Ideas for easy keto meals with simple ingredients, and other sources of veggies and protein you can use during quarantine.
I don’t know about you guys, but within 15 minutes of day 1 of quarantine for COVID-19, I was stressed. I felt like I was floating outside my body, the world just felt really surreal.
It’s weird right now right? I also feel like it’s ridiculous for me to be stressed, because my husband and I both work from home, we already trade off watching our toddler throughout the day. In essence, our daily lives won’t change. We’re not on the front lines, we’re not required to leave our homes, or desperately search for daycare. We certainly run a lot of risk of losing our income, and already have in the Airbnb we currently own in Vermont, which we invested our life savings into last year, and that WAS paying for itself, until Airbnb gave out penalty-free cancellations to everyone. We thought real estate was smarter than investing in the stock market for retirement. The verdict is still out on that.
Beyond that, I worry about my two-year old daughter who is questionably high-risk because she was a micro-preemie (15oz at birth!) and spent the first 3.5 months of her life on a ventilator, but we’ve been such germaphobes, that we have no idea how she’ll fare a cough, nevermind a lung infection. So PTSD is certainly setting in from all of that.
We’re on day three now, and I already have cabin fever, so I felt like I needed some way to put all this stress energy into something useful, that other people might find useful. And I figured one thing that ketofolk might find helpful are ways to stay keto while you’re like both 1) on a budget and 2) struggling to find fresh groceries.
One thing I’ve already noticed when considering keto meals is how much I waste. I always waste fresh herbs and vegetables. If I only need half an onion, I often toss the other half. Now, I’ll hoard all the onions.
For us, going to the grocery store now, where COVID-19 can live in the air for up to 3 hours, isn’t an option I’m willing to risk (see preemie statement above).
Seeking Fresh Keto Ingredients During COVID-19 Times
For produce, I’m considering Misfits Market, but there are also Imperfect Foods and Hungry Harvest. All offer some levels of customization, but I have a toddler who’s still experimenting with new foods, so I’d probably not get super keto-strict about it myself.
For meats, look to your local farms. I was surprised how many options were available in Massachusetts that deliver. We signed up for milk (daughter), egg, and meat delivery on a weekly basis. I hope this will cover us for a while, and it’s a bit too pricy for people to really stockpile, I think.
Then there are also meal boxes. I have tried A LOT of meal boxes and have reviewed them here on the site, and the one I recommend is Green Chef ($80 off plus free shipping with this link). They have a good keto catalog of recipes and although they’ve gotten a little razzed for having recipes that have up to 10 or even 15 net carbs each I’ve given them flack myself!), they’ve gotten better. If you’re keto-savvy you can also make tweaks like cutting your cauliflower portion in half, or saving it for lunch the next day.
For snacks, I highly recommend Keto Krate, you get a huge bang for your buck and as a member you get access to their online store where you can buy single items of anything you find in Keto Krate (vs. spending $40+ to buy them in bulk like you usually have to do with keto items). Use discount code WICKEDSTUFFED and you’ll get whatever promotion they’re currently running.
There’s of course a risk of contamination with anything that comes in the mail, the virus is said to last for up to 24 hours on cardboard, so I’m ok with spraying them down with a little alcohol or hydrogen peroxide spray, washing produce, and maybe even letting it sit in the sun for some UV if I have to. Gosh, somebody get me my tinfoil hat, right? You should have seen us when my daughter was released from the NICU, we washed cash in laundry detergent once, true story. I consider myself a veteran germaphobe for the last two years, so this isn’t new for us.
Simple Recipes that Use Less Ingredients
Simple recipes are also more necessary than ever, which I’ve realized more quickly than I hoped. Also, is it just me, or is everybody burning every meal since this self-isolation period started? I think it’s because my head is in outer space, but I can’t seem to stop ruining everything I cook. I’m hoping this subsides once we’ve reached the new normal, or at the very least, spring arrives and it warms up so we can enjoy the outdoors.
In my list below, I’m trying to consider a lack of fresh produce and meats, with pantry-staple ingredients as much as possible.
