Since doing Whole30 for a few rounds, I’ve learned a few new things since I wrote this article. And I’ve changed my approach so that eating healthy is much easier for me than ever. And…these things help me out both while I’m on a Whole30 round and when I’m not. These ideas are not just for Whole30. They can be applied to any diet or way of eating – when I eat a regular diet, I plan our meals and meal prep and it has been so helpful! In this article are my biggest takeaways. In this article, I also share some easy, fairly inexpensive Whole30-compliant recipes that my family and I love.
First, Plan Your Meals
Meal planning is key here. Every Sunday night, I look through some of my Whole30 recipes and pick out which recipes I want for dinner that week. I keep a lot of recipes in a big 3-ring binder. There are quite a few I print off from the Internet, and I keep those in a page protector. In addition to what I want for dinners, I think about what I want for breakfasts and lunches. My family isn’t currently doing Whole30 with me, so the kids and the husband take sandwiches, cheese, fruit, and veggies to work and school with them. I eat my veggies, meat, and fat. The kids and the husband have oatmeal or smoothies for breakfast. I have my trusty Whole30-compliant breakfast casseroles (sometimes, I nicely share with my husband).
As I figure out what I want for meals that week, I write down dinners in my Google calendar and I sometimes write down dinners on our whiteboard, so the family knows what to expect. Then I write down my grocery list in Evernote (I use the free version on my phone). I have a note that’s titled “Perpetual Grocery List’ and it changes as I change my grocery lists for each week. On Mondays, I go to one store and also do my Online grocery purchases. On Tuesday, I go to the other store I love to get groceries. If a meal we eat is easy to make and everyone loves it, I reschedule it for dinner two weeks later in my Google calendar. Sometimes, we love all the dinners, so I have each dinner every two weeks – especially if we’re busy with things and I don’t have a lot of time to plan new dinners. When I have more available time or we get tired of having the same meals every two weeks, I’ll schedule new meals to try.
Next, Meal Prep
I generally prep my meals in the afternoon or evening, and I make enough for the following 3-4 days. I don’t like to prep all day on Saturdays or Sundays, so the shorter meal preps a few times a week keeps the food more fresh and keeps things manageable for me. I either prep the meals before dinner, during dinner prep or after we eat dinner. It depends on what I’m making. Here’s an example of a breakfast casserole I prepped a few days ago:
I wanted to get a breakfast casserole into the oven. And I wanted to make chicken soup. Since the breakfast casserole had sausage in it, I cooked the sausage in the stock pot I was going to use for soup. While the sausage cooked, I prepped potatoes and eggs and veggies for the casserole. Once I got the casserole into the oven, I started on the chicken soup. My knife and cutting board were already out and ready to go, so it was easy to get the veggies chopped for the chicken soup. I also cut up a few raw veggies for snacks and lunches throughout the week and put those in the fridge. It was wonderful to prep like this because I got a lot done using minimal dishes.
Here is the recipe for my breakfast casserole (it’s very simple to make):
The base of the breakfast casserole is hash browns and eggs. Then I add other things to it, like sausage, tomato, red bell pepper, spinach, and mushrooms. This is so good and filling. I can get 6 very generous servings from a 9×13 casserole dish and each serving costs $1 – $1.50 each, depending on what ingredients I used.
1 16-oz bag of frozen hash browns or 3-4 potatoes diced or shredded
12 eggs, beaten well
– Preheat oven to 350 degrees, F
– Grease 9×13 pan with olive oil, coconut oil or avocado oil.
– Add hash browns or small potato chunks and spread around so they’re even.
– Add whatever other ingredients you want.
– Add eggs, pouring evenly over the pan.
– Cover with foil. Bake covered for 1 hour.
– If there’s any excess liquid on top of the casserole after you remove it from the oven, remove foil and bake uncovered for another 5 minutes or so.
– Freeze anything you won’t eat within 4-5 days, however. It reheats well in the microwave.
For my lunches, I like to prep those in the afternoon or at night also. Lately, I’ve been roasting veggies on a sheet pan and then I put them into the fridge for the next few days (here are some sheet pan recipes we love). When it’s time to eat, I heat everything up. Some lunch meals I make require a pot instead of a sheet pan. Like the breakfast casserole I made, I try to combine meal prep with dinner prep and that cuts down on extra dishes to wash and saves me some time.
Here are some of my easy lunch ideas:
Ground beef and sliced bell peppers with onions – To make things super easy with this, I buy a frozen 16-oz bag of bell peppers and onions at Trader Joe’s and then just cook it in a pan with 1 pound of ground beef after I’ve cooked the ground beef. Sometimes, I use fresh bell peppers and an onion to make this also. I have this with sweet potatoes or potatoes. If I eat this for 4 days, it costs me about $2. Using organic meat and veggies will increase the cost of this meal.
Roasted veggies and meat – I roast 3 to 4 servings worth of sweet potatoes or potatoes. Then I roast 3 to 4 days’ worth of other less starchy veggies, like summer squash, green beans, tomatoes, broccoli, cauliflower or whatever else (veggies roasted in sulfite/sulfate-free balsamic vinegar and olive oil is divine!) Depending on the cooking time and temps of each set of veggies, I either roast them separately or together on the same pan. Then I cook up compliant sausage, hot dogs, or meat patties to last me for 3 or 4 days. I store the veggies and meat in the fridge for 3-4 days. Each meal costs me $2 to $3, depending on which ingredients I use.
