Whole30: Week 1 Food Plan

I really don’t understand meal plans. I mean, conceptually, I get it. When you’re starting a new eating plan, an expert tells you exactly what to eat and when to make it a little easier. But practically speaking, it makes no sense to me.

What if I don’t want to eat salmon on Monday?

However, I understand the desire to have a more concrete plan than “eat clean food,” especially for someone new to paleo or tackling a Whole30® for the first time. So this post is a description of what I’d do if I was going to do a Whole30 right now.

A few things to keep in mind:

1. This is a Whole30 Meal Plan… and it’s not. It’s more of a food and cooking plan. I’m not going to tell you what to eat when, but I have made recommendations for foods you’ll want to make sure you have in your kitchen and recipes I think make the Whole30 easy and delicious.

2. I haven’t specified things like breakfast, lunch, dinner, or snacks. As I explained in Well Fed  and Well Fed 2, I eat the same kinds of foods at all of my meals. If I want breakfast food at dinner time, I break out the eggs. And my breakfast is usually chicken, sautéed with sweet potatoes and collard greens, with a side of zucchini soup. I’m not suggesting that the Whole30 means you have to eat zucchini soup for breakfast. I’m just saying you’ll probably have more fun if you stop thinking of foods as appropriate for a particular meal. Eat what you want when you want it. (As long as it’s from the Whole30-approved list, of course.)

3. I created a complete shopping list. I went through the recipes and made a list of everything you’ll need to make the food below, and it’s in a PDF so you can print it out, cross out the things you don’t need, and add whatever else you think you might want to nosh. You’ll definitely want some stuff in your kitchen that’s not included in this blog post or shopping list. I’m talking about lovely nibbles like coconut chips or black olives, or luscious in-season citrus fruit, or a vegetable that catches your eye at the farmer’s market. Download the Week 1 Shopping List.

4. You’ll probably need more food than you think. The Whole30 may limit how often you eat in restaurants, not because you can’t, but because eating at home is usually less stressful and more delicious. Below are some rough guidelines for how much protein and veggies you need to feed yourself each day; for more on this food math, you might want to check out my cookbook Well Fed or this post called “Stocking Up.”

Per person, per day, you need approximately:
3/4 pound to 1 1/2 pounds of protein
6-8 cups of vegetables

Think about the people you need to feed and adjust your shopping and cooking accordingly. I guarantee you that you’d rather have more food than you need (you can always pop it in the freezer until you’re ready for it) than to run out mid-week when you’re tired and hungry. If you’re cooking for ripped-to-the-max CrossFitters, they eat more of everything than a “regular” person. If you’re cooking for just yourself, you might want to cut quantities in half, or freeze half of the larger recipes below.

This might seem complicated and overwhelming now, but after a week or two, you’ll be a pro. Relax! You really can’t do it wrong. I promise.

5. Keep it simple. You don’t need to follow a bunch of complicated recipes to eat well, and I recommend that during your first week, especially, you make it as easy on yourself as possible. That’s why I encourage you to make Hot Plates (see details below) and a few simple recipes that yield large quantities so you have lots of useful, yummy leftovers. (Want more ideas for keeping it simple? This post has tons of meal ideas that don’t require a recipe.)

This Food Plan is based on two components: (1) Hot Plates, which are essentially meat+veg sautés you can make on-the-fly, and (2) Bulk Recipes that make scrumptious dishes in larger quantities so you have leftovers throughout the week. The combination of both means you can fight boredom and have your own personal menu of choices to choose from every day. Your fridge is about to become your favorite restaurant.

The info below lists the recipes I recommend you make for a week’s worth of meals, plus a step-by-step plan for getting it all done in about two hours. 3-2-1… GO!

Hot Plates

The basis of cooking in our house is Hot Plates. Basically, I cook a pile of protein and bushels of vegetables to store in the fridge until it’s time to eat. Then I quickly sauté whatever I’m in the mood for and top it with spices and sauces to jazz it up. Easy! It’s like this:

Protein + Veggies + Fat + Spices + Sauce = Meal

Here’s my recommendation for what you’ll cook for Hot Plates during Week 1. The detailed instructions are below, but this gives you an idea of the quantity and ingredients.


Ground Beef: 2-3 pounds, browned in a skillet with lots of salt, ground black pepper, and garlic powder.

Boneless, Skinless Chicken Thighs : 2-3 pounds, roasted with lots of salt, ground black pepper, garlic powder, and paprika.

Tuna, Sardines, Shrimp: Stock up on cans of tuna (my favorite is Genova Tonno, packed olive oil, no extra ingredients), sardines (my fave are Crown Prince, skinless and boneless), and shrimp (I defrost frozen, wild-caught in the fridge for last-minute meals).


