Keto is not easy. Such a huge lifestyle change is never going to be easy, even when everything is in your favour, it's quite an adjustment. Now imagine if your life suddenly decides to start doing some internal sabotaging. Work gets crazy, you are studying full time, you have a new baby, or you have to spend lots of time away from home for whatever reason.
There are many ways you could suddenly find yourself facing the choice of life or new "diet". I've been pretty lucky so far, I work from home, don't have kids and when I started keto I had a lot of time to experiment with new food. But I am more the exception than the rule.
A few people have asked me how to fit keto into a busy lifestyle. This is a list of ways to simplify keto and ways to manage a new way of life when you just don't have time. Keto hacks. This list is not all inclusive, and should be used as a guide, rather than a list of absolutes to follow
1. Consider intermittent fasting (IF) - this will cut down the amount of meals you have to worry about. I eat two meals a day, some people do one. It's a lot easier only having to plan for one or two meals a day. Note: if you are just starting keto, don't force yourself to do IF. This usually comes naturally once you are adapted.
2. Meal prep is going to be your best friend. We have a large chest freezer and it is the best thing you could own if you eat ketogenically. My freezer is filled with easy, ready to go meals, things that make cooking easier and frozen desserts as well. Traditionally when you think meal prep, you think eating the same meal every day - this is not what I mean. That would get boring very quickly. Make multiple meals in the serving size of your choice and switch them out as needed. I suggest an assortment of completed meals and easy-to-cook things.
- Keto lasagna
- Everything quiche
- Frozen soup
- Prepare your meat dishes before you freeze them - short rib etc. If you want to use meat to make stew and want to brown the meat first, why not fry it right before you freeze it. Then all you need to do is defrost and put in a crock-pot.
- Slice your meat in the portion size you want before freezing - chicken strips, bacon cubes, steak strips etc.
- Keto ice cream
- Frozen chocolate mousse
- Hake/haddock portions (frozen) - this is very easy to just pop in the oven
- Cheese muffins make a great easy lunch and can be frozen easily
- Make fathead pizza bases ahead of time. These can be stored in the freezer between baking paper in a ziplock bag. They don't need to be defrosted, simply put your toppings on and cook. Make different sized ones - lunch/dinner pizzas.
- Cook a large pork belly, shred it, and freeze in usable portions.
- Prepare eggplant and freeze. Once you've drained the eggplant properly, it will be ready to use after defrosting.
- Meatball casseroles - this can be frozen raw or cooked. Pack a few meatballs in a small single serving container and mix tomato and cream and feta and pour it over the meatballs.
- Cauliflower rice can be frozen. Throw some cauliflower florets into a food processor on pulse to create "rice". Place in ziplock bags and freeze. To cook: no need to defrost, simply fry it as is in some olive oil or ghee.
- Casseroles are easy to throw together and freeze afterwards. If you buy single use/disposable casseroles dishes, you can stack them easily in your freezer.
- Single serving butter chicken. This is the recipe I use, I just substitute vegetable oil for olive/coconut, use much less onion, and leave out the naan bread.
- Prepare your veggies beforehand to keep it easy. Pumpkin puree is easily frozen. Caulirice (mentioned above).
3. Buy an egg boiler - this thing has made my life so much easier. You could even take one to work if you have access to a kitchen. They are easy to use and don't use a lot of water. Boiled eggs make easy quick snacks.
4. Steam your vegetables. My steamer is one of my favourite appliances. It is easy to use, easy to clean and doesn't take much thought. Putting some fresh vegetables in the steamer and serving it with some frozen fish that you've put in the oven can take twenty minutes of cooking and a few minutes of prep. Add some butter and you have an amazing keto meal. If you have a microwave steamer dish, this can be a travel or office staple.
5. Roast your vegetables. Nearly any vegetable you can steam, you can also roast. Exact temperatures and times vary, but in general, 350F/176C and above, up to around 450F/232C for as little as 10 minutes, as much (for denser veggies like cauliflower) as 30 minutes or so. Once they start to brown, it's all a matter of individual taste from there. That browning is the maillard reaction, and the source of the best umami savory awesomeness around. The more brown you can get before anything goes black, the more of that flavor you get.
