by Judith Forman, Whole30 Certified Coach
Judith is a busy single, working mama to her 5 year old daughter, and a Whole30 coach on the side. Today she shares how she sets herself up for Whole30 meal success in her own words. You can connect with Judith on her blog or on Instagram.
My First Whole30
Confession time: When I did my first Whole30 in 2015, I was not a good cook. I spent years eating frozen diet meals, easy-to-assemble salads, and takeout from the Whole Foods Market hot bar. When I decided to jump into Whole30, I was not worried about “giving up” so many food groups for 30 days. I was worried about the cooking.
I managed to make it through that first Whole30, and as time went on, both my kitchen skills and my love for cooking grew. With each subsequent Whole30 reset (I have done 8!), I have streamlined my process for making sure I have food prepped to get me throughout the week.
I have no choice: I am a single, working mom of a 5-year-old. My job is busy and requires a commute to the city, and I am dedicated to my fitness routine. I also work “on the side” as a Whole30 Certified Coach, guiding others through the program. Despite my busy schedule, I always find time to meal prep because I know that cooking dinner from scratch every night just isn’t an option.
My Meal Planning Method
So, how do I do it? On Fridays, I start to think about what I will make for the following week. I browse my go-to recipes (which I have bookmarked on my phone), Whole30’s social media channels, my blog and the Whole30 Facebook group I admin for ideas.
I choose two or three recipes and add the ingredients I need to my shopping list, making sure to include some “easy” protein options to my meal plan, such as tuna salad with homemade mayo, compliant chicken sausage, and burgers cooked in the Air Fryer.
My list also includes the vegetables I will prep (I usually just roast several sheet pans of veggies) and any sauces or added fats I can make ahead (usually homemade mayo, dump ranch, or homemade pesto.) Some weeks, I share food with my Whole30 friend/neighbor Amber and her family, so I touch base with her to swap menus.
I think through the weekend and make sure I have a set window to hit the supermarket. Sometimes I get to do this alone if my daughter is with her dad, but there are plenty of times I take my daughter with me. I try to make it fun for her; she helps me load things in the shopping cart and crosses off items from my shopping list.
Having my groceries in the house is half the battle to meal prep. But I still need to find the time to cook! Here are my five best tips for getting it all done:
When it comes to cooking (or life), I am never doing just one thing. I use my time in the kitchen wisely and have all burners going–literally. If the oven is on, I roast multiple pans of vegetables. While a stir fry is cooking on the stove, I make mayo. I’ll have food in both the Air Fryer and the Instant Pot at the same time. I truly squeeze the most out of my time in the kitchen.
There is NO shame in taking some shortcuts in the kitchen as your budget allows. For me, this means buying pre-riced and spiralized veggies (either fresh or frozen), premade bone broth, and bottles of compliant ketchup and BBQ sauce. My time is not endless! So, I choose to purchase some Whole30 convenience items to make my prep just that much easier. I also try to “stack” my cooking by kitchenware. I will make a few things that can use the same pan or baking sheet (I cover with foil for each use) so I have less to wash in the end.
INVOLVE YOUR CHILD
Real mom talk: This can be easier said than done. Sometimes my daughter is a willing participant in my meal prep, helping me form salmon cakes and mix crispy vegetables. Other times, she wants nothing to do with it. At the very least, I aim to keep her in the kitchen with me, even if she is sitting on the floor with her toys, books, or Play-Doh! Just having her close by and talking with me makes my cooking time “together time” and more enjoyable.
HARD STUFF FIRST, SIMPLE STUFF LATER
I have the most time and energy for cooking during the weekends. That’s why I always make my more complicated recipes first. I leave the simpler prep (sheet pan chicken sausage and veggies, for example) for evenings after work when I need a few additional dishes to get me through the week. I know myself and there is ZERO chance I will make something with more than just a few steps on a weeknight.
GET UP EARLY
This is my biggest secret to success on Whole30 (and in general!). I get up by 5 a.m., seven days a week! While my daughter sleeps, I use this time to meal prep or menu plan, cook, post in my Whole30 Coaching group, finish up work from my day job, drink coffee, and generally start the day organized and prepared. I love the quiet of a new day and I accomplish so much in the early morning hours. This has been a game changer in helping me stay on top of everything in my life, meal prep included!
Want to see how I meal prepped one weekend? Check out this recent post, Whole30 Weekend Meal Prep from my Everyday Whole blog for a peek at the delicious eats I made to set myself up for success in the coming week!
Judith Forman is a mother, nonprofiter, fitness enthusiast, and meal prep queen who discovered Whole30 in 2015 and hasn’t looked back. After her first round, Judith took over a small, local Whole30 support group on Facebook, and has been co-leading it since. The group now has more than 42,000 members globally – and is growing daily! Judith is also one of the voices behind Everyday Whole, a new Whole30 lifestyle blog. As a Whole30 Certified Coach, her mission is to show others how to make Whole30 manageable – weaving food shopping, meal prep, and cooking into their busy daily lives. Beyond Whole30, Judith loves to run, take barre classes, hit the beach, drink seltzer, and hang out with her 5-year-old daughter.