Power Hour Meal Prep

This Pantry-Friendly Keto Meal-Prep Plan Will Get You Back on Track

updated Mar 26, 2020
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Credit: Joe Lingeman/Kitchn; Food Stylist: CC Buckley/Kitchn
Power Hour Meal Prep

Right now, many of us are looking to the collected store of food from our own pantries and refrigerators to minimize our presence in public. Cooking from your pantry looks a little different when you follow the ketogenic diet. Instead of rice, beans, and pasta, grocery staples are eggs, meats, and cheeses. This week’s Power Hour Meal Prep Plan relies on a short list of keto-friendly groceries that you’ve probably already picked up at the store. But don’t worry if you don’t have everything on this list — I’ll show you how to use what you do have to make this meal plan work for you.

My Meal Prep Goals

  • Breakfast: If you’re working from home for the foreseeable future, try to maintain a regular wake-up time and use the time you used to spend commuting cooking up a hot breakfast (5 days).
  • Lunch: In an effort to reduce food waste, plan to alternate a retro salad staple with dinner leftovers. (5 days).
  • Dinner: Keto-friendly options that are easy to adapt if you don’t have everything on the ingredient list (5 days).
  • Nutritional Goals: While my household is a family of 4, my young kids do not eat keto, so this plan serves just 2 adults. Remember that on keto, 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.

Meal Prep Plan Snapshot

  • Feeds: 2 adults
  • Prep Time: 1 1/2 hours
  • Meals Covered: About 80% (no weekend meals)
  • Weeknight Cooking Required: Basic meal elements are prepared, but plan to spend some time cooking dinner each night.

My Meal Plan




Credit: Ghazalle Badiozamani; Food Styling: Cyd McDowell

My Shopping List

This list assumes you have basic staples like vegetable and olive oils, kosher salt, and black pepper on hand. I’ve also included a list of the spices, condiments, and fresh ingredients that are nice to have, but if they aren’t already on hand they won’t cause a recipe to fail. Here’s what you need to for this week of pantry-friendly keto meals.

  • Dairy: 2 cups heavy cream, 19 large eggs, 1 pound unsalted butter, 2 1/4 cups Parmesan cheese, 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar or Monterey Jack cheese
  • Meat: 4 boneless pork chops, 2 pounds boneless, skinless chicken thighs, 3 pounds ground beef, 1 to 2 pounds sliced bacon
  • Produce: 1 (8-ounce) container cremini mushrooms
  • Dry Goods: 2 (5-ounce) cans tuna, 1 small jar dill pickles, 1 (15-ounce) jar salsa, 1 (28-ounce) can whole peeled tomatoes, 1 cup unsweetened full-fat coconut milk
  • Freezer: 1 (16-ounce) bag frozen broccoli, 2 (16-ounce) packages cauliflower rice, 1 (1-pound) bag shrimp
  • Optional Pantry Items: harissa or hot sauce, mayonnaise, onion powder, chili powder, dried oregano, ground nutmeg, ground cumin, red pepper flakes, salt-free Italian seasoning, no-sugar-added marinara sauce, tomato paste
  • Optional Fresh Items: 1/3 cup fresh parsley, 1/4 cup fresh cilantro, 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, 2 lemons, romaine lettuce, 1 head garlic, 1 rib celery, 1 tomato, onions or shallots, 2 ounces feta, 1 red bell pepper

Power Hour: How I Get the Prep Done

  1. Cook bacon. Heat oven to 400°F. Line a rimmed baking sheet (or two) with parchment paper. Depending on the thickness of the bacon, 12 to 16 ounces of bacon will fit on a single baking sheet. Move oven racks to top and bottom thirds of the oven if cooking more than one sheet at a time. Arrange bacon in a single layer and bake until golden and crisp, about 15 minutes. Drain on a double layer of paper towels and refrigerate in an airtight container. If you have sausage rather than bacon on hand, form the sausage into patties and refrigerate between layers of parchment.
  2. Make shakshuka base. Strain canned whole tomatoes from their juices and crush with your hands and reserve the juice, or substitute an equal amount of diced canned tomatoes. Heat oil in a skillet and sauté the spices. Skip the fresh onion and use 2 teaspoons onion powder in its place. If you don’t have fresh garlic on hand, use 1/8 teaspoon garlic powder per clove. Tomato paste adds a deeper flavor, but if you don’t have it, simply sauté the tomato solids in the oil for a few minutes to concentrate the flavor before adding the juices. Harissa is a versatile chile paste to keep in the cabinet, but it can substituted with red pepper flakes or any hot sauce. Simmer the sauce until thickened, then cool and refrigerate in an airtight container.
  3. Assemble taco casserole. This casserole is simply an oven-baked, big-batch beef taco filling. Use any ground meat you have, from ground beef to turkey or even chicken. Substitute onion powder (1 tablespoon for a medium to large onion) and garlic powder (1/4 teaspoon for 2 cloves). Skip the pinto beans because of their high carb count. The red bell pepper adds crunch and flavor, but if you don’t have it, it’s not a problem. Brown the beef then stir in the spices, salsa, and bell pepper, if using, and 3/4 cup of the cheese. Transfer the mixture to a baking dish and top with the remaining 3/4 cup cheese. Cover and refrigerate.
  4. Make tuna salad. The only essentials here are tuna and mayo — everything else just adds flavor and crunch. Now’s the time to chop that last rib of celery before it turns limp. Mustard or hot sauce add a zip of flavor. Finely chop a few pickles if you have a jar of dills but no relish.
  5. Make meatballs. By this point in the prep you know the drill — substitute onion and garlic powders for the fresh and only add fresh parsley if you’ve got it. You can use a combination of dried Italian herbs such as oregano, basil, marjoram, and parsley if you don’t have the pre-mixed blend. Use an ice cream scoop to portion the meatballs into an airtight container separated with parchment paper.
  6. Thaw shrimp. Place shrimp on a rimmed baking sheet in the refrigerator to thaw overnight.


Breakfasts alternate between scrambled eggs with bacon and shakshuka.

Monday, Wednesday, Friday: Use heavy cream (or any full-fat dairy from the fridge) to make soft and creamy scrambled eggs. If you have extra cheese or herbs lingering in your refrigerator, sprinkle them in just before folding the eggs a final time. Reheat bacon in the microwave or cook sausage patties until brown.

Tuesday, Thursday: Transfer half the tomato base of the shakshuka to a skillet and bring to a simmer. Use the back of a spoon to create a wells in the spiced tomato sauce, then add the eggs. Spoon some of the sauce over the egg whites, then cook the eggs to desired doneness, about 10 minutes. Serve as is, or top with feta or other salty cheese and herbs — parsley or cilantro would be good choices — if you have them on hand.


Serve a spoonful of tuna salad atop salad greens or alongside veggie sticks from the fridge. Other days reheat dinner leftovers for lunch and use the extra time to step outside for some fresh air or FaceTime a friend.


  • Monday, Shrimp Alfredo with Broccoli: Heat the oven to 450°F if you have frozen broccoli and 425°F for fresh florets. Toss the broccoli with oil, salt, and pepper, spread onto a sheet pan and roast until tender and brown at the edges. Prep the shrimp the same way, then sear on the stovetop until curled and pink. Toss the cooked broccoli and shrimp with rich and creamy Alfredo sauce.
  • Tuesday, Whole30 Meatballs with Mashed Cauliflower: Sear the meatballs until cooked through. If you have no-sugar-added marinara sauce, you can simmer the meatballs, though it isn’t necessary when serving with buttery mashed cauliflower. Prepare half of the recipe for mashed cauliflower tonight and serve with the meatballs.
  • Wednesday, Creamy Mushroom Smothered Pork Chops: This recipe works with pork chops and boneless chicken breasts or thighs. Sear the chops until a beautiful golden crust forms, add sliced cremini (or other mushrooms), then whisk in unsweetened coconut milk to make the sauce creamy. No coconut milk? Stir in heavy cream or half and half. Include the garlic and fresh rosemary if you have them.
  • Thursday, Ground Beef Taco Casserole: Remove the casserole from the refrigerator while the oven heats to 350°F. Bake until the casserole is heated through and the cheese melts, 20 to 30 minutes. Serve with salad greens and chopped tomato, if desired.
  • Friday, Dill Pickle Chicken with Mashed Cauliflower: If you’re anything like me, you probably have a few pickle jars taking up space in the back of your fridge. In the morning, pour pickle juice over chicken breasts or thighs (or again, pork chops are a good stand-in) and refrigerate until dinner. Drain the chicken from the pickle marinade, pat dry, and season with salt and pepper. Bake at 425°F until cooked through. Meanwhile prepare 1/2 recipe of the mashed cauliflower to serve alongside the chicken.


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.