Cooked Vegetables: Cook a bunch of veggies and store in the fridge. All of these (except the spaghetti squash and sweet potatoes), get a basic Steam-Sauté treatment:
Spaghetti Squash (how-to video for cutting spaghetti squash)
Green beans
Bell Peppers
Brussels sprouts
Greens: kale, collards, spinach, or chard

Raw Vegetables: These are great for salad plates, snacks, and as add-ons alongside a Hot Plate:
Bell Peppers
Snap Peas



A drizzle of something luscious turns meat and vegetables into something you really want to eat. These three are very versatile and quick to make:

Sunshine Sauce: like Asian peanut sauce, without the annoying (anti-nutritious) peanuts

Olive Oil Mayo: so much better than store-bought, and perfect for salad dressings, tuna/chicken salad, or dolloping on top of grilled meat

Moroccan Dipping Sauce: fresh, a little spicy, and fast to make; excellent drizzled over Hot Plates and doubles as salad dressing

Alert! If you make roasted chicken thighs and roasted spaghetti squash and Sunshine Sauce and stock up on snap peas, you have everything you need for Pad Thai.


More Ideas for “No Recipe Required” Meals

You can find lots more detail and tons of ideas for Hot Plates in my cookbook Well Fed. The links below provide ideas, inspiration, and how-to advice:

Stocking Up: some advice on how much food you need to buy
The Method Behind My Madness: more details on how to cook meal components in advance
How to Steam-Sauté Veggies: the never-run-out method

10 Burger Toppers
10 Ways to Dress Up Your Broccoli
Stuff to Put on Eggs
10 Paleo Flavor Boosters

Recommended Recipes

In addition to Hot Plates, I think it nourishes the soul to have some home-cooked, comfort foods in the fridge. The great thing about all the recipes I’ve listed below is that they taste better the longer they sit, so you’re guaranteed delicious meals all week long.

Chocolate Chili
This is one of my most popular recipes, and if you double it, you can freeze half to have chili on-demand.

Italian Pork Roast: This recipe yields tender, flavorful pork that’s great on its own and works well in Hot Plates or salads, too.

Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup: Soups are one of my favorite ways to get extra vegetables without even really thinking about it. This is a favorite of mine for breakfast, but if that’s too weird for you, just eat a small bowl before lunch or dinner, or as a snack.


I made a shopping list that includes all the ingredients for these recipes. Be sure to give it a once over to add additional stuff — like veggies and fruit to supplement these recipes — and to remove stuff you already have in your pantry. Download the Week 1 Shopping List.

Cookup: The Plan

If you want to cook all of the stuff listed above and want to spend the minimum amount of time in the kitchen, there’s a plan below for how you can do it. This should serve 2-4 people for the better part of a week, give or take a meal or two. The recommendations included here are the way I cook for my husband (6′ 5″) and myself (5′ 4″) to keep us going through work days, strength training, walks, and yoga.

NOTE: This is pro-level cooking organization. It requires you to fire up the stove, the oven, and the slow cooker all at the same time. Put on some favorite tunes, get yourself a big glass of water, take a deep breath, and start chopping and stirring. You can do it!


On The Menu

Here’s the comprehensive list of what you’re making in this Cookup:
Roasted Chicken Thighs
Olive Oil Mayo
Roasted Spaghetti Squash
Roasted Sweet Potatoes
Italian Pork Roast
Chocolate Chili
Sunshine Sauce
Browned Ground Beef
Green Beans
Moroccan Dipping Sauce
Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup

Get Prepped

1. Sharpen your knife. Get out your cutting board, some baking sheets, and a non-stick skillet. Drag your slow cooker out of the cabinet. Dust off your blender. Fill your water bottle. Turn on your tunes.

2. Take an egg out of the fridge to come to room temperature for the Olive Oil Mayo.

3. Preheat the oven to 400F for the chicken thighs, roasted spaghetti squash, and sweet potatoes.

4. Wash and cut the broccoli and green beans you are going to steam-sauté.

5. Collect an array of storage containers and jars for the finished food.

Let’s Get Cookin’

Here are the step-by-step instructions you need to make all of this food. Have fun!

1. Get the Italian Pork Roast going. We’re easing into it with a simple one. This takes almost no hands-on time and will yield massive amounts of protein. Season the pork roast and plunk it in the slow cooker. [Italian Pork Roast Recipe]

2. Start the Chocolate Chili. Make the chili all the way through to the end of the recipe so it can simmer on the back of the stove while you do the rest of the kitchen work. [Chocolate Chili Recipe]

3. Get the chicken and veggies in the oven. Place the chicken thighs on a large baking sheet, sprinkle generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. On another baking sheet, place the cut spaghetti squash and a few whole, unpeeled sweet potatoes. Drizzle 3 tablespoons of water around the squash. Slide both baking sheets into the oven and set a timer for 30 minutes.

4. Make some sauces. Homemade mayo takes about 5 minutes to make. How amazingly great is that?! Ditto for the Sunshine Sauce. [Olive Oil Mayo Recipe | Sunshine Sauce Recipe]

5. Brown the ground beef. Crumble the ground beef into a very large skillet — I like non-stick; you do what makes you feel comfortable. Season it generously with salt, pepper, and garlic powder. Cook, breaking up clumps with a wooden spoon, until it’s no longer pink. Remove the meat to a storage container, but keep the pan where it is. Time to steam-sauté those veggies.

