Workplace eating has long been a source of camaraderie, celebration, and temptation in pre-Covid settings. However, the idea of the workplace itself has shifted, with many working remotely or on flexible schedules.
So, how does all this work-life change affect our eating choices at lunch? And how do we best plan our meals to set ourselves up for success at work in today’s climate on a ketogenic diet?
Whether your workplace is in a shared in-person office space, a home office, or wherever you are with a strong wifi connection on the road, there are common tricks to apply to keep it keto at lunchtime.
- A bento-box lunch approach is a fantastic way to add variety to your midday meal while keeping carbs low. Pair berries, meat slices, olives, and cucumbers, with a keto-friendly dressing, for a light yet filling bundle.
The variety of combinations to try within your bento box are virtually endless, only bound by your imagination. However, here are some excellent keto foods to pack for a nutrient-rich, satisfying lunch box:
- Babybel cheese
- Nuts (e.g., macadamia, pili, almonds, walnuts, et al.)
- Nitrate-free lunch meats: Applegate Farms offers pork and turkey-based pepperoni that are perfect finger foods that require no heating to eat.
- Smoked salmon and cream cheese roll-ups with a side of pickles are the perfect pairings for the foodie fond of the combination of sweet and savory flavorings.
- Seared bacon, a softly-set boiled egg, and some slices of avocado are a decadent, zero-carb delight that's perfect for lunch; it's the ideal keto lunch bowl.
- Layout some large romaine leaves, pickles, and a hearty helping of creamy tuna salad, so each element is as crisp as possible when you're ready to eat.
Plus, you can throw in a handful of slivered almonds for an extra boost of healthy fat and flavor.
Aside from a wide variety of bento-box combos that make great keto selections for lunch, there are many other options to consider.
If you've scrolled Pinterest recently, you've probably noticed colorful mason jars filled with colorful layers of lettuce, veggies, meats, and cheese. After all, salads in a jar are a popular trend.
Salads in a jar are a terrific grab-and-go keto lunch option because you can mix and match whichever ingredients you have handy to compose a unique and tasty creation every time.
We are so fascinated with the craft of creating beautiful and flavorful salads in a jar that we dedicated a post to the process and shared some mouthwatering recipes that you'll surely want to add to your meal plan.
Try a California burger bowl, a bit of a keto, take on a Buddha bowl, and pile on all your favorite fixings, but hold the bun. Plus, a burger bowl could feature a turkey, veggie, or seafood burger to add a twist to your lunchtime feast.
Rethink roasted Brussels sprouts and showcase them in a bright salad, shredded and accented with sliced almonds and shavings of sharp aged cheese; it's a breeze to put together, and the flavor payoff is tremendous.
A zoodle salad with tri-colored bell peppers, olives, and mozzarella balls with dashes of plum tomato is a fantastic meal in a bowl. Drizzle it with a good quality olive oil and red wine vinegar and you’ve got an amazing Italian style lunch bowl.
Casseroles of all kinds are perfect recipes to make ahead, store long-term in the freezer, and make for an indulgent and hearty lunch.
Also, meals like low-carb eggplant or zucchini lasagna are another freezer meal that's perfect to put together during meal prep and enjoy on-demand throughout the week and year.
Lunch on Tuesdays will get more interesting if you make some savory cheddar cheese shell tacos. Plus, you can pair a side salad and other keto foods, like keto-friendly tortillas, for a lightened version of a high-carb classic.
Grilled pesto chicken and tomato kebabs are great for a day grilling in the backyard. Still, it becomes the perfect portable meal when you ditch the skewer and add in some leafy greens to create a satisfying colossal salad perfect for the next day at work.
Cook up a large batch of cauliflower fried rice and pair it with a host of different proteins and veggies throughout the week, topped with a fatty and decadent dressing or herbed compote butter, for a satisfying and straightforward remix on lunch throughout the week.