6. Pressure cooker/Instant pot - I don't have one of these but It's on my "soon" list. These things are AMAZING. And they really don't take long.
- Nom Nom Paleo has some amazing pressure cooker recipes http://nomnompaleo.com/category/special_cooking_methods/pressure-cooker-instant-pot
7. Slow cookers can be just as amazing as pressure cookers, and are widely available and energy efficient.
8. Embrace cooking at home. If your general plan for keto is eating out, you’ll find it to be rather expensive, and hard to stick to. Also, the more practice you get with cooking, the better your innate sense of “what goes well with this” will become, and the better of an intuitive cook you’ll be. Simple techniques like sauteing mushrooms/onions/peppers/spinach and such will allow you to create delicious keto friendly foods, and are surprisingly easy to do.
9. Collect recipes and create a meal plan. When I started doing keto I obsessively collected recipes, for everything. I use OneNote as my recipe “notebook”. Having these recipes, sorted by meal type, allows me to simply search for what I am looking for. Once you start cooking keto meals you will figure out which ones work for you. Create a meal plan - this makes shopping easier and it will help having your week planned out.
10. Create a "cheat" or “easy” list. I will always advocate for clean-keto but it's not always possible. Sometimes you need to cut yourself some slack. Make a list of places and types of places to get keto friendly food. Whether it's take-out or a sit down meal, not having to cook yourself is always a plus. Write down the menu options that are keto friendly or the ways to tweak things to be low carb. If you have this list, you can always ask your parents/partner/roommate to pick something up for you if necessary without it being too complicated.
11. Continuing in the theme of lists - KNOW YOUR LOCAL LOW CARB SUPPLIERS. Having some options that are easy to eat are a great idea. Whether that means biltong, beef jerky, low carb granola, premade keto desserts, low carb ice cream, keep your options open. Get to know your local butchers, grocers and if possible, other keto-ers. It's also important to remember that you don't need speciality food to do low carb/keto. Basic, wholesome foods will always be your best tool to do keto. I've asked a few international keto-ers to help me compile these lists. Thank you to everyone who contributed.
- Look for your local banting market - they will have some great options.
Woolworths has a lot of nice easy food options - salami sticks, mozzarella sticks, laughing cow cheese, salmon terrine, roasted seaweed, carb clever granola (read your labels though - some of their carb clever range is misleading. Maltodextrin is not keto friendly).
Biltong is a very easy keto-friendly food - but be careful about where you buy it. Speak to your butcher because a lot of places will use sugar to cure their meat. Look for salt cured.
- Sjukla chocolates - they make a sugar free chocolate bar using maltitol (remember that this has gastric effects if overdone). It’s AMAZING. www.sjukla.com
- Anja’s Banting Pantry also sells chocolate that is keto friendly. 3g for the entire slab. They also sell fudge, baked goods, and baking mixes. They have recently switched from xylitol to erythritol.
- Woolworths sells carb clever ice cream - 9g carbs for the whole container, so eat sparingly.
- The Ice Creamery - https://www.facebook.com/icecreamsugarfree/ note: they use xylitol
- Dischem sells lots of sugar free things, but ALWAYS READ THE LABELS! Note: be very careful about sugar free products containing maltodextrine. Dischem has sugar free instant pudding that is 70g carbs per 100g. That is definitely not low carb.
- PickNPay - sugar free jelly
- Woolworths cauliflower wraps
- Woolworths sells pumpkin and zucchini noodles
- Anja’s banting has low carb wraps, pizza bases and bread
- Life Bake low carb crackers - they have a few different flavours and they are all very tasty.
- Planet Low Carb banting bread - available at https://bantingmarketpretoria.co.za/
- Sally Ann Creed banting bread mix
- Pecan flour - available from IKSA brands https://www.facebook.com/iksabrands
- Most small sushi places will allow you to tweak their menu slightly, ask for a hand roll without mayo or rice (expect to pay more though), sashimi or a salmon salad (without the mayo).
