Power Hour Meal Prep

Meal Prep Plan: How I Prep a Week of Budget-Friendly Keto Meals

updated Oct 5, 2020
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Credit: Patty Catalano
Power Hour Meal Prep

The keto diet depends on mindfully managing macronutrients, and relying on a higher intake of calories from fat while limiting carbs. The darlings of the keto diet — avocados, fatty fish fillets, and grass-fed beef — cost a pretty penny even in the best of times, but this year’s high grocery store prices are having a tangible impact on food budgets. There’s no need to abandon the keto life, though, because it is possible to plan a week of delicious keto-friendly meals without going over budget.

This Power Hour focuses on planning and prepping a week of keto-friendly meals on a budget. I’ll share grocery shopping tips that keep me from over-spending and walk you through prepping a week’s worth of keto-friendly breakfasts, lunches, and dinners. With just a little upfront work, you’ll be set for the week. This weeklong meal plan feeds two adults and cost me just $65. Here’s how I did it.

Credit: Images: Patty Catalano

My Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: A filling, make-ahead option for busy mornings (five days).
  • Lunch: Easy lunches that require no extra prep (five days).
  • Dinner: Cozy dinners to finish the day that include clever reuse of leftovers (five days).
  • Nutritional Goals: This week’s meal plan keeps macronutrients within the recommended ranges for the keto diet while staying on a budget. This means 60 to 75% of calories come from fat, 15 to 30% of calories come from protein, and 5 to 10% of calories come from carbohydrates. The ingredients for this week’s meals were all purchased for $65.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: 2 adults for breakfast, lunch, and dinner
  • Prep Time: About 2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required: Moderate. Most dinner elements are prepared and require light cooking to bring them to the table.

My Meal Plan

Breakfasts

  • 3-Cheese Frittata Cups: Substitute any good melting cheese for the fontina to keep costs down. Swap scallions for the chives.

Lunches

Dinners

  • Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet
  • Pressure Cooker Hawaiian Kalua Pig: Omit bacon and use 1/2 green cabbage left over from kielbasa skillet recipe. Reserve 2 cups cooked pulled pork for dinners later in the week.
  • Cheesy Pork-Stuffed Mushrooms: Use this recipe as a guide on how to season and bake the mushrooms. Stuff portobello mushrooms with leftover pulled pork and cheese.
  • Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Pork: Use this recipe as a guide for building the rice bowls. Top riced cauliflower with leftover pulled pork, salsa, cheese, and sliced avocado.
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Credit: Patty Catalano

My Shopping List

These are the ingredients I bought or used for this budget-friendly keto meal plan. To stay within my budget of $65, I shopped my pantry, fridge, freezer, and window herb garden before heading to the store. As always (but especially when you’re watching your budget), shop your own kitchen first to avoid unnecessary spending.

For this plan, I compared the price of a full head of cauliflower versus fresh and frozen riced cauliflower. I need cheese for several recipes this week, so I compared the cost of different types of cheeses as well as block versus pre-shredded. Chicken thighs are usually less expensive than chicken breasts, and fresh can cost more than frozen, so make sure to check the freezer options. If you do buy frozen chicken, thaw it before you begin meal prep. Walnuts are on the list for the chicken salad, but pecans or almonds are fine substitutes (especially if they are on sale). Also, there’s no need to spring for whole walnut halves since they’ll be chopped anyway — walnut pieces are OK.

Staple ingredients like olive and vegetable oils, kosher salt, and pepper are not listed here but are used in this plan. Check your staple stash before you shop! I like to organize my shopping list by department to make shopping more efficient.

  • Produce: 1 bunch fresh parsley, 1 head garlic, 1 avocado, 1 head cauliflower (or 1 bag riced cauliflower), 1 head green cabbage, 2 portobello mushrooms, 4 stalks celery, 1 bunch scallions
  • Meat: 5 pounds bone-in pork shoulder or Boston butt, 2 1/4 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 12 to 16 ounces kielbasa sausage
  • Dry Goods: 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, cooking spray, 3/4 cup mayonnaise, 1/4 cup salsa, 1 tablespoon whole-grain mustard, 1/4 teaspoon caraway seeds, pinch red pepper flakes, 1 1/4 cups walnuts (pieces OK)
  • Dairy: 1 dozen large eggs, 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 3/4 cup plain whole milk yogurt, 2 1/4 cups (about 10 ounces) cheese (such as fontina, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack), 2 tablespoons unsalted butter, 1/4 cup whole milk, 3/4 cup whole-milk ricotta cheese
Credit: The Kitchn

