you're not used to avoiding grains. I roast sweet potatoes pretty much every week. Regular potatoes, any kind of squash and cauliflower are all great options as well.
- Prep Recipe-Specific Veggies – I also take a look at my meal plan for the week and identify any vegetables that need to be prepped for specific recipes. For example, if I'm making a stir fry, I'll chop all of the veggies ahead. That way all I have to do the day-of is sauté them with some protein. That's SO much more manageable at the end of a busy day than getting out my cutting board and starting from scratch!
- Make a Dressing / Dip – Another thing that is guaranteed to get me to eat more veggies is a delicious homemade salad dressing or dip. If you want to keep it simple, plan to dip your veggies in almond butter or tahini.
3. Prep a Little Extra
When I did my first Whole30, I doubled pretty much all of the dinner recipes I made. That way I knew I would always have something delicious ready for lunch the next day.
Whether you use it for lunch or for leftovers the next night, doubling recipes makes meal prep and cooking so much easier. You don't have to come up with a new recipe every night, especially when many of the Whole30 recipes may be outside of your normal recipe rotation.
4. Choose Simple Recipes
Over the years of helping people begin meal planning and prepping, there's a common mistake I've seen countless people make time and again – overcomplicating the recipes.
When looking at Pinterest or a glossy cookbook, it's tempting to choose the most beautiful, ambitious recipes. If those don't fit into your actual lifestyle and schedule though, one of two things is likely to happen:
1. You won't actually have time to prep the meals, the food will go to waste and you'll wind up ordering takeout.
2. You will follow through with prepping and cooking the meals but it will be so exhausting you won't want to plan and cook homemade meals again any time soon.
Instead, keep it simple! A good formula for a Whole30 meal is Protein + Green Veggie + Starchy Veggie (or Fruit!)
Even though this seems quite simple, your meals could look quite different each night. You might make salmon with roasted potatoes and broccoli one night and pork chops with cabbage & apples the next.
You might want to plan super simple meals like this for most nights and then mix in one or two more involved recipes if you like to cook.
Keeping the recipes simple makes embarking on a new way of eating manageable!
5. Don't Forget Whole30 Snacks!
Even if you're not usually a snacker, you might find yourself feeling hungrier between meals as you adjust to avoiding grains and dairy. I definitely recommend having a few Whole30 snacks on hand just in case.
Here are a few ideas:
- Celery + Almond Butter
- Pistachios + Raisins
- Veggies + Mashed Avocado (Or my Guac Stuffed Mini Peppers!)
- Blueberries + Almonds
- Carrots + Chimichurri
6. Assess and Adapt
When you sit down to meal plan for your second week of Whole30, make sure to take a few minutes to reflect on how you felt the first week.
Did you get bored with your meals or did you have enough variety?
Was the amount of prep and cooking overwhelming or did it feel doable?
Did you find yourself getting hangry or did you have enough tasty, compliant food on-hand?
Make adjustments for the week ahead! Simplify your meals or prep a little extra food if you need to to set yourself up for success.
7. Consider an Easy Whole30 Meal Plan
If you're thinking Whole30 sounds pretty amazing but there's no way you have time to do all of that planning, I'd love to help!
I have a Whole30-compliant 5 week Reset Meal Plan that makes the whole thing super easy. It's not just a selection of Whole30 meal prep recipes. My meal plans include “Prep Day” instructions that tell you exactly how to prep everything ahead so it's easy to grab healthy meals throughout the week.
These reset meal plans include 4 easy Whole30 dinners, 1 breakfast, 1 salad and 1 snack for each week. I only include 4 dinners because I like to account for leftovers or nights where you just want to do your own thing. That said, when I used these meal plans for my own Whole30, I doubled all of the dinner recipes. That way I had plenty of leftovers for other nights or lunches. You can also easily add a protein to the salad and use it for another dinner or for lunches.
Click the button below for more details!