Often, I share stuff on Instagram and assume that everyone sees it, but that’s not often the case! In case you don’t follow me or aren’t on that platform, Sean and I have been doing Whole30 since January 6. We started late because we had food in our fridge that we didn’t want to go to waste… and because I needed the time to research recipes and plan meals! All along, I’ve said I’d wait until the end to share the recipes I’m using, approved foods, and our general Whole30 experience… but I got impatient! So here’s part 1 for now.
p.s. Most of these images aren’t style or curated… which means they aren’t up to par with the quality of imagery you usually see here on the blog. I’ve been documenting the process with my iPhone, so apologies for the on-the-fly aesthetic!
Part 1 of Our Whole30 Experience (Recipes, Meal Plans, & More!)
How I Plan Meals for Whole30
So… in case you’re not aware, I am a planner. I don’t function well in chaos, so I plan accordingly and I plan well. Once we committed to really doing Whole30, I fell down the rabbit hole. Naturally, I started on Pinterest. From there, I identified the recipes that I was most excited about and created a fake calendar on Google Sheets where I listed out each meal for each day week by week. Here’s a screenshot:
While deciding on the meals, I kept in mind ways I could share ingredients and use up leftovers. Usually that meant that any veggies leftover from dinner were on the next day’s lunch salad.
In terms of meal prep, I’ve been spending about 4-5 hours on Sunday each week cooking. It was then that I realized just how annoying it was to navigate to an individual website for a recipe on my phone or tablet each time. To make my life even easier and more efficient, I copied and pasted ALL of the recipes I wanted to try into a Google doc. I made sure to include the URL to the original blog post in case I needed additional information.
I’ve loved this technique because I can easily make notes about all the tweaks I’ve made to the recipes. A couple girlfriends and I have a text thread going about Whole30, so we’ve shared the Google doc and tips for surviving this project.
The Whole30 Recipes We’ve Enjoyed
Speaking of recipes… I noticed that many of the recipes where I completely followed each step were somewhat of a disappoint. I consider myself to be a good home cook and someone who knows what she’s doing. And I say this without trying to throw shade or anything: some of these recipes felt like no one had actually tested them. And they are from some well-known influencers and bloggers!
I’m not going to share the recipes that I thought were poorly written because I prefer to keep things positive. Instead, I want to share the recipes I’ve really enjoyed, as well as some of the tweaks that I’ve made along the way so that they were more to my liking. Usually that means a different cooking technique, more garlic, or the use of a different oil.
Hands down, this recipe is my absolute FAVORITE of the entire Whole30 journey. It’s so easy, so satisfying, and so filling. The aioli really takes the entire meal to the next level and is an idea that I plan to copy for future dinners. The only change I have made while making this dish is to use garlic powder to season the steak and potatoes instead of using freshly minced garlic. I felt like it was too easy for the garlic to burn when added to the pan.
These meatballs are LEGIT. I honestly wouldn’t change a thing about the recipe and I plan to use it again in the future, even after we’re done with Whole30. Serve them over sautéed broccoli rabe, spaghetti squash or compliant cauliflower pasta.
This tuna salad is a great lunch — and super fast to make. I serve it over baby kale and add the juice of one lemon wedge to brighten it up. Also, add in a touch of mayo + a handful of sunflower seeds for crunch.
OMG this caesar salad is sooooo good. And the macadamia crumble is out of this world. I’ve been making double batches of it so I can put it on other salads.
My Whole30 Experience As Of Week 2
We’re at the halfway mark of our Whole30 experience, so I feel confident in being able to share my feelings about it. I’m not gonna lie, it’s been hard for me to transition. There are some foods I really miss, like cream in my morning coffee or a glass of wine at the end of a stressful day.
One of my biggest concerns when starting was how I would unwind and relax. And let me tell you… that first week was ROUGH. I was so antsy at night that I put myself to bed at 8:30 for a week straight. I had zero chill. Thankfully, I have settled into being calmer at night again and not feeling like I need something to numb my brain.
I’ve actually really been enjoying the cooking and planning portion of this experience. Using our new kitchen is a dream and it feels like all I wanna do is be in it, making delicious things. I’ve learned new techniques, gained an appreciation for new ingredients, and explored a few new types of meal. There are definitely some things that I will still be doing after Whole30 is over. That alone makes me feel like it’s been worth it.
One thing I have been struggling with is the impact on my social life. A good friend’s birthday happened last week and I didn’t feel like I could properly celebrate because I hate being the picky eater at a restaurant and I couldn’t drink. We ended up doing an intimate home cooked meal, but I was still really disappointed in missing out. Thankfully, we’re doing this in January when people don’t go out as much and there are fewer social events. I’m not sure I’d be able to stick to it if it was summer!
Breakfast has been a major issue for me. I am weird about eggs — I only like them when the yolks are super runny or when they are covered in cheese. And I definitely do NOT like the white part. It’s too rubbery. Also, don’t even talk to me about hard boiled eggs. No, thank you. I also struggled with breakfast because my body usually doesn’t like it eat first thing in the morning. I need an hour or so to wake up… and by then it’s basically lunch time. So for the first week, I struggled through forcing myself to eat breakfast. But then on week 2, I cut myself some slack and have been only drinking my usual coffee in the morning. I’m definitely much happier now that I’m not forcing something I don’t want.
And lastly… the waste. I have REALLY been struggling with all the packaging waste that comes with doing Whole30. It seems like all of the meats come in plastic, the nuts are in plastic bags, everything has WAY too many wrappers. As much as I can, I’ve bought in bulk at local markets and used my own bags. But it’s a balance of shopping at cost-effective sources (like Costco) or paying more for something from a specialty store.
A few tips that have really helped:
- Add sunflower seeds to every salad — the crunch is SO GOOD.
- Label everything you make with masking tape so you know the date it was made and what it is.
- Each dinner with lit candles to make it feel a little bit more special.
- Keep simple shredded chicken on hand to add to a salad for more protein.
- A few clementines help me curb sugar cravings.
- If you want an easy taco bowl, sauté together ground beef, spices, and cauliflower rice. This has helped me get used to the texture and flavor of the ‘rice.’
- Find a few really good sauces that you like… and then put them on EVERYTHING.
- When you’re really tired of drinking water, coconut water or Spindrift really helps to boost morale.
- Have a support system — I don’t know what I’d do if I didn’t have our text thread to complain, share recipes, and generally laugh at each other.
I still have a lot of additional experiences and thoughts to share with you about our Whole30 experience, but I’m going to save it for part 2 which I’ll be sharing after we complete the entire challenge on February 5. What did you think of this post? I’d love to know more about your Whole30 journey, recipes you loved, etc!