Last, salads are a GREAT way to enjoy lunch! Salad greens, plus other veggies, plus meat, plus salad dressing = a yummy lunch. You can also put homemade egg salad or chicken salad on top of your salad instead of a less dressed meat. Salad greens will keep well, and you can cook or prepare meat for your salad every few days. If you pack a salad to work, make sure you don’t put a lot of wet ingredients on top of the lettuce, or it will wilt and get mushy. To prevent the wilting, you can put all the ingredients in the bottom of your container and put the lettuce on top. Or you can pack the lettuce in a separate container. And of course, you can pack your salad dressing in a separate container.
Less Expensive Meals and Condiments
I am constantly guilty of buying expensive condiments and foods. This isn’t just a Whole30 thing for me – I really, really love good food and I like to try new things! But I know from experience that those Whole30 foods can get expensive. If you have the money to buy premade salad dressings and sauces, that’s great! Sometimes I need convenience too and I get what I need from Otte Foods. However, if you have time and you need to save a little money, you can make some of your own Whole30 condiments.
Here are some recipes you can try!
First is my easy salad dressing or dip recipe! It tastes somewhat like Thousand Island dressing and is one of my go-tos when I need a plated fat for Whole30 or when I need a dip or dressing for my veggies.
Beth’s Easy Dressing
For one generous serving:
1 TBS compliant mayo
1 TBS mild, chunky salsa
Mix well and pour over salad or use as a veggie dip.
Here are a few more recipes:
When I want spicy mayo, I just add a little bit of Frank’s Hot Sauce to some mayo. This is delicious to dip fries into. SO good!
Condiments and sauces aren’t the only foods that can get expensive on Whole30. To save money, we use cheaper cuts of meat for meals. Instead of steak, we use ground beef. We’ll also roast a chicken and eat off of that for a few days. And pork loin or tenderloin is cheaper than other cuts of pork. You can definitely save money by looking for recipes that feature cheaper cuts of meat. Soups and frittatas are a great way to use up leftover meats and veggies! And you can save extra money by buying meat in bulk. Check around for local ranchers or coops that sell less expensive meat also.
We also save money by foregoing meats that normally have sugar in them, like bacon and ham. Finding sugar-free replacements for those can be expensive, so we don’t eat them as often.
Let’s talk chicken – you can roast a chicken in the crockpot or oven and eat off of it for a day or two, depending on the size of your family. The carcass can then be made into bone broth for soups. In my family, there are two adults, one 13-yr-old and one 10-yr-old. We’ll eat a roasted chicken for one night. Then I clean as much of the remaining meat off the carcass as I can and use the carcass to make homemade bone broth. On the second night, we use the leftover chicken and broth for chicken soup, which will last us at least that night, plus leftovers for another dinner or lunches.
Beth’s Chicken Soup Recipe
This is one of the newest chicken soup recipes and my family loves it!
4 celery stalks, diced
1.5 pounds of carrots, sliced
4 medium – large russet potatoes, cut into ½-inch chunks
8 cups of bone broth, chicken broth or stock
1 pound of already-cooked chicken, cut or shredded into ½ inch pieces
1 TBS dried parsley
1 tsp basil
1 tsp oregano
½ tsp poultry seasoning
Salt and pepper, to taste
– Saute celery and carrots in 2 TBS olive oil for 10-20 minutes, or until soft
– Add potatoes and bone broth. Bring to a boil and then simmer for about 20 minutes. Remove any scum from the top of the pot.
– Add herbs, salt and pepper.
– Next, add chicken and turn off heat and serve.
– Garnish with avocado slices and serve with a little fresh fruit or salad.
– You can also add a little kale to this and I think it would be tasty.
Now, let’s talk beef – when I want a beef dish, I try to make it easy also. I love making hamburger stew, ground beef with sautéed bell peppers and onions or taco soup.
My mom used to make a similar recipe when I was younger. Making this brings back a few memories.
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1 pound carrots, diced
4-6 russet potatoes, cut into ½ inch pieces
2 cans of cut green beans or 2 cuts fresh or frozen green beans, cut or broken into inch-long pieces
1 can of diced tomatoes or 2 fresh tomatoes, diced
8 cups of bone broth, broth or stock
1 TBS parsley
½ tsp oregano
Salt and pepper to taste
– Cook ground beef
– Add diced carrots and onion and cook for 10 minutes (you can remove the ground beef from the pot or just add the carrots and onions to the ground beef when it’s almost done cooking)
– Add potatoes and broth to the pot and bring everything to a boil. Then simmer for 20 minutes, removing any scum that rises to the top of the pot.
– Add the herbs, salt and pepper, green beans and tomatoes. Allow to cook for 10 minutes, if the green beans and tomatoes are fresh. If they’re canned, you can cook for a minute or two longer and then serve the soup.
– Avocadoes work well on top of the soup for a plated fat. Or you can add a salad on the side with dressing.
Easy Whole30 Taco Soup Recipe:
1 pound ground beef
1 onion, diced
1-2 cans of diced tomatoes
2 cups of zucchini
Taco seasoning spices https://realsimplegood.com/paleo-taco-seasoning/
Salt and pepper, to taste
You can add other ingredients to the taco soup (or chili) too. This is really good over a baked sweet potato or baked potato.
And finally, let’s talk pork. Pork carnitas is a favorite in my house. You can enjoy it in many different ways. You can use lettuce leaves as taco “shells”, you can serve this over potatoes, winter squash or sweet potatoes or you can eat it as part of a salad. If you eat it using lettuce leaves as taco shells, serve it with diced tomato and avocado on top. And then you can serve sweet potato chips on the side.
Pork Carnitas Recipe:
Sweet Potato Chips Recipe:
These tips and recipes are some of the things that have helped me to have the best Whole30 round ever, and to help organize my life a little better. These ideas will also work really well if you eat Paleo, gluten free or any other way. Plan your meals. Prep your meals. And save money where you can.