- Fish takeaways: grilled fish without the chips and a salad (no dressing)
- Col'cacchio has a lot of low carb options on their menu. Their banting lasagna is very good!
- Piza E Vino also has a few banting options on their menu, including a “paleo base”. Highly recommend this.
- Grilled chicken at any of the chicken restaurants.
- Sandwich Baron has a banting menu - I’ve never tried but I have been meaning to.
- Knead bakery has some nice choices on their menu as well - they have a low carb pizza base as well as banting bread.
- Vovo Telos: They have some great substitutes. I’ve never tried their banting bread but they have a lot of breakfast choices that work really well if you just leave the bread off. They also have a cauliflower pizza base and EPIC coffee. There’s a nice tapas menu available as well - cheese/meats/olives.
- Mugg&Bean have a low carb section on their menu as well as a really nice poached eggs & mushroom breakfast. Would not recommend the coffee though.
- Woolworths sells cauliflower rice and zucchini noodles.
- Coles sells broccoli rice and spiralized vegetables.
- Empower Foods make the lowest carb wraps, but unfortunately they only taste tolerable when toasted- they make good quesadillas! https://empowerfoods.com.au/products/power-wraps
- There are a couple of acceptable bread brands:
- Shirataki noodles (aka Miracle noodles) are readily available in supermarkets. The cheapest is http://www.changs.com/products/details/Noodles/Chang-s-Super-Lo-Cal-Wok-Ready-Noodles/ but other brands are available (usually in the health food area). There are some soups which use them; such as http://www.hartandsoul.com/products/cups/pho/ and http://www.lazuppa.com.au/la-zuppa/pouches/Tom-Yum-with-Konjac-Noodles
- Almond flour (also known as ground almonds, almond meal- they are all the same thing) is available in the baking aisle, usually you can find coconut flour there too.
- Low carb baking mixes:
- Noshu (https://noshu.com.au/products/) makes amazing low carb donuts. They are more cake like compared to regular donuts, but a great treat. You can buy them at most Woolworths Metro stores.
- Low carb ice cream is becoming more popular.
- There are quite a few acceptable chocolate brands including:
- Well Naturally (available at most supermarkets) http://wellnaturally.com.au/products/no-sugar-added-dark-chocolate/
- Healtheries (seems to be only available at Woolworths) http://www.healtheries.com.au/products/bars/detail/healtheries-no-added-sugar-milk-chocolate-smooth-c
- Cacao Tree http://www.cacaotree.com.au/
- Atkins chocolate bars are pretty widely available (including kitkat style bars and M&Ms!)
- Aeroplane Jelly offers 4 sugar free flavours; strawberry, raspberry, lime, and mango passionfruit. These are great for dessert!
Good options for adding to coffee are:
- Cream; try pure cream or thickened cream- dollop or double cream are usually too thick to be incorporated into coffee easily.
- Almond Breeze, Australia’s Own Organic, Sanitarium So Good, PureHarvest and VitaSoy all offer unsweetened almond milk.
There are more Paleo restaurants/cafes popping up everywhere, so healthier options are easy to find, depending on your location.
Regular cafes are reasonably easy to navigate- at breakfast, bacon, eggs, tomato, spinach, mushroom, smoked salmon and hollandaise are great options. Most cafes will let you order off the sides portion of the menu, otherwise they will happily not serve you toast if you ask. Almond milk is also becoming more readily available for coffees too.
- Grill’d (https://www.grilld.com.au/menu) does a low carb bun, or you can get it salad style.
- McDonalds will customise a burger for you without the bun. It may be a little messy to eat, but they’ll give you a fork if you ask. I have been told Hungry Jacks will do the same.
- Nando’s, Oporto, Red Rooster and your local friendly charcoal chicken store are great options- especially if you are sharing with others who eat carbs! Domino’s offers oven roasted wings, both the plain and hot sauce options are low carb.
