My curiosity sparked as the popular low-carb keto diet picked up steam earlier this year, so I decided to give it a shot. (Here's a little more about the keto diet, including how it works, what you can eat, and what all the hype is about). As a total keto newbie, I knew prepping my meals in advance would help me stay on track.
In this Power Hour I'll share my plan for preparing a week's worth of keto breakfasts, lunches, and dinners for two adults in about two hours. If it works for me, a total keto newbie, I think it will work for anyone interested in trying out this way of eating.
I discovered quickly that the key to a successful keto week is finding ways to keep things interesting and work in lots of fresh flavor. I'm a morning person, so I front-load my days with filling meals at breakfast and lunch, leaving smaller portions and simple meals for supper. I plan to cook dinner three of the five days, preparing enough to have leftovers on the other two days.
If you follow a ketogenic diet, you understand the importance of prepping your meals and snacks in advance, since small slip-ups can confuse your body chemistry. Eating out is not the best option on the keto diet, especially for those of us still learning the ins and outs of the program. To ease the intensity of the meal prep, I've included a few prepackaged items and simple mix-and-match solutions that also add variety to the menu.
And full disclosure: Many who follow keto recommend clearing the house of anything even resembling a carb, but I've got two active preschoolers at home so they'll still be eating fruit, dipping carrots in hummus, and stuffing their faces with cheddar cheese crackers.
My Meal Prep Goals
- Breakfast: Filling grab-and-go breakfast that can be eaten cold or quickly warmed in the microwave, and coffee for me and my husband (five days).
- Lunch: Lunch for me and my husband (five days).
- Dinner: Dinner for me and my husband (five days).
- Nutritional Goals: This week I'm testing out the keto diet. I'll track net carbs, but my main goal is to understand what foods work on keto. I'm looking for flavorful meals packed with protein and fat to boost my resolve to keep my hands out of the bread box one day at a time.
Meal Prep Plan Snapshot
- Feeds: Two people
- Prep Time: About 2 hours
- Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
- Weeknight Cooking Required? Moderate. Twenty to 30 minutes of light, mostly hands-off cooking.
My Meal Plan
- Keto Coffee: I'm swapping my usual homemade almond and coconut milk creamer for coffee whirred in a blender with a tablespoon each grass-fed butter and coconut oil until frothy and creamy.
- Cheese and Vegetable Frittata: I'll slice this frittata into 10 wedges for a week's worth of breakfast.
- Mix-and-Match Snack Lunch: Tuna salad, smoked salmon dip, Buffalo chicken bites, Instant Pot eggs, Babybel cheese, sliced cheddar cheese, cucumber, broccoli stem chips, spinach, nuts.
- Foolproof Salmon Baked with Olive Oil & Herbs with zucchini sautéed in grass-fed butter or spiralized and seasoned with herbs and olive oil. I multiplied the salmon recipe by 1 1/2 to ensure I have enough for dinners and lunches.
- Buffalo Chicken Bites with Roasted Broccoli. I prefer boneless, skinless chicken thighs to breasts, so I'm using that for the chicken bites.
- Tuna Melts on 90-Second Keto Bread with blueberries.
My Shopping List
These are the ingredients I bought or used for this meal prep plan. I also relied on items already in my pantry or refrigerator, including kosher salt, black pepper, liquid smoke, coconut flour, almond flour, baking powder, Frank's hot sauce, fresh basil, milk, and mayonnaise.
- Produce: 1 small red bell pepper, 1 (5-ounce) bag baby spinach, celery, 4 shallots, 3 lemons, 1 bunch green onions, 2 bunches fresh dill, 1 bunch fresh flat-leaf parsley, 1 head broccoli, 2 English cucumbers, 6 zucchini, 1 pint blueberries
- Protein: 2 (5-ounce) cans water-packed tuna, 2 pounds skin-on salmon fillet, 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs
- Dairy: Grass-fed butter, Parmesan cheese, 1 (4-ounce) log goat cheese, 2-dozen large eggs, 4 ounces cream cheese, 4 ounces sour cream, Babybel cheese, 8 ounces cheddar cheese
- Dry goods: Coffee, coconut oil, olive oil, small jar sugar-free dill pickle relish, pecans
Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done
I have two hours set aside to prep a week's worth of keto-compliant breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
1. Chop veggies: I like to prep the produce first, because once I'm finished I can focus on cooking and assembly rather than picking up my knife again. Here is my produce prep list: 1 quartered shallot, 3 chopped shallots (I'm substituting shallot for onion in the frittata), 1 diced zucchini, 1 diced red bell pepper, 2 sliced scallions, zest of 2 lemons, juice of 1 lemon, 6 chopped basil leaves, 1 sliced cucumber, and 1 diced celery rib. I also need to chop broccoli florets and peel and slice the stems. I refrigerate the florets for a dinner side dish, then transfer the stems and cucumber slices to lunch boxes or separate storage containers and refrigerate. To keep it fresh, I'll spiralize or chop the zucchini the night I serve it.
