It’s difficult to keep on track with a low-carb, ketogenic diet when we’re constantly surrounded by tempting, high-carb treats! That said, it’s no wonder that one of the common traps that people fall into when trying to follow a ketogenic diet is cheating themselves on their lunch break, be they either at work or at school.
Packing your own keto-friendly lunches is a way to ensure that you don’t fall foul of the lunch-break trap – ensuring you have a tasty, filling and nutritious lunch ready-made and waiting for you once the clock strikes twelve.
Here are seven simple ideas for great tasting, keto-friendly packed lunches that are perfect to take to work:
1) Simple Egg & Bacon Salad
Eggs are filling, and bacon is tasty. What more could you ask for in a packed lunch? Add in some crunchy fresh vegetables and you’ve got yourself a healthy, balanced meal that’s low carb and full of flavour.
For the salad:
- Boil four eggs just the way you like them (I’m a hard-boiled fan myself)
- Fry four rashers of bacon and then transfer to a paper towel to rest and cool. Set the frying pan aside – as you will be using the bacon fat to make a delicious salad dressing
- Mix together the eggs and bacon with your chosen veggies – try to make sure you have a variety of textures and flavours
- Add a handful of chopped almonds for extra crunch
- Transfer to an airtight container
For the dressing:
- Transfer your bacon fat to a glass jug or ramekin while it’s still hot
- Add one clove of minced garlic, or a teaspoon of garlic powder
- Add a teaspoon of balsamic vinegar
- Add salt and black pepper to taste
- Mix thoroughly to ensure all ingredients are well combined, then transfer to an airtight container
Make sure you include your veggies in your carb count for the day, as you don’t want to throw yourself out of ketosis. Choosing leafy green vegetables such as spinach, chard and lettuce is a good option, as these contain less carbohydrate than, say, legumes or pulses.
Note: The dressing needs to be warm when you pour it over your salad, so pack it separately to the salad in an airtight container. If your workplace has a microwave you can heat up the dressing for a few seconds at lunchtime, and then pour over your salad.
If you don’t have access to a microwave, don’t worry! You could just use a dash of balsamic vinegar, or simply enjoy the salad without dressing at all.
2) Spicy Chicken Skewers
Cook these in the oven, on the barbeque or under the grill! They taste great hot or cold, and are super easy to make. Plus you don’t have to use chicken. Shrimp, pork and chinks of tender beef work just as well.
- Mix 1 teaspoon of paprika, half a teaspoon of cumin and 1 teaspoon of cayenne pepper with olive oil
- Cut 2 chicken breasts into bite-size pieces and then coat with the spicy oil mixture
- Skewer the pieces onto wooden barbecue skewers
- Grill until the chicken is browned and fully cooked through
- Leave to cool and then wrap in foil and pop them in your lunchbox
You could just as easily do this with chunky vegetables such as onions, peppers and eggplant. Just remember to count the carbs if you’re using veggies.
3) Keto Sushi with Cauliflower Rice
If you like to pick and graze throughout the day then making your own sushi rolls is a good idea. By using grated cauliflower instead of rice, you cut out the carbs but keep all the flavour and texture.
For the Cauliflower Rice:
- Take one cauliflower head and grate with a cheese-grater or pulse in a food-processor to create small ‘rice-sized’ chunks
- Warm a tablespoon of olive oil or butter in a frying pan over a low to medium heat
- Stir in the cauliflower rice and add a pinch of salt
- Cover the pan and cook for five minutes, until the cauliflower is tender and rice-like in texture
- Use for your sushi immediately, or refrigerate in a covered container for up to a week
For the Sushi:
- Cut smoked salmon sheets into 6 strips, about 7 inches long and 2 inches wide
- Mix two tablespoons of rice vinegar with the riced cauliflower
- Add chopped avocado and 2 tablespoons of cream cheese, then let the mixture sit for 5 minutes to firm up
- Place a tablespoon of mixture onto each of the smokes salmon strips and roll up into sushi rolls
- Secure each roll using a cocktail stick
You could also add other fillings such as cucumber pieces, grated ginger, flaked crab or shrimp pieces – feel free to get creative.
