Today, I’m sharing my top five tips for busy families on the go and a lunch box round-up featuring my Whole30 Approved picks from Whole Foods Market!
Completing my first Whole30 in 2013 was life changing. It transformed the way I think about food and how I feed my family! Through the Whole30, we’ve discovered a sustainable way of eating that keeps us feeling great and works with our lifestyle.
My husband and I do the Whole30 as a reset 2-3 times a year. Our kids don’t follow all of the Whole30 guidelines with us, but we use the opportunity to teach/show them the connection between what we eat and how we feel. By default, their eating habits are improved! I also notice we fill our cart with more nutrient dense foods and less “treats” on our grocery runs. It’s a win for everyone!
Reflecting on my first time grocery shopping for Whole30, I remember how stressful it was and how much time it took!
I spent at least 2 hours scanning labels, looking for the items I needed. Back then, you had to know exactly what you were looking for, or had researched and were determined enough to read labels to find products that fit the guidelines. Although it was time-consuming, I’m grateful for that experience — it taught me a great deal about food and what to look for. (For a fun throwback, see this post for the Whole30 grocery list I compiled for my local Whole Foods Market in 2015!)
Fast forward to today, where Whole30 Approved products are a breeze to locate when shopping at Whole Foods Market! With the addition of eye-catching tags on the shelves, all you have to do is look for the Whole30 Approved logo…
There has never been a better time to try the Whole30 than right now!
With so many convenient Whole30 Approved products at your fingertips, you can maximize flavor and minimize meal prep time. As a mom, I know how busy afternoons and evenings can be! By keeping these quality staples in your pantry and refrigerator, you can save valuable time when trying to get lunches packed and dinner on the table.
“What do you pack for lunch and snacks?” is a common question asked here!
I’m excited to share our tips and essentials with you, featuring Whole30 Approved and additional compliant products available at Whole Foods Market. Be sure to check out my lists at the end of the post… and screenshot for future reference!
We do our share of packing lunches in our home! My husband, son, and daughter take their lunch most weekdays and usually need a snack or two as well. I tend to eat lunch at home, but it is usually right after my workout, so having balanced, ready to eat options is key for me, too! (For guidance on how to build Whole30 meals, reference their free Meal Template…)
It’s important to be prepared when you have a busy schedule! I also know what it’s like to have a picky eater (my son!). My advice: stick to what you know they will eat and gradually introduce new foods alongside their favorites. It’s a process, and it pays to be patient!
Tip #1: Involve your family in the process!
I can’t stress this enough! Have conversations about WHY you want to eat healthy foods and involve your family in grocery shopping, prep, and cooking. This will serve you both now and in the future when your kids are on their own, making food choices for themselves.
Make it fun and age appropriate! Talk about what they would like to eat and let them help search for recipes and prepare. It doesn’t have to be every single time, but they will have so much more ownership and connection with their choices if they feel like they have some say in the matter!
My husband was not initially on board with the Whole30, but once he started noticing the differences in me, he started asking questions. He eventually did the Whole30 with me and started to pitch in with meal prep/cooking when he could. He has become a savvy shopper and meal prepper in his own right! And if he can’t help me cook, he’s always ready to pitch in with the dishes and clean up. Recruit your family’s help and don’t do it alone!
Tip #2: Use mayo and dressings to add flavor and bind protein salads.
Primal Kitchen Mayo and Chipotle Lime Mayo taste delicious mixed into any protein salad for an easy, tasty lunch! Serve over a bed of greens (my fave is the arugula/spinach blend) or scooped into romaine leaves/wraps. Shown here are two of our family favorites:
- Wild Planet No Salt Albacore Tuna mixed with Chipotle Lime Mayo, chopped celery, carrots, and Bubbies Kosher Dill Pickles. Side of arugula/spinach blend and tomatoes lightly dressed with Tessemae’s Balsamic Vinaigrette. Or skip the dressing and serve the tuna salad on top of the greens!
- Whole Foods Market Organic Plain Rotisserie Chicken, shredded. Mixed with Primal Kitchen Mayo, Curry Powder, salt and pepper. Add chopped celery, granny smith apples, red grapes, and (optional) chopped pecans or slivered almonds.
Tip #3: Mix and match “finger foods” to create balanced lunch boxes.
This works especially well with younger kids/picky eaters. Provide a balanced assortment of healthy foods to enjoy. I like to include a protein, fruit, vegetable, and healthy fat. Applegate’s Whole30 Approved selection of ready to eat chicken, sausage, deli turkey and hot dogs are perfect for this!
- Applegate Oven Roasted Deli Turkey (rolled up), kalamata olives, cashews, slices of apple, carrot, and cucumbers.
- Not shown/not Whole30 (but worth noting, as our kids do not completely follow Whole30): I sometimes add Enjoy Life dairy free chocolate chips to the cashews, and chips in addition to what is listed above if they ask for it. I aim to buy the healthiest versions possible…our favorites are Jackson’s Honest Potato Chips and Siete Grain Free Tortilla Chips. These have minimal ingredients, no additives, and are delicious! Also great for your Food Freedom/Life After Whole30…
Tip #4: Reheat and eat!
Most days, my husband takes a lunch to reheat at his office. The key to success here is having delicious meal components in the fridge, prepped and ready to go.
One of our favorite ways to do this is to roast a sheet pan or two of vegetables and add sliced Applegate Chicken Sausage (we love the Fire Roasted and Sweet Italian varieties) to the last 10 minutes of baking time for an easy meal with leftovers for the next day!
Applegate Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage with roasted rosemary red potatoes, purple onion, bell peppers, and mushrooms. Green salad on the side with Tessemae’s Avocado Ranch.
Tip #5: Hydrate and be prepared with snacks and emergency food!
Stay hydrated by sipping on water throughout the day! If you need to add some variety try our current favorite, Waterloo Sparkling Water (we love the watermelon flavor).
Always be prepared with balanced snacks for afternoon activities to avoid getting “hangry” before dinner! I can’t tell you how many times this has saved us when after-school practices/games have gone on longer than planned, we’re running late, or there aren’t any healthy options within reach.
A few of our favorites shown here: (not all bars are compliant; check labels)
- Epic Bars and Bites – Chicken Sriracha and Chicken Sesame BBQ are favorites! Pair with a piece of fruit, raw veggies, or hard boiled egg.
- RX Bars: Great emergency food to keep in your bag/car at all times! But, be wary of using these to satisfy a sugar craving on the Whole30. Truly use them as emergency food/extra energy source on especially active days. Blueberry, Apple Cinnamon, and Mixed Berry are favorites while on Whole30. Mint Chocolate, Coconut Chocolate, Maple Sea Salt are among our other favorites and my kids love the Chocolate Chip flavor!
- Containers of combinations of fresh fruit/veggies/olives/nuts/hard boiled eggs/dressing are also a popular choice for all! Avocado is also a portable choice…
I hope my tips have helped you see how you can tailor your Whole30 reset to fit your family’s lifestyle and tastes!
And, you can keep it simple by taking full advantage of the convenient, high quality Whole30 Approved products at Whole Foods Market. See my lists below and let me know if you have any questions. Happy to help or make recommendations on how to use these products!
Thanks for stopping by! Have a great weekend and happy grocery shopping!
Photography: Stephanie Drenka
* Please note: I have a partnership with Whole Foods Market and was compensated for my work, but all thoughts and opinions are my own.