A Whole30 Day

I know adapting to Whole30 eating can be tough, particularly if you don’t have a lot of experience cooking. But easy-peasey raw materials that require almost zero skill can be transformed into delicious, ethnic-inspired food that’s simple to make, packed with nutrition, and very satisfying to the tastebuds.

Last weekend, I grilled about 3 lbs. of boneless skinless chicken thighs. While the chicken was on the grill, I had a spaghetti squash in the oven, put a bag of frozen broccoli in the fridge to defrost, and par-steamed cabbage, zucchini, and some unidentifiable leafy greens from Farmhouse Delivery. When the veggies were done, I used the same pan to quickly brown and crumble a pound of ground beef… and then used the same pan again to cook a pound of frozen shrimp.

In the space of about 45 minutes, I had a fridge full of raw materials to build delicious meals – which was pretty awesome because this morning, I had 30 minutes to cook breakfast, lunch, and two snacks for myself, then eat and get my ass out the door.

I pulled a bunch of containers out of the fridge…

black olives
par-steamed cabbage
par-steamed greens
cooked spaghetti squash
par-steamed zucchini
defrosted, frozen chopped broccoli
grilled boneless, skinless chicken thighs
steamed shrimp
a half serving of browned, crumbled ground beef

… and I put them together like this:

Snack 1 (Italian-ish)
A little olive oil in the pan. Add broccoli, diced grilled chicken, garlic powder, and salt. Saute 3 minutes. Place in container and top with sliced black olives.

Snack 2 (Italian-ish)
A little olive oil in the pan. Add zucchini, diced grilled chicken, garlic powder, and salt. Saute 3 minutes. Place in container and top with sliced black olives.

Lunch (Turkish)
Some coconut oil in the pan. Add chopped greens, spaghetti squash, the measly leftovers of the ground beef, a few ounces of shrimp, garlic powder, salt, and homemade Turkish Baharat seasoning. Saute 5 minutes.

Breakfast (Made-up-ish)
Some coconut oil in the pan. Add spaghetti squash, cabbage, diced grilled chicken, garlic powder, and salt. Saute 5 minutes. Eat like an animal while applying makeup and drying hair.

Every one of those meals was delicious. And my lunch! My lunch was a grand slam… SO good. I totally cobbled it together this morning, but from now on, I will make it on purpose. The bitter greens with the sweet spaghetti squash and the spicy Turkish seasoning was super yummo. And I liked having two kinds of protein in the sauté; I’m going to do that more often!

The leftovers-that-aren’t-leftovers theme continues for dinner. We’re having paleo egg foo yung, so I’ll be using these raw materials:

par-steamed cabbage
defrosted frozen broccoli
grilled boneless, skinless chicken thighs
steamed shrimp
fresh chopped scallions

Need more help getting your head around how to shop and cook to eat paleo/dino-chow/clean/Whole30/real food? Check out these previous posts:
Stocking Up
The Method Behind My Madness
Taste the Rainbow
Steam/Saute Any Veggie

Onions 101

Last summer, I told Farmer Chuck — the king of everything delicious at our CSA Sunrise Farm — that the onions we'd been getting in our basket were...

Read More
Coconut 101

I was working on updating a classic American recipe for my Paleo Magazine column this weekend and realized I had no idea how to properly prepare...

Read More


  • Martin says:

    Thanks for this! I always get great ideas for meals from your blog. Success on this plan is really all about planning ahead, isn't it?!

  • Toni says:

    Hey Melissa, Toni here, found your blog from the Whole30 forum. Question, do you tend to 'snack' all day? I find I tend to eat 3 meals a day and that is it. However, I do find I hit that 3-4pm wall/slump and get rather tired for the rest of the evening. Wonder if this is a result of not eating enough or getting enough "snacks". Thanks!

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Martin –> Absolutely. I don't alway splan my meals, but I do a ton of prep once a week so that I always have the right foods around. In a pinch, a can of tuna and some raw veggies will suffice, but if I do that too often, I start to feel cheated out of deliciousness.

    Toni –> I don't snack all day, but I do have scheduled snacks. I eat on a pretty regulated schedule, just because M-F, my days are pretty similar to each other.

    Post-workout meal at 7:30 a.m.
    Second breakfast (a full meal) at 9:30 or so
    Lunch (a full meal) at noon-ish
    Afternoon snack (half-size meal) around 3:30-4:00
    Post-work snack (a few nuts or a little hunk of protein) – anytime before dinner, if I'm hungry
    Dinner (a full meal) at 7:00-ish

    On non-workout days, I eat a regular breakfast at about 7:30 a.m., then have a mid-morning snack around 10:00 that's a half-size meal. The rest of the day is the same: lunch, afternoon snack, dinner.

    Sometimes I eat a little protein and fat before bed if I feel hungry, but lately, I haven't needed to.

  • Mz. G says:

    I admire your preparation and for sharing your tips. Sometimes it's like DAMN that's a lot of work to do day in and day out, week after week. But that's just part of the investment in good health, I guess. And with practice it gets easier, I suppose. I feel like I'm at the bottom of the hill looking up. Eh.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Mz. G –> Yes! The preparation sometimes feels like SUCH a burden. But then I give myself a stern talking: it is worth the time investment. And that's why I have lots of days of food like the above, interspersed with more complicated recipes. I don't always want to spend so much time in the kitchen 😉

  • michele says:

    i tried the par-steaming technique last night with the assload of zucchini that was feeling neglected in my vegetable crisper.

    worked extremely well! i have never in my life cooked zucchini without fat, but it throws off so much liquid (and i used a le crueset pot, which helped) that it was a snap.

    curious to see how it reacts to another exposure to heat, and to try it with other vegetables, esp cabbage, which is also a favorite of mine.

    i have learned tons from this blog. thank you again.

  • Melissa 'Melicious' Joulwan says:

    Michele –> I'm glad it worked for you! Zucchini is tricky 'cause it can go from tender to soggy so quickly. The cabbage and other sturdy greens work really well.