2. Chop herbs for salmon and zucchini: A food processor makes quick work of turning fresh dill, parsley, lemon, and shallots into a citrusy herb paste that I'll use to season our simple baked salmon and stir into zucchini spirals. I transfer the paste to an airtight container, and do not wash the food processor yet.
3. Prep salmon dip: I sauté the shallot in the cast iron skillet. I'll wait to wash the skillet, since it will be used to bake the frittata. I add the shallot to the food processor with the rest of the smoked salmon dip ingredients (except the salmon and liquid smoke). Once blended, I transfer the dip base to a storage container and refrigerate. After Monday's dinner, I'll mix in leftover salmon and liquid smoke to taste.
4. Bake frittata: I bake the cheese and vegetable frittata in the cast iron pan. Cheese gets the thumbs-up on keto, so I scatter all 4 ounces of the goat cheese on top. Once baked and cooled, I slice into 10 wedges and refrigerate.
5. Make Instant Pot eggs: While the frittata bakes, I make hard-cooked eggs in my Instant Pot. I cook them with 1 cup of water on LOW pressure for 7 minutes, then do a quick release of the pressure and transfer the eggs to an ice bath. Once cool to the touch, I peel the eggs, pop one in Monday's lunch boxes, and transfer the rest to a storage container and refrigerate.
6. Prep ingredients for keto bread: While the eggs cook, I measure the wet and dry ingredients for the keto bread into separate containers. This bread is the base for an easy tuna melt dinner. I refrigerate the wet ingredients and set the dry ingredients aside at room temperature.
7. Marinate chicken bites: Buffalo chicken bites will be a midweek win, so I quickly microwave butter in a large food storage container until melted. Meanwhile, I dice the chicken, then add chicken and hot sauce to the melted butter, cover, and refrigerate.
8. Make tuna salad: I have already juiced the lemon and diced the celery and shallot, so making the tuna salad requires just a quick stir. I mix it together directly in the food storage container, which saves me from washing an extra bowl. I transfer portions to lunch boxes for Monday and refrigerate the remainder.
9. Slice cheddar cheese: I'll use cheese throughout the week for lunches and dinner on Friday, so slicing it now makes for easy assembly later on.
10. Assemble Monday's lunches: Add Babybel cheese or slices of cheddar cheese and nuts to the vegetables, egg, and tuna salad already in the lunch boxes. Cover and refrigerate.
Breakfast (Net Carbs: 2 grams)
I program the coffee maker each night and set the butter dish, jar of coconut oil, and a spoon next to my coffee maker and blender so I don't have to go searching each morning. Using the blender to prepare this coffee makes for a luxuriously creamy cup that's totally worth using an extra appliance. Each morning we'll reheat a slice of cheese and vegetable frittata in the microwave (30 seconds does the trick).
Breakfast Net Carb Count
- Keto coffee: <0.01 gram
- Cheese and vegetable frittata: 2 grams
Lunch (Net Carbs: varies, see below)
Lunch is an easy mix-and-match affair of cheese, veggies, nuts, hard-cooked eggs, and seafood salads or leftover chicken bites. There's enough variety in the combinations to keep it interesting all week long.
Lunch Net Carb Count
- Smoked salmon dip: 4 grams
- Tuna salad: 1 gram
- Buffalo chicken bites: 3 grams
- Hard-cooked egg: 0.1 gram
- Almonds (1 ounce): 3 grams
- Pecans (1 ounce): 1 grams
- Babybel cheese: 0 grams
- Cheddar cheese (3 ounces): 3 grams
- Broccoli stalk slices: 2 grams
- Cucumber slices: 2 grams
Dinner (Net Carbs: 6 to 10 grams)
I'll bake a big batch of salmon on Monday for dinner and reserve leftovers for Wednesday's dinner and for my take on smoked salmon dip. My husband loves hot sauce and chicken thighs, so serving Buffalo chicken bites on Tuesday is a no-brainer (and a good way to keep him on board without bread). I'll serve zucchini either sautéed in grass-fed butter or spiralized with the salmon, and on chicken bite nights we'll have roasted broccoli. Friday's dinner is a tuna melt on keto bread with my first bite of fruit in a week: 1/4 cup of blueberries.
Dinner Net Carb Count
Monday & Wednesday
- Foolproof salmon baked with olive oil and herbs: 2 grams
- Zucchini and herbs: 7 grams
Tuesday & Thursday
- Buffalo chicken bites: 3 grams
- Roasted broccoli: 3 grams
- Keto tuna melt: 6 grams
- Blueberries: 4 grams
Eating such a low-carb diet like keto this week was a drastic change from my regularly scheduled eating program, but by taking time to plan, prep, and calculate net carbs, keto week went surprisingly well!
If you have been curious about keto, I hope this plan gives you the encouragement and tools to be successful. I'd love to hear what keto recipes you rely on and how you prep your meals to stay on track.
We have more Power Hour Meal Prep plans for all kinds of cooks and eaters. Check out all the plans we have so far.
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.