I doubt you’ll find people stockpiling spaghetti squash at your store, and they do last for a couple months in my experience. There’s so much you can make with spaghetti squash but the one that is most simple is aglio olio. If you have fresh garlic always go for that, but if you don’t, pre-minced garlic from the jar will do, as will the parmesan cheese from the green can if it’s all you have.
Ya’ll laughed when I published this, but whoooo is laughing now?! Because while everybody is focused on ground beef, other items people might not be pining for, are tuna and pickles. I, on the other hand, stocked up weeks before I was taking this COVID-19 thing seriously. My husband had been saturated in data about the virus spreading in China and beyond, and warned me that we would be in a similar situation and needed to stock up. So I did. I admit, I should have stocked better, but I do have enough pickles and tuna to make these sandwiches for a while.
These chicken thighs are everything. They require few ingredients, easily tweaked, and taste delicious. Instead of fresh herbs (unless you already have them), you can use dried herbs, generously. If you don’t have onions or garlic, but do have lemon juice, squeeze a little of that over the top of the chickens, and use a few generous shakes of garlic and onion powder instead, served separately with frozen bagged and steamed veggies from your freezer, topped with the gravy that will collect at the bottom of the pan at the end. If you find those packs of fresh whole cloves that grocery stores often have, freeze them so they’ll last a few months instead of a week.
Again, mostly pantry staples here, and the drippings go great over frozen steamed veggies.
Cream cheese is one of those items you can stock up on because it lasts a few months, and if you’ve been doing keto, you likely have the rest of the items in your cupboard, though they are still available on Amazon currently. These are not only comfort food that I know we’re all seeking right now, but they’re also very filling!
If you have frozen green beans and frozen onions, just go that route. And to make it more of a meal than a side, just double the bacon. We’ve had this as a main course a few times by adding extra bacon, and while the green beans are on the carbier side, I’m guessing the intermittent fasting we’ve all been forced into will help.
Cheese and sauce are all you need. If you happen to have a basil plant and parmesan cheese even better, but to get a pizza craving off your chest, this does the job and it’s very, very filling. Get the biggest bag of mozz you can find at the store because you’ll want to make a few of these during quarantine.
Eggs, cheese, sausage, and bacon with some staples are all that are really needed to make this, and you and the family can eat it all week long. I’ve been seeing a ton of people on Facebook sharing that their hens have decided it’s spring and have started laying again, so look outside of grocery stores for neighbors with eggs, they often have a surplus!
While you’re in stock of eggs and bacon, make these quiche tarts with whatever you’ve got left over, including any veggie scraps if you have them, or frozen veggies. They freeze great, and if you have larger muffin pans, you can make big ones, too.
Another idea is to get a ham, and cook it for a meal, but with the leftovers you can make. At my grocery store, people apparently think we’re out of this thing by Easter because there are plenty of hams left. So you can start with my keto ham recipe (or just make a ham however you like):
Then you’ll have ham to make recipes like this Western Scramble, which again, you can use whatever veggies you have, but if you’re still stocking up, get yourself some peppers and onions, fresh or frozen. And if you have fresh, chop and freeze them.
And if you’re already making the pancakes above, save some extras to use the ham inside a Keto Monte Cristo:
Ground beef seems to be the most challenging protein to find, at least around here, so I think the options above are great. If you can get your hands on some whole chickens and turkeys those will last you, and a bunch of frozen veggies, you’ll be great. Or you could totally pig out and stress-eat your way through the Coronavirus, but I have a few things I think are perks about being on keto during this time:
- We get full much faster, so we eat less.
- Many are already intermittent fasting, so food stores will stay supplied longer.
- Simple ingredients are all that are needed.
The downside is that it’s a heck of a lot cheaper to buy 12 boxes of mac and cheese than it is to buy protein and veggies, especially right now. But I think the good mental clarity you get from keto, and for me personally, less anxiety, are perks that we could all use. If you have other things you think I could tackle during these weird times, let me know.