Easy Low Carb, Keto Friendly Lunch Ideas
Easy Low Carb, Keto Friendly Lunch Ideas - Fast Food, For Work & More
Lindsay Malone MS, RDN, CSO, LD
12 - 14 MIN.
IN THIS ARTICLE
- No-Cook Keto Lunch Ideas
- Keto Lunch Ideas for Kids
- Keto Lunch Meal Prep Ideas
- Cheap Keto Lunch Ideas for Work
The Ultimate Guide To Keto Lunch Ideas
Lunch may be the most difficult meal to get right on keto - that pile of sub sandwiches on the break room table at work make it sooooo tempting to throw everything away and give into your cravings. Or what about those days when you forget your keto lunch and you feel doomed - what are you going to do now? Or what if you bring a lunch that is so lackluster it doesn’t feel worth eating, or you are at home for lunch and you open the cupboards to find them bare? All of these scenarios can be pretty soul-crushing and can easily deter you from a positive keto lunch experience. So, how do you enjoy lunch on keto? The key is good preparation and knowing all of your options. Grab your grocery list (and order your HighKey Keto snacks to keep in your handbag or in your desk as your back up!), as we’re about to share a ton of great keto lunch ideas.
Keto Lunch FAQs
Lunchtime for those new to the keto lifestyle, can involve a sharp learning curve. Either you’re home for lunch, which has the bonus of being able to cook whatever you like, but the downside of having all the best snacks, or you’re out and about for a business lunch and it can get complicated fast.
To help, here are the answers to some of the most common questions we get about eating lunch on keto.
Is Lunch Meat OK on Keto?
Yes! Luckily for you, the deli counter is one of the few places you can get a great choice of things to eat at lunchtime. Whether it’s chicken, ham, beef, turkey, or something a little more exotic, you should be good to go. Just beware of what you choose though because some processed deli meats contain added sugar. Honey roasted ham, for example, is a no-go, stick to things that are plain, smoked, or are lightly seasoned. So if you’re stuck on what to eat for lunch you could nibble on slices of lunch meat to satisfy your cravings, and even better would be to add it to a simple salad (not pre-dressed) with your favorite keto-friendly salad dressing.
What Can I Eat for Lunch with No Carbs?
Remember, lunch doesn’t have to revolve around sandwiches, chips, pasta, and other carbs. It’s super easy to stick to salads and veggies and avoid that danger zone altogether! Following a Keto diet doesn’t mean lunch can’t be enjoyable - you just need to move away from the traditional way of thinking. Once you think of lettuce and spinach as your base instead of bread, you’ll be set up for keto lunch success.
Of course, even if you don’t like salads, (though that is usually because you’re doing them wrong!) there are plenty of great keto options available - just scroll down to see some of our recipe suggestions. Try frittatas, bacon-wrapped asparagus, hard-boiled eggs, last night’s leftovers - you really have got a lot of choices!
How Can I Get Cheap Keto for Lunch?
Eating a keto diet doesn’t have to be expensive! You just need to work out what you like to eat that’s on the cheaper side and start finding easy keto lunch ideas based on those ingredients. Your best bet in the beginning might be to stick to making your own lunches whenever possible and be prepared to do a little keto lunch prep so you aren’t rushing out to the store hungry, and grabbing whatever spendy ingredient catches your eye.
It’s always a good idea to shoot for high quality meats you can afford. If you are looking to save a few bucks you can buy meat in bulk and freeze it into the portions you will need for one recipe. Or you can buy a big bag of frozen chicken breasts which are much less expensive than buying fresh. Some people even get savvy enough to start timing grocery store trips to coincide with when they reduce the cost of products that are going out of date. These dates are always early and if you can get meat that goes “out of date” that same day, you can throw it all in the freezer. When you defrost it to make yourself a keto friendly dinner, be sure to make enough so that you have leftovers for your cheap and easy keto lunch the next day!
