The Whole30 is a rewarding, yet difficult undertaking. The social implications, in particular, seem intimidating. No drinking and a million questions to ask anyone preparing your food. While DJ and I were planning our Whole30s, this year and last year, we tried to pick a month when we didn’t have any social obligations. This has proved totally impossible. We had no idea that we were so popular or so busy, until we tried to avoid going out for 30 days. We actually ended our last Whole30 early, in part because of a party we were looking forward to.
This time around, our Whole30 experience was pretty different. Instead of shunning any event, we opted to pack food for ourselves or the group. We also learned that entertaining is easier than going out. We like the relaxed atmosphere of our house better than a restaurant and we can control the recipes instead of questioning the poor waiter. Since we frequently enjoy entertaining at home, I was curious how entertaining while participating in the Whole30 would compare.
This past weekend, we had the pleasure of catching up with Kyle’s mom, who was visiting all the way from Cody, Wyoming! It was a great time, and we enjoyed dinner together. I was a little nervous upon realizing we would be participating in the Whole30 during her visit. But it was no sweat! Some of my tips apply no matter what diet plan you’re following, and are cardinal rules I always follow. Some are specific to alternate dining plans or avoiding alcohol.
- Make a recipe you’re familiar with – Serving company a failed dish is my worst nightmare when hosting. But luckily it hasn’t happened yet! (Knock on wood!) To avoid any surprises, I’m always sure to make dishes I’ve already made before. For Whole30, since you may not be familiar with any recipes from the start, I recommend making the meal a week before having company over, making notes of any substitutions or changes to the recipe, then confidently preparing it when you’re having company over.
- Cook ahead of time – You don’t want to be rushing around the kitchen while you should be enjoying your guests’ company. Always cook ahead of time and reheat! In the summer, we like to use the grill to reheat, since using our oven heats up the house.
- Stock your bar with your favorite compliant beverages – Some ideas include La Croix, unsweetened iced tea, water with fruit slices
- Have your guest(s) BYOB – If you’re comfortable, having guests bring their own drink of choice can ensure everyone has a beverage to enjoy.
- Prepare a ‘normal’ meal, Whole30 style – Many people aren’t very adventurous eaters, and you want them to feel comfortable in your home/at your table. At the end of my post, I have detailed 6 recipe ideas that would please even the pickiest eaters in my family.
- Serve a potato side – Most meals include a protein, a vegetable, and a carb. By serving a potato side dish, you will appeal to the ‘normal’ eaters.
- If you would usually serve dessert, some ideas include fruit salad, caramelized peaches or baked apples. Dessert is not encouraged by Whole30 creators, but it is sometimes an expectation or great way to finish off a meal.
- Consider providing toppings or accompaniments for non-Whole30 participants – If you’re comfortable with it, guests’ may appreciate the addition of bread, cheese or condiments to their meal, or ice cream with their dessert.
Whole30 Recipes for Entertaining
Salisbury Steaks (pictured) – We have used this recipe a few times. We like to serve Salisbury steaks with caramelized onions, so I made a big batch in the crockpot the night before.
Burgers – Homemade burgers are great, but in a pinch, Costco has good frozen burgers. We like to serve with deviled eggs and sweet potato or butternut squash fries. Whole30 participants can have lettuce wrapped burgers, buns and cheese for non-participants.
Steak – Who can refuse a good steak dinner? This may not be the best option for having a large crowd, since it could get a bit expensive.
Roast Chicken – I like to make a chicken in my crockpot a few times a month. It’s easy and hands off, but still nice enough to feed company.
Salmon – If your guests like seafood, you can’t go wrong with salmon. No fancy seasonings needed, just salt pepper and lemon!
Bolognese – Bolgenese is become a favorite of ours, but admittedly I haven’t ever made the traditional version. I make it in the crock pot and omit any dairy ingredients. For Whole30, I subbed in 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar instead of 1 cup red wine. It would be great for company, because you can just put it in the slow cooker while you work on other things.
Side Dish Ideas
Mashed potatoes – Super easy and enjoyed by many picky eaters. Chop a few potatoes into chunks, boil until soft, and mash with some ghee. Season with salt and pepper. Done!
Roasted carrots – If you buy baby carrots, you don’t even have to cut them! Just season and toss with some ghee, then roast at 425 for 30-45 minutes. They also reheat well if you make them ahead.
Roasted asparagus – Unlike carrots, I have found that asparagus need to be cooked right before serving and don’t reheat as well. I like to chop them in half, then season, toss with ghee, and roast at 425 for 15-20 minutes. Also avoid overcrowding the pan so the asparagus don’t steam instead of roast, which can cause them to be soggy.
Sweet potato fries – Great to have as an alternative to white potatoes. After thinly slicing sweet potatoes, coat with coconut oil or ghee, season and arrange on a cookie sheet. Careful not to overcrowd. Bake at 450 for about 20 minutes, turning once.
Deviled eggs – In addition to being able to make the day before, deviled eggs can easily be made Whole30 compliant by using homemade mayo and compliant dijon mustard. The recipe link by OMGFood is super easy! I like to season crushed bacon with smoked paprika for an interesting topping.
Spaghetti squash – If you’ve never tried spaghetti squash, definitely make it ASAP. My husband and I were unsure how much we would like it at first, but now we prefer the squash to regular pasta! We make it at least once week, either on the grill or in the oven. Directions and pairing ideas on our 25 Dinner Ideas post, which has many more Whole30 meal ideas.
Cesar salad – Tessamae’s makes a Whole30-compliant cesar dressing if you’re not interested in making your own.
Fruit salad – To go beyond the boring basic fruit salad, check out Cup of Jo’s tips for putting together a delicious and beautiful fruit salad. (Photo from Cup of Jo)
Caramelized peaches – If your guests are craving something sweet, carmelized peaches are super easy and delicious, no added sugar needed. The recipe link by Reading Your Lips includes an easy coconut cream topping. I would also toast some pecans in the pan juices after removing the peaches. (Photo from Pinterest)
Baked apples with walnuts – This also makes a good breakfast if you’re in the mood for a treat. We slice apples into bite sized pieces, toss with melted ghee and almond butter, season with cinnamon and nutmeg, add walnuts and bake at 350 for 30-45 minutes. No actual recipe for this one, but if you have any questions let me know! I can jot down a recipe next time I make this if anyone is interested.