By Mark Sisson
So you’re eating Primal + keto now. Maybe you’re having a hard time figuring out your options when it comes to convenient, easy-to-grab food items? On those mornings when you oversleep and go running out of the house, or those nights when work ran late, it’s good to have options on hand so you can make a healthy, keto-compliant meal in minutes.
Here are my top 10 convenience items that will make your keto life easier:
1. Frozen Riced Cauliflower
Cauliflower rice — the “it” food trend of the last few years—continues to be a keto diet staple. Food manufacturers have caught onto this fact; you can now buy prepared frozen cauliflower rice at almost any grocer. I find it convenient because it can be time-consuming and messy to make from scratch.
Use frozen riced cauliflower to replace fresh in any recipe, such as this Sesame Chicken and “Rice” with Fiery Ginger and Chile Sauce (from 2010—I was ahead of my time) or this Sheet Pan Chicken with Cauliflower Rice, Olives and Feta.
2. Frozen Vegetables
I usually have frozen broccoli and green beans (because I think they retain the best flavor and texture when frozen), spinach, and kale in my freezer. Frozen vegetables cook much faster than fresh. They can be simmered, steamed, or microwaved in a matter of minutes, but they usually don’t roast well. Add them directly to soups, stews, and stir-fry in the last few minutes of cooking, or quickly thaw them in the microwave and scramble with eggs for a nutritious breakfast. You can also add frozen greens to smoothies.
If you’re concerned that they aren’t as nutritious as fresh vegetables, don’t be. Frozen vegetables are usually picked at peak ripeness and flash frozen, which preserves most of the nutrients.
3. Pre-cooked Meat (Frozen or Refrigerated)
In the stores I frequent, I can find pre-cooked chicken (usually breasts and breast strips), brisket, pulled pork or carnitas, and wild-caught shrimp. Pre-cooked chicken sausages and bacon could fall into this category as well. With pre-cooked meat, reading labels is very important. Look for products with only meat, herbs and spices, and Primal-approved fats. Some offerings look “clean” from the front only to reveal a laundry list of objectionable ingredients on the back.
You can heat pre-cooked meats in the microwave or on the stovetop, or thaw in the fridge while you’re at work. Use them in a Big-Ass Salad, omelet or frittata, soup, lettuce wrap, or a simple meat-with-a-side-of-vegetables plate. Pre-cooked meat found in the refrigerated section can often be frozen to keep on hand for later.
4. Canned SMASH
That’s salmon, mackerel, anchovies, sardines, and herring—small, oily fish. If I had to pick one thing that every Primal and keto eater should have in their cupboard or pantry at all times, this is it. I’ll throw canned tuna in here as well, even though it’s not in the “small” category.
Not only are they convenient, they’re packed with nutrients and oh-so-important omega-3s. I’m partial to sardines and anchovies over salmon and tuna because of the calcium and micronutrients that come with eating the whole fish, bones and all. Really, all you need is a can of sardines and a fork for the ultimate Primal + keto meal on the go.
5. Protein Powder
While I don’t think shakes and smoothies should be a staple of one’s diet, I also have no problem with using them sometimes after workouts or as an easy meal replacement on-the-go. There are times when throwing some protein powder in a blender bottle is about all you can manage. I’ve been there.
Whey protein is a great choice in terms of bioavailability and health benefits, which is why it’s the main ingredient in Primal Fuel. Collagen protein is another good source with unique advantages for joint and gut health. Egg white protein is a good choice, too. If you’re vegetarian or vegan, you can go for rice, pea, or hemp protein powders.
6. Beef Jerky
Beef jerky and beef sticks are shelf-stable and portable, making them the perfect option when you’re traveling or camping, for school lunch boxes, or for throwing in your gym bag. As always, watch for undesirable oils and excessive added sugar.
7. Bone Broth
There are several high-quality brands available in grocery stores that come in a wide variety of flavors. You can even buy pre-made bone broth concoctions marketed to keto folks with MCT or coconut oil already mixed in.
I consider store-bought bone broth a convenience food because while homemade is great, store-bought is much more, well, convenient. A warm mug of bone broth can stand alone as a “snack,” or it can be quickly turned into a delicious soup.
Bars can be a snack or even a small meal replacement to tide you over until a proper meal. No surprise, I’m partial to the keto-friendly Primal Kitchen Protein Bars.
9. Nut Butter Packets
I particularly like these if I’m going to be out on a long stand-up paddle where I might want a quick nosh. They’re convenient in the way that those gels made for runners and cyclists are—easy to stick in your pocket, eat one-handed, and discard. Quite a few brands offer nut butter packets in a variety of flavors, some with added protein and healthy fats. Keto folks want to avoid those with added sugars.
OK, I might be stretching the definition of “convenience foods” here, but hear me out. Of course, eggs are one of the easiest, quickest foods to prepare. Whether you fry them in butter or scramble them with leftover veggies and meat, you can have a healthy meal in less than five minutes. Hard-boiled eggs are the ultimate portable food: they come in their own disposable, biodegradable containers! You can even level up your fatty “keto coffee” concoction by blending in a raw egg or egg yolks.
Moreover, eggs can be combined with other foods on this list to make healthful keto meals on the fly. For example:
- Egg + frozen cauliflower rice + full-fat coconut milk + cinnamon (simmered together) = keto breakfast porridge
- Egg (raw or hard-boiled) + protein powder + frozen greens + full-fat coconut milk + coconut oil or MCT oil (optional) = keto protein smoothie base
- Egg + chicken bone broth + fat of choice (coconut oil, MCT oil, grass-fed butter, or ghee) + ground turmeric + ground black pepper = golden bone broth latte
- Egg + frozen cauliflower rice + frozen pre-cooked chicken + frozen vegetables + Primal Kitchen No Soy Teriyaki = quick keto stir-fry
Honorable Mention: Electrolyte drink mixes
It’s pretty easy to stir some LoSalt and Himalayan pink salt into your water and add a squeeze of lemon or lime, but it’s also handy to have electrolyte powders on hand. Ones that come in individual packets are especially convenient for grabbing on your way out the door. We all know how important electrolytes are when you go keto, so don’t neglect them.