4) Shrimp Cocktail Avocado Halves
These are delicious, filling and very easy to make – not to mention packed full of goodness. As well as going perfectly with shrimp, avocado is incredibly nutritious. They contain more potassium than bananas, help to lower cholesterol and are loaded with monounsaturated fatty acids!
One reason people seem to shy away from avocado is the fact that they are high in fat. While this is ‘good’ fat, it still puts a lot of traditional dieters off. However, on a high-fat, low-carb ketogenic diet avocados make a perfect lunchtime filler:
- Take two very ripe avocados and cut in half, removing the stones
- Mash the avocado flesh with a fork, whilst still inside the skin and set aside
- Mix 1 cup of cooked, peeled shrimp with half a cup of mayonnaise
- Add a teaspoon of paprika
- Add one tablespoon of Walden Farms Sugar-Free Tomato Ketchup and mix
- Load the avocado halves with the shrimp mixture, stirring together
- Place in an airtight container and refrigerate before eating
Tip: Wrap the avocado halves in Saran Wrap before placing in your airtight container to ensure the filling does not spill when you take your lunch to work.
5) Chicken Salad and Ham Roll-ups
This dish is pretty versatile in that you can enjoy it either as a simple salad or as a roll-up (if you’re partial to finger food). Plus, you don’t have to use ham – any lunch meat will do – including turkey, chicken or even smoked salmon.
- Oven bake 2 chicken breasts in foil with a little butter and olive oil
- Once cooked, shred the chicken with a knife and fork
- Mix in two tablespoons of mayonnaise
- Add shredded lettuce and 4 finely chopped spring onions
- Add grated parmesan, black pepper and salt to taste
- Load the mixture into ham slices and roll up, securing with a cocktail stick
- Place in an airtight container and refrigerate, ready for lunch time
6) Keto Salad Jar
Taking your salad to work in a jar is a great way to ensure it doesn’t go soggy. These are super simple to make.
- Take a large jar with a screw-top lid (mason jars work pretty well)
- Layer in your salad ingredients starting with the wettest ingredients first – such as salad dressing, tomatoes and other watery salad vegetables
- Top your salad with the ‘dry’ ingredients – this is usually your protein, such as chopped nuts, chicken pieces or boiled egg slices.
- Shake your salad up (with the lid on!) before digging in
7) Tuna-Stuffed Bell Peppers
These are delicious and can be enjoyed either hot or cold. Plus they refrigerate really well, so are perfect for batch cooking – giving you options for both lunch and dinner through the week.
Note that canned tuna flakes or chunks work better than tuna steak for this. You could use canned tuna in brine, spring water or oil for extra flavour.
- Take four whole bell peppers and place onto a baking sheet
- Set the oven to broil and then place the peppers inside, cooking for about 6 minutes (be sure to turn them once midway through)
- Remove the peppers and set aside to cool
- Turn oven temperature to 170C (350F or Gas Mark 4)
- While the peppers cool, make the filling
- Cut the cooled peppers in half, removing the inner membranes and the seeds
- Fill the halves with the tuna mixture and place in the oven until warmed through
For the Filling:
- Sauté 2 finely chopped onions and 2 cloves of minced garlic until soft, adding a dash of salt and black pepper while cooking.
- Place the cooked onion and garlic in a medium size mixing bowl
- Add 2 cans of tuna, 2 teaspoons of mustard and one tablespoon of chopped chives
- Add half a cup of cream cheese and mix well together
So there we have it – seven filling and tasty ideas for keto-friendly lunches that should help to keep away the midday carb cravings.
Have a keto-friendly lunch idea that you’d like to share? Please let us know about it in the comments below!