If you own a smartphone, computer, or TV, you’ve probably seen or heard something about either the ketogenic diet or meal prepping. From Instagram ads to flashy commercials, the keto diet has gotten a lot of buzz recently. Many claim that it’s the secret to their weight loss journey.
What exactly is the keto diet?
Also known as a ketogenic diet, keto is all about eating foods that are high in fat and low in carbs. According to nutrition expert Erin Palinski-Wade, by restricting carbs, a main source of energy, your body will focus on burning fat.
When we eat carbs, our body turns it into blood sugar, otherwise known as glucose. Getting rid of carb intake will make your body burn fat rather than sugar, allowing for quicker weight loss.
With sugar absent from your body, your body breaks down previously stored fat cells into molecules called ketones, using them up as fuel. This process is called ketosis, hence the name “keto”.To read more about the process, click here.
So where does meal prep fit in?
Keto diets and meal prepping go hand in hand.
For a lot of people, changing their diet to exclude carbs might seem daunting at first, which is why it’s important to meal prep. Creating a plan for the week of what to eat is super helpful when it comes to eating a proper keto diet. Planning out your meals allows for cheap keto meal prep.
Sound scary? Don’t worry. ThinkFit’s got you.
Meal prepping only takes a few simple steps, and in the end, it’s really beneficial to both your body AND your wallet.
It’s important to start out with creating a timetable. Think about when you’ll have the time to prepare your meals. Maybe you have some extra time during the weekend, and you’re looking to be productive.
Some expert meal preppers do Meal Prep Sunday, where they spend time making their meals for the week. This method takes no time at all, compared to cooking a meal everyday.
If you still feel a bit unsure about how to meal prep, ThinkFit has outlined some tips and tricks for you. If you’ve got the hang of it, keep reading for free keto meal prep ideas!
So you know how to meal prep now. What’s next?
It’s likely that your fridge or pantry needs a revamp. But you don’t have to break the bank! You’ll find that a lot of ketogenic ingredients may already be in your kitchen. Once you get the hang of it, you’ll master how to achieve a cheap keto meal prep plan.
When shopping, it’s important to stick to whole, clean foods. Ingredients such as meats, fish, nuts, veggies, eggs, butters and oils should become a major part of your diet if you’re looking to lead the keto lifestyle.
For beverages, water, tea, and coffee, without sugar is the way to go. Keto drinks don’t have to be boring, though! Here at ThinkFit, we love adding different fruits to our water. It creates a new flavor, without the hassle of having to buy different drinks. Try cucumber and mint or strawberries and blackberries to mix it up each day.
What exactly should you be on the lookout for when you next go grocery shopping? Keep reading, and we’ll tell you.
- Vegetables that are low in carbohydrates such as spinach, asparagus, bell peppers, cauliflowers, and green beans are great for the keto diet. Make sure to stay away from high-carb vegetables such as potatoes, parsnips, artichokes, and peas.
- Fruits such as berries, tomatoes and watermelon can pack a flavorful punch to almost any breakfast dish. However, the real star of the keto fruits are avocados. High in fat and low in sugar, avocados are a great addition to so many keto meals.
According to the CEO of Diet Doctor, Dr. Andreas Eenfeldt, most fruits contain a lot of carbs, so it’s important to avoid the sugary ones, such as apples, grapes, and bananas.
- Meat and fish can be a great addition to your meals; they're a great way to stay full without consuming carbs while on the keto diet. Fish such as salmon, tuna, and sardines are both flavorful and high in fat, perfect for any lunch or dinner dish.
High fat meats like beef, pork, and lamb are delicious and go well with keto approved vegetables such as green beans, spinach, and celery, perfect for a weeknight meal. If you’re vegan or vegetarian, don’t think the keto diet isn’t for you! Meat alternatives such as tofu and tempeh are high in protein and low in carbs, making them keto approved.
- Dairy is high in fat, low in carbs, and filled with protein, making it a perfect addition to your keto diet. Cheeses such as goat cheese, parmesan, and bleu cheese add flavor and protein to meals, without the added calories. Just make sure to stay away from high-calorie cheeses such as American, cheddar, and ricotta.
No need to worry if you’re lactose intolerant. Your favorite non-dairy milks are perfect for a keto diet! Cow milk is actually high in carbs, so plant-based milks such as almond, coconut, and hemp milk are the way to go!
With little to no fat and high levels of protein, these milks are ideal to add to your keto shakes and smoothies. Just make sure to buy the unsweetened kind!
Butter is also great for a keto diet! Filled with fat and zero carbs, you can use it to sauté your meat or vegetables, without worrying about violating the keto diet.
- A splash of oil to a stir-fry or an omelet is key when it comes to cooking. With the keto diet, oils such as olive oil and avocado oil have high amounts of healthy fat that are beneficial to your weight loss journey.
However, not all oils are keto-approved. Oils made from corn, grapeseed, and sunflower contain trans fat, an unhealthy fat source that you should try to avoid while on the keto diet.