- Zambrero offers burrito bowls; skip the beans, rice and crushed tortilla chips. They also have great nutritional information available online. Mad Mex and Guzman Y Gomez offer similar options.
- Most souvlaki/kebab shops will happily serve you meat and salad in a container- otherwise ask them for a fork and eat it from the pita.
- Most fish and chip shops will offer grilled fish- otherwise pick the batter off. Chips are obviously out of bounds, but seafood is fine for keto. You might also be lucky enough to go to a shop that offers salad as a side option!
- Subway offers your favourite sub as a salad for an additional charge. Check the nutritional calculator before ordering- the meatballs and chicken teriyaki are on the carby side.
- Sumo Salad has plenty of salad options and a great nutritional information section. Check before ordering! You can also customise your own salad which is very handy if you don’t like any of the premade options.
- Sushi shops will offer sashimi and tataki as options. You could also ask them to make you a hand roll or two without rice.
- Poke is new to Australia but increasing in popularity. You can pick your base; avoid rice or quinoa and go for greens or other low carb vegetables, load up on the proteins. Mayo is your best friend!
- Foodora has a filter for low carb options for food delivery which definitely comes in handy when you can’t face cooking.
As a last resort, nearly any cuisine can be keto friendly by eating just the meat and vegetables- such as Chinese (avoid sweet and sour, lemon sauce, rice, noodles, dumplings, spring rolls/dim sim, anything battered, or anything else obviously carby). Depending what style of Chinese food they serve; roast meat including chicken or duck, stirfried vegetables, and omelettes are usually safe options.
Quick options at the supermarket:
- Hot chicken. Don’t eat the stuffing.
- Woolworths offers various seasoned chickens (including periperi and greek), and an organic option. They also have roast beef, lamb and pork, and corned beef- these are a little more expensive but a nice change from chicken.
- Pre made salad bowls- there are a couple of different options; garden salad (with cheddar cubes), greek salad (with feta), or pumpkin and feta (if you have a few more carbs to spare). There is also a baby leaf side salad, but it doesn’t come with cheese.
- Sliced meats, cheeses, olives, antipasto mix and twiggy sticks are all available from the deli.
- You can get snack packs of hard boiled eggs and celery sticks.
- There are lots of cheese snack options; such as babybel cheeses, cheese sticks or cubes, Bega stringers (string cheese), Laughing Cow cheeses (good as a spread or dip with celery!).
Amazon has a host of low carb options, but the market is a moving target, and it's best to study any nutrition labels before you buy.
- Deli meats and cheeses. When you’re pressed for time, most grocery stores will have either a deli counter, or will sell prepacked sliced meats and cheeses. These are easy to portion for your intake goals, and if you combine them they can be eaten cold or heated and are delicious both ways. Do remember to check the labels, especially with anything that implies a sweeter meat (honey baked, sweet roast, glazed, etc), or has the word “pasteurized process” in the name.
- Many stores sell pre cooked, ready to eat bacon. It is always a good idea to look at the label info, this is usually keto friendly, and can spend the day out of the fridge if you plan to eat it that day. The same can be said of bacon cooked at home, bagged up and refrigerated until you take it with you.
- You’ll overpay for them, but even convenience stores often have boiled eggs and string cheese. Places like Walmart also have single service prosciutto and other cured meats in the lunch meats section now days.
- Many gas stations / convenience stores will also have a roller grill with hot dogs, polish sausages, bratwursts and the like - just skip the bun.
- Quest/Atkins Bars make sure you read and understand the labels for these. Consider that ingredients like maltodextrin and maltitol among others, will just become sugar in your system, and should never be considered “free” or “unlimited” when eating keto. These also have a lot of sugar alcohols - some people can handle these well and others get the runs. Different sugar alcohols also have different GI values so may cause insulin responses.
- Grocers, and even most gas stations and convenience stores will carry pork rinds or chicharrones - these are high in protein and low in everything else and make a good, easy, crunchy snack.