Did your 30-minute timer go off yet? Check the chicken and veggies in the oven. The chicken should be golden brown and sizzling. The squash should be tender to the touch. If yes, remove the chicken and squash from the oven, but slide the potatoes back in for another 20 minutes. If no, set the timer for 5-10 minutes and keep the chicken and squash in the oven.

6. Steam-sauté your veggies. Put 1/2 cup water in the hot pan, bring it to a boil, and add the broccoli. Let it steam-sauté for 5-7 minutes, then remove. (While it’s cooking, you can take a quick meditation break. Close your eyes, and do 10 rounds of slow breathing: in for 4 beats, out for 4 beats, completely filling and emptying your lungs. Comfort and joy, right here.) When the broccoli is tender, remove it to a storage container, add another 1/2 cup water to the pan, and cook the green beans. Repeat as necessary. While the veggies are cooking, make the Moroccan Dipping Sauce. [Complete Steam-Sauté Instructions]

Time to check the chicken, squash, and sweet potatoes again. How are they doing?

7. Make the Moroccan Dipping Sauce. While the green beans are steaming, whip up a batch of this sauce that doubles as salad dressing. Moroccan Dipping Sauce Recipe

8. Make the Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup. This is last because by now you might be sick of cooking. If you are, give yourself permission to skip the soup. But if you’ve still got gas in the tank, make the soup and let it simmer while you get ready for your cooldown. [Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup]

Are your sweet potatoes out of the oven? They should be finished by now.

Pack It Up

As your simmered and roasted dishes finish up, place them in BPA-free storage containers (like these) and pop them into the fridge. Remember: Despite what your grandma might have told you, it’s better to put freshly-cooked food in the fridge while it’s warm; let it cool slightly on the countertop then get it into the fridge. Your homemade food is safe to eat for about a week; for more on food storage safety, visit TheKitchn and TheDailyMeal.

I also recommend you make a list of all the food you just cooked and make a list to hang on your refrigerator door. It’s an excellent reminder of how completely badass you are — and it makes it easy to review your home menu of deliciousness.


So there you have it: Week 1. Here’s Week 2Week 3, and Week 4.

More Resources

Just in case you need additional ideas, support, and motivation, here are a few more tidbits to help make your Whole30 as tasty and stress free as possible.


Well Fed: Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat: my cookbook of Whole30-approved recipes, including Hot Plates and more ideas for how to do a Weekly Cookup.

Well Fed 2: More Paleo Recipes For People Who Love To Eat: my second cookbook of Whole30-approved recipes, including 15 meatball recipes, 8 sauces to make with homemade mayo, and adaptations for the autoimmune protocol (AIP).

Great Ingredients: No Recipe Required: a roundup of delicious meals you can make pretty quickly and without following a recipe

30 Reasons to Whole30: In case all this talk of cooking has stressed you out, here are 30 reminders why the Whole30 is worth it.

The Whole30 Daily: a kickass daily email subscription service that sends detailed info and helpful tips to your inbox every day of your Whole30 (Full disclosure: Dave and I worked on this with Melissa and Dallas, and it’s really, really good.)

Stupid Easy Paleo Whole30 & Guide To Clean-Eating Challenges: Steph of Stupid Easy Paleo is supporting the Whole30 on January 1. You can read her rationale here, get answers to FAQs here, and download her 14-page guide to make the Whole30 a little easier.

30 Days of Whole30 Meals from Nom Nom Paleo: she has excellent taste, so shamelessly stealing her meal ideas is an excellent idea

A Month of Whole30 Dinner Ideas & 10 Tips To Make Your Whole30 a Success: from the fabulous Holly Would If She Could

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  • katherine says:

    Melissa, this is great! I have successfully completed a Whole30 and have been 95% compliant since April, feeling and looking super healthy 🙂 thank you for always sharing your experiences here, it helps so much.

    I want to second your comment about the Genova Tonno Tuna in EVOO. It is the most delicious tuna I have ever had, and has saved me quite a few times when I needed to make a quick lunch or dinner. It is an easy Whole30 staple and the EVOO makes it so moist and loaded w/ good fat, and great for salad topping. Its also the only tuna I have found that doesn’t have added soy.

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations on permanently revamping your eating habits. That’s totally awesome. YAY!

      I get cravings for that damn tuna. Have to eat it at least 2X per week 😉

  • Jess says:

    Whole30 August ready! Thanks for the tips…I live sunshine sauce! I have it on everything!

  • Naomi says:

    I am a total Meal Plan freak to the point that people often raise their eyebrows and just walk away when I get overly excited about talking about them, but in Week One of Whole 30, I’ve been frustrated by my attempt at a meal plan.

    THIS post is a perfect thing for me and I’m so excited! Now if I just would’ve known all the cool kids were waiting until August 1st to start, I would have been golden 🙂


    • Mel says:

      I’m so glad you found this helpful. And whatever with Aug 1 — it’s almost always a good time to start a Whole30 😉 You got a jump start!

