Okay, Nomsters—who’s planning to kick off the New Year by committing to a Whole30® on January 2nd? This post is packed with tips and tricks on how to prepare for a successful January Whole30!

A smiling Asian woman with a laptop and Nom Nom Paleo cookbooks near her has a word bubble that says, "January Whole30 Prep!"

Ready to kickstart 2022 in a healthy way? I’ve got all the deets on how to get your mind, pantry, and tastebuds in gear for a January Whole30!

Preparing for a January Whole30

Once again, starting in January, I’ll be posting new Whole30-friendly paleo recipes and tips right here on Nom Nom Paleo!  Yes, I’ve done versions of this in years past, so if you’re too impatient to wait for this year’s edition, go check out my previous collections of Whole30 support and recipes.

30 circles that show pictures of Whole30-compliant Nom Nom Paleo recipes.

Stick with me this January, and I’ll stuff your brain with all sorts of hacks for surviving a Whole30, and keep you on track as you figure out how different foods affect your health and well-being. In January, you won’t ever be left wondering what to cook or eat next.

And as always, before jumping into a January Whole30, we’re going to do a little prep. Ready?

What’s a Whole30?

Let’s start with the basics. The Whole30 is a tried-and-true 30-day dietary reset that eliminates all the foods that may keep you from your true superhero potential. Specifically, for a whole month, you commit to cutting out the potentially bad-for-you stuff: the foods that are most commonly problematic, like sugar, dairy, grains, most legumes, alcohol, and junk foods—including those made with “healthy” ingredients.

Instead, you commit to eating whole, nutrient-dense foods for 30 days. For more information about the Whole30, go check out the program rules over here.

Whole30 logo.

How Does Whole30 Differ From Paleo?

I know what you’re thinking: Isn’t the Whole30 the same as eating paleo? Well, yes…and no. Both ways of eating are similar, in that they’re about prioritizing whole, unprocessed, nutrient-rich, nourishing foods. I pretty much eat according to the Whole30 rules most of the time, which is why the vast majority of the recipes on my Paleo Recipe Index are entirely Whole30-compatible.

A brunette brushing ghee on a whole chicken. There is a banner that show the Nom Nom Paleo Logo + Whole30

But the Whole30 is stricter than regular old paleo. Some people think of Whole30 as paleo without the treats, but the primary distinction is that the Whole30 has specific nonnegotiable rules and guidelines that you must follow for 30 days to complete it successfully.

When you’re on a Whole30, certain foods that may be seen as “Paleo-friendly” are out, so don’t even think about making “paleo” Bacon Pancake Sandwiches even if the individual ingredients are technically compliant.

Unfortunately, that also means that my super-yummy Paleo Pot Stickers are out until after February 1st. Good thing you can still make my Egg Roll in a Bowl a.k.a. Potsticker Stir-Fry in January! (See? I got options!)

An overhead shot of a frying pan filled with Potsticker Stir-Fry

I know—it can be difficult to stick to specific food rules for 30 days. And yes, depending on what you’ve been eating up ’til now, it may take you a couple of weeks to adjust. But believe me: you will. And you’ll feel great.

By Day 30, you’ll feel like a brand new person—and you’ll have a much better understanding of how different foods affect your personal wellness.

After the Whole30, you’ll be able to systematically reintroduce foods back into your diet to see how each of them makes you feel, which’ll help you develop your own nutritional blueprint.

Remember: you’re a special snowflake (just like everyone else!), so it’s important to learn what foods make you feel like the best version of you.

Prep For Success

Is the Whole30 really hard?

For some, yes: Sticking 100% to the Whole30’s program rules for 30 consecutive days can be a struggle. Frankly, for many folks, sticking to ANYTHING for an entire month is super-tough. But listen to Melissa Urban, the headmistress of Whole30:

Your only job during the Whole30 is to focus on making good food choices. You don’t need to weigh or measure, you don’t need to count calories, you don’t need to purchase everything organic, grass-fed, pastured, or local. Just figure out how to stick to the Whole30 rules in any setting, around every special circumstance, under any amount of stress… for 30 straight days. Your only job? Eat. Good. Food.

