Whole30 Pantry Essentials:
Getting started on your first round of Whole30 can be quite intimidating...I know it was for me. It's a little overwhelming at first when you realize that you have to think about cooking, grocery shopping, and eating in a whole new way. I did a slow start...I set my start date a month away and used that time to start finding and trying out new recipes, finding ingredients, getting use to not snacking, and learning the meal template.
I live in Vancouver, B.C. Canada so some of the Whole30 "essentials" are a little harder to find. Thankfully I live about a 20 minute drive to the border...then another 20 minute drive to Bellingham, Washington where they have a Whole Foods, Trader Joe's, Target, and a really great local Food Co-op. Needless to say...I went overboard. I bought some things I didn't really need, as well as some things I've never opened! So I thought I would write this blog post to let you in on the things that you really need to make it through a round of the Whole30...as well as a few things that you can skip...and save yourself a few bucks!
The things you really do need:
1. Extra Light Tasting Olive Oil or Avocado Oil - Unless you plan on purchasing crazy expensive Whole30 Mayonnaise...then these are a crucial ingredient for making your own. I make one batch a week!
2. Coconut Aminos - This is a Soy Sauce replacement. Great for a lot of recipes. It is an essential ingredient for any kind of stir-fry. This is probably the one thing I buy multiple bottles of...as it only comes in small bottles and I usually use 1/4 to 1/2 a cup each time I use it!
3. Sugar Free Fish Sauce - Coconut Aminos can be a little on the sweet side...even though it is a Soy Sauce replacement...so to add a little more umami to it, I always add a few dashes of fish sauce. It helps to even out the sweetness and give it more of a Soy Sauce taste!
4. Almond Meal - Expensive...but worth it. I use it to "bread" chicken and fish...as well as in meatballs. When using it for breading...I think it almost works better for chicken and fish than breadcrumbs do!
5. Arrowroot Flour / Powder - Great for thickening sauces or making gravy...in fact...I think it works better than cornstarch! Also great for dusting meat before frying for a stir fry!
6. Ghee - Ghee is clarified butter that has the milk solids removed...it is delicious on vegetables, and is great for making mashed potatoes...it gives you the decadence of butter...without the dairy component. This one can be expensive...but not to worry...you can always make it yourself...just make sure to use unsalted butter!
7. Everything But The Bagel Seasoning - In a Whole30 Facebook group someone asked what people put Trader Joe's EBTBS on...and one of the responses was "Everything...make it rain!" This is pretty much true...although not a Whole30 essential...it is delicious! I have it on my sliced avocado every morning, and like to sprinkle some on top of stir frys!
8. Compliant Sausages - These are easier than you might think to find. I have 5 different store bought kinds in my freezer as I type this...both bought in Canada, and the US...I also have 3 kinds of homemade sausage in there. Sausages are great for Whole30...they thaw easily, are easy to make homemade, and make for a quick sheet pan dinner, egg-less breakfast, or with leftover veggies. It's also an easy protein to take with you. Chat up your local Butcher...they will usually have an option or two that will work for you!
9. Frank's Red Hot Sauce - There are lots of hot sauces out there that are compliant...but lots that aren't...so just make sure to check your labels. I love that Frank's is compliant because you can find it in any store...and pretty much any restaurant! And really...who doesn't "put that $h!t on everything!?"
The things you don't really need:
1. Larabars & RX Bars - Although compliant, they are just a sugar bomb, and if you are interested in self sabotaging your Whole30 results...then eat them, but...there are much better choices...even for emergencies.
**Edit: I was asked what I would choose instead of a Larabar or RXBar for emergency food...and my answer was this: In the event of an emergency I keep on hand Chomp Sticks, or Epic Bars for protein, and an individual serving bag of olives from Trader Joe's for fat. Vegetables are easy to find pretty much anywhere.
2. Dates - I bought a 2 pound bag of organic dates...what a waste of money! I haven't even opened it. Yes you are allowed to use them in savory recipes...but I just never felt the need to go there...I'm supposed to be changing my relationship with food...so why bother adding something that could wake the sugar dragon?
3. Fancy Expensive Salad Dressings - I'm not gonna lie...I really like the Primal Kitchens Greek Dressing & Marinade...however...super easy to make myself...so are all the other ones, they & other brands have on the market. Making your own salad dressing is super cheap, and you can mix up the flavors so easily, by adding citrus, changing up the vinegar, adding fruit, using different spices, etc...really the possibilities are endless. Same goes for Mayo...no need to buy it!
4. Coconut Milk - I don't use it as much as I "think" everyone else does. I bought 4 cans when I started my first round...I've done 2 rounds now and still have 2 of those cans in my cupboard. I just can't get past the coconut flavor in places it shouldn't be. I hardly use it for that reason. I made a savory recipe with coconut milk for the sauce...ruined the food and I couldn't eat it. With that said...I think I'm in the minority in this opinion...and not so much an opinion as a matter of taste...as in my taste buds! LOL
5. Kombucha - The recommended daily serving of Kombucha is 1 glass...as in one measured cup. I see a lot of people drinking 2 - 3 bottles a day. I've had a half a bottle on my total 2 rounds. Don't get me wrong...I like Kombucha and the health benefits from it...but it is easily overdone...so for me...I just stay away. It's also quite expensive because of the long process it takes to make it, and the fact that it needs to be refrigerated...so if you do like it...maybe try making it yourself!
6. Insta-Pot or Air Fryer - I don't have either...I have a slow cooker that is about as old as I am from the thrift store, an immersion blender that I inherited from an old roommate about 20 years ago, my stove, and my BBQ. I have a small kitchen without much storage so the less gadgets, the better! Anything you can make in the insta-pot, you can make in a slow cooker or oven, and anything you can make in an air-fryer, you can make in your oven...the only real difference is the time it takes to cook and maybe the technique. And aren't we supposed to be changing our relationship with food? Why would we mimic fried food? Save yourself a few bucks and some storage space and leave the insta-pots and air fryers at the store!
I am no Whole30 expert...but after doing 2 Rounds I feel like I have learned a lot and like to share that knowledge to help others on their way to feeling amazing! The things you will and won't need will be different for everyone, as everyone's tastes are different...but I think this is a good basic start! Good luck on your Whole30 journey!
What have you found to be absolute must haves or a complete waste of money? I'd love to hear about it...comment below!
If you make one of my recipes please tag me in your Instagram photos. I would love to see your Whole Gourmet creations! @TheWholeGourmet #TheWholeGourmet