Today our lives are so busy that even in a pandemic we have scheduled our lives to capacity. Curiosity for some of us has us interested in a low carbohydrate lifestyle and yet, we struggle following a recipe or our cooking leaves our families looking for take-out. So for those of us who raised their hand and say, “That’s me. I am not interested in cooking,” these No Cook Keto options may be just right for you.
No or Minimally Cooked Meals
To jumpstart our low carb life without much cooking, Diet Doctor® authored, Six ways to stay low carb or keto when you don’t want to cook. The Diet Doctor article includes a chacuterie plate or cobb salad if you’re fine with minimal cooking like boiling eggs. Tentative about boiling eggs? Even these can be purchased grocery stores boiled and peeled. My husband and I spent a week-long vacation eating chacuterie, and Outback ribeye on a road trip and lost weight. There are lots of pictures to guide the kitchen novice along to create colorful and balanced low carb high fat meals. Reimagined niçoise salad or keto burger with cabbage plate anyone?
Door-dash, take-out, or curbside pick-up make it easy to pick up dinner without planning, shopping, or cooking. A few rules will make any fast food more keto friendly:
- Opt for grilled proteins such as beef, sausage patties, or chicken.
- Keep cheese as optional. While you can eat it, dairy stalls weight loss.
- Avoid proteins with a coating such as chicken or fish.
- Ditch the bun, croissant, English muffins, croutons, French fries, chips, taco shells/bowls, flour/corn burrito shells, onion rings, and any other forms of bread or starches.
- Stay away from “low-fat” dressings for your salad as these likely have added sugar and stick with creamer fat-full dressings such as Caesar for your salad.
- Keep away from oriental sauces and chow main noodles that may come along with an Oriental salad.
- Leave the fruit, rice, refried beans and corn salsas off your plate.
- Forget the peanuts.
- Drink beverages such as coffee, unsweetened tea, and water. If you must drink a soda, order a zero-calorie option.
- Stay away from snacks that are processed like ice cream products and sweet products labeled keto. These will stall your progress and, in the end,, they are still processed.
Some chains boost higher quality proteins such as Chipotle. Others list options for breakfast, lunch. and supper. Remember to log the total carbs from your take-out.
Low Carb Meal Delivery Services
There are several companies promoting low carb frozen meal delivery services. These are just heat and eat meals. Read the reviews. If you have certain requirements such as a maximum about of carbs you would like to stay under per day, a few have a nutrition label for each entry or ask if they would customize meals. Some also advertised time with a staff nutritionist for customers. Each business is different. So, make your list of requirements and see what you can find on their website before calling. After reviewing the information on line, these stood out:
Paleo on the Go
- Limited variety of keto entrees.
- Displays total carbs per entrée between 0-22 per entrée.
- Lots of variety for breakfast, lunch. and supper meals. Proteins included are beef, chicken, and pork.
- Lists total carbs
Clean Eatz Kitchen
- 724 reviews of 5 stars.
- Lists total carbs
The Good Kitchen, Territory, Ice Age Meals, and Ketogenic Diet-to-Go
- All offer variety of entrees and displays total carbs
Consider these points when thinking about using a meal service:
- Are the carbs in net carbs or total carbs? If they are in net carbs, will the company give you total carbs for the entrees you would like to order.
- Check if the entrée’s ingredients listed are really low carb ingredients. This may take time at first, and yet, it will be well worth it.
- How many servings are in a package: 2 or 4? Be sure to portion yourself a single serving.
- Check that the company delivers in your area. Some are for local delivery only.
- Consider ordering lunch entrees with 10 or less total carbs and dinner entrees with 20 or less total carbs. Another trick is to order a lunch entrée for supper. This will give you about 30 total grams for the day if you include protein or vegetable snacks.
- If you are still hungry after you eat the delivered meal, add a side salad, veggies or protein such as a hard-boiled egg or tuna.
Ciarra Luster in her June 2018 article, How to find and hire the perfect personal chef, advises us to know what type of personal chef we’re looking for, make a list of what you need, and write a job post to be posted on one of the many boards such as ihirechefs.com, thumbtack.com, or care.com. Think about your price point. Most chefs charge hourly, weekly or by the number of servings.
- What is your dining out budget?
- Could you easily afford a chef with the money your family spends on take-out?
- Would it be worth it to hire a chef to prepare home cooked meals and gain back valuable time with your family spent in shopping and preparing meals?
Chefs cooking from their own kitchens charge less than those coming to your home to cook. The median price for a personal chef is between $200-300 per week for 5 meals for a family of four. Add an extra $60-200 for ingredients. Some tips for managing costs are:
- Hire an amateur chef
- Share a chef with another household
- Think about a less costly alternative such as a meal delivery service
A final tool to consider is to follow a time-restricted eating pattern for part of the day. This might look like skipping breakfast and waiting to eat until lunch. This means having to plan one or two less meals a day. When our bodies do not have to constantly digest and metabolize food, they do a lot of cellular clean-up and rebuilding. For example, the brain does an amazing detox starting at 11p each night. Keeping your body’s circadian rhythm humming adds a lot to longevity.
While it might seem easier to buy food from a prepackaged food program like Jenny Craig or Nutrisystems, the caveat here is that prepackaged foods are still processed foods, compared to the frozen meal delivery, most of whom use sustainably sourced or wild caught seafood and organic veggies, meat and eggs from farmers who follow regenerative agriculture practices. Programs that used prepackaged processed foods are also using the macronutrient model from the standard American diet which has us all fighting chronic conditions in the first place.
The low carb lifestyle holds the key to longevity, reversal of chronic conditions such as prediabetes and heart conditions, and the good life. Living a low carb life is possible if cooking is not for you.