You can do that, right? Besides, it’s a Whole30, not a Whole365 or a WholeForeverAndEverAndEver. It’s just 30 days, and I’ll be helping you along each step of the way!

To be perfectly honest, the biggest challenge you’ll face during a Whole30 is bland, boring food. If you try to tackle a Whole30 by eating nothing but boiled chicken breasts and steamed broccoli, by Week 2, you’ll be waging a full-on assault on a donut shop.

That would violate the Whole30’s program rules (not to mention numerous laws), so instead, follow along with me this January, and I’ll keep your palates tickled with dozens of easy, flavor-forward, and super satisfying recipes!

Stock your January Whole30 pantry!

Let’s start filling your kitchen with healthy food! I gave a talk at Lawrence Livermore National Labs with lots of tips on how to paleo-ize your pantry and fridge, and you can watch me do my thing over here.

Also, click here for my epic post on how to stock your paleo kitchen and pantry like a boss.

Stock your kitchen with tools!

My cookbooks discuss the gadgets and tools I keep in my kitchen to make super-nomtastic grub, but if you want an up-to-date list of my favorite ones, head to my Amazon shopping page.

These aren’t arbitrary items I’m recommending— I’ve bought every item on the page myself after reading extensive reviews on trusted sites.

A cartoon of cooking tools and Paleo pantry items.

If you have the space and extra moola, an Instant Pot, an accurate meat thermometer, Anyday glass microwave bowls, a food processor, and spiralizer are useful tools to buy with your holiday gift cards!

A woman is pouring a brown sauce into an open Instant Pot, a woman is chopping vegetables in a food processor, and a person is spiraling a zucchini.

Whole30 Resources

Wanna learn more about the Whole30? Start by devouring everything on the Whole30 website. Craving even more details? Get your hands on a copy of The Whole30—the bestselling tome that lays out the science behind this awesome dietary reset.

If you’re a completist and avid reader, you should also pick up other Whole30 books, too:

An overhead shot of 4 Whole30 cookbooks.

In addition, Melissa penned the Whole30 Day by Day, a daily handbook to keep you engaged, motivated, and accountable during your month of mindful eating. And finally, Food Freedom Forever will help you develop a personal dietary template that’ll last you well beyond your Whole30.

A side view of the Whole30 Day By Day journal.

Check out Nom Nom Paleo Whole30 recipes!

For recipe inspiration and to whet your appetite, visit my free Recipe Index, which includes tons of step-by-step Whole30-compatible recipes.

A collage of Whole30-compliant Nom Nom Paleo dishes.

Sign up for my weekly email newsletter!

While you’re at it, you can subscribe to my free weekly email newsletter to stay up-to-date on new Whole30 and Paleo friendly recipes. I send out a weekly meal planning newsletter and a new missive whenever I post a new recipe on the blog and app!

It’s a friendly free reminder to cook something tasty and healthy for you and your family!

A cartoon of Michelle Tam of Nom Nom Paleo holding an envelope and saying "Subscribe to my weekly email newsletter! It's free!"

Nom Nom Paleo Whole30 Inspo on Social Media!

And definitely follow me on Instagram, Facebook, and Pinterest for all sorts of Whole30 goodness in January (and beyond), too! I’ll be sharing Whole30 recipes nonstop on my social media channels!

Three iPhone X are showing Nom Nom Paleo on the Facebook app, Instagram app, and Pinterest app.

Get Nom Nom Paleo cookbooks!

Next, go pick up my New York Times best-selling cookbooks: Nom Nom Paleo: Food for HumansReady or Not! 150+ Nomtastic Make-Ahead, Make-Over and Make-Now Recipes by Nom Nom Paleo, and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go!

The vast majority of the recipes in my books are entirely Whole30-friendly and 100% delicious. My yellow book, Ready or Not! even includes four weeks of Whole30-friendly dinner plans!

A photo of the two Nom Nom Paleo cookbooks.

Our latest cookbook, Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go!, is our best one yet! It has Melissa Urban’s seal of approval and over 104 Whole30-compatible recipes!