Plus, making a creamy and nourishing soup in large batches and parceling it out into single servings is the perfect way to watch your waistline and your budget when eating at work on a low-carb, high-fat diet.
Try spicy options like a keto jalapeño popper, Buffalo chicken, or creamy & keto broccoli cheese soup for a filling lunch option that won't weigh you down. All these soups are excellent accompaniments to a fresh garden salad with a fatty keto dressing.
Plus, hot or sweet sausage seared with red bell peppers and white onions are delicious atop cauliflower rice or as a standalone dish—packed with healthy fat, protein, and phytonutrients.
Bursts of cilantro and lime brighten the esthetic and flavor of an herbaceous salsa verde beef bowl. Plus, throwing this dish together for a quick lunch is a tremendous opportunity to use up leftovers!
Potato salad is a summer classic, but potatoes are prohibitive when limiting carbs. So instead, consider a creamy cauliflower 'faux-tato' salad alternative loaded with dill, garlic, salt, and other seasonings, to offset your chosen healthy fat and protein.
And remember, meals in a bowl are a fun and convenient way to parcel out and transport lunch. Also, consider a keto salmon sushi bowl for days when in the mood for a taste of the sea.
Plus, there are additional benefits to planning and packing your lunches throughout the week. Here are some of the perks of preparing your meals at home:
- Homemade meals made with whole foods contain no added chemicals, preservatives, or low-quality additives; you know what you're eating and how much of it.
- Brown-bagging can also add up to a significant amount of savings if you commit to bringing your lunch to work most days of the week.
- Reduce food spoilage by adding leftover scraps of chicken to a soup or throw some berries on the cusp of turning into a quick smoothie to do your best to eat rather than toss your groceries.
- Portion out meals ahead and calculate macros, so you hit your caloric targets consistently.
- Manage your quality of sodium intake by avoiding the iodized cheaper varieties often used in fast-food venues since it's super affordable. Use Himalayan pink salt, Celtic salt, Indian black salt, or other mineral-rich salts to add nutrition and elevated flavor to your meals instead.
- There is much to do, and you can always use ways to leverage your time management efficiently. Making lunch ahead leaves more room to enjoy eating at mealtime.
- Noshing at work can result in mindless eating and the intake of calories that exceed your daily macros. However, portioning and preparing your meals gives you complete control of your diet to stay focused on your weight and wellness goals.
- You may have an excellent catalog of culinary options based on your city and location. Still, when you prepare your lunch, the variety is only limited by your effort and imagination.
- Have some fun and set aside the money saved by making your lunch and use a portion to treat yourself to a planned splurge.
- Something is rewarding about sitting down to eat a well-executed meal you've prepared for yourself; it's an ultimate expression of self-love and self-care. Pop your meal on a beautiful plate and grab your favorite glass to add an extra special touch to the moment.
- Ever find yourself at the mercy of the lingering junk food spread from an office party or Friday Donut Day? Us too, and the best defense we've found to level against temptation is preparation.
Always keep keto-friendly snacks on hand, so you're always ready to make a quality choice when sugary foods abound.
- Use lunch prep as an opportunity to experiment with new recipes and cooking styles; it will keep your keto journey new and exciting.
- Consider your meal prep time as a bit of a respite from the day. Get lost in the process of kneading keto dough. Or enjoy the repetitive action of shaping cookies or filling jars for that week's salads. There's no rush; make it a time for yourself to get excited and recharged for the coming week.
- Following a meal plan and preset portioned meals allow you to execute your keto protocol flawlessly with little room for error. Plus, planning, noting, and reviewing your meal plans each week helps keep you accountable.
- Maybe giving up meat entirely to reduce your carbon footprint or purchasing solar panels is a bit of a stretch for you in the way of becoming more eco-friendly. However, preparing your lunch and reusing your food containers and beverage thermos drastically reduces your use of plastic and other one-time-use packaging—a possibly less rough go at living green.