  • Jennifer says:

    Thank you so much for this…it makes it seem much less overwhelming.

    On August 1, I will be making my third attempt…I “epic failed” my last 2 attempts (correction….I make the epically bad choice to not prioritize caring for myself by choosing to eat food that I know makes me feel bad)

    I am an ER/trauma nurse that does 12 hour night shifts…this will REALLY help simplifying shopping and meal preparation/strategizing:-)

    • Mel says:

      Try to treat yourself gently. The Whole30 is challenging under teh best of circumstances, but add work or life stress, and it gets a little harder. But you can do it! Keep your food simple and just make sure you always have protein and veggies around, even if it’s not the most awesome meal ever (sardines, cucumbers, carrots, dipped in the oil from the sardines) at least it’s nutritious and will get you through until you can enjoy a sit-down, awesome meal. Good luck to you!

      You might also want to check out Nom Nom Paleo’s Whole30 posts because she works 12-hr shifts overnight in a hospital pharmacy.

  • Michelle Handy says:

    Thank you so much for this!! I love all the areas you hit on. I especially love your shopping theory. Hunt and gather. This is really how I’ve taught myself a lot about food. So no your not an asshole….you an angel with pig wings. ; ) lol…

  • Heather says:

    I tried to do the Whole30 and failed after 6 days. I have a cheese addiction that I can’t seem to break. I am going to try the Whole30 again cause I believe that dairy isn’t doing me any favors. I am going to use your template for the first week and see how I do. I’m hoping those fantastic dressings will make me not want cheese so much…we shall see.

    Anyway thank you for sharing this with all of us so we can all have a chance to succeed. It’s truly appreciated!

    • Mel says:

      The creamy dressings should help. If you know days 5/6 are hard for you, plan to eat a little more fat on those days to help you get over the cheese thing. Each day you get further, it makes it easier to do the next day. You can do it!

    • noblepower says:

      I’m also a huge Dairy Queen and I still indulge in occasional cheese (not during a Whole 30, though). Mel’s right about the creamy dressings. I also found for me that making my own mayo (see Mel’s recipe) or adding avocado to things also helped by providing that creaminess and mouthfeel that comes from the fat in cheese. Also make sure your food has flavor – another thing that make Mel’s recipes really work for me. Kick up the flavor with herbs and spices. When you make it through a Whole 30, you may also find as I did that your overall cheese desire lessens significantly. While I’ll not make dairy a complete taboo, being mindful on when I’m eating it and what I’m looking for from eating it has really helped.

  • Susan says:

    Thank you for all the wonderful information and recipes! This post from Cook’s Illustrated has FDA information about what to do with hot food. They recommend *not* putting it in the fridge until it has cooled some, as it brings the temperature of the fridge down too much. These days, if I have to put hot food in the fridge, I make sure to put a bunch of ice packs in there with it to help keep the fridge really cold.

  • Starr says:

    I’m actually starting another 30 days on Aug 1st so perfect timing!

  • Paige T says:

    Starting Whole 30 on Aug 1, doing some prep tonight. My mayo came out tasting perfect but mine came out with a distinct yellow color. Not sure if it was the egg I used or what. Tastes delicious though! Thanks for this post on tips!

    • Mel says:

      Could be the egg, could be the dry mustard. I’ve heard this a few other times from other readers, but it doesn’t seem to affect the taste.

  • Jen says:

    Theoretically… Could you make the zucchini soup with yellow squash? I have a lot to use! Is there anything you would do differently?

    Love this post…its perfect! I’ve been mostly paleo the past couple of Weeks except for a little maple syrup in my latte every morning so that will be the hardest thing! But both me and my kids are on it now, and its great! Well I’m a little more lenient with them because I don’t have them full time…but I’m happy with how they’re doing!

    • Mel says:

      Hmmm… I’m not sure if yellow squash will work. Yellow squash has larger seeds and a less creamy texture than zucchini, but the flavors are quite similar. If you want to test it, you could just cut up one yellow squash, cook it in water or broth, then puree it to see how the texture comes out. If you like it, you could make a whole batch.

      Congrats on switching your family to paleo. That’s awesome!

  • Cristina says:

    I just made 2 batches of mayo for my upcoming whole 30. One basil mayo, with basil from my patio garden and a chipotle mayo! Top for anyone wanting to add flavors/herbs, blend together with the 1 cup oil, then set aside and proceed as if you hadn’t just had a flavor party.

  • . I am going to use your template for the first week and see how I do. I’m hoping those fantastic dressings will make me not want cheese so much…we shall see.

  • Love a challenge! I’m trying my own August challenge; meat and three veg for every meal in August. It’s similar to the Whole30 but rules are easier to remember.

    • Mel says:

      Love that idea! In my mind, that’s what the Whole30 is, really, but I love how you’ve boiled it down to its essence. Right on!

  • Erica says:

    Regarding the carnitas…I confirmed that the leftovers are delicious in your machacado con huevos recipe, replacing the machaca with carnita meat 🙂

  • Heather says:

    I have tried to like coconut anything but I just don’t like it. I have forced it down, many times, in hopes that I would aquire the flavor but it’s not happening…haha! In place of coconut milk can I use almond milk instead? I know it’s not as thick as coconut milk so I’m assuming it drastically changes the consistancy. Thoughts?

    • Mel says:

      I’m sorry! I’ve never tried almond milk, so I don’t know how it would work. If you decide to try it, make sure you use homemade almond milk because most commercial brands include junky ingredients.

    • Ebie says:

      Heather, I started using a 1/4 of a can of coconut milk in my coffee every morning after reading It Starts With Food, and at first I didn’t like the flavor, but I’m now so addicted that the thought of it gets me out of bed. And I’m not a big coconut fan in general. I do not think it has any hint of “coconut” flavoring that I taste in baked goods and other coconut items. Have you TRIED coconut milk? I’m pretty sure almond milk isn’t even close to paleo by a stretch of the imagination, though I could be wrong… Just my thoughts. Try it! 🙂

      • Heather says:

        I have tried coconut milk and I just do not like it. It over powers everything I make with it. I don’t mind a hint but I like the other flavors to come through too. Maybe it’s the brand of coconut milk I bought. I will try a different brand see if it tastes different. What brand are you using? I really want to like it because of the health benefits. Also, almond milk is paleo as long as you make it yourself. the store bought stuff has a bunch of extra junk in it.

  • Leigh Anne says:

    Hi Melissa! I am soo glad I found your site, it’s so encouraging! I’m new to eating clean and will be starting the Whole30 plan this weekend. I’m having a hard time finding a good egg casserole recipe! I’m not a morning person so I would love to bake the night before and be able to reheat it the next few mornings or even evenings. Do you have any good suggestions for me??

    Thank you in advance!!
    Leigh Anne

  • Shavonne says:

    Greetings Mel, where is the whole 30 week 2-4?

  • Jill says:

    I am about to start my first Whole30 and this post has me feeling a bit more prepared and feeling like I *can* do this. Thanks Mel!!!!

  • Jess says:

    I love you! Thank you, you have saved my first week. VERY helpful!!

  • Dawn says:

    Hi there! I’m going to start my 1st Whole 30 on Monday, and I have read “It Starts with Food” as well as “Well Fed”. Thank you so much for helping with the meal plans and your wonderful book, I have a feeling both will prove to be invaluable resources. I was wondering what type of tomatoes you would suggest using in the hot plates. Thanks again!

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations on taking on the Whole30! Wishing you smooth sailing and lots of good food!

      For the Hot Plates, you can use either fresh diced tomatoes, or canned… I like Muir Glen fire-roasted because they taste good and the cans are BPA free.

  • Kasia Tran says:

    Love the week 1 plan. It made it really easy to start the Whole 30. Do you have a week 2, 3, 4? I get the process, but your recipes are so good and it really helps to buy things for the week that are used in multiple recipes. I can’t seem to make my own week plan.

    • Mel says:

      I’m so glad you found the Week 1 plan helpful. I haven’t done additional weeks — the whole idea was to give an example so Whole30-ers could do week 1 with help, and then make their own plans.

      Maybe after the brouhaha of launching Well Fed 2 dies down I can tackle additional weeks.

      Hope your Whole30 was awesome!

  • Kristin says:

    I have used most of your recipes for dinner! I am 21 days in andfeeling great! Love the chocolat echili and have made it twice already. Thanks for making it easy to make good healthy meals!

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations on Whole30-ing — you’re so close to the finish line. YAY! Glad to know my recipes are making it a little easier and tastier.

  • Started paleo this week. On Sat had no idea how I would eat this way & enjoy my food. The recepi’s you have provided are awesome. I also love how you show how to cook everything at once. Everything is easy, tastes awesome. I havnt made the sauces yet. Thank you so much!

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations on joining the Paleo Club! It can seem overwhelming at first, but you’ll get the hang of it in a few weeks. I’m glad my recipes and plan helped you out! Wishing you good health and lots of fun adventures in the kitchen!

  • Martine says:

    WoW Girl! You are Amazing for putting all that down for us!
    THANKYOU… What a REAL HELP this is.. hugs xx 🙂

    • Mel says:

      I’m glad this was helpful to you! I’m working on an even bigger, better Whole30 menu and shopping guide for later this month to help everyone doing Whole30 in January… stay tuned!

  • Heather says:

    Where can I get 3 more weeks! I need guidance and a plan to prep ahead for the week!

  • DT newbie says:

    Hi there

    I have recently read the book and I am seriously considering starting my whole 30 very soon but I need abit of help. I suffer with fibromyalgia and as part of that I also have IBS. I know eggs and nuts don’t do me any favours, unfortunately that includes almonds and coconuts. I need a few ideas for breakfasts. I don’t usually have time to cook in the mornings but I can cook the night before I guess, but I have gotten pretty used to granola and I’m feeing abit panicked about eating meat and vegetables for brekkie. Any help, suggestions or inspiration is welcome at this point! Thanks

    • Mel says:

      I eat the same things for breakfast that I eat at other meals: protein, veggies, and fat. Try a saute of veggies with ground meat and sweet potatoes. My favorite is ground beef, cabbage, sweet potatoes, and Tsardust Memories seasoning from Penzeys. I also eat the Silky Gingered Zucchini Soup for breakfast alongside my saute to get more veggies in.

  • Alisha says:

    Stumbled across your blog in making plans for my own whole30! Love your loose meal planning ideas and the looks of your recipes! When I went to the grocery store yesterday to get some ingredients, though, I could not find coconut milk that was whole30 approved! All of them had some sort of sugar in them. This was at an Earthfare. Help! 🙂

    • Mel says:

      Congratulations on tackling the Whole30!

      For coconut milk, you need to get the canned kind — usually in the “ethnic” or asian food section of the grocery store. The only ingredients should be coconut, water, and guar gum. Bonus if you can find it without guar gum, but most brands include it.

      You want to steer clear of the coconut milk in the carton in the dairy section — that always has yucky extra ingredients.

  • Denise says:

    Hi Mel,
    I am starting my first whole30 after reading ‘It Starts With Food’ from cover to cover. I stumbled across your blog through Pinterest and just wanted to say Thank You!! Your suggestions and recipes are amazing and I can’t wait to start my whole30 on Monday.

  • Layla says:


    I will be starting my first whole 30 next month and love your blog and all the great advice you give. Thank you!!

    Quick question…the three recipes you give above, is this it for the whole week and we use leftovers in between? Or are these just three examples and we need to add in other recipes for the rest of the week?

    I’ve meal planned many times before and I’ve seen others do it both ways. I think I just need a little more direction for my first Whole 30 and wanted to stick to how you recommend it for the first couple weeks.

    Thanks so much!

  • Wendy says:

    I just finished your meal plan prep to the “T” yesterday! Can’t wait to start eating! Even the mayo turned out great first try!! Thank you!!! http://instagram.com/p/qt-8MsjsAt/

  • Tiffany says:

    Totally stoked to find this (via the Whole30 web site, of course). I’ve been eating Paleo-ish for the past few years but want to get back on the wagon, so I’ll be starting Whole30 on Oct. 1 2014. (Ikeep calling it a Paleo Cleanse to my friends).

    I get bored with the few paleo cookbooks that I have and I’m such a busy person that just having all this stuff cooked ahead of time makes a heck of a lot more sense. I cook massive amounts of chicken and veggies anyway to eat on during the week at work, so this should be relatively easy to spend a Sunday doing … and I get to throw in new stuff! Thanks!

    • Sounds like you have a great base to build on. Congratulations on taking on the Whole30. I bet you’re going to love it!

      • Tiffany says:

        Thanks! I think I meant to say I like the idea of just keeping everything Paleo in the kitchen and then just grabbing what I feel like cooking that night, as well as prepping a whole bunch of stuff ahead time (which I do anyway but typically only for a few lunches that typically consist of chicken and sautéed veggies, so I’m very bored with my habits). Anyway… basically, it’s time to be focused!

  • Jeanne says:

    I’m on day 13 of my first ever Whole 30, and I’m loving it! Your meal plans and recipes have made it easy. Have finished up weeks one and two, and am now planning to repeat….but with MORE MEAT! I’ve found that I run out of my protein before week’s end and have to scramble for protein (usually literally, with eggs, LOL) by the end of the week. The soups are fantastic, the chili is the BEST, and this week I’m doing the Italian crock roast with a beef chuck roast instead of pork (although the pork was fabulous). I also did a trial cook-up the week before I started so that I could trial-run everything before actually starting; that really helped me be a little more adventurous in the kitchen without the pressure of “falling off the Whole 30 wagon” if something didn’t work out. Keep up the good work! 17 more days to go…….

  • Jordy says:

    I’m starting whole30 tomorrow and I bought all of the ingredients you have listed but I’m still unsure on exactly how much to make for each meal and what exactly to eat. Is there a resource you can provide that has a calendar of exactly what to eat and how to prepare it for (30 days)? I understand that you promote mixing things it up and you provide a list of some of the approved foods but for people like me I just need to be clearly told how to do it and I’ll follow it. I’m wanting to feel pumped about this whole thing but I feel like i’m running in circles trying to find what program I need to be following. If you can help me I would appreciate it. TIA 🙂

    • I don’t have an “eat this on this day” plan, and I don’t know of any resources that include that kind of plan for the Whole30.

      The Paleo Parents new book Real Life Paleo includes daily meal plans, but it’s not 100% Whole30 compliant.

      If you need a day-by-day meal plan, why not make one yourself, using the recipes from this post. It might be fun! In terms of how much to eat at each meal, you can follow this template: http://whole30.com/downloads/whole30-meal-planning.pdf

      Try not to overthink it too much. I know the Whole30 can seem daunting, but you can do it.

