Whole30 Prep – Stock up and Shop!

Now that you’ve cleaned out your pantry and removed all the non-approved foods, you’re ready to hit the grocery store, right?

Wrong.

Although it’s extremely tempting to let your excitement get the best of you and send you running to the store to stock up on proteins, tons of healthy vegetables and fruit, and good fats like avocado, coconut oil, and ghee; STOP. Take a breath. Grab a pen and a notebook, and make a meal plan and a shopping list. Otherwise, this is what will happen.

I can’t stress enough the importance of creating a meal plan and shopping list before you head to the store, especially when you’re doing a Whole30. Two of the keys to success are having a kitchen stocked with good food, and having an idea of what you’re going to do with it because trust me, there will be days where you won’t want to cook. There will be days when you don’t want to eat any of the things in your house, but having food on hand makes it that much easier to resist temptation. Plus, you’ll have much less waste and sacrificial produce if you start with a plan. You know what I mean – how many times do you end up opening your crisper drawer to find a head of lettuce that’s growing fur, or something that may once have been a cucumber but now you’re not so sure? By knowing exactly what you need and what you’ll use it for, you not only save time but money as well.

bearfamilystrong.com | whole30shoppingtrip

So what should you focus on?

This shouldn’t be the first time you’ve heard this, but when you step foot inside your grocery store of choice, shopping list in hand, you’ll want to spend approximately 95% of your time shopping the perimeter of the store. And really, you’re only going to focus on about half of the perimeter of the store – namely the produce department and the meat department, with a quick hop over to the eggs.

bearfamilystrong.com | whole30 staples

Here are some of my favorite Whole30 meal staples (tailored to February on the East Coast):

– eggs                                                  

– Roaster Chicken                                 – canned seafood (crab, salmon, tuna, sardines)      

– ground beef and turkey                        – chicken breast and thighs

–  fresh, wild caught fish                          – pork shoulder roast         

– Avocadoes                                         –  leafy greens, spinach, spring mix, butter lettuce

– sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots, parsnips

– fermented foods such as kimchi or sauerkraut

 

What about snacks and “extras”?

bearfamilystrong.com | whole30snacks

Although the Whole30 program focuses on three meals a day (plus pre- and post- workout “meals” when necessary) and limited to no snacking, things come up. Maybe your breakfast wasn’t enough to get you all the way to lunch one day. Maybe you stayed at work a little later than normal one night and are looking at an extra long commute before dinner. Maybe your body just needs some additional calories. It’s okay – just make sure you aren’t making these snacks an everyday occurrence.

Some of my favorite snacks and extras:

– sugar snap peas                         – prosciutto slices   

– raw unsalted nuts (my favorites are macadamias, cashews, and pumpkin seeds)

– no sugar added dried cherries (used sparingly)

– carrot chips                               – fresh green or black olives

– baby bananas                            – granny smith apples

Epic bars                                   – Kit’s organic Cashew bars (only the Cashew bar is Whole30 approved)

Artisana individual nut butter packets (my favorites are pecan and walnut)

 

But eating meal and vegetables every day sounds pretty boring.

bearfamilystrong.com | whole30 extras

Eating meat and vegetables every day can be pretty boring – if you’re only eating meat and vegetables. What do I mean by that? Well, there are tons of Whole30 ways to spice up your meals. Some of my favorites:

– 21 seasoning salute                    – south african smoke seasoning

– green tomatillo salsa                   – spicy brown mustard

– Frank’s Red Hot                          – Fish Sauce (look for no sugar added)

– jarred jalapenos/banana peppers  – guacamole (watch your ingredients)

– Various tomato sauces (look for varieties with no sugars!)

– fresh or dried herbs                     – Coconut Aminos

 

What about drinks? How will I survive without my (insert sugary beverage here)!

