I just ended my second round of the Whole30 yesterday. This time around, I came prepared to eat. Last time around, I ate a LOT of the same foods and it got very redundant. When you can't eat any grains, dairy, legumes, alcohol, sugar and a whole host of food additives, it's easy to slip into redundancy. People ask me all the time why I do the Whole30. The answer is simple: my unhealthy habits were taking over my lifestyle and I wanted a chance to reset. More importantly, I wanted a chance to redevelop some healthy habits and take comfort in the fact that I was only consuming healthy food for an entire month. Truly. Every single bite of food I ate for 30 days was healthy fuel for my body.
Healthy food can be hard to find and if you are considering the Whole30, you need a plan. You need to know what foods to stock up on and where to get them. And if you're busy like me, you need to know how to get your hands on healthy food in the most convenient way possible. I've rounded up all my essential foods, places to shop, and resources in this blog post to help you organize and get on track for your own Whole30. Just a heads up that this post does contain affiliate links, but Rob and I only mention resources and products that we absolutely love.
Whole30 Books and Resources
Let's start at the beginning. You need to begin by gathering resources. The Whole30 website is absolutely free and packed with resources, but I preferred to read a book to really get my head around the Whole30 philosophy and the guidelines for how and what to eat. When I did my first round of the Whole30 in January, there was just one book available, It Starts with Food by Dallas and Melissa Hartwig. The book was great. It explained the science-reasons for why so many types of food are banned from the program and lays out the details of the Whole30. It also includes a few basic recipes and food plans to get you started.
Since my initial Whole30 round, Melissa and Dallas Hartwig released a book entitled The Whole30. As I was preparing for my second round in September, I spent a few weeks debating whether or not to purchase the book. On the one hand, I had already done the program and I knew most of the details and I have access to Google and Pinterest to track down free recipes. That's how I found my egg-bake breakfast that saved me a TON of time during the work week.
On the other hand, this book included many great recipes, as well as a several other lists, meal planning guides and resources designed to make the Whole30 experience as simple as possible. I knew I was in for a lot of extra time in the kitchen and I needed the experience to be streamlined so I went ahead and purchased the book with money designated for my food budget.
Where to Shop for Your Whole30
Once I committed to completing a second round of the Whole30, I needed to work out my shopping strategy. I have figured out exactly which stores to shop at to meet my menu and convenience needs. Here are a few of my favorite places to shop and what I especially like to purchase from each of them.
Local Grocery Store
Just because there are many different kinds of foods you can't eat doesn't mean you have to abandon your local grocery store. You can still shop there for produce, nuts, fresh meat, cooking fats and eggs. (Try to buy organic produce, cage free eggs and organic meat if it fits within your budget). We have Kroger stores in Michigan and that's my favorite local grocery store to shop at because they have the best organic selection of packaged products and fresh meat. If you're lucky, your local grocery store carried Aidell's Chicken Apple Sausage and Applegate Naturals Organic Hot Dogs. When you need a fast and easy meal, those basic items will get you through!
You'll pretty much skip over many of the other aisles because you can't have dairy, grains or very many other items that come in a box.
While I was doing my first round of the Whole30, I stumbled upon an Amish Farm Market that was only a few miles from my school. It was like a hidden gem in Southeast Michigan. There are no Amish in my area, but they have all of their organic produce and meats shipped in from Amish farms in the region. Their prices also happen to be unbeatable. Rob and I now buy almost all of our meat from the Amish market (regardless of whether or not I am doing the Whole30 at the time).
Oh my gosh, Costco. Rob and I are somewhat recent Costco members. We were not members when I did my first round of the Whole30, but I tagged along with a friend while she shopped. Within 2 months, I bought my own membership and stopped bumming off of hers. I'm convinced that we have already earned back the membership in all of the savings. Rob and I stock up on veggies and eggs and Costco. We usually get an assortment of fresh fruits and vegetables from Door to Door Organics (keep reading to learn more) and we stop at Costco once a week to buy one extra pack of veggies. I'm a big fan of the green beans, asparagus or broccoli. Just one pack is generally enough to supplement our veggie intake for the week.