After grocery shopping, you’re probably wondering how you’re going to compile all these ingredients together to make a meal. However, it’s actually easier than it looks!
We’ve included some creative ideas for you to start with, so you can really get your keto journey going. Feel free to use these recipes for anything from family dinner or an easy meal prepped lunch for work!
This vegetable frittata is cheesy goodness that can last you for several days, perfect for meal prep! It’s filled with flavorful vegetables and herbs, which makes it great for anytime of the day. The good thing about frittatas is that you can use whatever cheese you want - so make sure to swap cheddar for something keto approved, like cottage cheese or parmesan!
Think you have to skip out on sweet breakfasts like pancakes? Think again! These almond flour and cream cheese pancakes are delicious AND reheatable, making it easy for meal prep. Almonds are chock-full of protein, making its flour an excellent substitute for regular flour. This recipe works great for vegans, too; just replace the cream cheese with vegan cream cheese.
Ordering takeout may sound tempting during a busy workday, but, trust us, the added carbs and extra spending just isn’t worth it.
This interesting take on stir fry on the other hand? Completely worth the 15 minutes it takes to make. With garlic, ginger, cabbage, and a meat of your choice, this dish has all the delicious flavor of a traditional egg roll, without the carbs that come with it.
Who needs Chipotle when you can have this cilantro lime chicken with cauliflower rice? This dish packs a flavorful punch with an array of flavors.
Don’t eat chicken? Feel free to replace it with tofu for a yummy vegetarian meal! Just make sure to leave the honey out.
Want a hearty meal that your entire family will enjoy? Look no further than this slow cooker taco casserole. This melody of spicy beef, cool avocado, crisp peppers, and gooey cheese is sure to be a hit at the dinner table!
No need to worry about giving up pizza either. This gluten-free, low carb take on a deep dish pizza will have you wondering why you ever chose delivery over homemade pizza. Feel free to add any keto-approved topping you want!
This low carb zucchini lasagna is a delicious twist on a classic meal. Savory zucchini makes an excellent replacement for pasta, while the pesto gives the dish a fresh taste. If you use store bought, make sure to steer clear of the ones with ingredients such as flour and potato flakes.
Desserts and Snacks
This four ingredient peanut butter cookie recipe substitutes sugar for a low carb sweetener that has no effect on your blood sugar or insulin-- so don’t worry about added calories. These sweet treats have all the appeal of regular cookies, without the guilt.
These classic blueberry crumble bars use coconut flakes in the crust, which gives them a yummy twist. Whether it’s for a midday snack or a weekend brunch, they’re perfect for any occasion.
These green bean fries will easily take your mind off of high carb potatoes. Made with almond flour and eggs for the coating, they’re both crispy AND delicious. Just pop them in the oven or air fryer for a quick snack.
These parmesan zucchini crisps only use three ingredients, and they still taste as good as they look. You can eat them alongside a burger for dinner, or by themselves for a midday snack. Whatever the occasion, they’re versatile and delicious!
Now that you have all this food, it’s important that you have the right place to put it. ThinkFit has an array of meal prep equipment that come in a variety of sizes. Whether you’re meal prepping for yourself, for you and your partner, or for the entire family, we have the perfect set that tailors to your needs.
Before we let you go, here are a few tips to help you stick to your keto diet.
1. Join an online community.
Starting a new diet can seem alienating. It’s hard to stick to something when it seems like you’re the only one doing it. Connecting with others can give you new tips and the strength to carry on. Whether you join a Facebook group or browse the keto hashtag on Instagram, finding other people on the same journey as you can be really helpful.
2. Prepare for the keto flu.
Several days into the keto diet, some people may experience symptoms such as nausea, headaches, sugar cravings, and cramps. Don’t throw in the towel if this happens to you, it’s all normal! In order to combat this, it’s important to drink water, get enough sleep, and avoid difficult exercises. For more tips, click here.
3. Plan ahead.
When traveling or road tripping, it might be tempting to stop to get food somewhere. However, it’s difficult to find keto meals at fast food joints. Research ahead of time to find restaurants that serve keto dishes. You can also take your own food along in our specialized meal prep containers.
4. Be realistic.
If you started the keto diet for the purpose of losing weight, you might not always see results straight away. Remember, Rome wasn’t built in a day; your body will follow the same course. Don’t let this discourage you. Stick to the diet! Results will happen eventually. The main goal is that you’re happier and healthier than you were before.
5. Take it one day at a time.
Getting rid of all sugar and carbs from your diet can be difficult at first. We get it! Even if you cut out a little bit at a time, that’s understandable. It’s all about whatever works for you. However, this doesn’t mean you should slip. Once you’ve gotten in the groove of things, stick with it.
Starting a new diet can be difficult, but now that you’re armed with all this new info, we hope it becomes a bit easier!
If you have any tips and tricks that have gotten you through meal planning, eating keto, or just anything pertaining to nutrition, you can always tag us on our Instagram.
Happy meal planning!