keto meal prep

Benjamin Franklin once said, “If you fail to plan you plan to fail.”

Fitness and nutrition is no exception. By doing a little extra work upfront, you can set yourself up for success. Meal prep is the best way to do so — plan your meals in advance (even snacks!) so you don’t find yourself reaching for a sugary, carb-heavy food in a pinch.

Meal prep saves you time, money, and effort, and greatly increases the chance you’ll stick to the diet. In this keto meal prep guide, we’ll cover exactly how to prep for keto, kitchen tools that can make your life easier, money-saving tips and some mouth-watering make-ahead recipes to use in your weekly rotation.

3 Research-Backed Reasons to Meal Prep on Keto

If you ever thought you could rely on motivation only to lose weight (or form any healthy habit), you probably realized this strategy is futile. It’s not just you — nobody can maintain unshakeable motivation all the time.

Research shows planning significantly increases your likelihood of success compared to motivation alone. A study published in the British Journal of Health Psychology showed that 91% of participants who scheduled exercise worked out at least once per week. Only 35% of the group that didn’t schedule it in worked out at least once per week[*].

In case you need some convincing, here are three more reasons to start meal prepping right away.

#1: Meal Prep Conquers Decision Fatigue

Decision fatigue is the reason why people like Obama wear the same clothes every day. We humans have limited willpower, and the more decisions we have to make, the less likely we are to make the right one.

Researchers analyzed 1,100 decisions to release prisoners on parole made by judges over the course of a year. According to the New York Times, “prisoners who appeared early in the morning received parole about 70 percent of the time, while those who appeared late in the day were paroled less than 10 percent of the time.”

In other words, the parole decision had very little to do with the crime or circumstances and far more to do with the number of decisions the judge previously made that day[*].

Just like with the judge, every small decision you make reduces your willpower. When you meal plan, you reduce the amount of choices you have to make about what to eat each day, removing willpower from the equation.

#2: Meal Prep Helps You Save Time and Money

If you can commit to a couple hours per week on meal prep, you’ll save countless hours during the week on shopping, cooking and choosing meals. Plus, planning your meals spares your budget, preventing food waste.

Meal planning ensures you use everything you buy and helps you stick to the essentials. It also gives you an idea of how much to budget weekly for groceries.

#3: Meal Prep Can Help You Achieve Ketosis

One of those most difficult things about sticking to the ketogenic diet is calculating your macros. By following a keto-friendly meal plan, you have a better chance of sticking to your macro goals.

Perfect Keto offers several keto meal plans you can follow, with the macros and calories calculated for you:

How to Start Keto Meal Prepping

Successful meal prep requires some basic equipment and essential ingredients. These tools and pantry staples will save time in the weeks to come.

keto meal prep

Helpful Kitchen Tools

These are the basics you’ll need for quick and easy keto-friendly meals. If you don’t already have them, you can easily search Amazon or Craigslist for affordable options.

Skillet

To get the most for your dollar, invest in a cast iron skillet that will hold up to cooking for many years. These are easy to clean and safer than using a cheap Teflon-covered pan — plus it helps keep your iron levels up.

Quality Chef’s Knife

Good knives are essential for any meal prep. High quality is crucial here, as low-quality knives can slip and slide, making them a potential hazard. Look for a proper chef’s knife that will allow you to chop and slice with ease.

Food Processor or Blender

A food processor can help prepare cauliflower rice, homemade nut butters, keto salad dressings, keto smoothies and healthy coffee drinks. Ninja is a good brand for both because they offer a processor/blender set for a good price and quality.

Slow Cooker or Instant Pot

A slow cooker is perfect for “setting and forgetting” your keto meals as they cook. It’s easy to throw everything in and let it work its magic while you do other things. An Instant Pot is a useful tool for quickly making homemade both broth and soups.

Parchment Paper

Parchment paper is great for preventing sticking when baking, whether it’s in a casserole dish or on a baking sheet.

