By this point in my second round of Whole30, I feel surprisingly good. I had a bit of a FOMO moment on Saturday at a baby shower. I planned ahead. I ate beforehand and had emergency snacks in my purse. Things were going well until the cupcakes appeared. These stinkin’ adorable cupcakes from a local bakery called to me and I swear that one of them winked. I literally had to leave the room. The good news is that I held strong and treated myself to a kombucha mocktail later that day.
Today I want to talk about strategies I use to keep my meals interesting and my Whole30 on track. Like most people, I try to meal prep once or twice a week. I learned in my first round of Whole30 last year that I prefer a lot of variety in my meals. Roasting one big sheet pan of veggies and expecting myself to eat the same mixture of veggies for 3-4 days failed miserably.
Usually I’m more than happy to eat leftovers. I quickly realized that I like my leftovers smothered in cheese, BBQ sauce, or any combination of other things that aren’t allowed on Whole30. So, I adapt.
First, I no longer cook all of the things together in one mixture. Instead, I keep my dishes mostly separate. Maybe other people already did this, but it was a big change for me. Now, I saute zucchini by itself, steam sweet potatoes by themselves, roast brussels sprouts solo… you get the point. This frees me up to mix and match things together without being pigeonholed into one flavor profile.
Second, I don’t prep everything on the same day. I do my major meal prep on Sunday, focusing on the more labor-intensive and longer cook time items. Then throughout the week, as I eat through some items, I cook a few easy things like steamed sweet potatoes in the microwave. That way, I keep a rotation of interesting foods ready to eat.
And finally, this brings us to the unsung heroes of Whole30: condiments and garnishes! I keep a variety of sauces, garnishes, and seasonings available. This way, I can add a punch of acid with lemon juice, creaminess with homemade ranch, spice with sriracha, or complexity with curry powder. With this army, I can completely change the flavor profile of the same core components.
Here are some of my favorite sauces and garnishes:
- sliced green onions
- chopped fresh herbs, like cilantro, parsley, dill
- pickled red onions. I follow this recipe from The Kitchn, with apple cider vinegar and without adding any sugar.
- fresh sliced limes
- fresh sliced radishes
- homemade ranch dressing, like this one from 40 Aprons
- spices and sugar-free seasoning blends from Penzeys
- salt and pepper
You’re noticing a theme. I, Becca the creamy cheese and dairy lover, leans towards bright, acidic flavors during Whole30. There’s no SWYPO here. For me, there is no viable substitute in the world for melted cheese. So, I take things the opposite direction during Whole30.