The Ultimate Guide to Keto Meal Prep
The keto diet is all about planning and making the right choices, which is why it becomes that much easier if you meal prep once or twice a week.
By doing this, you’ll have a much better control over your macros, serving sizes and total calories, and these are all very important conditions for success.
In the current article, we’ll guide you through the whole process of meal prepping and give you ideas and tips on how and what to meal prep.
Once you do it 2-3 times, you’ll see how much more time- and cost-effective and it is than cooking every day, or having to order food for delivery (because let’s face it, we all feel too tired to cook every once in a while).
It’ll take the guesswork out of macros and calories, and you’ll have tasty, homemade food every day. What’s there not to love about it?
Why Meal Prep?
If you have never done meal prepping before, it might sound like a somewhat foreign concept to you.
Let’s see what the advantages of meal prep are:
#1. Takes less time than cooking each day
This one is obvious – cooking 5 or 10 portions of the same meal at once takes less time and effort than cooking 5 or 10 separate dishes each day.
Meal prepping does tend to take slightly longer than cooking, let’s say, 2 portions of something, and that’s because of the quantities – you’d need to cut, clean, wash and cook bigger more food than when you’re making a 2-portions dish. Nevertheless, it still takes significantly less time than cooking every day.
#2. It’s cheaper
Buying and cooking food in bulk will help you save money, and packing your own lunch is a much cheaper and better option than eating at the cafeteria at work (or a fast food place, or a restaurant, or whatever else is available where you’re working).
On top of that, it’s much easier to shop for meal prepping than for a number of dishes – you just buy more of the same thing.
#3. You won’t have to decide each day what you’ll be eating
Decision fatigue is something we all know from experience – we all need to take a number of big or small decisions throughout the day, and decisions that are related to food are a big part of that.
So if you optimize your decision-making process by concentrating it in one or two days for the whole week, this will let you free up much more energy and mental space for other important tasks.
#4. You’ll have a much better control over your portions
If your portions are pre-measured and packed, you’re much less likely to eat more of whatever you’re having. With meal prepping you know exactly how much a serving of something is, and won’t be tempted to go for seconds. This will help you avoid having unnecessary cheat meals.
That is, unless you’re genuinely still hungry, which normally won’t happen with meal prepping – the idea is to have enough of everything and space it out through the day in a way that will help you feel satisfied after each meal.
If you’re still hungry regardless, it might be time for a keto-friendly snack.
#5. You’re much more likely to be on point with your macros without spending lots of time planning and calculating them each day
One of the definite advantages of meal prepping is having full control over your macros – if you’re planning in advance what you’ll eat, you’ll be able to log it in and track it all at once, without needing to measure anything as you go.
Like this, you’d be able to have a good overview of your daily macros and adjust as necessary.
#6. You’ll have homemade, delicious food easily available
If you prepare what you’re eating, there are two major advantages to that: one, you can adjust it to your own taste and preferences, and two, you know exactly what is in it and are in full control of the quality and quantity of all ingredients.
The result? Delicious dishes that you need to just throw in the microwave and enjoy.
#7. It doesn’t need to be boring, either
Many people think of meal prepping as having the same boring dish over and over again. If you enjoy having the same thing a few days in a row, great!
If you do not, however, that’s not a problem – you can prepare a few different side dishes and rotate these, or use different salad ingredients on the different days of the week, or meal prep 2 dishes at once and alternate between those. There are plenty of solutions – you’d just need to get a bit creative.
Now that you have an idea about all of the advantages of meal prepping, you probably need some specific ideas on how to do it when you’re following the keto diet.
So let’s get into the details.
How Do You Meal Prep Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner for Keto?
Step #1: Calculate your macros
In order to be successful with meal prepping, you need to know your macros.
If you don’t feel like calculating them manually, you can simply use our macros calculator.
Step #2: Choose your protein source, veggies and fat for cooking
Once you have your macros, you need to choose your protein source, veggies and fat, and use a food tracking app to plan what a day worth of food will look like, and then decide on portion sizes according to that.