Costco also offers the best prices on cage-free eggs. They are slightly smaller than the eggs you would find at the grocery store, but they make up for it in quantity! I've even heard rumors that some Costco stores carry Aidell's Chicken Apple Sausage (but mine does not.)
My Favorite Items to Stock Up On from Costco:
Aidell's Chicken Apple Sausage
Organic Oven Roasted Turkey Breast from Plainville Farms
organic chicken breasts
frozen wild caught Alaskan salmon steaks
organic diced tomatoes
Wholly Guacamole single packs
Health Food Stores
Whole Foods Market is pretty much the leader of the health food store market. I shop there on occasion and it always feels like a field trip. I LOVE Whole Foods and the high-quality items they carry. It's not the Whole30 store, so you can't just go nuts and purchase anything you see, but it's a great place to stock up on hard-to-find essentials like ghee and coconut aminos. It also happens to be the ONLY place I have ever found Whole30 compliant bacon. Almost every bacon (even the kind from my beloved Amish farm market) has added sugar in some form. Whole Foods kept my Sunday mornings extra-delicious with their sugar-free bacon.
Trader Joe's is another great place to stop and pick up essential items for your Whole30. There isn't one located very close to my home, but I hear they carry riced cauliflower that's completely awesome.
Better Health Store
I discovered the Better Health Store during this round of the Whole30 because I ran out of ghee and I didn't have time to order it online. We were going to have Salmon Benedicts for dinner and I needed the ghee for our hollandaise sauce. Whole Foods was more of a drive than I wanted to make, so I stopped at the Better Health Store on a whim. I had driven past dozens of times and heard a commercial for their store on the radio, but didn't actually know anything about them. Turns out, the Better Health Store is kind of like the convenience store version of Whole Foods. They have a little bit of everything that you might need for a healthy lifestyle. Since that first visit to my local Better Health Store, Rob and I have become repeat customers since it has the most convenient location for our area.
Door To Door Organics
In case you haven't heard, Rob and I are busy people. We both work outside of the home, then come home and work some more on our blogs. We love the work that we do, but it doesn't leave much time for shopping. Because of that, we get excited about any service that delivers to our door. Door To Door Organics delivers fresh produce to our door once a week! We have a standing subscription for a small mixed box of fruits and vegetables and it keeps us eating well during the week so we can minimize our trips to the grocery store. We also have the ability to customize our weekly produce box to make sure we get items that we will actually eat. You can also add on meat, eggs and even packaged organic items to your subscription box. Unfortunately, this service is not available nationwide. You can read more about Door to Door Organics in this blog post and check to see if they currently deliver to your area.
You can also purchase healthy groceries online from Thrive Market and Barefoot Provisions. Both sites offer an array of organic, high quality non-perishable grocery items including cooking fats, on-the-go food options, jerky, nut butter, coconut aminos and more.
Thrive Market has a section of their website dedicated to paleo foods, which is an excellent place to start. You'll just have to be careful because those paleo cookies are definitely not Whole30 approved. Read the ingredient list carefully before you buy anything to make sure it's Whole30 compliant.
Barefoot Provisions is another great online source for your Whole30 shopping needs. I LOVE that they have a section of their website completely dedicated to Whole30 compliant foods. No worries or guesswork there! It also saves me time from randomly googling “Can I have ____ on Whole30?” I was also pleasantly surprised to discover Whole30 compliant beef snack sticks. I've tried a few of the Epic beef and chicken jerky options. They weren't my favorite, but I'm always on the lookout for convenient protein options. They also have RxBars, which I haven't tried yet but I just read the Apple Cinnamon RxBar product description and added a few to my cart because I am curious and it sounds delicious. And it's compliant!
