Planning to lose some weight and need food prep tips? Awesome! We’re in part 5 of our series – this one is Keto Weekly Meal Prep for Keto on a Budget!
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Finally! We Can Start Our Keto Weekly Meal Prep? Hold Your Horses, Bucko!
When last we spoke, I
ordered you suggested that you put your groceries away instead of jumping right into your weekly prep. The reason I said that is this: shopping is stressful. All this planning has been stressful. If you are just getting into Keto you are probably overwhelmed. I get that.
You need to keep these first few weeks simple.
Start with the basics.
You don’t need to be pulling out the slow cooker, the Instant Pot, the food processor, the fancy knives yet (not for the first day or so, at least) … you need to just breathe. And prepare to … prepare.
Why Meal Prep?
Doing meal prep saves money. (Hint: we ARE talking about Keto on a budget!) What you don’t buy you don’t eat.
Meal prep controls portions. When you prep ahead of time you’re portioning out your food. That helps remove temptation. (Hint: Nuts are very calorie-dense and some have more carbs than others. Buy the snack bags and portion them out. I belong to the if-1oz-of-nuts-is-a-serving-than-10oz-is-ok-too club. Let’s just say that colonoscopy prep has nothing on that!)
Meal prep helps you make better decisions and avoids you having to make one more decision at the end of the day. When you’re faced with a fridge full of ingredients it’s just easier to order pizza delivery. Bad decision.
Having food ready – or nearly so – saves you time! If you can save anywhere from 10 minutes to 30 or 40 minutes what would you do with it? Maybe some self-care like taking a lovely walk with your bestie and kids or even a great salt bath? Call a friend? Reconnect with your people? Hmmm – maybe a little romantic date time?
Start slow. Don’t jump into a month or a week of prep. You’re setting yourself up for overwhelm. For the first few weeks, prep twice weekly on whatever days fit your schedule.
Don’t worry about your macros if you’re in the first few weeks of Keto. Just make it simple and eliminate carbs – you’ll only want the ones in your vegetables only. Add a little more fat.
If you’re at the point of paying attention it macros, check the recipe for the information or enter your recipe in My Fitness Pal (or whatever tracker you’re using) so you can balance them.
You could make 3 or 4 main dishes (doubled if you’re feeding a family) and alternate servings so you don’t need to make as many different meals. Here’s another tip – take a portion and put it in the freezer for later. You can build a stockpile of meals for later. Don’t waste food!
Remember that your fat macro is a limit, not a goal!! That being said, if you need to go over one, fat is a better choice to go over than carbs.
Two Prep Methods For Your Weekly Meal Prep
We have two prep methods for you, depending on how you roll.
The first – a mini-prep – is to decide what takes the most time when you get home from work. Usually, it’s the time it takes to prep all your vegetables and maybe a few other little things. Generally, you’d use this Simple Prep Method if you like to cook fresh most evenings but want to make the cooking go just a little faster.
The second is to actually assemble all the meals for the week. You’re doing more work on one day but with the Make Ahead Method, your meals are either ready to reheat or ready to cook fresh.
Meal Prep Accessories
Whichever method you use, a food scale is essential. This one is very accurate – and you need that in a scale!
You’ll also need good food containers. Do me a favor – don’t call them Tupperware. They aren’t. They are plastic food containers. Tupperware is an entirely different animal – it’s a brand. So just don’t. These are great for already cooked food to reheat or food that’s staying raw – like vegetables. You can set them out in an assembly line and make quick work of your prep. If you ARE using the Tupperware brand of containers, go right ahead and call them Tupperware. The difference? You don’t cry if you leave a plastic storage container at work and it gets tossed.
Tip: Buy all the same type of containers so the lids match. It’s such a pain to have containers that hold the same amount in volume but are slightly different at the top. It’s okay to buy different sizes, but for each size, stick with the same type.
Tip: I buy round one-serving containers with red lids for soup. I portion it out in single servings and can always spot them easily in the freezer.
Ziploc-type storage bags are awesome for browned hamburger once it’s cooled. Portion it out for one recipe per bag.
Simple Prep Method
There are a few things you can get ready to just make less work in the evenings when you get home from work.
- Wash and prep your vegetables
- Shred your block cheese (a food processor makes it go quick!)
- Bake a pan of bacon for the week – and reserve the bacon grease
- Wrap string cheese in approved lunchmeat and store in a freezer bag in your fridge
- Hard boil eggs for the next several days
- Brown some hamburger to store in the fridge for tacos etc
Make Ahead Method
This method should be done on a day where you have several hours to concentrate on it.
- Do a slow cooker meal
- Use your Instant Pot to make chicken breast for salads, then use it to make soup or brown 5 lbs of hamburger
- Have a whole chicken in the oven
- Mix up hamburger with ground chicken or pork for meatballs to freeze
At the same time!
For this method to work you need to be sure you have all your ingredients and have them ready. I usually set everything non-perishable out the night before, including freezer/storage bags and pans.
This method is perfect for the assembly line.
- Write out a plan from start to finish. What can you do or start the evening before?
- Having your vegetables prepped to make your cooking day go smoother.
- If you have two meals for the slow cooker, start one before bed the night before and use a plastic liner. Make it one that can handle a longer cooking time. I save chicken bones and carcasses and usually do bone broth overnight.
- Have a place to put all the meals you cook. They need to cool down before you portion them out or put them in the fridge. Make sure your fridge has room too.
- Use gallon freezer bags to assemble meals to go in the freezer to cook later in your slow cooker or instant pot. This works great if you get meat on special!
- Mash up ripe avocados and portion them in freezer bags. (I put one serving in a small storage bag and press out the air. Then I put all my storage bags in one large gallon sized freezer bag and press the air from it as well.)
- Wear supportive shoes. Your feet will thank you. (Trust me on this one.)
- Make Dump Chicken recipes. Put chicken in a quart freezer bag and add approved marinade. Press air out and freeze. It marinates as it thaws. If you plan to use it in the next couple of days, skip freezing as long as it’s within the ‘fresh through’ date. Perfect if you are going to grill it!
- Make soups. You can stretch them and freeze portions.
- Use mason jars for salad prep. Pack them tight and they will stay fresh for days longer than normal.
- Use mason jars for keto pudding, or grain-free overnight ‘oats’
- Using freezer bags? This stand is awesome and so helpful! And it’s a 2-pack!
- If you want access to great recipes and make-ahead methods, hop over to MyFreezEasy – keto recipes and plans as well as easy-to-convert ones too! There are not many things that I will buy on a subscription basis but this is one I don’t want to do without.
Combine Both Methods
Take an hour or two the night before you plan to do your cooking session to do the prep work. Your cooking session will go quicker.
If you need the same ingredient for more than one dish, remember to portion it out.
When I prep vegetables, especially things I’ve needed to chop, I put them in baggies and label the baggies with the recipe name. The next day, when I’m ready to cook, I pull out the baggies and assemble the meal.
There You Have It!
Now all you have to do is eat your food, track it in a tracker, and feel good that you’re doing something awesome for you, your family, and your health!
Other posts in this series:
When your budget can handle it, here are a few cookbooks to make it more interesting: