A Five-Step Meal Planning Strategy For Keto
This is a guest post written by Louise Hendon, author of The Essential Keto Cookbook. Her passion is sharing practical strategies on how to use the keto diet to lead a healthy life.
Do you ever aimlessly wander around the grocery store, frustrated because you don’t know what to cook for dinner?
You end up spending an hour walking the aisles and still aren’t sure if the ingredients you decide on will meet your macros (let alone taste good).
I’ve been there.
Meal planning can make your keto diet so much easier. It’ll save you time, stress, and will ensure you’re staying on track.
This article will walk you through the five steps to meal planning on a keto diet.
What Is Keto?
Kristy and Chaz have already written an informative post on what the keto diet is, but I’ll also give you a quick recap.
The ultimate goal of a keto diet is to enter a fat-burning, metabolic state known as ketosis.
What is ketosis? Ketosis is when your body starts burning fat for fuel instead of using carbs/sugars.
And how do you get into ketosis? When you greatly reduce the amount of carbs that you eat, your body needs to find another source of energy. And as a result, your body is forced to start relying on burning fat.
What do you eat to get into ketosis? You eat very few carbohydrates (less than 25g per day), a moderate amount of protein, and lots of healthy fats.
DO eat: low-carb veggies like broccoli, brussels sprouts, and leafy greats, grass-fed or free-range meats and organ meats, seafood and fish, low carb fruits like berries, and healthy fats like avocados, olives, ghee, coconut oil, and olive oil.
DON’T eat: ANY sort of grains (like wheat, corn, oats, or barley), legumes, starchy vegetables like sweet potatoes or butternut squash, processed foods like low-carb energy bars, chips, or energy drinks.
A Five-Step Meal Planning Strategy For Keto
Below are five steps to help you meal plan effectively (and deliciously) on a keto diet…
1 - Breakfast: Pick easy breakfasts that require little energy in the morning…
It seems like there’s a million things that need to get done in the morning. And you don’t want to figure out what to cook, spend the time cooking it, and then rush to clean it up.
Thankfully, you don’t have to cook in the morning if you make your breakfast in advance. That way, all you have to do is pull it out of the fridge/freezer and heat it up.
Check out a few great breakfast options that are easily made in advance:
- Egg muffins (batch prep and freeze to have easy breakfasts for the whole week)
- Chia pudding (make this the night before - it’ll only take 5 or 10 minutes!)
- Homemade breakfast sausage patties (batch prep and freeze to have easy breakfasts for the whole week)
If none of those interest you, then you’ll probably find a bunch that you like with these 110+ keto breakfast recipe ideas.
Here’s an important tip:
Switch up your breakfasts throughout the week. Your keto diet doesn’t have to be boring!
2 - Breakfast: Quick fat-burning breakfast smoothies are a great option...
My husband makes a green smoothie every morning and adds in some keto-friendly protein powder, prebiotics, and healthy fats like MCT oil.
Consider adding some health-boosting supplements to your smoothie, like:
- MCT oil
3 - Lunch/Dinner: Just use an easy formula...
If you don’t want to make intricate recipes every night, then there’s a simple formula you can use to craft meals that aren’t bland or overly complicated.
Choose one item from each row below:
- Meat: beef, fish, chicken, seafood, lamb, pork, or organ meats
- Meat cooking method: grill, bake/roast, slow cook, saute, stew/soup, pressure cook, raw (be careful with this when it comes to meat or seafood...)
- Vegetable: asparagus, summer squash, zucchini, carrots, cauliflower, green beans, broccoli, kale/spinach/arugula
- Vegetable cooking method: no cooking (raw), bake/roast, grill, steam/boil, saute, or mash
- Sauce: olive oil w/ garlic & parsley, hot sauce, tomato & basil, ghee & garlic, gluten-free soy sauce w/ ginger & garlic, olive oil & apple cider vinegar
As long as you always have these ingredients stocked in your fridge or pantry, you’ll be able to quickly throw together a delicious meal.
4 - Lunch/Dinner: Cook a one-pot dish to make for easy cooking and cleaning…
One pot recipes are so simple. I’m surprised I don’t cook them more often.
There’s minimal clean up (just one pot) and you can still get a ton of food!
With a couple minutes of research online, you can find easy-to-make keto one-pot recipes:
- Stir fries
- Keto-friendly curries
There are hundreds of one-pot keto recipes online.
5 - Snacks: NEVER run out of snacks…
By having non-perishable keto snacks around, you’ll be prepared for those moments when you need a little boost.
The best keto-friendly snacks to have around are:
- Beef Jerky
- Meat sticks
- Olives (they last for up to two weeks in your fridge)
- Macadamia nuts or almonds
- 100% dark chocolate w/coconut butter
- Pork rinds
- Low-carb chips and crackers
- Canned sardines
- Keto fat bombs (they last for up to two weeks in your fridge)
3 Tips to Start Keto Out Strong
If you’re thinking of starting a keto diet or recently started, check out some helpful tips that I wish I knew about when I started.
1 - Only focus on your carb consumption to start. For the first week make sure your carb intake is less than 25g per day. But DON’T stress too much on your exact macros for protein and fats.
It’ll make your first week of keto much simpler.
And my guess is that over the first week you’ll naturally figure out how much protein and fat to eat. And if not, you can always adjust that later!
2 - Get rid of ALL non-keto foods and stock up on a bunch of keto-friendly foods instead. That way you won’t be tempted.
This is a great way to prove your commitment and set yourself up for success.
3 - Start keto at a stress-free time and make sure you aren’t overly busy.
I’m sure you’ve heard of the keto flu. When you switch to a keto diet, your body needs around a week to adjust.
So choose a week where you can keep your schedule light and get enough rest.
Although you’re aware of all the health benefits a keto diet can provide, that doesn’t mean it’s going to be easy.
But if you use the meal planning tips from this article, you’ll be able to quickly plan your meals. You won’t have to stress over what’s for breakfast or if you’re maintaining your macros.
And while I can’t guarantee that it’ll make the keto diet easy, I can guarantee that it’ll make the keto diet easier.
And in turn, that’ll allow you to spend time focusing on eating delicious food, spending time with the people you love, and experiencing all the benefits this diet has to offer.