One of my favorite implications of Whole30 has been the way it’s forced me to make friends with my inner Bobby Flay (or whatever celeb chef you prefer. No judgement, unless you pick Paula Deen. Then I judge you.) Unless I’m going out for a pre-planned meal like date night or dinner with the fam, I’m cooking and preparing meals at home.
My grocery shopping and at-home food strategy has barely changed since Whole30. We essentially have the whole “but there’s no food, just ingredients to MAKE food” thing going on. We have meat, fruit, veggies, eggs and condiments like nut butters and salsas. There’s some Luna bars in the pantry chillin with the oils/vinegars and some nuts, now added by Paleo baking ingredients. But there’s hardly anything that can just be heated up in a flash. We have to get creative and work a little for it. At first this was overwhelming, but now I absolutely love it.
So what has this experience taught me about cooking?
Lesson One: Keep it simple
- You can roast just about any vegetable with a little olive oil, balsamic and random spices.
- Everything is better if you just throw it on the grill.
- Salads aren’t boring if you do it right. Open the fridge, pull everything out, chop it up and put it on lettuce. Wasn’t that easy?
- Need a side dish? Have some snap peas with Sunbutter. Throw some carrots in the oven. It doesn’t need to be an ordeal. These foods taste good all on their own.
Lesson Two: Give yourself a break
- It’s okay to take shortcuts that make cleaning easier. Slow cooker liners, Ziploc steamer bags, etc. There’s no award for doing it all by hand.
- If you’re really out of ideas, just steam it and put some sort of sauce on top.
- Eggs are easy, fast and cheap. Eat as many as you want for any meal you want.
Lesson Three: Get creative and just try it, already
- Any dish can be salvaged or elevated with one of the following ingredients: salt/pepper, olive oil, a fried egg or hot sauce. And sometimes, all of the above.
- You don’t have to make a traditional food. Our society is obsessed with naming our foods; everything has to “be” something. Get that our of your mind right now. Forget lasagna, gumbo, tacos, etc. Just throw some food together without worrying about what it “is”. Here are some of the traditionally nonsensical things I’ve been eating:
- Roasted brussel sprouts with spinach turkey sausage slices and avocado
- Microwaved sweet potato with fried eggs
- Ground beef sautéed with zucchini and onion
- I was scared of trying new produce items because I didn’t know what to do with them. That is ridiculous, because Google and YouTube exist and they can help you cook anything.
Lesson Four: Treat Yo Self
- You really do need a food processor. Or super buff large arm muscles.
- Get a couple Paleo or Whole30/Whole9 cookbooks. If nothing else it will give you inspiration and the motivation to make healthy meals.
- New cooking tools (spatulas, zesters, slicers, peelers) are an inexpensive way to up your game.
- You can’t cook every meal every day without going insane. Find restaurants that are Whole30 or close enough. For me, this is Agra Culture and D Brian’s. I know I can get lunch if I’m in a jam without stressing out too much.
I love that I can open my fridge and come up with a creative meal that takes little effort without that meaning I’m heating up a frozen dinner. I like that a snack can just be a handful of nuts. I’m loving my new sense of adventure and how I actually enjoy making things from scratch. And I can confidently say that this would have never happened without Whole30.
How’s that for proof that Whole30 can change your life?