January Whole 30 Meal Plan

This will be my third time doing a Whole 30. The first time was in October of 2016, and I stuck to the plan perfectly for the entire 30 days. I felt so good by the time I finished and was experiencing tons of non-scale victories. Right after I finished that Whole 30, I found out that I was pregnant with Jack, and when I asked my doctor about doing a Whole 30 while pregnant, there were some modifications he wanted me to make (like adding dairy and at least a little whole wheat to my mostly Whole 30 diet). I took his advice, but continued eating lots of Whole 30 meals until pregnancy cravings set in and I started going to Chick-fil-A and keeping a stash of fun-sized candy bars in my purse.

My second round of the Whole 30 was in September of this year, a little over a month after Jack was born. I was still breastfeeding, but I read the section in the book about breastfeeding mothers and felt like the Whole 30 was going to be the best thing for me to get back on track after going a little wild during my pregnancy. The second time I tried the Whole 30, it was SO HARD. I was a new mom, sleep deprived, and completely unorganized about planning meals. Jeff was going to do it with me, and we made it to day 15 before we inhaled a few chocolate chip cookies from McDonald’s and felt horrible about ourselves. While I might not have finished a true Whole 30 that time, I did learn that being successful in doing the Whole 30 is all about mindset and being prepared.

The first time, I was all in. I was 100% ready for a change in my lifestyle and my health. I was completely dedicated to completing the program. I planned well, including emergency snacks and meals for those times when cooking was just not happening (like when you’re running 15 minutes late for work in the morning and the best you can do is a technically compliant Larabar and a banana). The second time, I wasn’t sold out to it. I was more concerned with surviving those first months of motherhood and I was really setting myself up to fail because I was trying to wing it. Do not EVER try to wing a Whole 30. It doesn’t work that way. You have to plan – your meals, your workouts, your back-up or emergency plans – you can’t just expect to wing it and be successful.

This program is not about losing weight. It’s not a diet. It’s not about counting calories or points or anything like that. It’s about detoxing your body from the sugar and processed foods that it’s used to and listening to your body as it responds to real, nutrient dense foods. It’s about learning what makes you feel your best, what works for you, and learning how to have a healthy relationship with your body and your food. It is hard. It takes patience. It takes effort. It takes time. But in the end, it is so worth it.

For my January Whole 30, I am keeping things as simple as possible. I’m still new to this mom thing and I’m back at work full-time now. I’m busy and tired and I need to know what I’m cooking and eating ahead of time to make things as easy as possible.

I decided to make a list of some easy Whole 30 approved breakfast, lunch, and dinner options and then I’m going to rotate those meals throughout the month depending on what produce and meat I find on sale (by the way, I went shopping at Aldi for the first time tonight at the suggestion of my husband and I was pleasantly surprised by the selection there – I’ll be doing another blog post about my Whole 30 shopping list and where to find great deals later in the month).

Here’s the list I’m working with this month:

Breakfasts – Breakfast is one of the hardest things for me to do on the Whole 30 for a couple of reasons. First, I am so NOT a morning person and I have to be at work early, so it’s hard for me to make the time to fix a healthy breakfast in the morning. Second, I don’t like eggs. Those two things together mean that breakfast can be hard for me, but these recipes are my go-to meals for getting out the door fast and having a healthy meal to start my day.

  • Sweet Potato Hash – Shred some sweet potatoes on a grater and saute in avocado or coconut oil until tender. Toss in some chopped bacon, red onion, and walnuts. You can cook this ahead of time and reheat it in the microwave the next morning to make it even faster!
  • Spinach Breakfast Salad – 1/2 cup of baby spinach leaves topped with 1/2 a diced apple, ground turkey sausage, almonds, and raisins.
  • Sausage Breakfast Hash – Brown some ground sausage in avocado oil and add some cubed sweet potatoes. Simmer on medium heat until the sweet potatoes are tender. Sprinkle on a little cinnamon and add some pecan halves right before serving. This can also be made ahead of time and heated up the next morning.
  • Whole 30 Fruit Salad – Mix together sliced strawberries, pineapple, blueberries, and 1/2 a banana and a few raw almonds. Toss together in a splash of lemon juice and fresh mint. Enjoy with a few slices of sugar-free bacon on the side.
  • The Emergency Breakfast – A compliant Larabar with a banana or apple.

