When starting a Ketogenic diet, many people get frustrated, confused, or overwhelmed at the thought of having to learn all new recipes to cook. They end up searching around at all the recipe sites (maybe even the Keto recipes I have on KetoJam) and sometimes people don’t even get started on the actual diet until they think they’re “ready” with enough recipes.
Or sometimes I’ve heard people say that they could never do Keto because they don’t have time to cook their own “fake bread”, or they don’t know how to cook, and they just keep going in their old ways of eating all the carb-filled convenience foods out there.
Keto can (and should be) very simple. Everyone likes to make it far more complicated that it needs to be.
People often think that eating Keto means that you HAVE to make your own mayonnaise, or you HAVE to make your own elaborate “bread” substitutes, or you MUSt seek out special butter from only the holiest of grass-fed cows, do all sorts of fancy things with your coffee, or spend countless hours making a mess of your kitchen trying to make your own cauliflower rice in a food processor… (been there, done that… not doing it again).
More hogwash! None of those things are required.
Yes, having some go-to recipes that are Keto-friendly, that you like, and that you can make quickly is certainly a good thing. But don’t get stuck in the “recipe madness,” get overwhelmed, and ditch your whole plan just because you can’t figure out how to make “cloud bread” or “fathead pizza dough”. I mentioned this in my KetoJam Manifesto.
Keto is NOT about the recipes.
In fact, it is entirely possible to follow a strict Ketogenic Diet without cooking at all! In fact, that’s what I do most of the time. And so far I’ve lost 195 pounds… so something worked.
Trust me, I really do like to cook. But my life just doesn’t leave much room for it (or for washing dishes, ha!). I am away from “home” about 80% of my time these days, traveling for work and to visit my fiancee who lives in Europe. Being gone all the time, I really don’t keep much in my fridge, and I prefer to pick up convenient Keto foods rather than cooking in the short amount of time I have.
So, what do I eat?
Well, I literally just walked in the door from a trip to my supermarket, so let me show you. These are my “staples” — the things I buy nearly every trip to the store. So much so, in fact, that I could probably walk through the store blindfolded and find them all…. although that would be weird.
And I use these things to make full meals, without doing much cooking other than heating some things in the microwave or throwing some things in a bowl. Super simple!
(I buy all these things at Whole Foods in the US… not because I think Whole Foods is better than anywhere else, or not because I like wasting my money… but simply because it is across the street from my house, and I’m still kind-of lazy…)
OK, on to the pictures…
My “No-Cook Keto” Shopping List
Salami & Cheese Roll-Ups
I’ll eat these for breakfast, lunch, or dinner. Or a snack. Or on a Tuesday just because. They are very convenient, they have very little carbs (there’s a bit of sugar in the salami), and they’re delicious. I buy this specific package because that’s what my nearest store sells. But if I drive a bit I can also find the Volpi single-serve salami/cheese and prosciutto/cheese roll-ups which I actually like even more. These are nearly a perfect Keto food (unless you’re trying to go dairy-free), which makes me wonder why more people don’t eat this way…
Pretty sure no explanation is needed on this one… it’s prosciutto. Yeah, it can be expensive, which is why I buy the big 12 oz package. I eat this for snacks, or I pack it in a lunch container and bring it to work and nibble on it during my eating window. Plus, it is high in sodium, which good to help make sure you’re getting your electrolytes.
Pot Roast from the deli
This is one great thing about going to
Whole Paycheck Whole Foods specifically… they have a pretty good prepared food area. You have to be very careful at these “deli-style” prepared food areas, as many places add lots of hidden carbs in the form of thickeners, sweeteners, etc. But Whole Foods puts up ingredient cards for all their items, which I read before I buy. I suggest you do the same. The convenience isn’t worth it if you don’t know what’s in it.
Pork from the deli
As I mentioned above, be sure to check the ingredients. I usually buy 2-3 different kinds of prepared or quick-to-cook meats (like burger patties or a quick steak) when I go shopping. And I be sure to put them in the SMALL size deli container so I am naturally biased towards limiting my portions. (Yes, portions still matter on Keto.) I’ll eat the amount shown in the picture in 1 meal + a little extra for a snack or part of another meal later. Many other supermarkets have similar offerings to Whole Foods — although maybe chilled in the regular deli section.
This is another one of my all-time favorites. Who doesn’t like Deviled Eggs? Making them yourself is actually really easy, but buying them pre-made is even better.