Fortunately for me I stopped drinking soda years ago, I’ve never been much of a juice person, and I already drink my coffee black. Nevertheless, you can survive for 30 days without the diet cokes and your morning orange juice – here are some great alternatives:

– sparkling water (plain)                      – flavored La Croix sparkling water

– unsweetened brewed tea                  – loose leaf brewed teas

– coconut water (no sugar added)      – plain water with lemon/lime/cucumber slices

What about pantry staples?

bearfamilystrong.com | whole30 pantry staples

In addition to buying the items on your shopping list from the meal plan I know you’ve already sat down to write, here are a couple of items every Whole30 pantry should include:

– ghee (store bought or make your own!)          – coconut oil

– apple cider vinegar                                        – other vinegar varieties (balsamic, champagne, red wine)

– olive, sesame, avocado, macadamia nut oil     – canned or jarred olives, capers, artichoke hearts

– canned tuna/salmon/sardines                         – thai curry paste (green/red/yellow)

– tomato paste/sauce                                       – coconut milk (full fat, watch for no added ingredients)

 

 

This is by no means a comprehensive list, and everything is going to be based on your own personal preferences. What’s important is to have a variety of clean, whole food on hand so that you’ll never find yourself standing in front of the refrigerator with no idea what to make. (Sure, there will be times when you have no idea what to make – but having a well stocked kitchen gives you options!)

Let’s get ready to Whole30!

Advertisements

Sunday Food Prep

Welcome to another edition of Sunday Food Prep! As I’ve mentioned previously I like to spend a couple hours on Saturday or Sunday afternoon to prepare a ton of food – usually in the form of protein – for the Husband and I to have on hand for the upcoming week. Before we got married I would use my weekends to sit down and prepare my weekly menu and shopping list so that every evening after work I knew exactly what I would be making for dinner and what I’d be taking to work for breakfast and lunch. Now that we are both working full time (usually with conflicting schedules) and because my commute is double what it was before we moved, I’ve found that creating a weekly menu and cooking a somewhat elaborate dinner each night isn’t manageable anymore. (And it usually ends up with take-out or dinner at a restaurant because we either don’t feel like cooking or don’t know what to cook.) It’s much easier for us to have pre-cooked protein options on hand to use as a base for a meal, filling in the blanks with whatever vegetables we have on hand. I do still come up with a suggested meal plan – generally a list of meals we can create with whatever meat we have – so I can buy vegetables I know we’ll use, but it’s definitely not as in depth or organized as it used to be. And that’s OK with us.

So here’s what I came up with for the upcoming week:

#sundayfoodprep | eatwriterunrepeat.com

Hard Boiled Eggs: Every week, without fail, we boil hard boiled eggs. It’s perfect for breakfasts, snacks, or a quick post-workout protein hit.

Hamburger Patties: Also one of my Husband’s favorites – I kept these simple and combined ground beef, onion, and some spicy Montreal steak seasoning before forming the beef into patties and tossing them on a hot grill.

Brined Chicken Breasts: I’m so glad the weekend was nice enough to grill, because grilled chicken tastes so much better than baked, in my opinion. I seasoned two breasts with a spicy cajun seasoning blend and left one plain.

Seasoned Ground Beef: I kept this simple as well and browned some ground beef with onion, garlic salt, parsley and cracked pepper. We’ll use this any number of ways – on eggs, on sautéed vegetables or salads; stuffed into a sweet potato or acorn squash…it’s super easy and extremely versatile.

Baked Sweet Potatoes: Since we had the grill on for the hamburgers and chicken, Kevin wrapped two sweet potatoes in foil and threw them on the grill as well. Good to have on hand for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.

Roast Chicken with Mirepoix (carrots, celery and onion): I planned in advance to make an oven-roast chicken for Sunday dinner so we’ll have extra chicken and vegetables to use throughout the week as well. Plus I plan on using the remains of the chicken to make bone broth – recipe coming soon!

Chipotle Aioli: Otherwise known as homemade mayonnaise with some chipotle powder mixed in – I use this as a topping for build-your-own-burgers, a dipping sauce for sweet potato fries or roasted asparagus, or added to egg or chicken salad for a quick lunch at work.

And that’s that! After only a couple hours of work I now have enough variety to create an entire week’s worth of meals for the Husband and me. Here’s an example of what our week might look like:

sample meal plan | eatwriterunrepeat.com

Enjoy!

