How to Meal Prep Keto-Style During the Coronavirus Outbreak
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How to Meal Prep Keto-Style During the Coronavirus Outbreak

Coronavirus (COVID-19) meal prep on your mind? If you're prepping for self-quarantine make sure your non-perishable shelf-stable food supply is robust.

If you’re feeling overwhelmed about the coronavirus pandemic (COVID-19) and worrying about what meals are going to look like for the next few weeks, you’re not alone. The good news is, there are ways you can prep and plan for a lockdown that will ensure you have enough food and variety to last you for the weeks to come. 

If anything positive could be taken from this strange time, it’s the opportunity to clear out your kitchen and clean up your eating routine. You can use this time to throw away any junk food that may be hanging around and create a fresh meal plan. 

There’s no time like the present to do a dietary overhaul, so let’s walk through how to handle what meal prepping looks like during a lockdown. 

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How To Meal Prep During The Lockdown

#1 Prep Your Kitchen

The first step in meal planning during a lockdown is to clear out what you don’t need. Refrigerator, freezer, and even pantry space becomes a lot more precious when trips to the grocery store are limited. 

Clean out anything that has an expired shelf life, anything that’s been sitting around for a while, and anything that you just know no one is going to eat. 

This is actually a great time to do an overhaul of your kitchen and get rid of the junk to make room for healthier options. 

#2 Restock and Organize

Once your kitchen is cleared out a bit, it’s time to restock. You not only want to focus on foods that will last a while, but also whole foods that will boost your immune system. 

Fill your refrigerator with fresh vegetables and protein options that you can’t freeze. Some examples include:

  • Eggs
  • Kale (or any green leafys)
  • Peppers
  • Bok Choy
  • Brussels Sprouts
  • Rotisserie chicken

*You can also grab some unripened avocados to keep on the counter as they typically take several days to ripen so you can save them for the following week. 

Fill your freezer with options that do well when frozen for a few weeks. Examples include:

  • Steak
  • Ground beef
  • Frozen vegetables (single vegetables or vegetable medleys)
  • Fish 
  • Chicken
  • Pre-prepared protein dishes
  • Burgers (beef, salmon, chicken, turkey)

Stock your pantry with the essential shelf-stable non-refrigerated foods. Some examples include:

  • Canned goods
  • Nut butter
  • Nuts
  • Beef jerky
  • Protein powder
  • Greens powder
  • Bone broth
  • Olive oil

Your pantry is where all your non-perishable supply of food is going to congregate. For a more robust list of what to stock your pantry with, check out this article.

#3 Prioritize

Once you’ve restocked your kitchen, it’s time to prioritize which foods you eat first. 

Fresh vegetables in the refrigerator should be the first items to incorporate into your meals. In general, you’ll probably have fresh veggies for about the first week or so. Once your fresh vegetables are gone, then you can move on to what you have stocked in the freezer. 

Eggs are another item that you may want to use before tapping into frozen breakfast options like breakfast sausages. 

Once your fresh items are done, move on to the frozen option, and finally, you can tap into those canned foods like tuna and salmon. 

#4 Keep It Simple 

Now is not the time to get fancy with dishes that use obscure ingredients. You can go all-out when the lockdown is over, for now, stick to meals that are tried and true. This helps you avoid making a big old batch of something no one wants to eat, and it streamlines your ingredient choices.  

This doesn’t mean you have to eat the same thing every day. You can still keep things versatile by using a variety of spices and sauces, and mixing up your base ingredients. 

#5 Practice Consistent Meal Times

During a quarantine, it’s easy to lose track of your regular eating schedule and start to graze more. Especially when your kitchen is stocked with food. 

To avoid overeating and losing your schedule, make an eating schedule and put it on your refrigerator. It could be as simple as a post-it that says, “Breakfast 8 am, Lunch 12 pm, Dinner 7pm”. 

Practicing consistent meal times not only helps you avoid overeating, but it actually helps to keep your digestion strong as well. When your body knows when to expect food, it will be primed to metabolize. 

#6 Pre-Package Your Snacks

Once you open a bag, box, or container of a snack, immediately begin to pre-portion it out. It can be tempting when you have a kitchen full of food to go overboard, but if you pre-package your snacks, you’ll be more aware of how much you’re actually consuming. 

You can also set a daily limit for yourself on snacks to build mindfulness around how much you eat. You likely already know how much of certain foods you need to feel satisfied.

#7 Cook In Bulk and Freeze

Although you may have more time on your hands, unless you love to cook, you may not want to spend your time preparing meal after meal. Cooking in bulk and then freezing the leftovers will give you options to heat up throughout the coming weeks. 

If you have small storage containers, that’s the best way to go so you can unfreeze small batches at a time.

#8 Stock Up On Foods You Enjoy

Before you run out to the store to stock up or place that online order, consider what you (or you and your family) actually enjoy eating. It can feel like options are limited at this time, but you still want to make sure you’re filling your kitchen with foods that you’re going to enjoy. 

Don’t panic and buy a bunch of canned sardines if you know they’re just going to go to waste. Be strategic and make a list of foods that everyone in your home will enjoy — there’s no need to suffer through this. 

Breakfast, Lunch, and Dinner Ideas

When you’re in a self-quarantine, keeping your meals interesting is just as important for your mental health as it is your physical health. Here are some meal ideas that are simple and versatile that you can play with: 

Breakfast

Frittata 

Frittatas are an excellent option if you like to cook in bulk. All you need is a mixing bowl, 12 eggs, veggies of choice, some cheese, and a baking dish. 

Here are some great examples:

Egg Scrambles

If you prefer to cook your eggs fresh, scrambles are the way to go. Just like a frittata, you can add in whatever you like (veggies, cheese, herbs), mix it all together and scramble away!

