If you’ve chosen to try out or follow a ketogenic diet your ultimate goal is to stay in ketosis. Having meals prepped and ready-to-go will support this goal as you’re only eating meals that you know are in the correct macro ratios.
Meal prepping at its core means preparing meals ahead of time.
It’s a different approach to organizing what meals you will be eating.
There are no ‘rules’ to follow or a single way of executing a meal prep. It can vary from cooking a week's worth of meals in one go or pre-chopping ingredients so they are ready when needed.
Meal prepping on a ketogenic diet means you also have to calculate the macros (net carbs, protein and fat) to ensure that the meals are low carb enough to keep you in ketosis. This is the only difference between keto and non-keto meal prepping. An individual following a non-keto diet doesn’t need to think about what the carb, protein and fat ratio of their food is.
Summary of a meal prep:
The benefits are tied to your personal needs,
problems and goals. While the ultimate goal is to stay in ketosis,
there might be other aspects meal prepping can solve.
For some, another goal might be to reduce spending on eating out. For others, it might be increasing the amount of free time in the evenings.
How long it takes you to do a meal prep is entirely dependent on the
complexity of your meal prep. It is a balancing act of spending a
realistic amount of time in the kitchen while also having enough variety in daily meals.
If you want to cook many different meals it will take you a long time. It can be more motivating and achievable to cook only one or two dishes to start out with.
Schedule and commit to a time during the week when you’ll spend between 1-2 hours in the kitchen. Take into consideration that meals need to cool before they can be safely stored in the fridge/freezer and that sometimes a slow cooker might need to be on for 4-6 hours.
Picking a specific time will allow you to follow through with your intentions.
Have realistic goals to set yourself up for success and build great long term habits.
Remember to set aside a specific time to meal prep.
Look at your schedule and analyze the upcoming week. How many days of the week will you be able to eat home cooked meals? Are you planning on going out to eat or do you have work lunch obligations?
Keep in mind:
The meals have to be low in net carbs and high enough in fats to keep you feeling full. Prepping keto meals ahead of time keeps you on track and in ketosis.
Figure out what you like eating and how to make it, using old or new recipes.
Utilizing the same protein or vegetables in a couple of different meals with different
flavor profiles will reduce cooking time while keeping variety in your meals.
Not every recipe is suited for meal prepping. You’ll want to choose recipes that still tastes great after being frozen and thawed.
Now that you’ve decided when you're meal prepping and what meals you want to prepare
you'll need to schedule in a food shop. The fresher your ingredients are the better, however you don’t need to fit in a grocery shop on the same day as doing your meal prep.
Grocery shopping for all your ingredients a day or two before is fine.
A well organized shopping list gets you out of the shop quicker and with more of your energy intact. It will also eliminate the need to wander through every aisle hoping to remember what you need when you see it.
Portion out meals and freeze immediately after they’ve cooled down. Current
food safety guidelines suggest keeping cooked food in the fridge for no longer than three days.
What you may not even think about is that your fridge might not be efficient enough at keeping food at a safe temperature. Buy a fridge thermometer to ensure your fridge is cold enough.
Portion out all meals into freezer bags or reusable containers for easy use. This way you won't have to defrost a huge batch of food. Portioning out meals also eliminates the need to re-calculate the macros. Remember to lable your containers/bags with a good permanent marker.
Create a plan of action for your meal prep.
A good plan will reduce stress and allow you to stay focussed and on task.
Feeling successful will encourage and motivate you to keep meal prepping in the future.