Similarly, if you can make good friends with someone who works in a grocery store, they may be able to get these products even cheaper - or for free - at the end of the day, depending on the store where they work. And hey, not only do you get to eat for cheaper, but you’re actually doing your part for the planet! (There are new apps and programs coming out all the time to help tackle food waste, so it’s a good idea to be an early adopter of those if you’re looking to follow keto on the cheap.)
If you buy veggies when they’re in season they’ll be even cheaper because they aren’t being imported from the other side of the world, and of course, the less processed the less expensive. For example, buying a head of Romaine lettuce is less expensive than buying a bag of pre-washed and cut lettuce, same goes for carrots etc.
Eggs are one of the cheapest ways to get a ton of great nutrition. Plus, you’ll never get bored – fried, poached, scrambled, in an omelet or frittata, you can eat eggs for lunch every day and have something different each time. Hard-boiled eggs are a cheap and easy to pack keto lunch idea.
Keto Fast Food Lunch Ideas
Okay - don’t panic, there are ways to eat fast food in a keto-friendly way. If you’ve come here in a mad panic looking for low carb keto lunch ideas you can find right now, we’re here to help. We’ve covered some great grocery store solutions above (just grab cold cuts and a salad!), now we’ll cover fast food options, and below you’ll find eating out options.
There will always be times when you’re out and about and you just need hot food now. Whether you’re on a family trip and don’t want to be a burden, or have three options to stop at on your way home late at night, you can eat fast food on keto. To see our full guide, click here to see the best keto fast food options for when you’re on the road.
At Subway, you can order your sub “in a tub” rather than on bread, and stick to simple low carb dressings. You can have a Chipotle bowl loaded with lettuce, meat or vegetables and guacamole. At a burger place, you can simply order a burger without the bun with extra lettuce to wrap it in andadd cheese, bacon, onions, and tomatoes. Always choose grilled chicken rather than fried - there shouldn’t be any breaded chicken passing between your lips! Sometimes eating fast food in a keto-friendly way gets messy, but it is pretty easy to find keto lunch ideas at most fast food outlets.
Keto Lunch Ideas for Eating Out
Unless you’ve managed to land yourself a keto-friendly restaurant in your local area, you are going to have to be that guy or gal who customizes their order to the letter. Sorry, but unless you’re eating at a restaurant that has a serve-yourself salad bar, you’re going to have to customize your order.
Many restaurants have low carb items or designated keto friendly choices, or will be happy to modify their meals for you. Worst case scenario, is you can always tell them you’re allergic to most of the carb laden items on their menu and they’ll bend over backward to make sure you don’t blow up like a pufferfish in their restaurant. Sometimes needs-must, people!
Here are some low carb lunch ideas for eating out:
- Order steak and ask for extra veggies instead of potatoes and remove any extra dressings - though most blue cheese dressing is okay or simply ask for oil & vinegar
- Order a burger without the bun on a bed of lettuce
- Order any chicken and cheese dish without potatoes and replace with extra veggies or a salad
- Stick to meat-and veggie meals like stuffed peppers and ask them to remove any rice
- Opt for unbreaded grilled fish with a side of veggies or on a salad
- At the taqueria or Mexican food restaurant, opt for taco salad in a bowl (sorry, no giant friend shell) top with your choice of meat, grilled veggies, cheese, lettuce, salsa and guacamole. Yummy!
What Restaurants Can I Eat at on Keto?
If you’re planning a lunch outing there are many restaurants that have introduced options specifically for keto dieters, and there are also certain types of cuisine you might want to avoid to make it easier on yourself when you’re customizing your order.
When searching for a type of restaurant for your keto luncheon, you might be most challenged with Indian, Italian, and Asian menus, though of course this all depends on the individual restaurant.
Indian sauces often use corn flour as thickener and serve their curries almost exclusively with naan bread or rice. Authentic Italian restaurants may have a few suitable seafood and vegetable options, but you’ll have to wade through all the pasta and pizza first - that may just be too tempting.
Some Asian foods use a lot of oil and are typically served with noodles and rice, so you’ll need to be careful about the dishes you select - Korean will likely be the easiest. Of course, Mexican will be hit and miss, depending on if they have any options that don’t include rice or heavy sauces. Take home point is you are the customer and most places will happily accommodate special dietary needs, and they might even have some good low carb keto lunch ideas, don’t be afraid to ask!