What to Stock Up on For Your Whole30
Now that you know where to shop for your Whole30, let's talk about what to buy! The short answer is high-quality fresh meats, lots of fresh vegetables, some fresh fruits, lots of fresh eggs, nuts, avocados, olives and cooking fats. Here are some of my favorite Whole30 compliant specialty items (in no particular order)
When you're on the Whole30, your beverage options are basically limited to water, tea coffee and bone broth. You're supposed to eat your nourishment and calories so smoothies, protein shakes and any other healthy beverages are pretty much off-limits. Juice is off-limits as a beverage option too because it's sweet and won't fill you up in the same way that eating an actual piece of fruit will.
LaCroix beverages are not only compliant, they are actually approved by the Whole30. These sparkling water drinks come in a variety of flavors (all of which are natural) and contain zero calories. I haven't personally experiment with very many flavors (just the lime and raspberry). They're not sweet at all and I prefer to just have the “pure” flavor and add my own fruit (such as a few lime slices or some berries) but I don't mind drinking water during the day. If you're desperate for a change, give LaCroix a try.
You can also drink club soda on the Whole30 (it's just sparkling water too) and add a little fruit but do not drink tonic water. (Tonic has sugar in it).
While the Whole30 doesn't encourage snacking just for the sake of having a snack, it does have the general mindset that if you are genuinely hungry, you need to eat more. This is especially true for people that work out during the day, have a long stretch of time between meals or are just starting the program and still figuring out how much food they should eat at each meal. In those cases, pre-packaged foods are very convenient, and Larabars are a great option. The ingredients are pretty much just a mix of nuts and dried fruit but they are named after your favorite baked goods (like Carrot Cake, Cherry Pie and Blueberry Muffin). Note that not every Larabar is complaint (avoid anything with peanuts and I know for a fact that the Chocolate Chip Brownie has added sugar) so check the label before you eat one!
My go-to Larabar flavor is Cashew Cookie. And yes, it is Whole30 compliant.
Ok, I'll be honest. I know of RxBars but I haven't actually had a chance to try them for myself. As I was scrolling through the Barefoot Provisions website, the Apple Cinnamon RxBar caught my eye and I am completely intrigued. To be honest, I have eaten so many Larabars over the past 6 months, I could really use a change.
For more protein on the go, try Epic Bars. There are many jerky-style bars in the lineup that are Whole 30 compliant. Not every flavor is compliant (some have added sugar) so make sure you read the labels carefully. So far, I have tried the Salt and Pepper Venison bar but I have my eye on this Natural Bacon bar.
Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage
One of the most challenging aspects of the Whole30 is finding compliant meat that goes beyond the basics of raw chicken, beef, seafood and pork. Sometimes a little processed meat sounds delicious, but they usually contain all sorts of non-compliant ingredients (like nitrates, sugar and a whole bunch of other stuff). Often even the most healthy options still contain carrageenan, which instantly makes it off limits.
Luckily, Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage is compliant and delicious! I use it every Sunday night when I make my egg bake for the week. It works great for scrambled eggs or sauteed with peppers and other fresh vegetables. The best part? They actually sell it at TARGET! Confusingly, I have not seen Aidells at the Whole Foods store near me. But I have found it at a few other local grocery stores (Kroger, Nino Salvaggio and Better Health Store). Some Costco carry Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage, but not mine.
A quick word of caution: this is one of the few Aidells products that is ok to eat on the Whole30. They also make Chicken & Apple Breakfast Sausage Links that are not compliant. Don't buy those on accident – they have added sugar.
Sugar Free Bacon from Wellshire
While we're talking about breakfast meats, let's dive right into the good stuff: bacon! It can be incredibly difficult to find bacon that is acceptable to eat on your Whole30. The only one I have found is Sugar Free Dry rubbed All Natural Sliced Uncured Bacon from Wellshire. It's expensive, but worth it! There are so many foods to avoid on the Whole30, I didn't want bacon to be one of them!
