There are some nights where I can’t wait to get home, light some candles, put on a good playlist (or Grey’s episode on my iPad), and setup shop in the kitchen to put together a leisure & awesome meal. However, there are those nights where my heels are off halfway through the front door, I’m beat to shreds from what the day has thrown at me, and the last thing I feel like doing is standing over a stove top to make dinner.
While I do love to cook, trust me when I say that I get how hard it is to get home after one of those days and put together a good meal, much less make it healthy and clean. It can be way too easy to just get takeout and call it a night. However, with learning the ins-and-outs of keto and clean eating in general, I have a handful of meals that have really become my tried-and-true’s, that I know are always delicious, diet-friendly, quick, and satisfying. I wanted to gather those in one place, not only as a reference to myself (must.stop.picking.up.Zoës.Kitchen.takeout), but to of course share with you all in hopes that the work-week struggle becomes a little less daunting. These meals save my waistline, my time, and my wallet. And are delicious whether you’re on keto or not.
My go-to’s all use pretty similar ingredients, and all are easy stove top/oven meals that make for max flavor and min time and effort. I keep most all ingredients to these items on hand at all times, most being from Trader Joes. Here are a few of my favorites:
My usual picks are – Chicken Breasts (Trader Joes has great boneless/skinless chicken breast bags in the frozen section), Ground Beef, Lean Pork Chops, Tilapia/Mahi (I personally do not like Salmon but wish I did!), Shrimp, Sirloin Steak, Burger Patties (Again, I stock up from TJ’s with the frozen grassfed beef patties)
Cauliflower (I go with bags of organic riced cauliflower and keep a ton on hand, at all times. and mildly freak out (slash break keto) when I run out), White or Baby Bella mushrooms, Cabbage, Spinach, Brussel Sprouts (again, bags of the frozen TJ’s ones), Broccoli, Zucchini, Spaghetti Squash, Onions, and Garlic
+ go seasonal – stock up on veggies in season (and usually well priced & easily available)
Avocado/Olive Oil, Coconut Oil, Kerrygold Grassfed Butter, Cheeses of choice, Sour Cream, Cream Cheese, HWC
Now, I won’t even go as far as to call these recipes, because they are as simple as my favorite combinations of the above ingredients along with whatever I have on hand and feel like throwing in. While my version on these is low carb, high fat/keto based, many of these dishes can be altered to fit your tastes/diet. Leave out the dairy and up your veggies if you’re Whole 30/Dairy Free, use beans/veggies in place of meat if your vegetarian, use olive oil instead of kerrygold if you’re not LCHF/Keto, etc. These make great quick dinners; make extra for easy meal-prep for lunch the next day!
Chicken & Mushroom Cauliflower Rice Risotto
Sauté riced cauliflower, garlic, and mushrooms in kerrygold (add chicken stock for extra flavor), add a little cream cheese once cooked, top with a chicken breast or slice up chicken and add in. Easily sub in lean pork chops here for an equally great flavor combo. Top with green onions or parsley if you like.
Blackened Tilapia or Mahi with Garlic Parmesan Asparagus
Bake asparagus topped with olive oil, garlic (I slice thinly instead of dice to leave nice roasted pieces), salt + pepper, Parmesan. Use blackened seasoning on tilapia/mahi filets (or garlic/lemon/butter) and cook stove top while your asparagus is finishing up.
Chicken or Steak Stir Fry
Two easy ways to prep this: for more “fried rice” based, sauté riced cauliflower and veggies you have on hand in avocado oil, add in sliced chicken and add a liberal drizzle of liquid aminos. pan fry until incorporated. For more veggie based, slice up + sauté cabbage, onions, carrots (omit if you’re strict keto), and any veggies you have on hand with protein of choice. Add in liquid amminos + sriracha if you’re feeling spicy!
Cheesy Garlic Butter Spaghetti Squash
Pasta lovers rejoice, because this dish always kills my pasta cravings. Slice spaghetti squash in half, scoop out seeds and drizzle in avocado oil. Bake until done, use fork to shred inside, add in kerrygold, garlic, salt + pepper and cheese of choice (shredded cheddar for more mac + cheese vibes, shredded Italian blend for a more traditional pasta feel), and stick back in the oven until brown. Can easily be built upon: add tomato sauce and pepperoni, add ricotta and spinach, add chicken etc. I like to use the small spaghetti squash because it creates the perfect portion + fits right into Tupperware for lunch the next day.
Protein Burrito Bowls over Cauliflower Rice
Sauté cauliflower rice (add in scallions/cilantro and a squeeze of lime for more flavor), and layer Chicken/Steak/meat of your choice over top with cheese, sliced avocado or guac, lettuce, onions, tomato, any veggies you like! Top with hot sauce/salsa/dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt and you’re good to go! Homemade guac gives this a chipotle-but-better vibe.
As you probably noticed, the pictures above aren’t plated super fancy, and are in Tupperware or even paper plates, with photos snagged from my Instagram stories. These meals truly are the quick go-to’s that keep you on track and *sane* while on Keto. I genuinely enjoy cooking, and am living proof that frequency in the kitchen does equal some pretty enviable home-chef skills. It’s not about spending hours upon hours slaving over a complex meal, its about making the most of your time (even if it’s 20 minutes) to be intentional in what ingredients you’re using, how you’re prepping them, and how you’re pulling it all together. Cooking can (and in my opinion should) be a creative & personal craft, and you’ll never know your style and potential if you don’t push yourself out of your comfort zone and experiment a little! It’s okay to try new things and not have them turn out the best; you learn from it!
The more you try to make new things, the more confident you become in making great meals (without a recipe or sometimes even an idea of what you’re making). Even if you’re a picky eater, chances are you can figure out a way to make things that completely suit your tastes. I used to think I hated mushrooms, but I’m telling you…I can make some damn good mushrooms now, and they’re basically a staple item for our mostly keto household.
I’d love to hear some of your go-to meals or if you’re a fan of any of the above! If you’d like to see an actual recipe for any of these or have questions, please feel free to let me know! Hope these help you stick to cutting out the grains & sugars and show just how easy it can be sometimes!