Lunchtime Working from Home
Working from home often presents some tests in strength. Whether to complete tasks timely, scroll your favorite social media feed, or graze in the kitchen can pose a constant temptation throughout the day.
- Set meal times if you're new to the ketogenic diet and transitioning to a fat-adapted state, at which point your appetite should naturally decrease.
- Eat to fuel continued energy throughout the day, and make sure the food is mouthwatering, too. Items like MCT oil, chia seeds, and omega-3-rich salmon can all play a significant part in keeping you feeling vibrant all day.
Eating healthy fats and proteins is imperative on a ketogenic diet. However, adding ample amounts of dark leafy greens and other low-glycemic vegetables and fruits is essential to maintain and improve health.
As a general rule, you can't go wrong if you line half of your plate with the following nutrient-rich foods:
- Spinach: Load up on baby spinach for a healthy helping of magnesium and potassium to help regulate body fluids, blood pressure, heart rate, and cell functions.
- Kale: You can make cheesy chips with beautifully textured dinosaur kale leaves; they're a tasty and healthy afternoon snack.
- Brussel Sprouts: Shred some roasted brussels sprouts and make a fantastic alternative take on traditional cabbage slaw.
- Bean Sprouts: The process of sprouting nuts and seeds increases their nutritional value exponentially. Consider sprouting beans, broccoli, or even chia seeds to add atop salads or in stews.
- Broccoli: Add these mean, green stalks to your lunchtime menu for an extra portion of fiber, folic acid, and vitamins A, C, E, and K.
- Lettuce: Butter, spring mix, or romaine leaves make for a fantastic salad base and add a pleasant texture and bite to sandwiches or keto wraps.
- Bok Choy: Whip up a savory stir-fry using baby bok choy and succulent seasoned chicken thighs with a sprinkling of fresh chives—simple and delicious!
- Cabbage: Discover a creative dumpling wrapper in sturdy yet pliable cabbage leaves. It's easy to rotate your fillings to keep your meal plan exciting, and cabbage helps aid in proper digestion.
- Green Beans: Casseroles are a fantastic option for lunch—they're satisfying and incredibly portable. Try a classic green bean casserole with a few keto tweaks to manage carbs, and you've got a winning recipe.
- Collard Greens: A savory bowl of greens, with its complex flavors and textures, is an all-time favorite side dish for a good reason; it's incredible! Plus, adding collards to the menu increases the essential intake of bone-building calcium and vitamins C and A.
- Callaloo (amaranth callaloo): Collard's close cousin in appearance and preparation, callaloo is native to the Caribbean via West Africa. Plus, these greens contain abundant essential minerals like iron, manganese, calcium, and potassium.
- Cucumber: Adding chilled, crisp, and hydrating cucumbers to salads, spring water, or smoothies is the perfect food to help you keep cool during the hotter months.
Regardless of your recipe configuration, it's a good idea to comprise about 25% of your meals with keto-friendly proteins like the following:
- Nuts and Seeds
Along with all the other yummy foods to consider carting along for lunch, the following types of healthy fats are perfect pairings to keep you feeling fuller longer:
- Coconut Oil
- Olives/Olive Oil
Also, we've got you covered if you're looking for a few fresh keto recipes to switch up your midday mealtime. One of our beginner-friendly favorites may be just the dish you need.
Think outside the sandwich, but remember that a slew of store-bought keto bread or wraps to use when nothing will do but pastrami with mustard on 'rye' with a side of kraut.
Konscious Keto Lunch Picks
Here are a few of our summer lunch menu favorites that you may enjoy as the temperature continues to rise.
- A hearty helping of king keto taco casserole is a comforting and tasty offering that can quell the workplace quibbles that make you want to retreat to your happy place mid-day.
- Try our keto kickin' chicken salad; it's a perfect candidate for a salad in a jar!
- It's a win-win when recipes freeze well and provide a pleasant aroma when reheated at the office. For example, try a savory keto quiche with zucchini as a one-stop dish that stands alone as a filling and flavorful option.