Organic Oven Roasted Turkey Breast from Plainville Farms
Compliant deli meats are also incredibly difficult to find. I've heard rumors that Boars Head and Applegate offer a few Whole30 deli meat options, but I have yet to encounter one. Every time I went to Costco, I do a quick scan of the packaged meat in the coolers to see if they finally carry Aidells Chicken & Apple Sausage. (They still don't). On a recent hunt, though, I noticed this Organic Oven Roasted Turkey Breast from Plainville Farms and tried not to get my hopes up as I scrolled the ingredient list. Low and behold! A packaged deli meat option that is actually ok to eat on the Whole30!
I was thrilled and a little nervous about the taste. Plainville Farms surprised me yet again because the turkey actually tasted pretty good. My favorite use for it was to cut the slices into square pieces and sprinkle generously into a salad. Easy and delicious! And no cooking was required.
Applegate Natural Uncured Turkey Hot Dog
The rumors are true. Yes, you can eat hot dogs on the Whole30. As long as they are Applegate Natural Hot Dogs. There are several varieties, but I only eat the Applegate Natural Uncured Turkey Hot Dogs. I tried the beef ones during my first round of the Whole30 and never touched them again. My favorite easy meal is to have a couple Applegate Turkey Hot dogs with guacamole as a dipping sauce and some fresh carrots and cucumbers on the side. Not exactly gourmet, but it sure is easy! These are relatively easy to find in stores too. I have seen them at Target, Kroger, Better Health Store and Whole Foods.
Stock up now on eggs. Lots and lots of eggs. You won't eat just 1 egg at a time. Depending on their size and what else I was eating with them, I often ate 2-3 eggs at a time. Remember that you are trying to eat as many high-quality foods as you can so I recommend eating cage free eggs. They're more expensive, but better for you because you are what you eat and I try to eat products that are responsibly farmed and raised. You can purchase cage free eggs in almost any dairy case. Egg-land's Best eggs seem to be the most popular brand. I either buy these from my local grocery store or I purchase a 24 pack of cage free eggs from Costco. (The Costco eggs are smaller, but they're still a great value).
Not all fats are created equal. Many are good for you, but some are just plain bad for you. Luckily, olive oil is one of the good fats! Any olive oil is ok to use, but I prefer to buy extra light olive oil. You can make your own mayonnaise on the Whole30 (along with several delicious variations of it) and it turns out the best if you use the light tasting stuff. I found that I used olive oil mostly for mayo, salad dressing and occasionally for cooking.
I'm not sure if you've heard, but coconut oil is one of the most amazing substances out there. It's a great moisturizer for your skin, deep conditioner for your hair and it's awesome for cooking. I especially love cooking chicken with coconut oil. The whole house smell sweetly delicious, but it doesn't affect the taste of the chicken at all. You can buy coconut oil at any grocery store, but it's on the expensive side. I highly recommend getting your coconut oil from Costco. The price difference is unbelievable.
Butter lovers: meet your new best friend. You can't have regular butter on the Whole30 (because it's dairy), but you can have clarified butter, also known as Ghee. Basically, ghee is butter with the milk solids and water removed. You can make your own clarified butter or you can just buy Ghee from the store. I love ghee and we use it a lot at the Gavin household. I often sauté vegetables in it, use it when I cook eggs, add it to a baked potato … pretty much anything I would normally use butter for. Ghee can be a little difficult to track down at a regular grocery store, but most health food stores carry it or you can buy it online from Barefoot Provisions or Thrive Market.
I love avocados and I was overjoyed to read that they were an ideal fat-source on the Whole 30. I especially love the yummy deliciousness of guacamole and I ate a lot of it on my Whole30. It was a perfect compliment to any Mexican meals we had at home. It also was great on salads and (people think I'm crazy for this) but I often dipped my Applegate Turkey hot dogs in it. It helped make them more interesting in my world without ketchup. Homemade guacamole is my favorite (especially this recipe), but I often used store bought. Costco sells a box of individual servings of Wholly Guacamole that can be a real life-saver for the guacamole lover. It's also a very convenient fat source to pack in your lunch when you go to work.
