Meal prep can be enough of a challenge. Throw the keto diet into the mix, and it’s even harder to plan your meals for the week and make sure you’re purchasing the right ingredients and using them to their fullest. However, as long as you have a few tricks up your sleeve, you’ll be able to create delicious, planned meals that’ll last you all week long, for lunch, dinner, snacks, and more.
Plus, you can then make sure you’re eating healthy foods that are keto-friendly, rather than resorting to fast food or something available at work that’ll kick you out of ketosis simply because you were pinched for time and didn’t have something prepared on hand.
Keto Meal Prep Tips
Here are a few keto meal prep hacks from Ginger Hultin, MS, RD, keto expert, and Spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics.
1. Chop Veggies Ahead of Time or Get Pre-Chopped
Whichever you choose, having vegetables on hand that are already sliced and diced will make it easy to whip up a stir-fry, throw into a soup, add to zoodles or burger recipes, and more.
“A ketogenic diet should include as many low-carb veggies as possible while maintaining your carbohydrate limits so prepping them ahead of time or purchasing them prepped will save you time,” she adds.
Since low-carb veggies, like broccoli, Brussels sprouts, cauliflower, are a huge component on keto, it’s smart to have them on hand to prevent reaching for something that’s not keto-approved. Plus, since they’re low in carbs and can be tossed with a fatty sauce or topping, like avocado dressing, oil, or butter, they’re a great vehicle for adding in more fats to reach your ratio requirement. (To recap, about 75 to 80 percent of your calories will come from fat on the keto diet.)
2. Don’t Fear Frozen Foods
“Frozen spinach and other veggies can be cost-saving, reduce food waste and help with meal prep on a ketogenic diet. Evidence shows that frozen foods maintain their nutrition very well so using frozen can help reduce how much fresh produce you need to purchase and store,” she says.
However, make sure whatever frozen foods you use are low in sugar and sodium, as some can be high, as shown on the label. (Hello sneaky sauces.)
With the right picks, you’ll have meals in no time, and if you’re eating frozen vegetables instead of fresh, they’ll have a long shelf life to go into various dishes.
3. Get Avocados in a Variety of Ripeness
As if anyone needed more reason to love and buy avocado, it’s pretty much an essential ingredient for those on the keto diet. Why? Well, it’s high in fats, low in carbs, and still has some good protein to keep you full and satiated.
“Buy avocados in a variety of ripeness. As you’ll likely be eating a lot of avocados due to their high fat content, purchase some ripe and some unripe so that you will always have the perfect one all week long,” she says.
Then you can use for anything—spread on low-carb toast, add to eggs, cover burgers, meat, or fish, create a creamy dressing for salads, use as a “boat” for tasty fillings, and more.
4. Buy Herbs and Spices Ahead of Time
Keto can become routine, where you really need a punch of flavor to go over that piece of plain meat or fish. “Eating keto gets much more enjoyable when the food tastes fantastic. Don’t be afraid to start using more herbs and spices in your food if you do go keto,” she says.
Some options? Basil, dill, oregano, parsley, cilantro, cinnamon, and turmeric are just a few, but there are so many more that all contain very small amounts of carbohydrates, but tons and tons of flavor. Just make sure to store them properly if fresh to extend their life, and if they’re dried, you should be okay!
5. Drink Up
Not booze—but water!
Don’t forget your water bottle when heading to work. “Especially in the beginning of the ketogenic diet, dehydration can be a very real danger,” she says, and even after you’ve transitioned, you might still experience dehydration, where that water will hydrate you and give you mental and physical energy to carry on with your day. Plus, it’s de-bloating, which will help you really see those results from keto you’re looking for.
“Make sure to include your hydration plan in your weekly keto meal prep. A variety of plain and carbonated water and feel free to include herbs or veggies like basil or cucumber and tea should be planned into your diet, too,” she says. That way, you’re getting water content from low-carb foods too, along with straight water.
“Keep track of your intake with a water pitcher or water bottle so that you know you’ll be getting enough,” she suggests, and pay attention to pee color. If it’s yellow, drink a glass or two of water.
6. Use that Muffin Tin
If you’re keto you’ll need to make recipes in bulk to have on hand for the week, and ones that can be portable so you can eat them whenever you need a boost of fuel.
Make “egg cups” in your muffin tin! You can eat eggs on keto, so make eggs with vegetables, high-fat cheese, and/or a meat, like bacon, chicken, chorizo, or turkey, with a dollop of avocado or some smoked salmon and sour cream on top for a protein-packed, high-fat egg cup to hold you over until your next meal.
Play around with various recipes—it’s easy to experiment with new savory flavors.
Here’s an easy 6-ingredient recipe to try: Keto smoked salmon egg muffins
7. Leave Shake Ingredients in Baggies
Making a shake is super fast and easy, but not when you need to gather all the ingredients from scratch to throw into the blender. Instead, create “baggies” of keto shakes and smoothies on one day of the week to keep in the freezer to last for the next couple of days. You can then open up the baggie, throw everything into the blender, add some liquid, and you’re set.
8. Keep Lettuce in the Fridge
Since you can’t eat bread on the ketogenic diet, lettuce wraps are the go-to when you want to stuff something into a sandwich or eat on the go. Keeping lettuce cups on hand is a great keto meal prep hack, as you can literally put anything in there last minute for an instant meal you can take anywhere. Think of lettuce as the vehicle for delicious keto-friendly meals to bring all the ingredients together.