The two things I focus on when preparing for a Whole30 are (1) getting the foods I need and (2) getting rid of those I won't. That sounds simple enough, right?
Let's start with getting the foods we'll need. It's much more fun than step 2. I'm guessing most of us have started diets or detoxes or training programs and discovered we don't have the raw materials on hand. No amount of good intention is going to make up for a refrigerator devoid of vegetables when you need to fill your plate with them.
For me, protein was the easiest thing to have on hand. You can freeze meat and poultry for one thing. Cans of tuna and salmon and sardines stack easily in the pantry. Eggs will last weeks in the fridge. But fresh vegetables? Not so easy. And not so forgiving.
A few days (or hours if you plan like I do) before you start, head to the store to stock up on frozen (we'll get to fresh soon) veggies like broccoli, spinach, squash, green beans---whatever you like. If you don't pretty much love them, don't buy them. This is critical. Also buy several onions, whole heads of garlic, half a dozen sweet potatoes, a jar of coconut oil and one of olive oil, and a few of your favorite spices and herbs unless you're fully stocked already. If you can handle dairy, get a stick or two of pastured butter to clarify. I, personally, would skip this one. It's pricey and a bit of effort, but a lot of people love it. This is your getting ready to get ready shopping trip. I know, at this point we're all seeing dollar signs, so may I mention briefly the things you will NOT be buying this month? We're skipping prepared foods, breads, cheese, milk, cream, yogurt, ice cream, potato chips, and pricey "gluten-free" foods. If this plan is starting to sound expensive, I challenge you to start adding up those products we're skipping. I cringe at the thought, myself.
During this first round of your shopping, you could also pick up canned protein that you love. This is dangerous territory. You have to read these labels like your life depended on it. Oh yeah, it does. Why anyone would put gluten or sugar in canned fish is beyond me, but they do. They also add some yucky oils and seasonings sometimes, too. Just read your labels. Yes, fresh, perfectly raised meat and fish may be a better choice, but you need a safety net. In your pantry. Just in case. Grab a few dozen eggs while you're at it, if you can.
One of the hardest things for me to follow, initially, was their suggestion that sticking with organic, grass-fed, perfectly raised, local, etc. not get in the way at this point. While you won't find Whole9 suggesting grocery store, factory farmed pork (quite the opposite, in fact), they say for now, for the most part, it's your food choices that matter. Eat the chicken breast or thigh, not the frozen "chicken dinner." Don't worry about organic, necessarily. Don't worry about grass-fed, necessarily. These words are hard for me to write, but this latitude makes these 30 days much more approachable.
Next post, we'll talk fresh stuff.