On the keto diet, your staples will be high-quality proteins and vegetables, plus some healthy fats (its amount will depend on your specific goals, but generally speaking you don’t need to go crazy on the fat either, especially if your goal is weight loss).
You have plenty of options for protein, so choose something you like and enjoy eating:
- Beef or veal
Fish and organ meats can also be an option, but keep in mind that they certainly cannot be stored for 5 days. If you’re meal prepping with fish or offal, you’d want to do it for only 1 or 2 days ahead.
Many people choose chicken, since it’s one of the most readily available meats anywhere in the world, is easy to track, and has a rather neutral taste.
Chicken is far from the only option, though! You can have any other protein source of choice and make amazing dishes with it.
As for your veggies, here are some ideas:
- spinach (both fresh and cooked)
- rocket salad
As for the fat, the best options for keto are the following:
- butter or ghee
- coconut oil
- avocado oil
- extra virgin olive oil
- lard, tallow, or other animal fats.
Extra virgin olive oil has a lower smoking point, so when cooking at high temperatures such as frying, you’d want to use coconut or avocado oil instead. For salads it has no rival, though.
Step #3: Buy the ingredients you need
Once you plan the ingredients and the quantities, the next step is to go shopping. Naturally, if your budget is tight, you might want to make some modifications according to what’s on sale.
Given that you’ll be storing the food for a couple of days, you need to make sure that your ingredients are fresh, and especially the meat.
Step #4: Cook and portion the food
Now comes the fun part – cooking! As you’ll be cooking bigger quantities than usual, you’d need more time than what you usually need for cooking a single meal.
For that reason, most people decide to meal prep during the weekend, and do it at once for the whole week.
Our advice is to use simple recipes that don’t require lots of time or ingredients, in order to optimize your time and efforts.
Keep in mind that food will need to be reheated, so don’t overcook it if you don’t want to end up with dry, unappetizing meat for the next 5 days.
Always weigh all ingredients raw in order to be able to track them properly.
If you’re cooking 5 or 10 portions of something, calculate and log into your tracking app the raw weight, and then, after cooking, weigh everything together and simply split by 5 or 10, making 5 or 10 servings of the same size. You can use plastic or glass containers to store the food.
You can use a skillet or a slow cooker, or your oven – or any other method you like.
If you’re afraid of getting bored of the same dish a few days in a row, you can always prepare a few different side dishes and rotate them.
Step #5: Store the food in the fridge (or freezer)
After you’re done cooking, let it cool down for a bit, and put it in the fridge. Most things can be stored for up to 5 days, given that your ingredients were fresh to begin with.
You can also use the freezer, but freezing and defreezing will slightly change the appearance and texture of food.
Step #6: Reheat and enjoy!
Whenever you’re reheating your food in the microwave, you can add a few drops of water to make sure it won’t dry out.
Additionally, you could add 1-2 grams of fat, for the same reason (but if you’re adding fat, make sure to track it).
And that’s all! Not very complicated, right? And certainly less complicated than cooking every day. Plus, you’ll have homemade meals for a few days ahead.
Our Tips for A Successful Low Carb Meal Prepping
- Don’t meal prep salads but just have the ingredients ready
Green salads cannot be meal prepped ahead of time, because they’ll become mushy and will wither, but you can just portion all ingredients, make the dressing, store it in a separate container and just mix everything together when you’re ready to eat it.
- For snacks, concentrate on simple and easy options that require minimum preparation
If you’re going to meal prep snacks, make it as simple as possible. There are plenty of keto-friendly snacks that require minimal or no preparation such as keto protein bars.
- Reheating meat can be a bit tricky – try out different methods
Reheating meat is usually the tricky part, especially for leaner cuts that tend to dry out. To prevent them from drying out, add a little bit of water in the container, and also a bit of fat. Try out different cooking and reheating methods, and make sure to not overcook your food in the first place.
- Keep a few frozen meals for emergencies
For the first 2-3 times when you meal prep, you can throw in a few meals in the freezer and keep them for those evenings when you’re out of ideas and have no time or energy to cook.
- Try new recipes once in a while, or cook 2 different things at once
Feeling a bit bored of always having the same thing? Try out different recipes every now and then! You can also meal prep 2 separate dishes and rotate between these two.
What do you need for successful meal prepping?
There are a few things you need in order to be successful with meal prepping, and most of them are the things that you need for any kind of cooking, plus some extras (such as enough containers to store your food and enough storage space, naturally).
So, what do you need for meal prepping?
- a food scale
- food containers
- all the ingredients you need
- kitchen utensils, such as a good knife, skillet, etc.
- enough storage space in your fridge or freezer
- plastic or glass containers
FAQ about Keto Meal Prepping
In case you have any further questions about meal prepping, we’ve made a quick FAQ that you can find below.
If you don’t find your question, please let us know in the comments below!
- Can I meal prep for the whole family?
Absolutely! You’d just need to scale up and make more of everything, but you can definitely meal prep for the rest of your family, too.
If they’re not doing keto, you can add side dishes that are higher in carbs, or add more fruit for dessert, for example.
The base can be the same for everyone, regardless of their diet or way of eating (and depending on their preferences, of course) – everyone needs protein and some amount of fat. The side dishes and the dessert can vary.
If you need more recipes and dish ideas, check our 30-day meal plan!
- How do you store your food?
In plastic or glass containers, in the fridge or in the freezer. Make sure you store your salad dressing in a separate container and that you only add it before you eat the salad.
Glass can be heavy to carry around, so if you’re going to take your meals to work, you might opt for a plastic container.
- For how long can you store it?
Most food can be safely stored for 4-5 days, given that your ingredients were very fresh to begin with. For meal prepping, always buy fresh meat.
Fish or offal cannot be stored for long – a day or two would be the maximum for these two.
- Can you freeze meals for later?
Absolutely, and that’s what many people do. Texture and appearance might change slightly, but the taste isn’t usually affected.
Of course, if you’re freezing fresh fruit or vegetables, their shape and texture will change significantly, but cooked veggies should be fine.
- Are there dishes / foods you cannot meal prep?
Fish and offal are tricky, as they cannot be stored for long periods of time. Salad cannot be completely meal prepped ahead of time – if you put the dressing, it’ll become soggy.
As a solution to this, you can just store the dressing separately and mix it with the other ingredients right before eating the salad.
Steak is also delicate and not super easy to reheat well.
Smoothies aren’t super suitable for meal prepping either, but you can just throw all the ingredients in a jar and blend them together right before having the smoothie.
- How often do you need to meal prep?
You can do it once or twice a week, either for the whole week or for the next few days. You can also alternate between meal prepping and daily cooking, according to your own preferences.
- Can you meal prep snacks too?
Absolutely! You can boil eggs, pack a serving of olives, nuts, cheese, cucumber slices, avocado, and so on. There are plenty of options.
Greek yogurt can also be used as a snack, and it already comes in its own container, so there’s no need to “prep” anything.
Meal prepping is an excellent tool for portion and calorie control, and will make counting macros much easier. Keto is all about planning and making the right choices, and meal prepping will make the whole process much easier.
Are you often out of ideas on what to eat? Are you struggling with staying under your calories and carbs for the day? Do you often find yourself too busy and too tired to cook a proper meal? Give meal prepping a try.
For maximum efficiency, you can meal prep all of your meals and snacks, a few days at a time, and just log them into your food tracking app before you even begin your week.
This is a great solution if you’re busy during the week and food planning stresses you – just do everything at once, for example on Sunday, and voilà, you have just saved plenty of time and energy!
If you’re a busy professional and don’t have time to cook your own meals, don’t forget to check these keto meal delivery services.
What are your thoughts on meal prepping? Are you meal prepping already? Why, or why not?
What are your favourite dishes to meal prep?
Do you have any tips you’d like to share with our readers?
Let us know in the comments below!
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