Glass Food Containers

If you work away from home, containers let you break up recipes into individual servings to grab and go. Glass is better than plastic because it’s microwave safe, and keeps the harmful chemicals in plastic out of your body.

Other Helpful Tools

While these options aren’t necessities for meal prepping, they can make the process easier (and much more enjoyable).

Immersion Blender

Immersion blenders are affordable, not bulky and perfect for beating eggs, blending broth, making sauces like mayo and whipping cream and so much more.

Vegetable Spiralizer

This can save you a ton of money if you love gluten-free “pasta,” like zucchini noodles. While you can buy pre-spiralized veggies at the store, it’s more cost effective to make your own at home.

Kitchen Scale

If you plan to weigh your food, you need a kitchen scale. This can be helpful for those new the keto diet or who are struggling to stay in ketosis and want to be more precise.

Pantry Essentials

Keto meal prep

Here are several simple keto staples to keep on hand. These are common ingredients in many recipes, and will prevent additional trips to the store.

Keto Pantry Staples

  • Nuts and seeds
  • Nut butters
  • MCT oil powder
  • Sugar-free spices like:
    • Salt and pepper
    • Thyme
    • Oregano
    • Parsley
    • Garlic (powder or garlic cloves)
    • Celery salt
    • Red pepper flakes
    • Cinnamon
    • Pumpkin pie spice
  • Dijon or yellow mustard
  • Coconut flour
  • Almond flour
  • Baking soda and baking powder
  • Vanilla extract
  • Avocado oil
  • Coconut oil and other healthy, high-fat oils
  • Olive oil
  • Red wine vinegar
  • Keto sweeteners like Swerve, stevia, erythritol, Truvia or monk fruit
  • Cocoa powder

Fridge or Freezer Staples

  • Butter (preferably grass-fed)
  • Eggs (preferably free-range and pastured)
  • Cheeses of your choice
  • Ground beef (preferably grass-fed — see our Grass-Fed Beef Guide)
  • Sour cream or plain, unsweetened yogurt
  • Heavy cream or full-fat coconut milk
  • Cream cheese
  • Hot sauce
  • Mayonnaise
  • Coconut aminos

Know How to Calculate Your Macros

To choose the right recipes, you’ll need to know your target calories and macros for each day. If you don’t know them yet, use our Macronutrient Calculator below.

Instructions

  • Select the Standard Ketogenic Calculator for a classic ketogenic diet of 75% fat, 20% protein, 5% carbohydrate (recommended)
  • Select Specialized Macronutrient Calculator to input specific amounts of fat, protein, and carbohydrate

Choose Calculator Type*

Unit of Measurement*

Your Details*

Gender

Age

Height

Weight

Activity Level

Choose what describes you best

Calorie Intake Goal

Options

  • Input "0" to maintain your bodyweight
  • Input a surplus percentage for weight gain
  • Input a deficit percentage for weight loss

Note

  • 5-10% is a small deficit
  • 10-20% is a moderate deficit
  • 20-30% is a large deficit
0% Changed

Advanced Fields

Input Your Body Fat %

Input Your Protein Ratio


Guide to picking your protein ratio

  • To maintain muscle, leave protein ratio between 0.60 to 0.80 grams per lb of lean body mass (1.3 to 1.7 grams per kg LBM)
  • To gain muscle, the protein ratio should be between 0.8 to 1.2 grams per lb of lean body mass (1.7 to 2.3 grams per kg LBM)

Input Your Total Carb Intake

Input the grams of carbs you want to consume on a daily basis

3 Simple Steps for Easy Keto Meal Prep

keto meal prep

Everyone meal preps a little differently, but following this basic structure is the best place to start:

#1: Decide What to Eat

Choose one day of the week to sit down and outline your meal plan for the next seven days. Decide on the following:

