Easy Keto Meal Prep Ideas and Recipes (Perfect for Weight Loss)Jan 30, 2023
I have been on and off a low carb diet for weight loss for years and, while I know it gets a bad press, this is the one diet that has proved to work for me because:
a) it's easy; and
b) I consistently lose and maintain my weight.
The version that I've settled on, as I find it easiest and most efficient, is the keto diet. I have fallen into a rhythm of eating a ketogenic diet during the week and then having a 'day off' on Sundays where I eat my mum's Sunday dinner and pudding and bread and [replace with the thing you might miss on a low carb veto diet!], so I never feel deprived.
I am so used to a low-card diet that I've even managed to lose weight on holiday, while eating the odd pudding in the evening. As long as I stick to mainly veg and meat/protein, it just seems to work for me.
It's the way I lost 3 stone after having my daughter 4 years ago, and it's the only thing that seems to work easily and without much effort these days.
I mean, yes I'd like to lose a couple more pounds, but I generally I don't worry about weight gain or an off day or week anymore, because I always come back to the keto diet and I'm quickly back on track.
Easy Keto Meal Prep Ideas
Having said that, my eating has been a bit hit and miss since Christmas. I've noticed I'm not eating enough during the week when I busy and I've also been poorly. So I really want to make sure I'm getting the nutrients I need. Even when, or especially when, I'm following a keto diet.
To get myself back into the flow, I've created this post so I can come back to it time and again. I can return to this post when I need a little reminder of easy keto meal prep ideas, the best way to create healthy meals quickly, and just easy recipes that I like. Feel free to bookmark it and do the same, if that's what you need.
Easy Keto Meal Prep Ideas - Getting started
1. a) Understand the Keto rules - eat less than 20g carbs a day
Generally, it is thought that to get your body into a state of ketosis, where you will be burning fat all day (!), you need to be eating LESS than 20g of net Carbohydrates (total carbs less fibre).
The main culprits to avoid include: bread, pasta, rice, potatoes (be careful with other starchy veg too), cereals, etc.
Be sure to keep track of how many carbs are in each meal you make to be sure that you stay below 20g cabs per day.
1. b) Understand the Keto rules - 5%/70%/25%
If you are also wanting to lose weight, you will need to keep track of your other macros too. On a Keto diet, it is recommended that you get 5% of you calories from carbs, 70% from fat and 25% from protein.
So, if you wanted to eat 1400 calories per day, that would mean eating:
19g carbs (5%)
86g protein (25%)
109g fat (70%)
If you use an app like My Fitness Pal, you will be able to set your calories and then work out from there how many grams of carbs, fat and protein you can eat each day, plus you can easily track it. It's ideal when you're first getting started with the Ketogenic Diet and getting used to portion sizes and what you can eat each day.
2. Keto Meal Plan
Of course, meal planning is the best way to make sure you have what you need and don't slip up because you didn't have anything in when you were dying of hunger - spend a bit of time each week deciding what you want to make, writing a list and buying it from the grocery store.
The good thing about this is it removes any decision-making you need to do (we only have a few good decisions in us each day, so if you're relying on making good choices later in the day when you're starving, you've not been shopping and all you've got is a frozen pizza... well good luck!).
I absolutely love the website I Breathe I'm Hungry and she has tonnes of free meal plans here.
4. Always have the basics to make a healthy Keto meal in your fridge or cupboard
Meal planning is a great way to stay on track if you like to stick to a plan... if you're a bit more flexible or don't like being told what to do (even by yourself..!!), then having the basics in stockis the way to go. These include:
- Healthy fats: Olive oil, coconut oil and a really good quality mayo;
- Protein: cooked chicken breasts, tins of tuna, minced or ground beef, eggs; and,
- Low-carb veggies: spinach, bell peppers, cucumber, tomatoe
Then you can build easy keto meals, like a chicken salad or an omlette, with what you have when you really need it.
5. Keep it simple
As Tim Ferriss says in the 4-Hour Body, the people who lose weight the most efficiently and effectively eat the same things over and over again.
Boring? yes. Does it work? YES!
What do you want more, to not be hungry and lose weight? Or complex meals to prep, potentially when you are hungry, thus creating situations where you might slip up?
I know what I prefer!
So, during the week when I have a very busy schedule, I keep it super simple: simple ingredients and regular go to keto-friendly recipes that I'm willing to eat over and over again. This way I don't need to track macros or worry that I'm going over my carbs.
Easy Keto Meal Prep Ideas - What you need for meal prepping
1. The stuff
The idea of meal prepping is so that you have meals ready when you need them, so we're talking batch cooking and then separating out the meals when the food is ready.
When you are meal prepping there are certain things that are really helpful:
A. An instant pot or slow cooker (crock pot) or failing that a massive pan
If you like to have a hot meal to come home to, and/or batch cooking for that matter - a slow cooker or instant pot is a great option. Pop your ingredients in in the morning and make a big batch of something yummy and low-carb ready to eat that night and during the week. It's perfect for keeping life simple when you don't have much time in the week.
