Whole 30: What can I eat?

My mother-in-law called Shawn the other day and I overheard her say, “I’m seriously considering doing the Whole 30 challenge…I see a lot of what we can’t eat, but what can we eat?”  That was a good question, and I’m glad that she asked because I’m sure that many people are wondering the same thing.  After taking out added sugar, grains (even whole grains), dairy, legumes (i.e. beans, lentils, soybean products), and certain food additives, one might think that there’s not much left.  But take a second look at the Whole 30 rules page, and the above list, and you’ll see that you can still load your plate with meats (avoid frying them, though), any fruits and vegetables of your choice, and nuts and seeds.  That leaves you with a lot when you think of it.

To make things a little easier, the Whole 30 website provides a pretty comprehensive shopping list that you can use to get ready for the Whole 30 challenge.  Of course, many Whole 30 compliant foods are not on the list provided on the website, so as long as the food doesn’t fall into one of the “foods to avoid” categories you should be fine.  If after reviewing the rules you are still wondering if a food you want to try meets the Whole 30 criteria, take a look at the Whole 30’s official “can I have…” page.  Or you can ask in the comments below and between Shawn and I, and the other challenge participants, we should be able to help answer your question.

Here are a few tips for planning out your menus during the challenge:

  • Keep it simpleYou will be more successful if you don’t try to create complex meals for your daily eating during the challenge.  You don’t need to scour the web for recipes.  Just eat like people used to before Pinterest.  Shawn and I pretty much plan to eat a grilled or baked meat with two “sides” for each meal during the week.  I have sides in parentheses because ideally, our sides of steamed, oven roasted, or sauteed/stir fried vegetables will take up much more of our plates than the meat.  On the weekends we may try a more complex meal from the Everyday Paleo cookbook that we borrowed from my sister-in-law, but for the most part we’re going for minimal preparation to save time, money, and our sanity.
  • Get menu ideas from others who have done the Whole 30 Program.  If you do a quick Google search, you’ll find many blogs where people have listed what they’ve eaten during their Whole 30 Program.  Blogger FishMama listed everything she ate while doing the Whole 30 on her blog Good Cheap Eats.  You literally could eat exactly what she ate and get through the Whole 30 without breaking a sweat.  However, I didn’t take the time to review her meals to make sure that each and every one of them were Whole 30 compliant, so you may want to do that on your own.  I’m sure that there are several others out there who have just as carefully documented everything they ate while doing the Whole 30, so do your own research and see what you can find.
  • Use those specialty spices that you’ve only used once. Or twice.  If you’re like me, you have several spices in your cabinet that you bought for a special recipe, but you haven’t used them since.  Liven up your meats and veggies with those spices.  I was surprised to find how good grilled chicken thighs tasted when seasoned with ground ginger, salt and pepper.  I also seasoned chicken thighs with chipotle chili powder, salt and pepper; placed some sliced onions across the top; and baked them – delicious!  Try browning some ground beef with chopped onions and bell pepper and season it with salt, pepper, and curry powder.  The possibilities are endless!
  • Try some new foods.  Doing the Whole 30 will be a lot more fun if you try some new foods during this time.  I encourage you to look over the Whole 30 shopping list and pick out a couple of foods that you’ve never or rarely had and try them during the challenge.  Do a quick Google search and find out how to cook them.  You may find a new favorite food.

How have you used specialty spices and seasonings to liven up your foods?

What food from the Whole 30 shopping list do you plan to try that you’ve never or have rarely eaten before?

Share in the comments below.

5 Responses to “Whole 30: What can I eat?

  • I want to do the challenge but I’m concerned whether or not I can afford it on my budget. I’m also concerned about restricting certain things being pregnant. I know sites have said its safe for pregnant and nursing women but honestly I’m not convinced with regards to pregnant women. Maybe I’m too paranoid about getting enough of certain nutrients, with eliminating them from my diet. Some things are easy to cut out, others are harder to cut because I think my body needs them or because theyre the least expensive options to purchase when shopping… #help

    • MrsMcClendon
      3 years ago

      Hey Darra, thank you for posting those concerns as I know that a lot of others probably share them…especially the budget component.

      What food groups are you concerned about eliminating while pregnant? Let me know and I’ll try to offer some suggestions. I can definitely relate being that I was just pregnant myself. You don’t want to deprive your developing child of any good thing. You still probably should talk it over with your doctor, but from my experience, it seems to me that you should be able safely to do the Whole 30 program while pregnant. I would think that you could get all your necessary nutrients from meat, fruit, and vegetables, but if you think some would be lacking, let me know.

      I also have some suggestions about making the Whole 30 work with your budget. Let’s say that you have a weekly budget of $50 a week for two people. Maybe you could allot about $20 for meat and about $30 on frozen vegetables and fruits. If you look for items on sale, you usually can find quality meat ranging from $2-$3 a pound. And our local grocery store seems to always be having a 10 for $10 sale on frozen vegetables. That means you could get between 6 and 10 pounds of meat and 30 bags of vegetables a week! That’s a lot of food for two people. I think that you may also have some wiggle room there to buy some fresh fruits and veggies and other things (i.e. eggs, nuts and seeds) if you reduce how much of the meat and frozen veggies you buy. You may not be able to get all organic vegetables or fruits or the free-range, grass-fed meats all of the time, but thankfully the Whole 30 program doesn’t require that. You might also be limited in the range of specialized recipes you’d be able to prepare, but again, I think that the key to being successful on the Whole 30 is to keep meals simple. I believe that focusing on a meat and two or three vegetable sides at each meal is a way to minimize stress in menu planning and keep the costs low.

      Another suggestion is to buy food that’s in season as much as possible. Out of season food has to travel long distances and ends up costing more. Your local farmers market can be a good option for for relatively inexpensive in season, local vegetables.

      I admit that all of this is just guesswork. I haven’t done the Whole 30 program on a $50 budget…so that’s my challenge for the week. I’m going to try and do a week’s worth of Whole 30 meals on a $50 budget for my husband and I. I’ll start on Sunday and let you know how it went on Saturday. Stay tuned…

  • Geraldine McClendon
    3 years ago

    I know I’m in now, after checking out the blog by FishMama and your suggestion of a grilled meat with two sides, this should be a breeze. Thanks Veronica!
    Oh yeah, I am making my own mayonnaise, I didn’t know it was that easy.

    • MrsMcClendon
      3 years ago

      Yay! I’m glad that you’ll be joining us! FishMama’s blog post was a big help for me too.
      Please let me know when you make that mayo. I’d like to try it and maybe do my own…homemade chicken salad anyone?

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