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Whole 30 Shopping List - Confusing

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I have been studying the Whole30 information pretty extensively this second go-round and this time actually changing my pantry into Whole30 compliant foods.  What I find confusing after researching food and ingredients are the following items on the Whole30 Shopping List that are compliant.  

Under PANTRY:  

Coconut Aminos - I picked up the Simple Truth Organic Brand the other day. Total Sugars 6g, which includes 6g added sugars. In general, this is compliant?

Mustard ALL - ALL seems inaccurate as there are all kinds of mustard with sugar, honey, soybean oil, etc.  How can ALL be compliant when they contain noncompliant ingredients?

Pickles ALL - The pickles in my pantry have lots of ingredients, but it says 0 sugars, so I can still believe ALL pickles are compliant?  I didn't see Peperonicini peppers on the list. Is that because one of the ingredients is Sodium Bisulfite added as a color? 

Tomato Paste - The Hunt's tomato paste I have in my pantry has 4g of sugar, yet 'tomato paste' in general is compliant because it is on the shopping list? 


I read where 'Juices' are all compliant. Yet on the forum someone responded that juices are only compliant when used for cooking or flavoring.  Yet, that is not what Whole30 states by saying all juices are ok.  So, to me as it was printed in black and white means, OJ, cranberry, etc. are all ok to drink, not just cook with. 


In some instances, labels do not list the sugar content but under the label is states: Not a significant source of trans fat, cholesterol, dietary fiber, total sugars, added sugars, etc. As in Simple Truth Organic Cold Pressed Unrefined Virgin Coconut oil.  I didn't know if I should buy the liquid, cold press, etc. as which kind was not specified.

I have been researching all this for about a week and it appears that almost every item in my pantry is not compliant so I am using the Shopping List to replace with compliant items.  $$$$! 

I appreciate any clarity I can receive on these questions from experienced Whole30 viewers as I move forward in my journey. 




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First, ignore the nutritional data box. The only thing you're worried about is the ingredients list. If the ingredients list contains only compliant items, then you're good to go. 

The official Can I Have? post answers a lot of questions you have, and the answer is simple for most of them -- Read your labels. The official shopping list includes generally compliant TYPES of items, meaning things like mustard and mayonnaise and fruit juice can be part of your Whole30 journey. However, the ultimate "Is it compliant?" test is the ingredients list. If there's even 1 ingredient that isn't compliant, then that specific item isn't compliant even if that type of item is considered okay.

To give an example, let's say I have two jars of mustard. They have the exact same (compliant) ingredients, but one has dextrose listed. On the Sneaky Sugars PDF it shows that "dextrose" is a science-y name for sugar. This means the jar with only compliant ingredients is compliant, but the jar with dextrose is not. So mustard is allowed, in general, but that specific mustard wouldn't be.

Fruit Juice. To quote from the official Can I Have? post: Tip: While drinking a glass of fruit juice is technically compliant, we really wouldn’t recommend it, even if you juice it yourself. Juicing strips many of the nutrients out of the fruit, but still leaves all of the sugar. We’d much rather you just eat the fruit. So this is one of those things where compliant fruit juice (meaning no sugar added) is fine, but the suggested use is only as a sweetener in other foods, including adding a splash to drinks to give a little extra flavor or tame bitterness.

Coconut Aminos. The ingredients should be something like "coconut sap" (or "coconut nectar") and salt. Again, you're ignoring that pesky nutrition panel and focusing only on the ingredients, and the sap/nectar of coconut is deemed compliant in terms of aminos. You can read more about the specifics on the terminology and the ruling here: https://whole30.com/2017/03/chips-and-aminos/

Coconut Oil. I buy the Kroger store-brand jar of plain old, regular coconut oil. Yes, it's solid until it's hot enough to melt into liquid. It works absolutely fine either way, unless a recipe specifically calls for it to be solid or melted (in which case you can always toss it into a fridge or a very low-temp setting on the microwave for a short time to get it where you neat it). Trust me when I say that there's no way I could afford to keep coconut oil in the house if I bought the really expensive stuff, because I use it for just about everything!

Remember -- ingredients matter, nutrition panel doesn't!
That's a hard concept to get into our heads, I think, because we're so used to looking at the nutritional value of what we're eating... but for Whole30 purposes, only the ingredients are judged.

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I think @Jihanna answered everything you were asking about, but if there's something else, let us know.

I did want to say, you don't have to buy every single thing on the grocery list right away. You can meal plan some meals and just buy what you need for those meals, then add a new ingredient or two in a week or two. It is absolutely okay to keep things simple. Some people love coconut aminos, some don't think they're worth it, and you can definitely live without them. Even recipes that call for them aren't usually based on them, you're just adding some for flavor, and you can skip them and maybe add a little more salt or other seasonings. 

You can end up spending a lot of money trying to buy everything, and then end up with stuff you don't use, so try to keep things simple at first.

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Thank you, Jihanna for clarifying this for me.  It was getting very confusing trying to understand what is ok and what is really NOT ok.  You have helped me tremendously.  I am wondering now how well I will be able to refill the pantry.  Looks like I might starve!  I suppose setting about 4 hours aside to go grocery shopping and looking at 'ingredients' is in order.  :-)   So glad a can still use a splash of cranberry juice in my water, but I need to start buying regular and not diet 5 calorie. Thanks again! 

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Like Shannon said, please don't feel like you have to go replace your entire pantry right at the start!

What we did for cooking fats was buy a big jar of olive oil and the coconut oil I linked in the other post. I honestly figured I'd cook with the olive oil mostly, but I actually wound up using WAY more coconut oil because I really just like how it works with my foods... I don't know if it's just lighter tasting/feeling or if there's some small bit of flavor added that I enjoy, but whatever the reason it's my preferred oil, hands down.

For the rest of it, we did exactly like @ShannonM816 suggested. I was already used to planning meals, because that's how my kitchen had functioned for the better part of the year leading up to my W30, so I just carried that forward... I made a plan for week 1, and we bought what I needed for that plan. Of course, that left us with extra of some things, which could then be carried forward into a new week without me having to buy more of those things, yet. In that way, I kind of built my pantry from the ground up, buying what I'd need as I needed it, and replacing what I ran out of either right away (if I used it often) or whenever I actually planned another meal which called for that thing.

For the record, I did buy ghee during my reintro, but I won't be replacing it when I finally run out because I can totally live without it (I just use coconut oil instead when a recipe says ghee).

You won't starve -- just figure out a basic meal plan and make sure you've got meats, veggies, and at least one compliant oil. Don't worry about checking ingredients on everything, just make sure to check the stuff you're buying for each specific grocery trip... and once you've got something you know works, it makes it that much easier when you need to replace that item. Slow and steady, and don't over-think it!

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  • 4 months later...

Just wanted you ladies to know I am finally figuring everything out. Thanks so much for your help. For the past few months, I have designated most of my pantry shelves to Whole 30 compliant foods and in my fridge. Also created an Excel spreadsheet with all my favorite compliant foods and ingredients that includes columns with the store names I purchased them, either local or online eliminating redoing research and adding to the spreadsheet compliant items as I find them. Makes eating healthier ongoing so much easier! 

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