Peanuts might be off-limits during your Whole30, but almonds are perfectly fine to eat. They're great because they offer protein to help fill you up and fat to keep you sustained until your next meal. Almond butter has become one of my Whole30 staples. I love eating it with sliced apples or bananas. The texture is thicker and a little coarser than peanut butter, but I don't mind. There are many different brands on the market and you should always read your labels to make sure there aren't any sneaky ingredients thrown in. I personally love Justin's Classic Almond Butter. The only ingredients are almonds and palm seed oil. The reason I love it is because it's the only brand I have found that doesn't require refrigeration. There's nothing wrong with having to refrigerate your almond butter, but when it's warmer, it's softer and easier to scoop out of the jar.
The only thing better than almond butter is a convenient squeeze pack of almond butter. These individual packets of Justin's Classic Almond Butter were a life saver for me. When I knew I had a long day at school ahead of me, I would grab a banana and a packet of almond butter on my way out the door. It was a perfectly portable snack that was easy to manage and great for travel.
Soy isn't permitted during your Whole30 and if you eat anything Asian-inspired you might find yourself seriously craving a little soy sauce to sprinkle on top. Coconut aminos is the best alternative for the soy-deprived. It's sweeter than regular soy sauce so I found myself adding salt to the stir fry with cauliflower rice that Rob and I occasionally made for dinner. But it wasn't bad! As with everything, read your labels because not every bottle of coconut aminos is complaint, but Coconut Secret brand of raw coconut aminos IS definitely compliant.
Dining Out: Chipotle
One of the most challenging aspects of the Whole30 is accepting that your dining out options are limited. I'm sure residents of big cities have an easier time finding a restaurant that specializes in Whole30 cuisine, but for the rest of us … the options are limited. Protein is always the challenge. It's not a problem to order a salad with lots of fresh veggies and put some olive oil and vinegar on top. The issue is the meat. If it's deli meat, what are the ingredients? If it's cooked meat, how was it prepared? What was in the marinade? What kind of fat was used to cook it? If the salad has nuts, were they roasted in the wrong kind of oil? There are so many unknown factors.
Luckily, there is Chipotle. Chipotle is the only major chain that I know of that offers a Whole30 compliant meal option. And unfortunately, it is just one option. But when you need a break from the kitchen or are meeting friends for dinner, it's good to have at least 1 reliable option.
The only Whole30 compliant protein option that Chipotle offers is the carnitas. All of the other meats are prepared in soybean oil (a huge Whole30 no-no). The sautéed fajita veggies are prepared in soybean oil too, so don't get the sautéed veggies.
So what can you eat with your carnitas? Here's the complete list:
Salsa: Tomatillo Green Chili
Salsa: Tomatillo Red Chili
Tomato salsa (pico)
I know, it's not much, but it's better than no options at all when you want to dine out.
A Support System
The Whole 30 is definitely a challenge and it's even more difficult to succeed if you go it alone. It's best if you have some type of support system. Find a friend or join the Whole30 forum so you have someone to commiserate with on the difficult days. Rob has been 100% supportive of all things Whole30. He didn't do the program with me, but he always ate compliant dinners with me at home and (even better yet) he did most of the cooking, thanks to the great recipes in our Whole30 cookbook. He wrote a blog post about supporting your partner on the Whole 30 with his tips and perspective about our experience together.
Succeeding at the Whole30 isn't that bad if you have the right resources and information to get you started. Stock up on grocery essentials for your Whole30 and start planning your meals for the next few days. You can do it!
Whole 30 Breakfast Egg Bake
One of the most difficult parts of doing the Whole 30 is trying to find creative ways to make breakfast appealing when you have time constraints. I make this egg casserole every Sunday night during my Whole 30 and it last through the workweek. I HIGHLY recommend that you check out the blog post, pin the recipe and try it for your Whole 30.
My Favorite Instagram Accounts to Follow On The Whole 30
You're going to need more than just a really great breakfast casserole to get you through the next 30 days of eating well. I've rounded up some of my favorite Instagram accounts to follow for meal inspiration while on the Whole 30. Check out the post and discover some new people to follow!