Grocery Guide: Whole30 Shopping Tips
Updated: Jan 3, 2018
Learning how to navigate the grocery store on a Whole30 is the counterpart to a great meal plan. Before you begin your Whole30, here are a few helpful strategies I use to help decide what to buy:
MEAT AND EGGS:
My personal rule of thumb: You are the thing the thing you ate, ate. That means you shouldn’t have anything that has been fed corn, soy or wheat (sometimes called “vegetarian fed”). Spoiler: guess what most factory farmed (even organic) animals eat?
That said, these are the official Whole30 rules: Any meat is better than non-compliant foods. Whenever possible, look for the following labels:
Beef: Grass fed or grass finished. Costco and Trader Joe’s both have great affordable ground beef and bison options.
Chicken: Pastured. Mary’s Chicken is a great supplier found at Whole Foods.
Fish: Wild caught, NEVER farmed. Trader Joe’s has a great affordable wild caught salmon in the frozen section.
Eggs: Pastured is best - Vital Farms eggs are DELICIOUS and can be found in almost every store. I generally eat only 1 of their eggs instead of 2 because I find them so much richer (especially when cooked in ghee = heaven).
If you’d rather not stress about this, Butcherbox is a good source for compliant affordable meat delivered conveniently to your door.
Rule of thumb: Read the labels before you buy. Your mind is about to be BLOWN when you realize how much crap is in everything. Remember to look out for: sugar, soy lecithin, preservatives and anything that sounds like a chemical. These are all not allowed on Whole30.
Mayo and salad dressing: Primal Kitchen and Tessamae make fantastic Whole30 approved products that are dairy and soy free. You can also make fresh mayo in a blender in 5 mins – it’s life changing.
Tahini, Coconut Aminos, Harissa, Ghee, and other “exotic” sauces/staples: Trader Joe’s has the cheapest options.
Marinara: Whole Foods or your local grocer for sugar free options. There is also a canned marinara from Trader Joe’s that is compliant.
Salsa: surprisingly hard to find sugar free! Fresh pico-de-gallo tends to be the way to go. Desert Pepper brand (found at Ralphs) also makes great green salsa that is compliant.
Almond milk: Whole30 suggests you make it yourself to avoid preservatives. I recommend Califia Farms or other refrigerated brands – never the box kind!
Other non-perishables: Thrive Market always seems to have a promotion for $60 off for new customers - worth checking out if you need to stock up on a lot of things!
COOKING AND SNACKING ESSENTIALS:
All oils: avocado, coconut, ghee, olive – all add unique flavors depending on the recipe. Whole30 365 brand has the best quality, but Trader Joe's has the best prices (although their ghee is not grass fed).
Olives: You will find yourself craving them! The fresh olive bar at Whole Foods is the way to go (and you will find ingredients listed above each kind).
Nuts: You can enjoy them sparingly (except for peanuts) or use as a topping, but try not to depend on them too much. Should always be dry roasted, unsalted.
Raw cashews for sauces: Trader Joe's is my go-to for affordable nuts.
Canned green chiles and chipotle peppers (check labels for sugar and preservatives) can be blended for yummy lettuce taco dressing, chipotle mayo, etc. Found at any store in the Mexican aisle.
Coconut milk and coconut cream: guar gum is a stabilizer that is ok, but check the labels for any other additives. You can find these in almost any grocery store (usually in the Asian foods section).
Vegetable and chicken broth for soups: watch out for sugar, gluten or additives. High quality options can be found at any grocery store, but Whole Foods 365 brand and Trader Joe's are the safest options.
Vinegars: Stock up on apple cider, rice (yes, you can have rice vinegar - just no rice), white balsamic, balsamic. All are great for salad dressings and adding flavor to roasted/stir-fry veggies.
EASY SUBSTITUTIONS FOR YOUR FAVORITE RECIPES:
Coconut aminos: great substitute for soy sauce in stir fry and with sashimi. TJ’s has a cheap version. I also bring it with me to sushi restaurants if eating out (ask for plain sashimi and salad with sesame oil/rice vinegar dressing. Seaweed salad is sometimes compliant too!)
If a recipe calls for honey, you can substitute orange juice (works well in Asian dishes). Just reduce the amount to taste as juice can make dishes runny.
Arrowroot powder in place of corn starch to thicken sauces.
Similar to meat, the Whole30 rule of thumb is organic is best, but any vegetable/fruit is better than eating non-compliant foods. Try to buy organic as much as possible, but as you ease into your healthy lifestyle don't stress about this until you're comfortable.
My personal rule of thumb: buy 100% organic, non-GMO whenever possible. With all of my allergies the thought of eating extra pesticides or genetically modified foods freaks me out, but it's not always realistic to spend $8 on organic berries. Generally if it's less than 50 cents difference, it's well worth it.
How much to buy: this is where meal planning comes in. How long produce stays fresh depends on when they were picked, where they were grown, the time of year and the temp inside your fridge. Stick to your meal plan and if you're not sure you need something, skip it! Making a second trip to the store later in the week is easier than throwing your hard earned, wilted/bruised/spoiled money in the trash.