Here are some of the best keto-friendly restaurants and their menu ideas:
What Can I Eat on Keto at Olive Garden?
Despite being an Italian food restaurant, there are options that are fairly keto-friendly or can be easily made low-carb - just don’t touch those breadsticks! Opt for grilled salmon with garlic butter or parmesan-crusted zucchini.
What Can I Eat on Keto at Chili’s?
At Chili’s, you can get fajitas without tortillas or toppings, with a double order of vegetables or the house BBQ ribs without sauce.
What Can I Eat on Keto at Buffalo Wild Wings?
At Buffalo Wild Wings you can customize your sauces choose dry seasonings, and they have nutritional guides to help you choose low carb options.
What Can I Eat on Keto at The Cheesecake Factory?
Unfortunately, not cheesecake! Somewhat ironically, The Cheesecake Factory is a fantastic keto-friendly restaurant with several things to choose from on the menu, especially if you like seafood. The Cheesecake Factory is pretty upfront about what’s in their food, so you can look up exactly what’s in their meals before you order.
What Can I Eat on Keto at Red Robin?
Red Robin serves “Wedgie Burgers” with lettuce instead of a bun and delicious fillings, which is ideal for those on keto, though the name is perhaps a little unappetizing!
Keto Lunch Ideas
Right, so now that we’ve worked up an appetite thinking about all the food we can order at restaurants, we can get into recipes to make at home. While not as convenient, any food you make for yourself at home is going to be much better on the carb intake than anything you’ll find in a restaurant, so it’s worth making your own even if you have the budget to eat out most days.
Here are some of the best low carb lunch ideas out there:
Ah, ramen! Warming and comforting. The only thing wrong with traditional ramen is the high carb noodles! Fortunately, we’ve found a couple of great keto ramen recipes to eat instead.
Keto Ramen Beef and Shiitake Mushrooms
Whether you’re trying ramen for the first time or simply looking for a way to continue eating one of your favorite comfort foods, this Keto Ramen Beef and Shiitake Mushroom recipe will absolutely hit the spot. It’s fast, easy to make, looks just like normal ramen (sans the noodles, of course) and nets just 7g of carbs. Yum!
Easy Keto Chicken Ramen
Have you ever heard of carb-free noodles? Surely that’s a myth… Nope - they’re actually called Shirataki noodles and they are extremely low carb - think like 2g of carbs a serving, depending on the brand you use. While they’ve been difficult to find in the past, brands are bringing them to our grocery store shelves, so if you’ve got a pang for a noodle and you’re willing to pay for it (they’re typically $4-5 for 1-2 servings) these are great.
That’s what this delicious Keto Chicken Ramen recipe uses to make it completely authentic. You’ll get hot, chickeny goodness complete with egg and noodles. What more could you ask for?
Burgers are the perfect keto lunch, easy to make, quick to cook and so flavorful. They’re practically carbohydrate-free, you can re-heat them at work, or simply eat them cold. Here are two great recipes:
Bacon Cheeseburger with Fried Egg
This Bacon Cheeseburger with Fried Egg recipe is so good you’ll think it’s bad for you. (It’s not!) Mind you, that’s pretty much the way all HighKey products and recipes are! In just 30 minutes you’ll be in complete heaven. If you’re at work, leave off the fried egg to make it easier to transport, but it’s definitely a must-have ingredient for at home!
Low Carb Cheeseburger
This Low Carb Cheeseburger recipe even includes a bun. I know, how? Using nuts and other alternatives to normal flour. But I won’t lie to you, making these buns won’t be for the faint of heart, or the person who just wants a burger like n-o-w. However, if you’re determined to master the art of low-carb bread and buns so you can eat like a “normal” person, go right ahead. Lucky for keto dieters, with the popularity of going low carb there are now several bread options available that are keto-friendly!