When your fresh veggies run out, frozen vegetables work just as well. 

Smoothies 

Protein powder is one item that should definitely be stocked in your pantry. When worst comes to worst, you can have a protein smoothie plain. However, if you have fresh or frozen berries or green leafy vegetables, smoothies are a great way to sneak in some extra nutrition. And if you’re looking to up the calories, throw some nuts or nut butter in there. 

Flax and Chia N’ Oatmeal 

Flax and chia seeds are excellent pantry items. They’ll stay good for months on end, and you can use them in a variety of ways. 

While many non-keto dieters are stocking up on oatmeal for quarantine, you can rely on flax and chia for a “no oatmeal” oatmeal option. Check out the recipe here

Top your “oatmeal” with nuts, seeds, nut butter, or berries.  

Lunch and Dinner

Bone Broth Soups

You can actually use boxed bone broth as a liquid medium in a variety of dishes, but to keep it classic, you can make fresh soups with bone broth as your base. Simply choose a protein option (chicken is always a favorite), and then add in your veggies and spices. 

Tuna and Salmon Salad

Tuna or salmon salad is a quick and easy meal to prepare from your canned goods supply. Ready in just five minutes, just drain your can, throw your fish into a bowl and mix in vegetables like onions, celery, and tomato (or whatever else you have on hand). 

You can use the classic mayo recipe, or add in a sauce or salad dressing of choice. 

Serve wrapped in a lettuce wrap, on top of a salad, or enjoy this protein-rich dish on its own. 

For a delicious chili-lime version, check out this Zesty Chili Lime Tuna Salad recipe. 

Slow-Cooker Meals

Slow cooker meals are always a go-to when you’re cooking from home, but don’t necessarily want to spend too much time in the kitchen. 

There is an endless variety of meals you can make in a slow cooker. All you need is a liquid (keto tomato sauce, bone broth, etc.), a protein option, and some vegetables, and you’ve got yourself a complete meal. 

Some tasty ideas are:

Stir-Fry 

Stir-fry’s, much like slow cooker meals, are incredibly versatile. You can mix and match your protein and veggie choices for something new every time. Shrimp, chicken strips, and sliced steak make excellent protein options, while broccoli, cabbage, onions, and peppers are just a few of the veggies you can choose from. 

You can be flexible with your stir-fry recipes too. Add different spices and herbs, and throw in different sauces and oils to keep things fresh. 

14-Day Coronavirus Meal Plan

If you’re planning on taking social distancing seriously (as you should), then you’re going to be cooking quite a bit for the next few weeks. Here is a two-week meal plan that can give you some ideas about how to prepare your meals with the food you have at home.

During the first week, you’ll use more of your fresh produce and refrigerated goods, then you can move on to frozen, and pantry options as your fresh foods get used up. 

Day 1

Breakfast

Spring Veggie Frittata

Lunch

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa

Dinner

Roasted Chicken, broccoli, and cauliflower

Day 2

Breakfast

Breakfast sausage with sauteed kale

Lunch

Slow Cooker Beef Barbacoa leftovers

Dinner

Bone broth soup with chicken and veggies

Day 3

Breakfast

Spring Veggie Frittata leftovers

Lunch

Grass-fed beef skillet with tomatoes, onions, and peppers

Dinner

Kale salad with roasted chicken

Day 4

Breakfast

Scrambled eggs with tomato, cheese, and onions

Lunch

Easy Keto Chicken Salad

Dinner

Kale salad with roasted chicken leftovers

Day 5

Breakfast

Spring Veggie Frittata leftovers

Lunch

Zucchini noodles with chicken and keto tomato sauce 

Dinner

Bunless burger with avocado and tomato 

Day 6

Breakfast

Breakfast sausage with sauteed kale

Lunch

Zucchini noodles with chicken and keto tomato sauce leftovers

Dinner

Steak with roasted vegetables

Day 7

Breakfast

Scrambled eggs with tomato, cheese, and onions

Lunch

Bunless burger with avocado and tomato 

Dinner

Bone broth soup with chicken and veggies

Day 8

Breakfast

Chia and Flax “Oatmeal” 

Lunch

Tuna or salmon salad 

Dinner

Steak stir-fry with veggies 

Day 9

Breakfast

Smoothie with frozen berries and nut butter

Lunch

Easy Keto Chicken Salad

Dinner

Salmon with cauliflower rice and pesto sauce 

Day 10

Breakfast

Breakfast sausage with sauerkraut  

Lunch

Tuna or salmon salad 

Dinner

Chicken and veggie stir-fry

Day 11

Breakfast

Chia and Flax “Oatmeal” 

Lunch

Bunless burger with avocado and tomato 

Dinner

Instant Pot Beef Stew (can be made in a slow cooker)

Day 12

Breakfast

Smoothie with frozen berries and nut butter

Lunch

Instant Pot Beef Stew leftovers

Dinner

Low-Cab Chili

Day 13

Breakfast

Smoothie bowl with hemp seeds and frozen berries

Lunch

Salmon with cauliflower rice and pesto sauce 

Dinner

Bunless burger with avocado and tomato 

Day 14

Breakfast

Breakfast sausage with sauerkraut  

Lunch

Low-Cab Chili leftovers

Dinner

Shrimp and vegetable stir-fry

Takeaway

There’s no need to worry and feel overwhelmed with meal prep during a lockdown. As long as you’ve stocked up on the staples, you need you should be good to go. Keep in mind, although it may feel like it’s going on forever, this will pass, and you’ll be back to your normal eating a grocery shopping schedule in no time. 

Just as a reminder, when going to the grocery store (no matter where you are in the United States), the CDC (Centers for Disease Control and Prevention) recommends hand washing and to avoid close contact with others, so please be mindful of these practices.

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