Two hands holding a copy of the Nom Nom Paleo: Let's Go! cookbook by Michelle Tam and Henry Fong

Other Fab Whole30 recipe resources!

I’m by no means the only source for Whole30 recipe inspiration. Follow Whole30Recipes on Instagram, and check out all the wonderful Paleo recipe developers who contribute to that feed, including:

Buddy System FTW!

In my experience, it’s infinitely better to do a Whole30 with others than to go it alone. Get your family, friends, and co-workers to join you on a monthlong challenge of healthy and adventuresome cooking and eating—and you can all help each other through it.

You can coach and support your pals through the many ups and occasional downs, and best of all, you’ll never get bored with your food if everyone shares their Whole30 eats. Accountability works wonders!

Photos of people smiling and cooking together.

And if no one in your immediate circle is willing to accompany you on your January Whole30, visit the Whole30 Forum, where you’ll find free support from others who are on the same journey.

Get in the Kitchen!

Most importantly: Cook! Trust me: It’s really, really hard to try to do a Whole30 without getting acquainted with your kitchen. The point of doing a Whole30 is to learn about how different foods affect you—and how can you possibly do that if you don’t know exactly what’s going into your mouth? As I said in Ready or Not!:

Knowing how to prep meals from scratch doesn’t just make you a more rounded individual or hearty survivalist—it makes you more mindful of the ingredients you’re putting in your body. By cooking at home, I know exactly what goes into my food. I never have to guess whether my dishes were cooked with ingredients that don’t sit well with me.

So crack open my cookbooks, check out some Whole30 recipes for inspiration, and get in the kitchen!

A woman is scooping Instant Pot Spicy Pineapple Pork out of an Instant Pot into a bowl.

Nom Nom Paleo Meal Plans

Also, before I forget: Do you aspire to be a meal prepping maven?

If you want ultimate flexibility and customizability, subscribe to Real Plans—the most amazing meal planning program around! Seriously. It’s the bee’s knees. There are even add-on recipe modules by yours truly, Nom Nom Paleo, as well as the Whole30, too! Check it out here!

A laptop is showing the Real Plans Nom Nom Paleo meal planning program.

January Whole30 Leftover Makeovers!

“Leftovers” is not a dirty word—especially if you know how to transform your extras into exciting new meals (a.k.a. leftover makeovers). My second cookbook, Ready or Not!, includes a big section on leftover makeovers, so definitely grab a copy and bookmark the “Kinda Ready” chapter.

Prefer to simply reheat the awesome dishes you couldn’t finish last night? That works, too, and is a fantastic way to stay sane on your Whole30 without feeling like you’re spending the entire month in the kitchen. So remember: don’t be afraid to make extra!

A picture of Sunday Gravy, a frittata ,and some vegetables in a pot.

Okay, enough chit-chat. It’s time to gear up for an awesome January Whole30! As I’ve said before, keep your kitchen adventures fun and your taste buds excited, and you’ll cruise through the Whole30. Aren’t you excited to see which foods make you feel amazing?

Ready to go? I’m all about hand-holding, encouragement, and most importantly, PEER PRESSURE—so find a buddy to take the plunge with you, and let’s do this thing!

P.S. Got questions for me or tips for your fellow Whole30 participants? Please post ’em in the comments!

Looking for more recipe ideas? Head on over to my Recipe Index. You’ll also find exclusive recipes in my cookbooks, Nom Nom Paleo: Food for Humans (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2013), Ready or Not! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2017), and Nom Nom Paleo: Let’s Go! (Andrews McMeel Publishing 2022).

About Michelle Tam

Hello! My name is Michelle Tam, and I love to eat. I think about food all the time. It borders on obsession. I’ve always loved the sights and smells of the kitchen. My mother was (and is) an excellent cook, and as a kid, I was her little shadow as she prepared supper each night. From her, I gained a deep, abiding love for magically transforming pantry items into mouth-watering family meals.

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  1. Two days into my Whole30 and hair discovered your blog. I am SO excited to try your recipes! This month is going to be delicious.