Keto Shrimp Salad
If you like shrimp and other seafood, you’re going to have a much easier time on keto than those who don’t. Or at least, you’ll have a more varied and interesting diet. Here are two delicious shrimp salads you need to try:
Shrimp Salad with Avocado
If you’re looking for a super easy keto lunch you won’t go wrong with this Shrimp Salad with Avocado recipe. Shrimp is low carb and nutrient-dense, so it’s a great way to fuel your body at lunch time to energize the rest of your day! At just 7g net carbs, this is a delicious and fast lunch recipe you could even whip up at the office, provided you’ve got pretty relaxed coworkers!
Shrimp Avocado Salad
“But… Didn’t we…” Look, yes, we just covered a shrimp and avocado recipe, but they’re so good for you that we just had to share this one with you too. This Shrimp Avocado Salad recipe takes things in a Mediterranean direction by adding some tomato (yes, only a little) and feta cheese to your avocado and shrimp. If you have enough shrimp, you can eat these two recipes one day after the other and feel as though you’ve eaten two completely different meals.
Cauliflower Rice and Egg Salad
Honestly, where would we be without cauliflower rice? It makes keto lunch ideas so much easier and is so simple to make. Sorry, you say you don’t like cauliflower? Don’t worry, even cauliflower haters will love these two recipes!
Cauliflower Fried Rice
Dreaming of heading out for Chinese or Korean takeout? Wait - this recipe will satisfy all your fried rice cravings. As with any good fried rice recipe, this Cauliflower Fried Rice takes just 25 minutes from start to plate and looks as good as it tastes. Don’t worry if you’ve had some tasteless experiences with cauliflower rice before, this recipe seasons everything beautifully leaving you satisfied and thinking about the next time you can eat it!
Low Carb Mexican Cauliflower Rice
This Low Carb Mexican Cauliflower Rice recipe makes the perfect side dish to your Mexican-style main and is keto, paleo, and even vegan. Add plenty of chilis if you like it spicy and you’ll have a side dish that is literally bursting with flavor.
Keto Shepherd's Pie
There’s literally nothing better on a cold winter’s day than this Keto Shepherd's Pie recipe. It’s warm, filling, and looks incredibly close to the real thing, without a heavy potato topping. It takes a little time to make (50 mins) as does any good Shepherd’s Pie recipe, but feel free to make it in a big batch and freeze it for an easy to reheat keto lunch. This is meaty and cheesy, and you won’t miss the potato at all.
Lasagna Stuffed Portobellos
If you’re looking for the perfect thing to serve with some of the cauliflower rice dishes we talked about above, this is it. These Lasagna Stuffed Portobello Mushrooms are probably the best way to eat portobellos, period, and they make for an easy keto lunch to take with you to work! Super cheesy and flavorful, they’ll bring any simple cauliflower rice dish to life. Plus, if you have vegetarians over for lunch you can take out the sausage and they’ll think this dish is just as delicious.
No Cook Keto Lunch Ideas
If you are looking for an easy keto lunch meal prep that does not require cooking, there are some great no-cook keto lunch ideas you can make to eat cold.
While we’ll provide you with some easy recipes below, you can create no-cook keto lunches yourself simply by eating leftovers cold, using cold cuts in salad or with keto bread (if you’ve got the skill to make it, or you find one you like - see the second cheeseburger recipe above), or use seafood that doesn’t need to be cooked, like canned tuna, shrimp, or salmon. A great no cook option is to make lettuce wraps, like these Mediterranean Roll-ups which are a super easy keto lunch combining feta cheese spread, kalamata olives and red onion, topped with prosciutto and salami and wrapped in a crunchy Romaine leaf, it doesn’t get much simpler or delicious than this no-cook recipe!
Chicken Salad with Avocado
This Chicken Salad with Avocado recipe is the perfect summer or take-to-work salad recipe. It’s colorful, it’s delicious, and you can eat it right out of your Tupperware with a fork in the cafeteria or even at your desk. All the ingredients are incredibly nutritious and taste great. While this recipe calls for half an avocado on the side, mashing it all up into simple homemade guacamole and using it as a dressing for the salad sounds even more delicious - but it depends how you like your avocado!
