I’m Starting a Whole 30/Eat Clean Challenge. What the hell do I buy?

So you are starting a Whole 30/Paleo/Primal/Eating Clean/whatever the heck you want to call it challenge! Good for you! Your life is about to change for the better more than you ever thought possible!

Step one: you need to arm yourself with groceries! This might seem daunting, considering you have to change a life time of eating/shopping habits in one fell swoop. The key to success is to keep it simple!

•Buy foods you like. The lists below are suggestions. If you don’t like cucumbers, than don’t buy them!

•Make more than you think you need. Way more! Freeze leftovers if necessary. Look ma! Frozen dinners!

•Eat the same things most days so that you do not have to constantly re-invent the wheel.

The less thought, time, and effort you have to put into this, the more successful you will be. This is a lifestyle change. You’ll have plenty of time to experiment with fancy recipes and spend hours a day cooking, should you desire, later. Right now, make it as much of a no-brainer as possible!

Here is our list of must-have staples to start you off.


We’ve all heard that 60% of the human body is comprised of water. And while that is certainly true, tons of that water is in your organs, skin, joints, muscles, and connective tissue…which is made up of protein. You are protein. You must eat protein. Eat the cleanest sources you can. The less clean the source (ie normal chicken or beef instead of grass fed, organic) the leaner it should be. Most of the nasty bits in our meat is found in the fat…the less fat you ingest, the less nasty bits you get too. So either buy grass fed organic or buy lean cuts and drain fats rendered in the cooking process.

  • Lean Chicken
  • Ground Turkey
  • Lean Beef (Sirlion, tri-tip, etc)
  • Eggs (raw and hardboiled)
  • Seafood

Emergency Proteins for the moments of panic when you think there’s nothing to eat:

  • Whole Roasted Chicken
  • Frozen turkey patties and salmon patties with nothing added.
  • Canned tuna and chicken , also with no added gunk in them.


Vegetables are nature’s carbs! You are not undergoing a carb-free existence, no matter what almost all your unknowing friends will accuse you of. You’re just opting for the most healthy carbs available! Makes you pretty damn smart!

Eat lots of them! This will add bulk to get you over that hump as your body converts from using processed carbs for energy to fats (more on that next!). Plus, psychologically, a big plate of food, regardless of what is actually on your plate, will make you happy. And there’s enough changes being made during a 30 day clean eating challenge, don’t add starvation to the list!

As always, wider variety equals more nutrition for you. That whole ‘eat the rainbow’ campaign…yeah, probably the best thing, nutrition advise-wise, to come from the government. Ever.

Caveat on the whole fruit deal. It’s sugar. My honest recommendation is to avoid it during your first 30 days. Why? Well, because 99.9% of you are going to spend the first 4-6 days of this detoxing from sugar. You don’t give a crackhead a ‘little crack’ when he’s trying to recover, do you? So why do it to yourself? Plus, depending on how wacked out your blood sugar levels are, even one serving of fruit in the morning is going to make you crave sweet stuff all day long. Which is going to make this endeavor much harder than it needs to be. If you can refrain, you’ll feel better faster. But it’s wholly and completely your choice! If you absolutely can NOT manage to refrain from fruit entirely, please don’t eat more than 1 or 2 servings. And berries and melons give you the most bang for your buck, nutrient-wise.

  • Spaghetti Squash
  • Chard or other green (this is where you’ll get tons of calcium from!)
  • Onions
  • Garlic
  • Mushrooms
  • Zucchini or Yellow Squash
  • Cucumbers
  • Tomatoes
  • Sweet Bell Peppers
  • Jalapenos
  • Cilantro
  • Lemons (citrus is the new salad dressing!)
  • Limes
  • Broccoli
  • Cauliflower
  •  Mixed Greens for salads
  •  Broccoli Slaw
  • Celery
  • Sweet Potato (Eat sparingly! No more than 1 serving a day, preferably post workout.)
  • Berries (Blueberries, Strawberries, Blackberries, Raspberries)
  • Melons (watermelon, cantaloupe, honeydew)

Healthy Fats

Why do you need these? Because if you are removing processed food from your diet, which up until now has been your body’s quick and dirty fuel source, you HAVE to give it an alternative…in this case, what we are designed to use as fuel…fat..healthy fats. As with all the other food groups, the wider variety of fats you eat, the greater diversity of micronutrients you’ll get. If you try to do a clean 30 days without adding fat, you will fail. You will be tired, grumpy, headachy, starving and generally overall miserable. You wouldn’t expect your car to run without gas. Don’t expect your body to either,

If weight loss or management is an issue, avoid more than 2 oz of nuts and nut butters, combined, a day.

  • Avocados and/or olives. Wonderfully tasty monounsaturated fats, which are what we’re trying to get the most of!
  • Olive Oil or Coconut Oil. Olive oil to dress food AFTER cooking (raising the temperature of olive oil over 400 degrees creates nasty free radicals that we DON’T want in our bodies); coconut oil for actually cooking with.
  • Raw unsalted nuts and seeds (in order of ‘good for you’: macadamia, hazelnut/filberts/almonds/walnuts/pumpkin and sunflower seeds)…Perfect fat source for meals on the go!
  • Coconut Milk (100% in a can! Not reduced fat and NOT the coconut milk beverage)…This is what you will put in your coffee if you absolutely can not drink it black. There are probably a bajillion other deliciously amazing uses for coconut milk, but this first thirty days, let’s keep it simple!
  • Butter (Yes, butter is from milk, which is dairy. However, when butter is made, all the milk solids, which is the part that doesn’t play so well with our insides, are removed. All you’re left with is the yummy milk fats. We’re good with that!)
  • Almond butter or sun butter …but be warned…these are like candy to many. Much to easy to eat way too much! If this is you, don’t even by it!


Spices are flavor. Spices are what will make the chicken breasts you are about to eat for the umpteenth time taste like something totally new and different and delicious.

Be brave! Experiment! Enjoy!

• Kirkland’s No Salt Organic Seasoning
• Garlic Powder
• Montreal Steak Seasoning
• Organic Lemon Pepper Seasoning
• Sea Salt and Pepper
• Chili Powder
• Paprika
• Cumin
• Oregano
• Crushed Red Pepper
• Cayenne Pepper

 Other Products you will probably find useful!

• Tamari Gluten Free Soy Sauce
• Low Sodium Broth, chicken and/or beef
• Chipotle Peppers (read labels, find the ones that are chipotle peppers and water!)
• Canned diced tomatoes (no sugar and other crap added)
• Almond Meal or Coconut flour
• At least 6 plastic containers for prepped food
• Gallon and quart Ziploc bags

These are things that are must haves in my kitchen and any Paleo kitchen at all times. Your list will expand from there. Arm yourself with at least 3 recipes to have prepared and ready prior to the first day so that you have starter meals and leftovers. Remember, you can dump left over anything on top of the greens and make a salad out of it. Write down what you are cooking when you so know how to plan accordingly i.e. last nights dinner leftovers is tomorrows lunch etc. This way you are never caught off guard.

Stay tuned tomorrow for a bonus post on prepping veggies for the week!


About moxie4you

Owner, trainer, and nutrition coach at Moxie Strength and Nutrition. Single mom of three. About to go back to school, for the first time in 20 years, to obtain a Master's Degree in Health and Nutrition. I was a Systems Analyst for years, but after losing 200 pounds, on my own, through diet and exercise, I knew I wanted to spend the rest of my life helping others feel as good as I do now! So here I am now!

3 comments on “I’m Starting a Whole 30/Eat Clean Challenge. What the hell do I buy?

  1. Awesome article!! I am going to print this out so that I can make sure I stay on the program!! You guys rock!!

  2. Great article. I did the whole30 8 months ago. I had great results, however, after reading this article I could of had much better results. I ate lots of watermelon, and too many sweet potatoes. I am only on day three so far, glad to have come across this article. Look forward to even better results this time!

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