- For eating out, most burger places can do - just order it without the bun, and avoid catsup/ketchup and any special sauces - stick to mayo and mustard. And, of course, avoid the fries.
- Enlightened Ice Cream & Halo Top - these aren't super low carb, and I've never had them obviously, so just be careful.
- Lily’s Chocolate Bars
- Quest Knock-off/Kirkland Brand Protein Bar: Costco (comes in chocolate & cookie dough)
- Russell Stovers Candies: Shopper’s drug mart - be aware that these are made with maltitol and or maltodextrin.
- Sweeteners (Swerve, Truvia, etc): President’s choice grocers (Fortino’s, Real Canadian Superstore, Loblaws, etc. Try in the organic section) or Amazon.ca
- Lily’s Chocolate Bars: GoodnessMe (Ontario chain of grocers)
- Coco Polo Chocolate Bars: Bulk Barn
- Cool Whey Protein Ice Cream: Popeye’s Supplements (there are two types Cool Whey makes so make sure you get the low carb one)
- Sugar Free Jello: Multiple stores
- SmartSweets Sour Gummies: Popeye’s, most nutrition stores, SaveOnFoods, Bed Bath & Beyond
- Moon Cheese: GoodnessMe (Ontario chain), Starbucks
- Cello Cheese Whisps: Costco
- Wholly Mini Guacamole Cups: Walmart, Costco
- Balderson Aged Cheddar: Costco, most grocery stores
- Cheese String: most stores
- Salami (either sliced or in big sticks for you to slice): Costco, grocery stores
- Pork Rinds: most grocers, near chips, also called Chicharrones.
- NuPasta: Sobeys, GoodnessMe
- Shirataki: Most grocery stores
- Carb Smart Bread: GoodnessMe
- General Replacements or Low Carb Goodies: Low Carb Grocery (thelowcarbgrocery.com)
- Flatout Bread: Walmart
Quick/Easy Food at Home:
- No Name Salt & Pepper chicken wings (takes ~30 mins to cook but no prep)
- Canned Chicken Breasts: Costco, multiple stores
- Rotisserie Chicken: Multiple stores in hot food section
- Lettuce Wrapped Burger: Five Guys, White Spot (BC chain), Wendy’s, Carl’s Jr, Jimmy Johns “Unwich”, McDonald’s, Taco Bell Power Bowl (No Rice)
- Wings: Pizza Pizza, Buffalo Wild Wings, White Spot, most restaurants (make sure to ask if it’s un-breaded)
- Steak: Most restaurants
- Salad: Most restaurants (try for cobb), Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Pita Pit, Whole Food/Sprouts
- Chipotle Bowl with no rice
- Pho (ask for no noodles)
As one would expect, most prepared food in your grocery shops contain some carbohydrates. It is recommended to grab ingredients and make the food yourself. However, if you are in a hurry there are some things you can grab on the go;
Easy meals / quick snacks:
- Morrpølse (also known as Mórr).
- Morrpølse is one of the oldest food products in Norway and can be found in many different variations.
- The morrpølse is today produced industrially but it's known back to norse days as a method of preserving meat. Traditionally morrpølse is made of minced entrails, meat and fat from farmed sheep or game meat that is cured. Today the industrially produced morrpølse is usually cured for 3 weeks.
- The macronutrients of Morrpølse makes it a great energy source and it contains a lot of protein.
- Per 100 grams, the macronutrients is the following;
- Sognemorr (produced by Gilde); 26.5 grams protein, 24.5 grams of fat.
- Strandamør (produced by Stranda); 25 grams protein, 37 grams of fat.
- Note: Mórr is usually very salty and can be a great source of sodium.
- Ost og Spekemat (Platter of cheese and cured meats).
- In general, Norwegian grocery store offers a great assortment of both cheeses and cured meats. The chain "Meny" and "Jakobs" probably have the best assortments but may not be as cheap as "Rema 1000" and "Kiwi".