I eat 2-3 halves in a meal (with some other stuff), and I like to mix up the flavors. I’ll add some pickle slices, some bacon bits (yes!), or even some salty/crunchy sunflower seeds on top for extra flavor and texture, or sometimes just some salt, pepper, and/or hot sauce. Or just plain because they’re that good.
The ingredient list on the deli-pack from Whole Foods does list honey as one ingredient (used in the also-not-so-great canola-oil-based mayonnaise they use). But it is quite far down on the ingredient list, so I don’t worry about it. In this case, the convenience factor far outweighs the (maybe) 1 gram of carb that may be in each egg half.
The incredible, edible egg. So many things you can do with them (besides deviled), and a Ketogenic Diet staple.
The main thing I do with them is to just make a really cheesy, flavorful egg scramble. I throw in a big of veggies (peppers or mushrooms), a bunch of cheese, and some seasonings. Yeah, I now that requires cooking (and this is the “No Cook Keto” post) but that’s OK… most people are capable of cooking a couple eggs.
The tide is starting to turn on people being “afraid” of eating too many eggs, and hopefully that will continue. Oh, and you don’t need to only eat Organic on Keto… food quality is a completely separate topic.
Cream and Creamer
Ahhh, yes, the much-hyped subject of what to put in our coffee while on Keto… For me, nothing fancy goes in my coffee. I don’t drink BPC.
I either drink my coffee black, or I put in one of these 2 options: heavy whipping cream (the liquid kind, not the whipped in a can kind) or the the BetterHalf stuff on the right. I usually go with BetterHalf simply because it has less overall macros for my body to process (ie: lower calories), but use HWC when I want my coffee to fill me up a bit more. The BetterHalf is based on almond milk and coconut cream, and it actually has a bit of sweetener in it (monk fruit). If you like sweet stuff in your coffee, you might try this, although it isn’t very sweet.
I am not one of those “dairy-free” Keto types. I think some people may have better results without dairy, but for me, I’ve always included dairy, and I’ve still lost a lot of weight. So not a problem for me.
Plus, I grew up in Wisconsin, and if you’re from the US, then you know that’s what people from Wisconsin do… we eat cheese. Lots of it. And we sometimes wear it on our heads. (Yes, I own a CheeseHead.)
The single-serving packaging that just about all string cheese now comes in is great for me — I often grab 1-2 sticks on my way out the door when in a hurry.
Yes, more cheese. Of course.
I do a few things with shredded cheese: 1) Throw it in my salads (like my no-cook Crunchy Keto Caesar Salad that I eat 50% of the days I’m home), or 2) throw it in some super quick scrambled eggs, or 3) throw it in a pan with some zucchini noodles for a cheesy and delicious noodle mess.
You can basically do this for any meal: pick a vegetable, cook it, then throw cheese on top and add a bit of meat. Example: Take a bag of cauliflower, steam it in the bag using the microwave, throw cheese, salt, pepper on top, add some cooked beef from your deli, and you’re done.
Cauliflower (and/or Broccolli)
I haven’t tracked it, but I can only assume cauliflower prices have gone up in the last few years due to how popular it has become. And for good reason. It is low in carbs, it is flavor-neutral, and it is easy to cook.
My favorite “no-cook” way to eat it is to just dip it in some nice ranch or bleu cheese dressing and eat it raw (see dressing recommendation below). I do this sitting at my desk at work or at home writing blog posts. (I’m trying to avoid getting too many cauliflower crumbles in my keyboard as I type this now!) It gives me some nice satisfying crunch.
This is the basis for my #1 go-to dinner — a big salad filled with greens, seeds and nuts (see below), some creamy dressing (see below), cheese, and maybe some meat.
Yes, the leafy greens have some carbs, maybe even more than you’d think. One cup of chopped kale, for example, has around 5g of net carbs. But I try to make this my main source of net carbs, with almost everything I eat being much lower in carbs. If you do the same, you should be fine, even if you go a bit over the “general rule” of 20g of net carbs per day.
I use these all the time in my big salads. They’re really tasty, and some great texture, and they have a great nutritional profile. They have a lot of magnesium, which is good for keeping your electrolytes up. Yes, they have some carbs, so don’t go crazy and eat an entire bag in a day.
