Complete Whole30 Guide – How to Survive a Whole30 (With Menu & Shopping List) – making Whole30 doable with this foolproof basic survival guide, complete with the best tips, meal plan, shopping list, and links to easy family friendly recipes.
Are you planning for or on the fence about beginning a Whole30? Whole30 seems crazy intimidating, right?? I never thought I would survive a full 30 days (without pizza, chocolate, and wine!), but I did and it was so worth it! With the right mindset and planning, it’s easier than you think. Over the last few years, I have become ultra passionate about the Whole30 program and clean eating lifestyle and wanted to make it more approachable for those considering the journey. I hope this Whole30 guide will provide some encouragement and simplify the process with some helpful tips and easy recipes.
What is Whole30?
So what is Whole30? The Whole30 concept aims to eat only clean, unprocessed foods for 30 days, eliminating known inflammatory and allergic triggers. No dairy, sugar, grains, soy, or processed foods of any kind. After the 30 days are up, certain food groups are slowly reintroduced in order to determine their true effect on the body. It’s all about finding balance and your own personal “food freedom” based on what works for you. Whole30 is not necessarily meant to be a lifestyle, but a tool for identifying specific ingredients that your body doesn’t tolerate well and facing those unhealthy food relationships head-on.
Should I Try Whole30?
Whole30 is a great option for anyone looking to further their health journey, improve their relationship with food, or identify specific triggers. For me, it was the first time I really began to read food labels. Talk about eye opening! For some, it is about tackling the “sugar dragon” that has taken over daily food choices. For others, Whole30 is a tool for periodically eliminating toxins and resetting healthy eating habits. If you feel constantly fatigued, are pre-diabetic, have persistent digestive issues you can’t pinpoint, or just need a reset, Whole30 might be for you.
My Biggest Whole30 Takeaways-
Yes, both my husband and I lost weight. 9 pounds for me and 15 pounds for him on our most recent round. I’d be lying if weight loss wasn’t a big motivation. And don’t get me wrong, I felt great about that, but the non-scale victories were the life changing ones. Here’s what changed for me and what will motivate me to continue on a clean eating path and find my personal food freedom:
I sleep SO much better and have easier time falling asleep (and I’ve struggled with this my whole life!)
My energy level is AMAZING.
That disgusting bloated feeling is gone.
Reading food labels is crucial to healthy eating. Sugar is in EVERYTHING!
My kids are eating better and learning right along with me!
Treats and splurges can and will always be a part of my life, just not everyday!
Whole30 Survival Guide Tips for Success
Get the Book
Purchase it here or head to your library and pick up a copy of The Whole30: The 30 Day Guide to Total Health and Food Freedom. I can’t tell you how often I reference back to the book, for basic recipes, tips, and reminders of the rules. Still, even after completing multiple rounds, I learn something new every time I open this book. It provides the background and theory behind the plan and I love and appreciate the honest, matter of fact style. If you can’t get your hands on a copy of the book, do lots of online research and at the very least check out the Whole30 website, which has plenty of downloadable reference guides.
Find an Accountability Partner
I’m not saying you can’t do it alone, but I’m pretty certain your chances of success increase by like 1000% with a partner. My husband and I completed the round together and it was so helpful to have someone to talk through the ups and downs with. Also be sure to join my private Facebook Whole30 Support Group for tons of encouragement and built-in accountability partners. Another great tip I’ve heard from others…find a local friend and cut down on the cooking by sharing and trading meals. I used my Instagram stories as another way to keep myself accountable. I posted a picture of my meals 3 times a day – I treated it like my daily check-in with an accountability coach!
Make a Plan and Meal Prep!
I can’t emphasize this enough. Set a date to start, make a meal plan, and commit to a weekly meal prep session (check out these top 10 prep tips). Spoiler alert: you will be spending a lot of time in the kitchen so it’s best to be efficient with your time. Without a solid plan or time devoted to preparing, you may find yourself fumbling through the day to day grind of making meals. A weekly meal prep session will help keep things on track, save tons of time during the week, and prevent slip-ups. It’s harder to cheat when you have a fridge full of healthy prepared snacks and meals!
I like to stock my pantry and refrigerator with all of the basics. Thrive Market is a great way to save some money on all the favorite Whole30 pantry essentials. They have the BEST organic foods at a discount and it’s delivered right to your door. This is the way to go, especially if your local markets don’t carry some of the specialty items you’re looking for. Another great source is Butcher Box, which sources ethically raised, grass-fed, and organic meats. It’s also delivered right to your home and the quality is amazing.
By this, I mean look for others who have found success with Whole30, whether in the virtual web world or in your real life. Listen to their advice, ask questions, take inspiration from their stories, and follow their examples. Instagram is a great place to find inspiring bloggers and individuals, great recipes, and some much needed comraderie. Here are a few favorite Instagram accounts, including my own: @tastythin, @whole30recipes, @wholekitchensink, @physicalkitchness, @nomnompaleo, @thewholesisters
Keep it Simple
Look for recipes with minimal steps, that don’t require obscure ingredients, and that are familiar and family friendly. Trust me, this is not the time to attempt elaborate Pinterest meals or try new cooking techniques that are way outside your wheelhouse. You will quickly become overwhelmed and frustrated. Find easy favorite recipes that offer slight modifications to make them Whole30 approved. My blog is full of examples of this. Check out the Whole30 archives here.
Listen to your body
Whole30 will open your eyes to how your body reacts to certain foods. During the elimination phase, you will feel different and most likely a WHOLE lot better. Pay close attention to the changes you’re feeling, both good and bad. Document in a journal if it helps. Remember the purpose of this program is not necessarily to eat Whole30 forever, but to find your own food freedom based on what works for you. You’ll have lasting success if you LISTEN to your body, LEARN from the process, and IMPLEMENT changes after 30 days.
Basic Whole30 Recipes You’ll Want to Have on Hand
Instant Pot Shredded Chicken – for using in lunch meal prep and recipes throughout the week.
Whole30 Mayo – It’s delicious and perfect in everything from protein salads to Ranch dressing; I’m truly hooked on this homemade recipe made with avocado oil.
Whole30 Ranch Dressing – I prefer the homemade version so much to those you can buy, but either way, you’re going to want this in your fridge at all times!
Whole30 Chili – soups/chilis are super convenient for make ahead meals and this chili is one of my most popular recipes! Simple to make and so flavorful!
Homemade Seasoning Blends – skip expensive store bought spices full of MSG and other junk and make your own! They are a staple in my pantry and I use them in tons of my recipes!
Perfect Hard Boiled Eggs – make a great breakfast on-the-go or convenient snack!
Whole30 Breakfast Sausage Patties – delicious and free of sugar and preservatives, these quick sausage patties are also freezable.
Favorite Instant Pot Taco Meat – perfect for meal prep lunches or quick family taco night!
Essential Whole30 Items
Spices – stock up on basic spices and make your own seasoning blends for fast and easy flavor boosters
Avocado Oil – for making homemade mayo and cooking ALL the things, this is a must!
Ghee Butter – LOVE this, especially for my morning eggs.
Check out this Ultimate Whole30 Pantry Guide for more!
Whole30 Meal Plan & Shopping List
If you’re brand new to this, I’ve made it super easy to get started by putting together a 14 day meal plan and shopping lists with the most popular Whole30 recipes on my blog. The recipes here are simple and family friendly – also 100% approved by my husband and kids! If you’re already a pro, use this free printable template to make your own meal plans and grocery lists!
I hope this Whole30 Guide is helpful and inspiring! Don’t forget to leave a comment with your favorite tips to inspire others!
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Note: Post originally published in March 2018 and updated August 2019.