The 9 Best Keto Meal Prep Lunch Hacks
Lunch is a major meal — it’s right there in the middle of the day when you’ve already put in a few hours at work and still have a ways to go before you can go home. So, you need some fuel to get that stamina back ASAP — and you want it to be healthful as well as filling.
If you’re sticking to a keto diet, meal prep can be a major help. With a pre-made meal in the fridge you are that much less tempted to reach for a carb-heavy snack from the office kitchen, or the lunch place down the block.
“Meal planning is absolutely key for a ketogenic diet, which requires eating very specific macronutrients,” says Ginger Hultin, RD and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics. Packing lunch and meal prepping can be a challenge, especially during busy weeks, but it’s even harder when you’re limited to certain foods and need to be super strict with carbs.
However, planning ahead can make lunchtime a whole lot easier and less stressful. Here are a few easy keto lunch meal prep hacks to settle your hunger and help you save time, effort, and money.
1. Use frozen zoodles.
“Frozen zucchini noodles are low in carbohydrates and an excellent replacement for pasta, and most stores now carry them for convenience,” says Hultin. “Buying them frozen will keep them from going bad quickly, making your lunchtime easier.” Use them with meatballs, in poke bowls, or for tasty spinach wraps stuffed with zoodles and some nourishing protein and fat, like avocado and grilled chicken or tofu chunks.
2. Pre-pack nuts and seeds.
Make some DIY trail mix to portion out into snack bags to go with lunch. “Nuts and seeds make for a great snack and you can also mix up your own ahead of time,” says Hultin. “Portioning them out is also a good way to take them on the go.”
3. Keep frozen berries on hand.
Yes, you can eat fruit in moderation on keto! “Buying frozen berries is a good way to increase fiber on the keto diet,” says Hultin. “Frozen berries are also more affordable year-round and have the same nutrient quality as fresh berries.”
Spice up your midday salad with some frozen berries or make a smoothie. “Just 1/2 cup of blueberries contains 9 grams of carbs. This may fit some keto diets, depending on the rest of a person’s carb intake and carb level goals,” Hultin says.
4. Make your own salad dressing.
Meal prep salads for lunch with homemade salad dressing. “It’s simple to toss with fresh greens when you are in a pinch for time at work or school,” says Hultin. “Store-bought salad dressings are sometimes not keto-friendly, so try a simple mix of olive oil, lemon juice, Dijon, salt and pepper for a quick-fix salad dressing on the go.”
5. Make kale chips.
Who doesn’t love a crispy snack to go with lunch? Potato chips aren’t keto, but kale chips are. “Kale chips are an excellent swap and making batches ahead of time is simple,” says Hultin.
Get the recipe: Kale Chips
6. Make single sheet pan meals.
So simple and so good, sheet pan meals are great for prepping on keto. “Combine a protein-rich ingredient with low-carb vegetables in a sheet pan and you’ll have a perfectly balanced meal for two days,” says Sofia Norton, RD and keto expert.
A great example is oven-baked chicken breasts with roasted cauliflower or broccoli (although you’d want to leave out the potatoes in the image above). “These combos are filling, thanks to the combination of protein with fibrous vegetables. It’s also easy to add fat to these meals in the form of butter, mayo, sour cream, and gravy,” she says.
7. Make soup and stew for days’ worth of meals.
Make a huge batch of a hearty soup, such as broccoli-cheddar or meatball soup, and keep it in the fridge. “When reheating, only reheat the amount you plan to eat in the microwave or on the stovetop to minimize spoilage. Freeze any leftovers for up to a month,” says Norton. “Another great option is instant keto broth packets, which are great substitutes for homemade stock and also help replenish electrolytes when you’re dealing with keto flu,” she says.
8. Make foods that mix and match.
Focus on making meals that are easy to mix and match so you can have variety throughout the week. “Great examples include cauliflower rice, rotisserie chicken, baked chicken breasts, deviled eggs, steamed broccoli, Bolognese sauce, and so on,” says Norton. These meals are easy to combine in many different ways! “For example, you can use chicken breasts in lettuce wraps or on top of cauliflower rice with gravy,” she says.
9. Make keto bread.
Want to bring a keto-friendly sandwich for lunch? Make a low-carb bread to have on hand all week long. “Keto bread is an incredibly versatile and filling meal. And it’s freezer-friendly,” says Norton. “Thaw in the fridge overnight or in the microwave on the lowest setting. Use it for your keto sandwiches, dips, meat platters, spreads, and more.” You can make a large batch and keep it in the freezer for up to three months.
Get the recipe: Keto Loaf Bread