If you don't have an instant pot or slow cooker (I don't) - you can just make a massive pan of something and leaving it bubbling away, then portion it out when it's ready.
B. Airtight container or meal prep containers
If you have time one day a week to do a weekly meal prep, having a few containers to store your meals in will save a lot of time in the week. Failing that you can use 'meal prep bowls' and pop some clingfilm or foil over ready for when you need it. Less portable but great if it's just getting stored in the fridge.
C. Sheet pan (or baking tray)
When it comes to easy teas, a sheet pan or baking tray meal is the best. You just whack a few things in a pan and put it in the oven.
I love cutting up some low-carb veggies (cauliflower steaks, bell peppers, etc) and then popping some sausages on top. 30-40 mins in the oven and then they all caramelise together beautifully - yum!
Eggs are so awesome on the Keto diet - cheap, low-carb, versatile, and portable.
They're a saving grace. Make some hard-boiled eggs at the beginning of the week so you can take them with you for a snack or add them to mayo in a hungry emergency.
When it comes to keto breakfast ideas, eggs also win. I eat them every morning and will eat a simple omelette for dinner at least once a week when I need an easy meal in a hurry.
3. Carb substitutes to have on hand
If you are used to eating carbs you might be worried about missing them.
To be honest, I really don't notice any more but having some substitutes on hand to 'fool' your brain into thinking you're not missing out is a really good idea! And this way you can make any of your go-to recipes low carb recipes.
Rice = Cauliflower Rice
My favourite way to make cauliflower rice is to grate half a cauliflower, scatter the grated cauliflower in a baking tray, mix it with salt, pepper and olive oil, and bake in the oven for about 10 minutes at 200 degrees (be sure to keep an eye on it and keep shuffling to avoid burning!).
Low-carb tortillas = lettuce wraps
Ice burg lettuce is the best for this and gives a lovely crunch! You can pile whatever you'd normally have in your tortilla (I've done this with fajita fillings and cheese and sour cream and all sorts). It's delicious and healthy AND I'm lowering my carb intake.
Spaghetti or noodles = courgette or zucchini noodles
Remember when everyone went crazy for spiralizers? This is why; to make zucchini noodles so you have a low-carb diet friendly option to go with your spa Bol. Personally, I got rid of my spiralizer because I just couldn't be arsed with it using up the space in the cupboard.
BUT, zucchini noodles can be yummy so if you do fancy giving it a whirl, I would buy one of these contraptions instead - easy to use and small enough to go in your cutlery drawer next to your other peeler. (You can also use the peeler you already have to make ribbons!)
My favourite zucchini noodle recipe is to throw the 'noodles' into a hot frying pan with olive oil, salt and pepper and quickly fry it before popping in a bowl and topping with whatever is for tea that night.
4. Cheese and dairy
Happily, you can have cheese and heavy cream on a keto diet and probably the main reason I like the diet so much. It just gets me - Hurrah for cream in your coffee and feta cheese in your salad! Cheese lasts ages, so you can get a few at once and these are some great cheeses to have in your fridge:
- Feta cheese
- Cheddar Cheese
- Cream Cheese: great for making these pancakes with!
- Blue cheese: Lovely on an omelette or melted in some cream to make a Blue Cheese sauce for your steak (lol, as if you can lose weight on this diet!)
5. Protein to prep
The good thing about protein is there are lots of options for keeping it easy and convenient - tins of tuna, cooked prawns or chicken, ham, other cooked meats, etc.
That means you can buy things that are keto friendly when you're out and about or have them in your fridge ready for you to grab them.
Protein is also easy to cook in advance, so should you want to have cooked chicken breast at the ready, you can batch-cook a whole chicken on say Sunday. (to eat with roasties and gravy, if you're having a day off like me!) and slice up the rest ready to eat during the week on a salad or to throw into an omelette.
6. Easy Keto recipes
- Eggs - scrambled, fried, boiled, poached. Served with low-carb veg such as mushrooms and tomatoes or aspargus
- Eggs - omelette with cheese, ham, low-carb veg, etc
- Curry - made with coconut milk, curry powder, spinach and chicken or prawns
- Salad - spinach, avocado, tomato and cucumber with chicken or prawns and feta
- Sheet pan sausages (see above) or burgers - this recipe is amazing
See, the keto diet really is the easiest of all the diets to prep for - it's basically what you'd normally eat minus the carbs.
A note on fat
You might be thinking; "Dude, I'm trying to lose weight here", but DO NOT skip on the fat.
I repeat. DO NOT skip on fat. If you aren't eating enough fat, you will get hungry and cranky and hate everyone. And, if you are not already in a ketogenic state, you will need to give yourself around 3-4 days to get into one. This means, don't count calories, just count carbs.
Once you're in ketosis (you can use these pee sticks to check!) THEN start counting the cals!