Lunches – For me, lunch has to be something that I can make the night before and that will be easy to pack and that I can eat while I’m working (because some days, I don’t get a real lunch break and have to shovel my food in while I’m working). I keep it simple with chopped salads and what I call “Whole 30 Lunchables” that I can make ahead and keep in the fridge all week so it’s easy to just grab one and go.

  • Grilled Chicken Chopped Salad – 1/2 cup of spinach, 1/4 cup broccoli slaw, chopped cucumber, walnuts, and 1/2 a sliced grilled chicken breast with a pickle spear on the side.
  • Harvest Pear Chopped Salad – 1/2 cup mixed greens, half a pear (chopped), pecans, bacon crumbles, raisins, and 1/2 grilled chicken breast. Top with dressing made with 1/2 lemon juice, 1/2 olive oil, and a little salt, pepper, and cilantro.
  • Taco Salad – 1/2 cup mixed greens, sliced red onion, chopped bell pepper, chopped cucumber, sliced banana pepper, and a few jalapeno slices, topped with 1/4 taco meat prepared with this taco seasoning (I put the meat in a separate container and heat it up before tossing it on top of my salad)
  • Turkey or Chicken “Lunchable” – Sliced turkey or chicken (whatever’s leftover from dinner), baby carrots, cucumber slices, red or green grapes, and a few raw almonds
  • Sausage and Sweet Potato Soup – I like to make a big pot of this (the Whole 30 version) at the beginning of the month and portion it out in mason jars to use as lunch or a quick dinner later. It keeps in the fridge for about a week and in the freezer for a few months.
  • And, my favorite lunch, LEFTOVERS!!! – Use your leftovers! When you cook dinner, scoop whatever’s left into a container and call it lunch or breakfast for tomorrow. Don’t waste any food, and don’t let the rules about what is lunch and what is dinner mess you up. As long as it’s compliant, it doesn’t matter what time of day you’re eating it.

Dinners – This is the meal that’s tough because it is the meal that I share with my husband, which means that I not only have to make my taste buds and belly happy, but I have to consider his as well. He is not doing the Whole 30 with me, but he usually eats the same dinner that I eat and may add a non-compliant condiment or bread to “complete” his meal. If you feel like you can’t do a Whole 30 because your spouse or roommate or co-worker doesn’t want to join and you think you can’t do it alone, I want to remind you not to sell yourself short. You can do it if you set your mind to it. There are ways to cook Whole 30 meals for yourself and adapt them for family members who don’t want to participate. My husband fully supports my decision to follow this program, and if he doesn’t like the food that I am cooking, he knows that he can eat something else. I keep some non-compliant items in the house (like frozen rolls, milk, and cheese) for him, but he is considerate enough not to bring home cookies or doughnuts or anything like that to tempt me. If you talk to your spouse, friend, or roommate, most of the time, he or she will agree to support you even if they don’t want to join you in this elimination challenge.

  • Buffalo Chicken Stuffed Potatoes – I found this recipe on Instagram and it is one of my Whole 30 favorites! My husband loves it, too. We’ll probably have this a few times during the month. I absolutely love that I can make it in the crock-pot so dinner is waiting for me when I get home at the end of the day.
  • Bacon Wrapped Chicken with Rosemary Potatoes and Green Beans – This meal is so incredibly simple, but it is so good. It’s a regular at our house even when I’m not doing a Whole 30.
  • “Fried” Cauliflower Rice with Chicken and Veggies – Fried rice is one of my absolute favorite meals. This copycat is so good that you’ll think it’s the real thing! Just boil a chicken breast, shred it, and set aside. Chop up your veggies (I like to use broccoli, carrots, bell pepper, onion, green beans, zucchini, and yellow squash) into bite sized pieces. In a large skillet, heat some avocado oil and toss in the veggies. Saute for about 5 minutes, seasoning with and little salt and pepper. Add in a few tablespoons of coconut aminos. Toss in the shredded chicken and stir. Place pan in the oven at 350 degrees to continue cooking while you prepare the “rice.” In a medium skillet, heat some ghee on medium-high heat until it melts. Pour in a bag of frozen cauliflower rice. Saute in the ghee for about 3-4 minutes, until it starts to brown a little bit. Pour in a couple glugs (maybe a tablespoon or two) or coconut aminos and stir well. Make a nest in the middle of the “rice.” Scramble an egg in a bowl and pour into the “rice.” Scramble the egg into the “rice” until it is done. Make sure to mix it in well. Remove the chicken and veggies from the oven. Layer the chicken and veggies over the “rice” in a bowl and top with chopped cashews.
  • Baked Chicken with Zucchini Noodles and Basil Walnut Pesto – Y’all, the first time I made this I promise my husband thought I was an actual chef. I think he would have drank this pesto sauce directly from the food processor. If you want an easy meal that’s going to impress, try this one. It won’t let you down.
  • Pot Roast with Potatoes and Carrots – This one is a staple even when I’m not on Whole 30. It is so good and easy and it makes your house smell amazing. Plus, it usually offers lots of leftovers for breakfast and/or lunch the next day. Just read your labels and make sure that your beef broth is compliant. If you want extra flavor, you can add some coconut aminos, too.
  • Hamburger Hash – I could eat this for every meal, and usually I do have it for breakfast or lunch as leftovers after I make it. It is definitely a favorite of mine and Jeff’s.

There’s my plan – I’ll rotate those meals often to keep things simple during the week. On the weekends, I have extra time and usually dig out my Whole 30 Cookbook or search Pinterest or Instagram for some recipe inspiration and will try something new. I’ll post those recipes as I try them throughout the month.

I hope this helps you as you are planning your January Whole 30! I am excited to get this year started off on the right foot by taming my sugar cravings and taking control of my health. Make sure to check the blog often for updates about how my January Whole 30 is going.

Meal Planning 101 (a how-to series) – Part 1

I’m going to begin this post with a confession…tonight (THURSDAY) is the first night this week that I have actually cooked a real meal. It has just been one of those weeks. I forgot to lay out some meat to thaw on Monday and Jeff ended up running by the grocery store to get some pre-made chicken fingers because I could cook them in a hurry. On Tuesday, by the time I got home from the gym, I just didn’t feel like cooking and we ended up eating hot dogs. Yesterday, I went to my parents’ house and stayed late so my brother could see Jack when he got off work, so I picked up take-out on the way home. It has been a long, crazy week, and even though I love to cook, it has been tough to get in the kitchen and create healthy meals this week.

I think this is a pretty common problem. All of us are busy. We run around from one place to the other, we get home late, and we just want something to eat that tastes good and makes our families happy. So how are we supposed to get a healthy, home cooked meal on the table in the midst of our busy lives? It is possible, and the key is planning ahead.

I know that meal planning is hard. It takes organization. It takes time, which is something that is in short supply for most of us. And sometimes, no matter how well we plan, life still gets crazy and we pick up fast food or scarf down junk food because it’s fast, easy, and we’re stressed (or maybe I’m the only stress eater out there…but I doubt that).

Meal planning can feel like a hassle, but it is worth it, and here’s why: if you have a plan and have invested time and money into it, you are more likely to follow through with it. It’s one thing to say, “I’m going to cook healthy meals every night this week.” It’s a totally different thing to plan out those meals, shop for the ingredients you’ll need to make those meals, and prep those ingredients so that putting the meal together when you get home is quick and easy. When you know that you can toss a good, healthy meal together in 15 minutes because you have prepared for your crazy busy life, then you might not give in to the temptation to swing by the drive-thru on your way home.

I haven’t been doing a lot of meal planning while I’ve been out on maternity leave, but I go back to work next week and I know that our lives are about to get even crazier because of that. I’m starting my meal planning for next week today, and I will complete small tasks between now and then to help my week get off to a good start.

Do you need help planning your meals for the week? Follow along with me as I create my meal plan and learn how to create a meal plan without spending hours and hours worrying about what’s going to be on your plate (because we’re trying to SAVE time here, not add a major thing to our to-do list).

I’m breaking down meal planning into four easy steps, When you think about each one, they are probably things that you already do each week. The key is doing these things with purpose:

  1. Inventory your kitchen.
  2. Find recipes and create your plan.
  3. Shop for and prepare your ingredients.
  4. Make use of your leftovers.

Tonight, I’m going over Step One: Inventory your kitchen.

This is always the first thing I do when I begin to meal plan. I try to be a smart shopper and stock up on items when they are on sale, so instead of heading straight to the store I always check my pantry and freezer first to see what ingredients I have on hand already.

I have been stocking up on meat as it has been on sale, so my freezer is pretty full. My pantry is looking a little lean because we were on a Whole 30 last month (which pretty much eliminates all processed foods) and we’ve been buying lots of perishable things like fruits and veggies.

