If I could pick a superpower, it’d be to always have healthy food that I want to eat ready for me. Even on Fridays, even when there’s a box of donuts and birthday cake at work, even when (especially when) I’m too tired to think about what to eat. So naturally, my superhero secret weapon would be meal prep.
When you’re eating a keto diet, meal prep feels unusually hard. You’re already limited in what you can eat, and on top of that, you have to figure out which foods will actually last all week without getting dodgy on safety. Thankfully, the planning is pretty straightforward, and once you have your prep strategy down, you can absolutely feel like a superhero.
Here are 21 foods to get started with a long-lasting keto meal-prep:
An easy way to prep chicken for the week is to bake it. Pat the chicken breasts dry, then spread them out on a baking sheet and add seasoning. If you want a little variety, split your sheet in half and use two different rubs so you don't get sick of the same flavor. Then bake at 400 degrees for about 25 minutes, or until the thermometer reads 165 degrees. Pair your chicken with a couple of vegetables for a reliable dinner, or slice it up over salad to bulk up your lunches.
Chicken will last about four days, so take four portions and freeze the rest. When you’re ready to reheat it, cover it in foil and stick it back in the oven for 10 minutes at 450 degrees.
Hard-boiled eggs deserve a keto award. Add them to salads, serve them up as snacks, or grab a few on your way out the door for a quick breakfast. For perfect hard-boiled eggs, carefully lower them into boiling water and let them cook for 30 seconds. Then, cover the pot and turn the heat down to a simmer. Cook for 11 minutes and then let them sit in an ice bath. If you leave them in their shells, they can stay in the fridge for seven days.
Ground meat like lean bison, turkey, or even beef cooks up fast and lasts for four days in the fridge. Cook in a skillet, with some onions if you’re feeling wild, until it’s browned all the way through, and then portion it out. Make taco salads with lettuce, tomato, cheese and jalapeño for part of the week, and Greek salads with lettuce, tomatoes, yogurt, olives, and feta the rest of the week. And just like with chicken, you can freeze any extra meat for later.
Lean cuts of beef, like flank steak, are usually pretty affordable, plus they’re almost impossible to mess up. Flank steak is easiest on the grill—just throw it on for five to eight minutes on each side, depending on how done you like it. Spice things up with your favorite rubs or seasonings.
It doesn’t get any easier than grabbing a half-pound of roast turkey or ham from the deli. Roll 'em up with a slice of cheese or around some asparagus stalks, and you’re done. Cold cuts are a classic lunch staple for a reason, and you’ll get about four days out of them, so they’re perfect for super-busy weeks.
Consider canned tuna a keto meal-prep hack. Bring a can with you to sprinkle over your salad or mix with mayo, sour cream, Dijon, hard-boiled egg, and a little bacon for a killer keto tuna salad. Look for albacore, which packs three times the omega-3s as skipjack (light tuna). Keep an eye out for phrases like “pole-and-line caught” or “troll caught," which, though not actually alluding to mythical creatures, are good indications the fish was harvested in a more eco-friendly manner. Keep in mind that once you take the tuna out of the can, it’s good for about four days.
Cauliflower is a shape-shifting superstar—you can use it as a substitute pizza crust, in place of rice, or even just in stir-fry. The best part? It lasts basically forever. Raw cauliflower keeps up to two weeks in the refrigerator. So spend Sunday making a big batch of cauli-rice or just use it as a vehicle for sauce—curry or buffalo sauces are best.
Cabbage is another unsung hero to add to your keto meal-prep game. A humble little head of cabbage has plenty of fiber and antioxidants, and it can help lower your cholesterol. Even better: It can hang out in your vegetable crisper for up to two months. But it probably won't—since cabbage is a lot more versatile than you think, you'll likely find use for it in tons of dishes. In other words, you don’t have to eat just coleslaw for days on end.
Meal prep without kale is like a team without its MVP. We all know kale is fantastic, and the hearty green will last about five days in the fridge. Kale makes a great base for a robust Caesar salad, can be used as a wrap or scoop for your protein, or can get baked into chips for an addictive snack.
Like cauliflower, zucchini is a super-versatile keto staple. You can use a spiralizer to make zucchini noodles, cut it lengthwise into a cheesy lasagna base, or sauté it with onions and garlic for a summery side dish. It doesn’t last quite as long as cauliflower, but you’ll have no trouble finishing it off in four days.
Asparagus is a cheap, easy-to-find spring vegetable with the distinction of lasting just as long cooked (five days) as it does raw. Roast it at 425 degrees for about 12 minutes with some garlic, lemon juice, and olive oil. Throw it in salads or pack it alongside your protein for the week. Better yet, wrap little bunches of asparagus in bacon and bake them up for a salty, crunchy treat.
Bonus: Long-Lasting Snacks
One cannot live on protein and veggies alone (or at least I can’t), so here are some long-lasting store-bought keto snacks to have on hand that will keep you going no matter what:
- Mini cheese wheels
- Beef jerky
- Hard, cured meats like salami
- Baby carrots
- Macadamia nuts