There are times when you’ve had a craving that’s been gnawing at you for a while. Otherwise, though, it can be tough to figure out what you want for dinner.
It’s a lot harder when you’re rigorously following a low-fat diet, the Whole Foods Diet, or eating vegan.
And it can seem almost impossible when you’ve already had a rough day at work and have to come up with a dinner idea that doesn’t include bread, rice, pasta, potatoes, soda – or anything from the bakery for dessert.
That’s the dilemma that people face when following a low-carb diet.
If they’re on a Paleo, Whole30 or the ketogenic (keto) diet, things are even more difficult (we know, that doesn’t seem possible). There are more foods on the “forbidden” list, such as quinoa, legumes and most fruits, and on a ketogenic diet you have to keep track of the “net carbs” you eat each day.
To make it through what can feel like an ordeal, it’s best to have a collection of keto recipes that you can use to compile a comprehensive keto meal plan.
Unless, of course, you decide to make things easier on yourself and purchase already-made-for-you keto prepared meals.
We’ll take a deeper look at that alternative, after an overview of keto and keto-friendly meals.
The Health Benefits of the Ketogenic Diet
The long-term weight loss benefit of the keto Diet is still in question. But there’s very little doubt that it’s one of the fastest methods for losing significant amounts of weight. That’s because eating a low-carb, high-fat diet forces the body to get most of its calories from stored fat instead of carbohydrates.
That stored fat is broken down into molecules called ketones, which the body uses for energy. This metabolic state is known as ketosis, which isn’t unnatural; what’s unusual is that the Keto Diet puts the body into continual ketosis, which leads to rapid weight loss. The process is the same one seen in other low-carb diets, including the Paleo Diet, but the total amount of carbs you can eat on keto is usually limited to 20-50 grams per day.
A number of other health benefits have been attributed to the keto Diet, including heart health, a reduction in cancer risk, improvement in female gynecological issues, and even acne reduction. But almost all of the people who decide to go keto do so in order to shed weight and lower their risk of diabetes.
Elements of a Keto Diet
A classic ketogenic diet consists of approximately 70% fat, 20-25% protein and only 5-10% carbs as macronutrients.
The basic list of foods you can eat:
- Meat, poultry and fatty fish
- Eggs, butter, cream and unprocessed cheese
- Olive, coconut and avocado oil, most nuts and seeds
- Avocados, green vegetables and most other veggies (other than starchy ones like white and sweet potatoes)
- A few fruits like low-sugar berries (strawberries and raspberries, for example, in moderation
The foods to limit:
- Starches and grains including bread, pasta, cereal and rice
- Starchy root vegetables
- Legumes and most beans
- Foods containing added sugar, including soda and bakery goods
- Most fruits
- Processed foods, including “sugar-free,” “low-fat” or “diet” products
- Mayo, vegetable oils and other unhealthy fats
- Sauces with added sugar or unhealthy fats
- Most alcoholic beverages
This clearly also eliminates most takeout and fast food; that alone would incapacitate many people trying to figure out what to have for dinner. And adhering to the “allowed list” of foods when cooking at home isn’t easy. Keto meal prep and planning is complicated, which is why U.S. News recently ranked keto the second-hardest diet to follow (out of 40 tested). They found that a raw food diet is the only one more difficult to stick with.
It’s far from impossible to make delicious low-carb meals, though.
Keto Meal Prep Recipes
Here are a few yummy, healthy meal ideas to whet your appetite if you’re considering meal prepping and cooking on a keto diet. You’ll see that you’re definitely not limited to breakfasts of bacon and eggs or dinners of grilled steak or salmon.
Keto breakfast sandwich: omelette filled with sriracha, cheddar and cream cheese, served between two sausage patties
Keto cinnamon muffins: Egg, coconut flour, cinnamon, low-carb sweetener and pinch of baking soda, microwaved for one minute in a ramekin greased with butter and topped with more cinnamon and sweetener
Lunches and Dinners
Zucchini casserole: Sliced zucchini, heavy cream, parmesan cheese, eggs, garlic, nutmeg and basil, topped with shredded cheddar and butter, and baked
Keto meatballs: Browned meatballs made from ground beef, mozzarella and parmesan, garlic, egg and parsley, added to crushed tomatoes, onion, garlic and oregano and cooked; great served with cauliflower rice
Instant Pot chicken tacos: Boneless chicken breasts rubbed with homemade taco seasoning (garlic and onion powder, plus your choice of spices) and cooked with roasted tomatoes in an Instant Pot (or over the stove), then shredded and added with the tomato sauce to lettuce wraps, coconut wraps or store-bought low-carb tortillas, with your favorite low-carb toppings
Baked chicken lasagna: Layers of thin sliced zucchini (replacing pasta), pesto, meat from chicken thighs or breasts, and a ricotta/parmesan/egg and garlic mixture, topped with mozzarella and parmesan and baked
Keto butter cookies: Baked from dough made with almond flour, keto-friendly sweetener (swerve or erythritol), butter and vanilla extract
Keto smoothies: Unsweetened almond milk, strawberries, avocado, keto-friendly sweetener and a little ice; just blend and serve
If that sounds like too much work to add to your already-busy life, though, there’s a company ready to do the work for you.
Factor’s Keto Meal Delivery Service
Lots of companies let you choose healthy meals online and provide delivery to your door. A few of them, like Factor, can even deliver keto or keto-friendly meals. However, most of those services are more accurately described as meal kit delivery services and not meal delivery services.
There’s a big difference. Meal kits are simply the ingredients needed to prepare a meal, along with the recipe you should follow. Sure, it’s convenient to have the shopping already done for you, even if you normally shop with Amazon Fresh on your tablet. But that doesn’t save you any of the prep time needed to peel, chop, sauté, cook and bake. And if you don’t use the ingredients pretty quickly, you know what will happen to them.
Meal delivery services, by contrast, drop off fully-cooked meals right at your door. Even so, the majority don’t make it easy for you to eat them, because the meals they deliver are frozen. Be prepared to defrost them before you can heat them up, and understand that they may lose a lot of essential nutrients in the process.
That brings us to Factor. Among all of the meal (and meal kit) delivery services, Factor stands out for a number of reasons.
- They always deliver refrigerated, fully-prepared meals that have been cooked by gourmet chefs using high-quality ingredients. The meals just have to be popped into the oven or microwave for a bit, and they’re ready to eat.
- Factor pays unparalleled attention to the type of ingredients they use, like pasture-raised and grass-fed meat, free of antibiotics and hormones; all non-GMO ingredients; and completely gluten-free menus.
- And most importantly, Factor’s online selection includes meals that are keto or keto-friendly, designed by nutritionists to let you follow a ketogenic diet without worrying about what you can eat or how to make it.
Factor’s keto prepared meals are the easiest way to adhere to a keto diet.