Meal Prep and Food: My Whole30 Experience Part 1

In December of 2016 I finally committed to doing a whole30, a healthy eating “reset” that focuses on clean, whole eating and the way food fuels and nourishes your body. The idea that it wasn’t about losing weight, but about figuring out your relationship with food and discovering your unique food sensitivities, really resonated with me. I had a feeling that dairy was not friend, and maybe bread too, but more importantly, I loved that I would be forced to bump up my veggie intake and have to cook for myself and my family instead of ‘winging’ it.

I first heard of the whole30 program over a year and a half ago and had it tickling the back of my mind for a while. During my second pregnancy last year, I did eat much more consciously than I did during my first (eat-for-two mentality!), so at around 4 months postpartum, working full-time, I knew something had to change for me to have more energy, better focus and a feeling of being more in control.

A friend of mine and excellent foodie/chef/recipe creator, Shushy- cookinginheelss posted on her instagram that she committed and was doing her whole30, and I decided then and there  to finally do the same. I set my start date for the day after Thanksgiving and began my prep and planning!

Preparing and planning were the most important parts. I borrowed the whole30 book from the library and started following their social media accounts and other related accounts to fill my feed with inspiration, motivation and recipe ideas! I even started posting some of my own as I became more and more comfortable with the program.

Lunches was the most dramatic change that I noticed. I was actually prepared and ready in the morning to grab-and-go with the things I prepared earlier in the week or the night before, and my co-workers definitely took notice of all the delicious and nutritious foods I was bringing to work.

Here are some of the things I prepared at the start of the week:

1. Boiled up whole dozen (or more!) eggs. Extra points if I also peeled them and put two in little baggies- instant snack; or easy addition of protein to add to salad.

2. Roasting veggies. Set the oven at 400 degrees and cut up/chop/spread out all sorts of veggies, drizzle with olive oil (don’t be afraid of fat- it’s good for ya!), and spice it up! img_2697Eggplant slices, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, white potatoes, pasnips, carrots, whatever I had on hand! These made for delicious ready-made side dishes to add to meals. While the oven is on, it heats up the house on the cold winter day, and your meal prep is on its way too! Sometimes I’d also add whole sweet potatoes wrapped in foil, with puncture wounds all around- good for stress relief!

img_2692Here’s a secret- buying cut up veggies is not cheating, it was an investment in my success. So buying a bag of frozen cauliflower, pre-cubed butternut squash or baby carrots is a win in my book!
3. SLOW COOKER TIME! I bought this as a black friday deal and made a deal with myself that I’d make at least one meal a week to justify this large appliance in my small apartment- as it turns out I didn’t need to worry- it paid for itself in just a few meals! I would throw in a beef stew with veggies, or a chili recipe, or make shredded chicken breast- using recipes that I easily amended, skipping unknown spices or ingredients I didn’t have on hand. My sister and I laugh that we look at recipes as suggestions rather than directions! In this case, it worked out since cooking in the slow cooker is so forgiving. I’d serve some for dinner, or breakfast if I set it all night- nothing wrong with warm chili for breakfast. It kept me full for hours! I even used it to steam up a spaghetti squash, which I’d never had before.

Kosher Note:***Going Dairy-free for a month meant I was always ‘basari’ and didn’t have to worry about waiting 6 hours before I could eat dairy again. It gave me the freedom to eat basari food for breakfast or lunch without any hesitation. It was a little weird to only make a ‘borei nefashot’ after each meal for a month and not say ‘bircat hamazon’ even once. And not eating challah on shabbat meals made me a little uneasy but I felt it was the right thing for me to stick to the program and investigate which foods were not working for me. I was making a short term change for long term benefits. Ask your LOR for your personal psak.***

IMG_2694.JPG4. Also, I prepared a list and posted it on the fridge that had a list of easy ideas based on the shopping for that week made it easy to decide what to prepare and eat. For example, it would say -make tahini, -make burgers, -prepare protein salad, -bake the tilapia, – eat the [fresh fruit] whatever I purchased that week, -eat [prepared meals from my crock pot]. In other words, I could glance at the list instead of aimlessly into the fridge to figure out what to eat without having a static meal plan- with defined foods for each little box- I needed the flexibility. How am I supposed to know what I’ll be in the mood for two weeks from Thursday?!? A running list may work for you too-try it!

5. Making sure I had the non-food items I needed, like take away containers, parchment paper,and  aluminum trays.

This lead to success and even enjoyment throughout my whole30. I felt in control of my food choices, of my kitchen, of my shopping. It was a very deliberate way of approaching food, meals, shopping and cooking and I’m taking a lot of those skills with me, carrying over into my #whole30alumni life!

I hope you enjoyed reading this post. Please feel free to ask me anything at all. Stay tuned for Part 2 to hear all about my #nsv that’s non-scale victories and how much I gained from committing and seeing through my whole30!

Eat something delicious today! Go right now and make it! Try a new recipe! Smiles!