Pepitas (Pumpkin Seeds)
I’m not sure why pumpkin seeks aren’t more popular in the regular Western diet?! They’re gaining a lot of traction in the Keto and low-carb world, but they’re so darn tasty I’m still surprised more people aren’t catching on.
I put them in my big salads, in greek yogurt, or just eat them plain. They’re often heavily salted, which is good for keeping your electrolytes up.
I also often buy salted sunflower seeds — another great option. I put those in the same things — salads, yogurt, and just straight into my belly. Hemp seeds are great too.
When you follow a Ketogenic diet, you basically have to avoid all the mainstream “supposed-to-be-good-for-you” dressings — like Kraft “Free” and other low-calorie, low-fat dressings. Those are just FULL of sugar.
When I choose a salad dressing, the main thing I look at is the carb count per serving. There’s really no reason to eat anything with more than 1-2 grams of carbohydrates per serving. This basically limits you to ranch, bleu cheese, caesar, and other similar creamy dressings. But even with those, you need to check the nutrition info and label. Salad dressings are a major place for hidden carbs.
Many people also preach about the need to avoid certain oils while on Keto — like canola oil and other vegetable oils. I don’t go crazy about that, and everything has worked out fine. I agree there are other health reasons to stay away from them, so I generally choose other oils to cook with (ghee, coconut oil, or just butter) but if I eat limited amounts of salad dressing and mayo with them, I’m not too worried.
That being said, my local Whole Foods carries Mark Sisson’s Primal Kitchen line of products, including a bunch of their dressings made with avocado oil. Given the choice, I’ll choose a better oil over the crappy canola oil-based ones.
This is another hot topic in the Keto community… some people state that you MUST stay away from all processed foods on Keto, and they often put “protein bars” like Quest bars into that category, simply because they are “processed” and they have some debatable ingredients like “soluble corn fiber”. Whatever, dude. Let’s be real.
Quest Bars serve multiple purposes for me. They are ridiculously convenient, and often one of the only options I have for a snack that packs well on my crazy international travel schedule. And they are usually my one “sweet” vice I partake in. I don’t do fat bombs or other Keto sweets very often.
I do think they can stall your progress if you overdo them (I’m basing that on my own experience), but limiting them to one every couple days isn’t going to hurt you. It’s still about 1,000,000 times better than eating real sugar. They are sweetened mostly with erythritol and Stevia.
I’ll be writing an entire blog post just about these.
Apple Cider Vinegar Drink – Ginger Spice Flavor
Apple Cider Vinegar seems to have a cult following in just about every niche of the health and fitness world. Does it work magic like everyone claims it does? Who knows.
I drink this particular drink it because it tastes good. (Available on Amazon) It’s made by Bragg, the same people who make the #1 brand of Apple Cider Vinegar. But honestly, I’d drink this one if it was made by a guy named Joe in his bathtub. I like the vinegar and ginger combination.
It’s basically just apple cider vinegar, water, some ginger, and a bit of Stevia. Zero calories. But watch out — some of their other flavors do have honey, so the carb count is MUCH higher.
Just water? Yes. I used to drink LOTS of diet soda, even after starting Keto. I did think that it caused me to stall at times, but could never pin-point it well enough. Regardless, once I “found” sparkling water, particularly the flavored kinds, I made the switch easily.
If you’re finding it hard to get off soda, just commit to switching to sparkling water for ONE WEEK and see what happens. Give it a shot.
My Final Point
If you’re still with me (wow, that was long!), well, then thanks.
The point I’m trying to make is that following a Ketogenic diet DOES NOT mean that you have to learn all sorts of new recipes, learn how to cook fake bread, or buy all sorts of fancy ingredients.
The things I buy are available at most supermarkets and/or delis all over the world.
You might be thinking that this is just a list of ingredients… not “proper” meals. Well, then maybe a shift in mindset is in order. If you’re the type that needs a fancy hot meal three times per day, then yes, you’ll likely have to learn some new recipes to follow the Ketogenic Diet. But maybe you don’t really need that, and you can eat simpler, easier-to-follow meals for a short time while you give Keto a try.
It’s all about priorities… if you really want to make a difference in your life, the way is there. Busy travel schedules, not knowing how to cook, or just general laziness (of which I am guilty myself at times) are not excuses.
By the way: I’m working on a complete “No Cook Keto” meal plan for all of you, and will gladly let you know when it’s ready — just sign up to join the mailing list at the bottom of this page and I’ll shoot you an email. (No spam, seriously.)
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