- Carry a slice of keto pumpkin walnut bread with you so you have a sweet treat to tide you over during the afternoon hours when mindless eating can pose a challenge.
Also, the following quick tips will help you set yourself up for success:
- Pack and prepare everything for lunch the night before, so all you need to do at lunchtime is heat (or not, in the case of salads in a jar) and eat.
- Commit to at least a few days of bringing lunch to work to reap some of the benefits shared above if lunches with co-workers or friends are a high priority.
- Pack a snack along with lunch to make sure you're ready in the afternoon when the urge to much on a salty or sweet treat may present itself.
- Keep a desk pantry of supplies and staples. Have a sizable salad bowl and utensils, olive oil and vinegar dressing, along with other goodies to make enhancing your selections at mealtime a breeze.
- Would you please keep it simple? Give yourself a break. Every lunch entrée doesn't have to include a rolling out of a massive spread of complicated recipes. Sometimes seared salmon and asparagus with a spritz of lemon is a perfect choice.
- Again, simple meals can be marvelous: consider a lettuce wrap sandwich or Caprese-style salad that you can put together in minutes—effortless and delicious!
Plus, you can upgrade your salad game with a few flavorful additions:
- Add a generous dash of wakame, dulse, or kelp to your beautiful beds of greens for a boost of iodine and several other minerals.
- Add blue cheese crumbles and walnuts to a simple greens salad to amp up the flavor and textural experience, while supporting brain health.
- Make batches of bacon ahead and create bits to add pops of salty and fatty flavor to your lunchtime salad.
Plus, there are plenty of other lunch options perfect for refueling at work. Try some of the following for a fresh take on your midday meal:
- Convert the classic buddha bowl with some cauliflower rice, protein, and vibrant green slivers of avocado with a sprinkling of ‘everything’ seasoning.
- You can also ditch the bowl altogether with a salad-stuffed avocado; it's a tasty and genuinely summer-ready take on the classic salad.
- A chicken and asparagus lemon and garlic stir-fry is an excellent stove-to-table dish that also translates well as a light and filling keto lunch option.
- If you do choose to go for a sandwich and soup with a side of chips for lunch, here are some keto alternatives to try to avoid overdoing your carb macros:
Keto Bread Picks:
- Kiss My Keto has a robust line of keto bread in a range of flavors from dark wheat to seeded wheat and cinnamon raisin—Yum!
- Base Culture keto bread is made with ingredients like almond flour and golden flaxseed meal, making it a fantastic option for anyone looking to cut carbs.
- Julian Bakery is an excellent line if you prefer an ultra-thin slice option; it's just enough bread to satisfy a craving with amazing macros.
- Low carb wraps, such as NUCO coconut wraps, folio cheese wraps, or simple lettuce wraps make a wonderful vehicle for all your favorite sandwich fixings.
- If you love to bake, feel free to whip up some homemade keto bread. There are tons of great recipes out there. Check out this article, featuring 5 Easy Keto Breads, that you’re sure to love.
Lunch, which may be the breaking of the fast for some, is an important meal. Eating light and nutrient-dense meals usually boosts energy and focus; while eating a carb-riddled meal, you swipe at any given fast-food restaurant may leave you feeling dull and lethargic.
Instead, pack a lunch brimming with healthy fats and proteins to fuel your physical and cognitive performance. Tote a large salad with dark leafy greens, fatty nuts and seeds, and crisp cucumbers with a zesty dressing for a terrific lunch option in a bowl.
Couple a keto wrap and a cup of hearty soup for a soothing and satisfying option. Or enjoy a reheated slice of eggplant lasagna or a delicious casserole as a one-stop selection that will leave you well-fueled and ready to tackle the rest of the day. The key is to keep the process convenient and the recipes simple and delicious, to keep you committed to brown-bagging it for the long haul.
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