- Ølpølser (Cured salami sticks)
- Ridderheims is a company that is quite popular in both Norway and Sweden, most shops do stock their salami sticks or “beer sausages” as we call them in Scandinavia. At 50 grams each they contain and per 100 grams they usually contain 29 grams of protein, 16 grams of fat. Some of the spice mixes they use can contain upwards to 3 grams of carbs though.
- Pork Rinds
- Quick and easy source of fats, most shops have the brand “Bacongull” from Maarud or “Bakon Krisp” from KIMs.
- Note: Pork Rinds contain a lot of protein on the macro nutrient breakdown but this is a snack and should not be your main source of protein as it is mostly collagen.
- Fish and seafood
- Don't forget which country you are in, find a grocery store with a fresh fish counter, or if you are lucky there is a fish market in your city. If there is a pier close by, the chances are that you can find a local fisherman selling fish fresh from the boat.
- Smoked or steamed Sausages
- Lastly, a common staple in Norwegian cuisine is sausages. Most sausages available in grocery stores are smoked or steamed, therefore can be eaten without the need to cook them.
- Note: Most brands use potato flour as a binding agent, read the macronutrients to make sure they fit in your daily limits.
- It may be difficult eating out at restaurants, there are usually carbohydrates served with most meals. Sauces and side dishes are the ones you should look out for. You should not be afraid of asking if they can remove the carbohydrates and add vegetables.
- Some easy options are burger joints (ask for a burger without the buns), sushi restaurants (ask for sashimi without rice) or steak houses.
- In Norway there are not many traditional restaurants, most traditional courses are served with potatoes as a side so you could just ask for the dish without potatoes.
Grocery stores / shops:
These days, most grocery stores are expanding to offer a webshop and home delivery of groceries. As a result, macronutrients of most groceries can be found online, they usually carry the same assortment as the “offline” grocery stores;
Supplements and food replacements:
Not strictly ketogenic, but there is a quite active low carb forum; forum.lavkarbo.no
All supermarkets no matter how small or big do pre-cooked Chicken, Meatballs, Burgers, Meat Patties. No problem here. If you want to indulge yourself, try M&S or Waitrose cold cut platters.
Any non root veg such as cucumber, celery and peppers are a favourite. Nuts and cheese are easy and plentiful in the UK. Prefer macadamia nuts, almonds or pecans over peanuts. If you love peanuts (like myself), make sure you count the carbs (KP dry roasted!!). There is plenty of choice in most super markets. Prepacked, small pieces of cheddar and other cheeses is widely available. Beef jerky and pork scratchings are not on the naughty side, although watch out for hidden carbs. Olives, antipasti and cold cuts will definitely tame your hunger.
Available at all places, either order low/ no carb and/or pick out the carby bits. There is always at least one low carb option in most restaurants and if there isn’t they will modify items on request. Remove or replace the carby ingredients. If you prefer restaurants/pubs, local or chains, will easily swap fries for salad, just ask! Fast food chains are also able to made modifications. McDonalds can make burgers without buns! You can ask at the till or order in the self-service machines. Yes, there is an option to remove the buns.
Refer to the low/no carb alcohols. Prefer transparent, unsweetened, non-spiced spirits. Unfortunately, the classic pint of beer is a no-no. Avoid sugary mixers. Instead of tonic, ask for (plain) soda or diet soft drinks. Keep in mind that if you’re trying to lose weight, alcohol will hold you back, however the occasional night out or Sunday roast can include them.
It is fairly difficult to find sugar-free, keto-compatible sweets in the UK. It is preferred to buy a mixture of stevia-erythritol and make your own. Most cakes and sweets recipes can be converted with keto ingredients. Diet soft drinks can also be consumed, however see how you feel with them. Don’t be afraid to look around and maybe order online, even from another country. Quest Hero chocolate, pecan, caramel bars can be imported from the US with only 4g net carbs.Tags: Cooking Life Tips Busy Tricks Hacks Guide Restaurant Easy Sweet Takeout