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

  1. Make pressure-cooker pork. Prepare Pressure Cooker Hawaiian Kalua Pig, omitting the bacon and using half of the head of green cabbage. When the pork is tender, use your fingers or two forks to shred the meat. Let it cool and transfer it to an airtight container, and pour the cooking liquid over top to keep the meat moist. Refrigerate the cabbage separately.
  2. Poach chicken. Begin the Classic, Creamy Chicken Salad by poaching the chicken thighs. Omit the red onion, but use garlic and herbs if you have them. If using frozen chicken, make sure to thaw the chicken before beginning.
  3. Prep produce. For the 3-Cheese Frittata Cups thinly slice 2 tablespoons scallions. For the Classic, Creamy Chicken Salad thinly slice 1 1/4 cups scallions, small dice 1 1/4 cups celery, finely chop 1/2 cup parsley leaves. For the Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet core and chop 1/2 head green cabbage, and for the Pressure Cooker Hawaiian Kalua Pig core the remaining 1/2 head green cabbage and cut into wedges. If a whole head of cauliflower was purchased, prepare cauliflower rice for Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Pork according to this recipe.
  4. Shred cheeses. If whole blocks or wedges of cheese were purchased, prepare cheeses for the following recipes: 3-Cheese Frittata Cups grate 1/2 cup Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 cups shredded cheese (such as fontina, mozzarella, or Monterey Jack). Shred the remaining cheese for Cheesy Pork-Stuffed Mushrooms and Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Pork.
  5. Make frittata cups. Whisk eggs, ricotta, whole milk, Parmesan, salt, and pepper together then pour into greased muffin tins. Sprinkle the tops with shredded cheese and sliced scallions. Bake until puffed in a 350°F oven, 18 to 20 minutes.
  6. Make chicken salad. Cut the poached chicken into 1/2-inch cubes, then place in a mixing bowl. Add yogurt, mayonnaise, scallions, celery, parsley, walnuts, salt, and pepper, and stir to combine. Transfer to an airtight container and refrigerate.
  7. Prep kielbasa. Halve the kielbasa lengthwise, the cut crosswise into 1/2-inch pieces. Refrigerate in an airtight container.
Credit: The Kitchn
Credit: Olive & Mango

Breakfast

Reheat a 3-Cheese Frittata Cup while your computer boots up for the day. (Net Carbs: 2.1g)

Lunch

Serve yourself a few spoonfuls of Classic, Creamy Chicken Salad and use your lunch hour as an actual break in the day. (Net Carbs: 3g)

Dinner

Monday and Wednesday, Kielbasa and Cabbage Skillet: Start the week with an easy skillet dinner. From start to finish this meal takes just 30 minutes, but with the cabbage chopped and kielbasa sliced you’ll be sitting down to dinner in no time. Be sure to save half for dinner on Wednesday. (Net Carbs: 1.2g)

Tuesday, Pressure Cooker Hawaiian Kalua Pig: Reheat all but 2 cups of the Hawaiian Kalua Pig for dinner. You’ll reserve the remainder of the pulled pork for later in the week. (Net Carbs: 0.2g)

Thursday, Cheesy Pork-Stuffed Mushrooms: Use this recipe as a guide on how to season and bake the mushrooms. Remove the gills from the mushrooms, brush with oil, and season with kosher salt and black pepper. Mix 1 cup of the remaining pulled pork with 1/4 cup shredded cheese, then divide between the mushroom caps. Sprinkle 1/4 cup shredded cheese on top of the mushrooms. If you have Parmesan and herbs, like parsley and scallions left over from other recipes this week, add them to the pork mixture and topping. Bake at 400°F until the filling is hot and cheese is melted, 10 to 12 minutes. (Net Carbs: 2g)

Friday, Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Pork: Use this recipe as a guide for building the rice bowls. Toss the remaining 1 cup pulled pork with a few tablespoons of salsa. Sauté the cauliflower rice with some oil over medium-high heat until hot and tender, 3 to 5 minutes. Divide the cauliflower rice between bowls, top with the pork, more salsa, sliced avocado, and shredded cheese. (Net Carbs: 4.9g)

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Power Hour Meal Prep is the series where we help you put it all together. We show you how to eat well during the week with an hour or two of Power Hour prep over the weekend. Every plan is different; mix and match to find your own personal sweet spot.