  • Jordy says:

    Hi Melissa,

    quick question so I started whole30 on Dec 01. and I went out to an all organic all raw restaurant and I asked the owner what on their menu was whole 30 approved and he said everything was, including their desserts which I partook of (this one specifically *ingredients listed*: http://cl.ly/image/1I1n430z1q3s) I posted it on social media and a friend referred me to this statement from whole30 “Do not try to re-create baked goods, junk foods, or treats* with “approved” ingredients. Continuing to eat your old, unhealthy foods made with Whole30 ingredients is totally missing the point, and will tank your results faster than you can say “Paleo Pop-Tarts.” So my question is was I in the wrong to eat something like this? I figured since all of the ingredients were all something I would have ate normally just not creatively put together how they were that it would be okay but other people had a different opinion. Thanks for all you do to help!

    • The creators of the Whole30 emphasize that the Whole30 is about more than just the yes/no list of food — it’s also about understanding and re-shaping your relationship with food. So that’s why they recommend no paleo treats, even when the ingredients are all on the ‘yes’ list. It’s a fine line/gray area so my advice is that for the 30 days of the Whole30, skip dessert, even if it’s made of Whole30 ingredients, unless it’s a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity to eat it. When doing a Whole30, if you eat something that’s on the no list of foods, it’s important to start over (to give your body the full 30 days of healing), but for something like this, you don’t need to start over, I don’t think… but probably avoid the dessert next time.

  • Jen says:

    what is the best storage container for the olive oil mayo when i make it ahead? Also, will extra virgin not work? That is what i have on hand.

    • A glass jar or BPA-free container is good. Extra-virgin tastes too much like olives and the resulting mayo is really nasty. I 100% recommend against using extra-virgin; I think you’ll be very disappointed.

      • Jen says:

        Thanks! I will go ahead and buy non-EV oil and give it a go. Starting my first whole30 on monday so plan on getting prepped over the weekend and making some mayo ahead of time.

  • Lisa says:

    Thank you so much for the ‘list”. I am so nervous to start the whole 30 plan or any plan at that! I have never dieted & never really paid much attention to what I fed myself or my family. My resolution is to eat healthier, cleaner, & greener. There is so much info out here that it is hard to find a clear starting point and just… Do it! At least this gives me some ideas a a little direction. I try very hard to cook well, I just really suck at it! Fingers crossed. Our start to healthy eating is 1/18/2015

  • Tierney says:


    My boyfriend and I completed a while 30 in January. It was his first one (my second, but I’ve done paleo for short durations several times before) and he had a LOT of concerns. Your cool ups saved us and we have adopted this style of food prep into our lives. Our one major argument; how long is good safe to eat? Most websites and information says cooked chicken/turkey 3 days, other meats 4, and 3-4 days for cooked veggies. As far as I’m concerned if it smells fine and looks fine it is fine and I’m totally content eating foods we made on Sunday the following Saturday. He did it this way for a month and neither of us got ill, but now he’s insisting we keep nothing past that 3-4 day mark. I really don’t want to cook in the middle of the week or go grocery shopping multiple times. We froze half of the meats this week so we can start “fresh” mid week, but we’re out of veggies except frozen. Ok, this is way too much explaining. I guess I just wanted to know why you said the food cooked on Sunday keeps for about a week when every other source says no more than 4 days? Thanks!

    P.S. Love your cook books!

  • pat says:

    It says you added salt to the ground beef isn’t that one of the rules of the Paleo diet you can’t have salt?


    Or is it okay with the whole thirty… I have no problem with sugar I am, however addicted to salt!

    • Salt is not excluded from the paleo diet or the Whole30:

      “Salt: Yes

      First, salt makes your food delicious. Second, when you cut out processed and packaged foods, you remove the vast majority of sodium from your diet. Adding salt to your Whole30 plate won’t push you over reasonable sodium limits, and if you avoid salt altogether, you run the risk of an electrolyte imbalance (not to mention serious food boredom). We encourage a mix of iodized table salt and sea salt.

      Tip: Did you know that all iodized table salt contains sugar? Sugar (often in the form of dextrose) is chemically essential to keep the potassium iodide from oxidizing and being lost. But remember, salt is an exception to the Whole30 “no added sugar” rules. Without this exception, you’d never be able to eat outside of your own home, because iodized table salt is added to all restaurant and pre-packaged foods.”

  • Christy b says:

    It’s like you opened my brain, put it through a “healthy” filter and wrote this. I love the way you think and this is the most tangible ( for me) approach to Whole30 I’ve seen yet. Thank you so much!

  • Rebecca says:

    I’m on Day 16 of my Whole 30 and the prep is getting to me–as in, I’m not doing it right! I’ve noticed that you steam/saute a lot of your veggies and I was wondering if I could julienne some of them, but leave them raw in the fridge? For example, if I julienne a few sweet potatoes for easy hash throughout the week, do I need to cook them first or can I just julienne, put them in the fridge and use as needed? Thanks!