  • What meals you’ll eat each day of the week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, including any snacks or desserts if you plan to have them. Put these into a calendar or make it a list broken down by each day of the week. Use recipes (like these) that already have calories and macros listed — so it’s easy to fit them into yours.
  • Account for how many people will be eating the meals and whether or not you plan to have leftovers the next day or a new meal each day.
  • Keep it simple by having the same meal more than once. You’ll be able to save cooking time by doubling a recipe and enjoying leftovers.
  • Write down the recipes for each meal and exact ingredients you’ll need for it.
  • Decide which day(s) you’ll shop for ingredients and cook the meals. Some people prefer to do all in one day, while others prefer to break it up.
Pro tip: Choose easy recipes with just a few ingredients, and find recipes that have similar ingredients, such as the same meats or vegetables. This makes for a shorter shopping list, faster cooking and less overwhelm.

#2: Make Your List and Shop

Using the ingredients from each recipe, compile your shopping list. Break it down by food categories, preferably starting with foods you encounter first at your grocery store.

Make sure you include exact amounts of each ingredient and stick to your list only. Remember to shop for whole foods like meat, eggs and vegetables, not getting overwhelmed by packaged products advertised as keto.

A good rule of thumb is to shop the perimeter of the grocery store, because that’s where the butcher and produce sections are concentrated.

#3: Cook Your Meals

Time to cook — this can be a little tricky at first, but it gets easy with practice. Here are some tips:

  • Read your whole recipe and figure out which steps take the longest. Start with those. If you need to slow cook a chicken, for example, get that started first so you can chop vegetables or make cauliflower rice as you wait.
  • Have all ingredients out and ready before you begin a recipe. Reaching into the fridge or pantry for things as you read them wastes unnecessary time.
  • Pre-chop veggies and pre-prepare meats before starting the cooking. You’ll be able to toss them into the oven, skillet or food processor right away when needed.

Once meals are cooked, separate them into containers so they’re ready to go for the week.

Pro tip: Label each container with a sticky note listing the meal inside, what day of the week it’s for, its macros and the date it was prepared.

Meal Prep Money Saving Tips

If saving money is one of your main goals of meal prepping, below are some additional tips.

  • Choose recipes with seasonal produce. In-season vegetables and fruits are usually cheaper and more likely to be on sale.
  • Visit your local farmer or farmer’s market. Speak with these people. It’s likely you can find good deals on higher-quality meats and dairy products by buying locally.
  • Avoid packaged foods as much as possible. Packaged foods are almost always more expensive. That bagged and pre-washed spinach is super convenient, but it’s much pricier than washing it yourself at home. Forfeiting a little convenience in these areas can save a lot of cash.
  • Look for special offers, discounts and coupons. Search online or look for deals at the store or in the mail. Sign up for grocery stores’ email newsletters to get notified about deals.
  • Buy in bulk. Bulk items are often cheaper per pound, and you can freeze some items to use as needed.
  • Make or grow your own items. If you have the time, making your own stuff can save money and is usually much healthier. Here are just a few examples of items you can grow or make on your own, rather than purchase at the store:
    • Bone broth
    • Keto mayo
    • Salad dressings and sauces
    • Ghee
    • Pesto
    • Sauerkraut
    • Ketchup
    • Mustard
    • Bacon or sausage
    • Coconut or almond flour
    • Coconut or almond milk
    • Sun-dried tomatoes

Make-Ahead, Healthy Meal Prep Recipes

Not sure what to make? The keto recipes below are made with just a few ingredients, are great make-ahead options.

BREAKFAST RECIPES

Keto Lunch and Dinner Recipes

Snack and Side Dish Recipes

Dessert Recipes

Start Planning to Succeed Today

Pre-planning and prepping meals in advance will make everything easier for you on the keto diet. You’ll save time, money and sanity each week.

Plus, you’re far more likely to stick to your keto diet successfully if you put a plan in place. Use our tips above to get started, and find a rhythm that works best for you.

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