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Whole30 Meal Prep Success with Whole30 Coach Nicole Cooke

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ABOUT NICOLE COOKE

WHOLE30 CERTIFIED COACH NICOLE COOKENicole found Whole30 in June of 2016 and wasn't prepared for the incredible results she experienced. Struggling postpartum to get baby weight off (think crushing it in the gym but still feeling sluggish and tired with the scale not moving), Nicole was introduced via a small group of friends who invited her and her husband to do a round of Whole30. With her first round resulting in multiple PRs in the gym, increased energy, clearer skin, clothes fitting differently, plus an 10 pound weight loss, Nicole also discovered nutritionally what her body did and didn't like. Reading labels, identifying sneaky sugars, and becoming a meal prep whiz on a schedule were also happy outcomes of Whole30. Now that she is has completed a total of 7 rounds since 2016, Nicole is sharing what's worked for her and her growing family of 5 as they navigate their Food Freedom and save time and energy meal prepping and planning on and off Whole30.

"To say it changed my life would be an understatement! Whole30 taught me about so much more - how to cook, how to read a label, how to stay in tune with what my body was telling me, hidden sugars were in everything..."

HEY COACH NICOLE. FIRST OFF, GIVE US SOME BACKGROUND ABOUT YOUR WHOLE30 JOURNEY. HOW DID YOU GET INTRODUCED TO THE WHOLE30 AND COACHING?

I am a mama of 3 (ages 4, 3 and 9 months), a wife, a CrossFit L1 Trainer, and Whole30 Coach. I found the Whole30 in June of 2016 after a small group of friends (I mean small – only 5 of us including my husband) asked me to do the Whole30 with them. We created an accountability group on Facebook and dove right in. I had no idea what Whole30 was, but I was desperate for a change. I did a lot of research and began to find several compliant recipes that would work for my busy growing family.

To say it changed my life would be an understatement! Whole30 taught me about so much more - how to cook, how to read a label, how to stay in tune with what my body was telling me, hidden sugars were in everything - and the list goes on. I have now successfully completed 7 rounds of Whole30.

I wanted to become a Whole30 coach because I’m extremely passionate about helping others realize the maximum potential of their quality of life.  I wanted to share with everybody how amazing this program truly is.

Whole30 Coach Nicole Cooke Before Whole30 Whole30 Coach Nicole Cooke After Whole30

(L) Whole30 Coach Nicole Before Whole30 and After Whole30 (R)

7 rounds! That's amazing. We’ve heard that preparation is key on Whole30. What are some coaching tips you can share that help in your meal prep?

Plan your meals before you go to the grocery store - check what you have readily available and then build your grocery list from there.  Carve out a couple hours on the weekend to cook up your lunches, breakfasts (if you don’t have time in the mornings to cook each day), and dinners.  We are a family that utilizes the heck out of some leftovers! And leftovers make a huge difference for a busy mama like myself.

WHOLE30 Certified Coach Nicole Cooke

If you’re not a whiz in the kitchen, Whole30 can be intimidating. Tell us about your approach to cooking that has made things more manageable.

Pre-Whole30 I didn’t really love to cook and I wasn’t too great at it. I’m still not a chef, but I LOVE to cook and prepare meals for my family with my husband.  It has been something that we have done together now for 3 years. The key for us is to choose meals that we can eat on for several days - doubling the recipes most of the time.

We usually will prep our lunches on the weekends and will prep a dinner meal that will last several days.  For example, we will smoke 2 whole chickens on the grill, eat on that paired with a veggie and potato for a few days.  Then mid-week I will usually put the leftover chicken in a soup, casserole, stir fry, etc. This usually gets us through dinner for a solid week!   

Share with us some of your favorite shortcuts when planning or preparing Whole30 meals and how do suggest we avoid spending hours in the grocery store or kitchen?

Planning - grab a notepad, write out “Breakfast - Lunch - Dinner” and under each write what you plan to have for the week.

For example:
Breakfast
Egg Scramble with prosciutto, spinach and mushrooms
Fruit
Lunch
Nuggets, Hash, and Brussel Sprouts
Nuggets, Cauliflower rice, and Roasted Zucchini
Dinner
Smoked Chicken
Sweet Potatoes
Green Beans
Chicken Chili

Then - build your grocery list from here.  I will usually break out my list into the different stores I need to go to - Costco, Aldi, Kroger, etc.  Stick to your list!
Grocery Shop - then meal prep the things on your list that need prepping.
Shortcuts- Cut up your fruit - Tupperware it or freezer bag it!

We eat homemade sautéed nuggets with hash all the time. SHORTCUT: cut up the nuggets from the chicken breasts and store in a freezer bag until ready to cook. Do the same for hash. Cut up the potatoes and onions and store in a freezer bag until ready to cook. Simpler is better sometimes!

There are so many great Whole30 resources out there! What are some of your favorites that help make Whole30 meal prep easier!

Whole30 Certified Coach Nicole CookeMy most favorite cookbooks are:

Well Fed Weeknights
Well Fed 2
The Whole Smiths
Whole30 Slow Cooker Cookbook
We try a few new things here and there that we add to the rotation if it passes the kid and husband test.  

Well Fed Weeknights has the BEST Chocolate Chili I have ever had! We tweak it a bit and add 6 cans of tomatoes instead of the 1 can that it calls for and always double the recipe so it lasts for a few nights. My kiddos LOVE this meal so much too!

Brands we LOVE:

When we first started Whole30 we would make our own Dump Ranch, Mayo, Ketchup etc. Now we stock our fridge with Whole30 Approved brands like Primal Kitchen and Tessemae’s. This brand was a game changer for us. Some of our absolute favorite Tessemae’s are their Ketchup, Creamy Ranch, Habanero Ranch, and Avocado Ranch. Primal Kitchen's Avocado Mayo is another favorite.  

Also, with my husband traveling so much for work he found having compliant whole food bars, Whole30 Approved meat sticks, and nuts and seeds were a game changer for him.

Nicole, thank you so much for telling us your story and sharing what's worked for you! We loved your insight and look forward to putting your tips to good use!

Tell us in the comments: what are you favorite meal prep hacks? What tips do you have for other Whole30ers? We'd love to know!

Get all 8 Essential Tips for Meal Prep and Planning Your Whole30 from Nicole and streamline your Whole30!

Keep up with Coach Nicole on the web at www.themamacooke.com and on Instagram @themamacooke.

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