Sunday Food Prep

Happy Monday! I am in the middle of enjoying my lovely day off, thanks to the President’s Day holiday! (To those of you working today, you have my sympathies.)

presidents day

With the snow day on Thursday we almost had a five day weekend, which would have been awesome – but I’m definitely thankful for a three day weekend instead of the regular two! And given that this is the last major holiday until Memorial Day – ugh – I tried to make the most of my time!

Kevin had to work on Valentine’s Day (we celebrated on Thursday instead), but I did make homemade pizza and took in it to work to surprise him for dinner. Unfortunately for me he worked again on Saturday, and so  I used my evening alone to catch up on some homework for my Perspectives class. I had fallen hopelessly behind (definitely not used to being in college anymore – was there this much reading involved when I was an undergrad??), so it was nice to have some uninterrupted time to really dig in to God’s word.

homework

I attended church on Sunday morning, came home, and immediately got started on my weekly food prep. You may remember from my Whole30 recaps that I’ve been spending a few hours on Saturday or Sunday prepping food for the week ahead so that Kevin and I always have quick and easy meals to grab and go. Because Kevin’s job isn’t conducive to a sit-down meal I like to pack him foods that are easy to carry – hard boiled eggs are great, sliced chicken breast, meatballs, and chopped fruit or veggies. I also like to keep some snacks on hand like bars (I like Kit’s Organic bars by Clif – the berry almond and cashew flavors are whole30 approved!) and beef jerky packs (try PrimalPacs – also Whole30 approved!)

Here’s what I had on hand when all was said and done (about four hours of work):

sunday food prep

You’ll notice most of my stuff is protein – I prefer to cook my vegetable sides the same day I’m going to eat them, so when I do my food prep I stick to protein, sauces or condiments, and vegetables that still taste great as leftovers – hence the gigantic bowl of cauliflower fried rice. Here’s what I made:

Curried meatballs: I combined ground beef, diced onions, garlic salt, curry powder, cumin, salt and pepper and baked in a 375 oven for about 25 minutes.

Cajun hamburger patties: Kevin loves taking hamburger patties to work, so I seasoned a bunch with my favorite cajun spice blend and cooked them on the stove. Normally we’d grill them, but the three feet of snow piled up between us and our grill on the patio sort of deterred me.

Hard boiled eggs: I use hb eggs to make the easiest breakfast ever, to have sprinkled with salt and pepper as a snack, or to whip up a quick egg salad if I have homemade mayonnaise on hand.

Baked Chicken Breasts: Again, these would normally be grilled if it weren’t for all the snow. I started brining my chicken breasts based on this recipe from Melissa Joulwan and then I play around with whatever seasonings I feel like using. This time I seasoned half the chicken with a moroccan seasoning blend, and left the other half plain. Brining the chicken takes a while, but trust me, it is so worth it. The chicken comes out deliciously moist and flavorful and pretty much tastes good with anything.

Cilantro Pesto: Recipe for this delicious condiment coming soon! I originally bought cilantro to try to make cilantro-lime cauliflower rice and made fried rice instead, leaving me with an overabundance of cilantro instead. But worry not! I scoured my pantry and decided to make pesto instead! (Hint: it’s the perfect condiment for the plain baked chicken breasts I just mentioned.)

Cauliflower Fried Rice: This has been one of my favorite side dishes lately, I think because it’s so versatile and I eat it with everything. Plus, a head of cauliflower is $3.49 at the store and makes approximately three hundred servings, so it’s a total win.

Chopped peppers: I should have done this with onions as well – Kevin and I use diced peppers and onions in just about everything, so dicing them up in advance saves so much time when you’re actually getting ready to cook.

So there you have it! I finished all my food prep just in time to wolf down some dinner, grab my books, and head off to class – it certainly made for a busy Sunday!

Kevin and I started our Monday off with something we haven’t done in a long time – coffee on our patio!

winter coffee

The temperature outside this morning hovered at about 26 degrees, but with the sun shining brightly we decided to brave it and it felt SO good to be outside! Plus having coffee on our balcony/porch/patio in the morning is a huge part of Kevin and my relationship and with the polar vortex hitting the East Coast it’s been months since we’ve gotten to do it, so it was an extra special indulgence!

All in all it was a great weekend – here’s hoping the rest of the week is just a nice!