Being prepared is allll about meal prepping.
Meal prepping is the part of eating real food that takes the most activation energy, time, and is a huge deterrent for many people. It’s the part that took longest to learn, and sometimes I just can’t even, and I pull out a frozen meal or eat my “things that taste great with almond butter” plate (starring: plantain chips, carrots, and apples).
Speaking of frozen meals, I’ll launch right into it with tip #1:
When you make a lot of something, freeze two servings.
I can’t be the only one who gets tired of eating the same leftovers night after night. Before starting the Whole30, I got into a rhythm where I’d cook a compliant meal in a big batch on the weekend and freeze some servings in Ziploc bags, labeled with what it was. This prep definitely saved my butt on days when school was in session and I’d forgotten to buy more veggies (ratatouille time!), or if the weather was colder than usual and I didn’t feel like cold lunch (hello, butternut squash and sausage soup).
Since beginning the Whole30, whenever I make something and don’t feel like I’m going to eat it all by the time it goes bad, I stick it in a bag and freeze it. Getting bored with your food is the enemy of a great Whole30; prep will ensure that you don’t get tired of your meals!
On the weekend, or whenever you have more time than usual, make 2-3 proteins and a couple of veggie dishes.
I always make sure I have enough different things that I can eat them in various combinations for at least three days. Usually, I have a little time to run to the store on Wednesday or Thursday, but I try to only need veggies. Here’s an example of things I would prep on a weekend day:
- Curried Carrot and Sweet Potato Soup (Whole30 Cookbook)
- Homemade sausage or meatballs
- Roasted brussels sprouts and broccoli (about 1 pack of each, pre-cut, from Trader Joe’s)
- Roasted sweet potatoes (dicing these takes forever, so at least dice up a few potatoes when you’ve got the time)
- Chicken thighs or whole shredded chicken
This menu would give me enough for a few different meal options. Maybe I’d have the homemade sausage with sweet potatoes for Monday breakfast, brussels and bacon for lunch and chicken thighs with soup for dinner. On Tuesday, I’d have bacon and broccoli for breakfast, a shredded chicken salad with greens for lunch, and sweet potatoes with meatballs for dinner. And so on, and so on.
The plus side of this menu is that there’s only one or two real recipes (homemade meatballs/sausage, carrot soup); the rest of the prep is ripping and dumping for roasting (veggies) or slow cooking (whole chicken).
When you have no time, roast.
Roasting is Whole30 microwaving. It’s quick, super simple, and makes for delicious meals.
My favorite weeknight quick breakfast prep for the next few mornings is to slice up some Aidell’s Chicken and Apple Sausages (fully cooked, but I like to char ’em) and roast them on a big sheet pan with sweet potatoes or brussels sprouts for maybe 30 mins. Sometimes I’ll season them with curry and cumin, sometimes cinnamon, sometimes just salt and pepper and garlic powder, and it’s extra tasty when everything is cooked in olive oil.
Meats are always great roasted, as are root vegetables of any kind. I also like roasting kale until it’s super melt-in-my-mouth crispy. Yum.
Remix your leftovers.
Get some Tessemae’s in your life. They didn’t have Whole30 compliant condiments (that I was aware of) last time I did the Whole30, but these have changed my life. This past week, I had a big pan of roasted butternut squash chunks and kale from one dinner, plus some crispy turkey (from the Whole30 cookbook) from a different meal. I put them together and added some Tessemae’s mild buffalo sauce (also comes in HOT!) and it was an entirely different meal than either of the first two. I could’ve added spinach underneath and made it a salad by putting a dressing on top. Food is so versatile, especially when previously roasted!
Even if you don’t have jazzy condiments, make sure you eat foods in a variety of combinations. It will, again, help to avoid food boredom.
Why is food boredom an issue, again?
Here’s my experience: the moments when I start thinking about all the stuff I can’t eat and miss eating are the moments when I have to eat the same old thing for dinner as I ate for lunch, and I know exactly what flavors are coming and I’m just…well…bored. When I’ve whipped up something new and exciting, all I’m thinking about is how great it feels to cook and eat all the good stuff and know that it’s nourishing and healthful.
The single best thing you can do for yourself on a Whole30-type diet is to put some extra energy into preparation, so you’re excited to eat what you’re eating. Trust me, you will discover some delicious, nutritious stuff!