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In Part 2, I shared what a typical day of Whole30 meals looks like for me, a currently breastfeeding mama who is doing a Whole30. This week, I wanted to provide helpful meal plan shortcuts for mamas who choose to do a Whole30 while breastfeeding!
My Whole30 Plan of Attack
My Whole30 strategy hinges on two factors: speed and convenience. I typically have eggs and veggies for breakfast, leftovers for lunch, and a huge salad with whatever protein I make for dinner. This requires me to prepare 3-4 main protein meals each week, hard-boil eggs, and roast a few trays of veggies for my weekly food prep. Every now and then I’ll make my own guacamole, dairy-free pesto, or dipping sauce, but I often let Primal Kitchen or Tessemae’s do the extra work for me. These convenience items make this way of eating more sustainable for my schedule.
Here are a few shortcuts I’ve found helpful:
Pick your 5
Do you find yourself making similar meals week to week? That’s a brilliant strategy. You can help reduce decision fatigue by having a few staple meals and a standard menu in your household. How I do it: My family has 5 or so go-to recipes. These are simple, delicious options that I can make in under 30 minutes. We keep the ingredients for these recipes on hand at all times. If I’m in a funk and don’t know what to cook, I resort to one of these 5 options. This replaces the need for an emergency call to Dominos.
I’ve found the Benjamin Franklin quote, “If you fail to plan, you are planning to fail!” to be dead on when it comes to a successful Whole30. Use a colorful meal planner, an app on your phone (I like Real Plans), or just a pencil and paper.
How I do it: I start by asking my husband what he’s interested in having for the week. We typically have one or two of the recipes in our top 5, ground meat with different spices, baked chicken thighs or breasts, baked salmon, and we’ll usually try a new recipe. This helps keep things simple, cost-effective, and interesting. Would I love to try a bunch of new recipes every week? Yes, of course, but at this time I’m not willing to sacrifice playtime with my 16-month old.
Assemble a few proteins, veggies, and condiments on a day that works for you. Once you have protein and veggie dishes ready to go, you can easily add a drizzle of healthy oil; grab a piece of whole fruit; slice up an avocado; open a jar of olives or nut butter; or toss on some shredded coconut. This creates lots of opportunities to create Whole30 meals that fit the meal template.
How I do it: I spend about 2-3 hours doing some batch cooking on the weekend. I bake sweet potatoes, roast and steam veggies, and make at least 2-3 of our weekly proteins. This way we always have veggies and protein available. In the middle of the week, I’ll pop another 1-2 meals in a crockpot or our Instant Pot. It’s super easy to throw ingredients in a slow-cooker or pressure cooker and let the machine do the work! This frees up some time so you can work on the other things on your “to-do” list, sit back and relax, or chase your toddler.
Assemble meals on the fly
Once you have protein, veggies, and condiments ready, get creative! Mix your favorite protein, veggie, and healthy fat combinations based off what you prepared on the weekend and what you have stocked in your refrigerator and pantry.
How I do it: I often make a few pounds of chicken breasts or thighs and keep things interesting by using different spice or herb combinations. I’ll take a plain baked chicken breast and turn it into a Whole30-compliant pesto chicken over zucchini noodles; chicken and marinara over spaghetti squash; or chicken salad with mayo, sliced grapes, celery and walnuts in a lettuce wrap. With a little practice and planning, these meals come together quickly without a lot of fuss.
Have a night out
After all of your hard work, why not enjoy a meal away from home once or twice throughout the course of your Whole30? You’ll have less mess and more celebration for making through another week. High-five!
How I do it: While we don’t eat out often, when we do, we make sure to find restaurants that serve high-quality food and are toddler-friendly. Where we are living right now, that pretty much limits us to Whole Foods. So, on Friday nights, my husband and I head to Whole Foods for our dinner date. How romantic, right? I usually make a salad or have a collard green wrap with a side of roasted potatoes or fruit. The bonus? While we’re eating dinner at Whole Foods I can always purchase a few groceries to get us through the weekend.
Stephanie Greunke is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition who specializes in women’s health. She is a certified personal trainer and prenatal and postnatal corrective exercise specialist. Stephanie guides and supports women locally and globally through her web-based private practice.