Here’s what I already have in my fridge this week:

  • One package of chicken thighs
  • One bag of boneless, skinless chicken breasts
  • One chuck roast
  • 2 one pound packages of ground chuck
  • One pork roast
  • One pack of boneless pork chops
  • 2 packs of bacon
  • 1 bag of frozen broccoli
  • 1 bag of frozen mixed vegetables
  • 1 bag of frozen rolls

I know that is a lot of meat to have on hand, but I have been trying to only buy meat when it is on sale and keep it in the freezer instead of being at the mercy of the grocery store because I NEED a certain protein when it isn’t on sale (because meat is expensive, y’all).

In my pantry, I have the following staples that could be used for creating meals:

  • 2 cans of green beans
  • 2 cans of chicken broth
  • 1 can of beef broth
  • 2 cans of coconut milk
  • Rice (white Minute rice and flavored rice mixes)
  • Bow tie pasta
  • A couple bags of dried beans
  • Various spices
  • Cooking oils – olive oil, avocado oil, coconut oil
  • Baking Basics – flour, sugar, brown sugar, cornmeal, almond flour, coconut flour
  • Russet potatoes and a few sweet potatoes
  • Red and yellow onions
  • Fresh garlic
  • Lemons

Now that I know what I have on hand, I can start to plan my meals. I always start with the protein that I am going to be cooking with. This week, I have a good assortment of beef, chicken, and pork. I like to rotate my proteins (so we don’t have chicken every single night), and I have some really good options with waht I already have.

Now that I have taken inventory, I can begin Step Two: Find Recipes and Create a Plan.

Tomorrow, I will be sharing how I create my plan for the week and some great resources for finding easy, healthy recipes.

If you are new to meal planning, make sure to follow me through this series. If you follow each day’s step along with me on the blog, you will have a solid plan for your week next week! I’d love for you to follow along and let me know what you plan and how it goes for you!

Happy planning!



Sundays are for meal prep

I have almost made it to the halfway mark in my Whole 30 challenge! Today is day 14. 

This morning, Jeff and I went for a little drive to Payne Lake to take advantage of the beautiful weather and the fall colors. 

When we got home, Jeff grilled some amazing burgers and I made rosemary and garlic roasted potatoes for lunch. I wish I had a picture of the burgers he made, but I was so hungry that I dove in  before I remembered to take a picture. 

For the potatoes, I scrubbed and diced some potatoes and sprinkled them with garlic salt, paprika, rosemary, and parsley flakes and baked them at 400 degrees for about 45 minutes. I took them out and turned them every 15 minutes to keep them from sticking.

After lunch, it was time to shop and meal prep. I decided to go to Target this week because they had some good sales. Our usual budget for groceries and household items is around $100 to $150 a week. I use coupons.com, Target Cartwheel, Walmart Savings Catcher, Savings Star, and the Ibotta apps on my phone to try to save as much as I can. I printed my list from the Whole 30 website and filled in what I needed, then headed to town. 

I mainly stick to fresh fruits and vegetables and lean meats, but I also love Larabars and Naked fruit drinks for quick and easy breakfast options.

When I got home, I spent about 30 minutes doing some meal prep – mainly cutting up fruit and veggies so they’ll be ready to use when I cook later this week. 

Here’s what my fridge looks like after meal prep for the week:

Top Shelf: eggs and condiments (yes, I know most of those condiments are not Whole 30 approved, but Jeff is not doing the Whole 30 program, so those are for him)

Second Shelf: Pickles, random stuff

Third Shelf: Deli turkey, snack bags of grapes, chopped pineapple, single servings of grilled chicken

Drawer: cheese, cream cheese, sausage and hot dogs (for Jeff)

Fourth Shelf: Prepped fruit, lettuce and spinach

Veggie Drawer: cauliflower, carrots, bell pepper, chopped onions, squash, zucchini, pecans, and walnuts

Bottom Drawer: meat thawing drawer – pot roast for tomorrow 

My meal plans for this week are pretty simple. I’m going to be super busy at school, so I’m keeping food as easy as possible. Hopefully I’ll have some new recipes for you soon. 

Breakfast and lunch for tomorrow are prepped and ready. I’ll be sharing my Whole 30 approved pot roast recipe tomorrow! It’s the perfect crock pot meal for cozy fall nights! 

I hope y’all all have a great week!