Keto on the Go: Our Favorite Ketogenic Lunch Box Ideas
Standard lunch fare like sandwiches, burgers and fries aren’t exactly part of a ketogenic diet, which switches the body’s primary source of fuel from carbohydrates to fat. When the body is running on fat for fuel, it’s more able to access and use up its own stored fat: a process called ketosis. (Check out our interview with Dr. Colin Champ for more questions on going keto.)
But when you remove carbohydrates from the list of things you consume, what are you supposed to do about lunch?
While sandwiches, sushi and pizza might be out of the equation, quick keto-friendly midday meals aren’t as difficult to throw together as they might seem. Stock your fridge with these grab-and-go ingredients for our favorite ketogenic lunch box ideas, and your low-carb meal will come together in a snap.
While high-carb veggies like potatoes and carrots are omitted from a ketogenic plan, non-starchy plants offer many benefits to the body and make an excellent base for meals. Cabbage, kale and broccoli can be shredded and tossed together to make a slaw (awesome, considering mayo is a-okay on a keto plan).
Tomatoes, onions, mushrooms and peppers are all also safe: sautee a medley of the first three and stuff them into a pepper for a portable lunch bowl.
Keto-friendly bread alternatives
When you're looking for ketogenic lunch box ideas, you'll always come up with lettuce wraps. But how about a little more variety? Low-carb veggies like cucumber and zucchini are surprisingly sturdy bread substitutes. Use cucumber where you might otherwise use crackers and grilled zucchini or portobello caps where you might use bread.
Feeling adventurous? Fry two eggs and use them in place of a bun.
Canned fish and seafood
One of the quickest and easiest ways to make a keto-friendly meal is to look for high-quality canned fish and seafood. Tuna, salmon, smoked oysters, mussels, clams, sardines and herring are all easy to find, relatively inexpensive and versatile. Use them to top a salad using the greens and veggies above; mash and serve on sliced veggies; roll in a lettuce wrap or simply eat on their own. The high omega fatty acid count and considerable protein will make for a satisfying, outrageously simple meal.
One of our favorites at PlateJoy? Deconstructed bagel with lox: arrange smoked salmon, cream cheese, capers and cucumber on a plate and stack up your own delicious little bites. You won’t miss the bagel.
If you cook up a batch of ground chicken or beef, it can be a lifesaver when you’re putting meals together. Form it after-the-fact into burgers and top with your favorite keto-friendly toppings, or fashion your own lettuce taco cups to fill with ground meat, tomato, guacamole, full-fat cheese and sour cream.
Eggs can go a long way towards making an otherwise simple meal extra filling (and bolster the process of ketosis thanks to the egg’s unsaturated fats). Toss a few boiled eggs into a container for quick peeling when lunch rolls around, or make a simple portable omelet to take on the go. You may also wish to try tossing an egg through some sautéed cauliflower for a keto-friendly version of fried rice.
When the body is using fat as its primary source of fuel, it’s important to focus on high-quality fats to round out your meals. Quick options for lunchtime include olives, avocado, eggs, macadamia nuts and full-fat dairy. Higher fat nut butters like almond and macadamia also make great additions to a meal.
Looking to add extra fat and flavor to a salad? Blend your own simple salad dressing with some oil, a spoonful of nut butter, garlic salt and fresh herbs.
A great base for a most nourishing meal, bone broth will pair beautifully with your favorite spiralized veggies, cooked cubed meat, ground meat or greens. Throw together whatever you have hanging around in the fridge and heat through: simple, portable, delicious and so good for your gut.
- Amy Height