    • You can store cut up veggies in the fridge and cook them to order — whatever makes it easy for you to eat veggies is a big win!

      • Rebecca says:

        Thank you! I’m so new to this way of eating that I want to make sure I’m doing it right! 🙂 You’re website and books are a treasure trove of information as I dive into the Whole 30. Thanks for such fantastic resources!

  • Susan says:

    Thank you – great posting. I’m just getting started with this way of eating for various reasons. One question is I am a pre-diabetic and I do need snacks. I cannot go too long between meals. Are the only snacks basically a veggie of some sort (raw maybe) and a protein of some sort to go with it? Any other ideas? Thank you!

    • For the best blood sugar and hormone management, your snacks should include at least two of the three macronutrients, so some combo of protein, carbs (veg, fruit), and fat. Bonus points if you get all three in a snack!

      Examples: chicken and cucumber strips, apple and nut butter, tuna with avocado and bell peppers, hard-boiled egg and almonds, etc.

  • Francine says:

    Hi Melissa – loved this idea and it really helped the hubby and I tackle week one shopping and food prep with out feeling overwhelmed(despite the 5.5 hrs we spent cooking!). I have two questions for you… 1) we’ve made all the food above (minus the soup) and now that it is all prepared do you have any suggestions for hot plate combos using the prepared compoenents? and 2) my mayo didn’t turn out right, it didn’t seem to emulsify and is watery. Any common missteps here? I’m a pretty good cook/receipe follower. My ingredients were room temp, i poured the olive oil into the blender slowly and added the lemon juice at the end. Just can’t figure where it went awry. Any suggestions are appreciated!

    • Congrats on tackling the cookup!

      1. I usually just let my tastebuds be my guide with the Hot Plates. Do you have Well Fed? There are dozens of combos listed… if not, what I usually do is think about what I’m hungry for — italian, mexican, chinese — and go from there. For example: For Italina I’d add diced tomatoes, garlic, fresh basil, olive oil… for Mexican, salsa, avocado, chili powder, cumin, lime juice… for Chinese, ginger, scallions, sesame oil, Chinese Five-Spice Powder. Then I just pick veggies that seems to make sense: zucchini and green beans work with just about anything.

      2. Sounds like you mis-read the mayo instructions! The lemon juice goes into the blender with the oil and egg at the beginning. The acid helps with the emulsion. You might be able to save what you’ve got… put an egg yolk and 2 tablespoons lemon juice in the blender, then slowly drizzle in the liquid mayo. Good luck!

      • Francine says:

        Thanks Melissa – I don’t know why but the mayo receipe in the Whole30 book says to add the lemon juice at the end. I just followed your instructions and it came out perfect! Thanks again!

  • Cheryl Altman says:

    The grocery list is for 1 person or a family? It doesn’t seem like enough protein if an estimated 1# per person per day. So our family of 5, would need 35 pounds a week?

    • Yes, for a family of five, you’d need to probably double what’s listed here. These amounts feed me (5’4″, active) and my husband (6’5″, active) for about a week.

  • Jennifer says:

    Hi Melissa! I absolutely love the mix of prep and free form that you do! We tried the week one plan and found GREAT success with veggies! However, my huge dislike of ground meat reared its ugly head, both in ‘I don’t want to eat this.’ and ‘I don’t know how to serve this!’ So I have two questions for you, do you really eat the meat ground up; and if so, how?! Could I do the ground meat recipes, but with chunks of beef instead, like maybe stew meat? Okay, I guess that ended up being three questions. Thank you so much for sharing your great ideas and recipes with us! We plan on starting our Whole30 on October 1st, our little family of 5, so I’m getting all my ducks in a row!

    • I usually opt for ground meat because it cooks so quickly and it’s so versatile — and I love piles of veggies with crumbles of ground meat so it’s like hash. But if you don’t, you should make it another way! A tender cut of beef like sirloin would work, but stew meat needs to cook slowly to get tender, so I wouldn’t recommend using stew meat in a sauté situation if it hadn’t been slow-cooked first.

      If you don’t like the texture of ground meat crumbles, you could make meatballs or burger patties and use them the same way. You might make burger patties, then cut them into chunks and use them in a sauté. We do that sometimes when we have a big pile of burgers cooked all at once.

      Best wishes for an awesome Whole30! Thanks for reading.

  • Hey, Mel – I first read this post a year or more ago, but I wanted to come back and tell you that your Hot Plate concept radically changed the way I cook, and consequently, my life! I don’t do it exactly the same as you, but just the idea of having meats and veggies independently prepped and ready to go was a HUGE “aha” moment for me! I’m a bit of a rebel, and I like to keep my options open, so the whole complete-meals-in-the-freezer thing never worked for me. But flexibility does. So thanks! 🙂

  • Alexis says:

    Hey Melissa,
    This a great post for Whole30! I am venturing on 2 round and was wondering if there was a way to print your post?