Keto Salmon Salad
This Keto Salmon Salad recipe is simple, delicious, and filling. Again, this would be beautiful with some squeezed lemon used all over as a dressing, and it looks as healthy as it really is. It’s the perfect salad to eat in the office where, let’s be honest, it’s fun to show everyone else up with how healthy your lunch is - especially if you really enjoy it!
Keto Lunch Ideas for Kids
Sometimes you’ve got to feed the little ones at the same time as you feed yourself, and it is so much easier when you just make one meal for everyone. It’s no fun (not to mention tempting) when you make sandwiches or mac-n-cheese for your kids and then you have to make a healthy keto meal of your own. Instead, make keto-friendly lunches your kids will enjoy just as much as you will.
Everybody, adults and kids alike, love a warming chili, and this chili is just that. This Keto Chili recipe uses grass-fed beef that is high in omega-3, and vitamins A and E, and seasoned with traditional chili spices, tomatoes, onions and cheese, for the perfect chili. While the type of beef you use is up to you, we always recommend getting the very best you can afford and grass-fed is a great option! This recipe makes enough for 8 servings and, with only 8g of carbs, this is sure to be a keto recipe that you and your children will love.
Yes, you did read that correctly. Mac-n-Cheese is always a kid favorite and this recipe is no exception! Shirataki noodles combined with a rich and cheesy (of course) sauce create the ultimate low carb keto friendly lunch that will have you and your kids reaching for a second helping and/or putting aside extra to take for lunch the next day!
Bet you never thought you would never be able to have pizza again when you started a keto diet, right? Well, think again! This DIY Keto Pizza recipe uses a dough made from almond flour, egg, and melted cheese to create a keto-friendly base that can then be simply topped with whatever (keto) ingredients you like. It’s a great recipe to make with the kids and they will love eating it!
Keto Pull-Apart Pizza Bread
Yes, we just covered pizza, but this recipe was too good not to share. There is not a kid on the planet who would not be more than happy to eat their share of this Keto Pull-Apart Pizza Bread, so the only problem you’ll have here are squabbles over the last piece! (It’s okay if you keep it for yourself, right? You are the adult after all…)
Keto Lunch Meal Prep Ideas
Meal prepping on keto doesn’t need to be complicated or difficult - some find it easiest to schedule a couple hours a week perhaps on a Sunday to get ready for the week and then maybe again on a Wednesday so your food is fresh all week. You can prepare a couple of one dish meals like chili in the crock pot or hearty soups, that can be easily portioned out or even frozen for when you are ready to use. Or you can prep your protein, for example if you roast a chicken or barbeque a bunch of steak on Sunday you can chop it up and use it on salads, make a chicken salad to wrap in lettuce, or use it in other recipes you’ve planned for the week ahead. You can also freeze your prepped proteins, and simply take it out of the freezer on the way to work so it is ready to put on your salad at lunch time! .
Here are some great keto lunch meal prep recipes that you can make ahead:
- Easy Keto Egg Salad - this delicious, creamy and protein packed egg salad tastes as good as it looks, and travels well for an easy on the go keto lunch that you can make ahead.
- Keto Pan Chicken and Rainbow Veggies - if you’re sick of pale-colored foods, this pan chicken and rainbow veggie recipe is sure to brighten things up!
- Bang Bang (Shrimp) Zucchini Noodles - this Bang Bang Noodles recipe makes a nice change to the standard chicken breast and broccoli or cauliflower meal prep ideas we usually see.
- Chicken Fajitas - while maybe not as authentic as real fajitas, these Chicken Fajitas are so close you won’t miss the tortilla at all!
- Low Carb Caprese Chicken Salad - this recipe is super simple to make ahead for a very satisfying lunch, you can eat it on its own, make a lettuce wrap, or use it as a salad topper.
Cheap Keto Lunch Ideas for Work
There are a ton of great keto lunch ideas above that will easily travel to work with you, so experiment a little and see what recipes you like best. Meal prep recipes are designed to be ready to eat whenever you are, so those recipes are great options for taking on the go. (We also have a great article for eating Keto on the Go, so be sure to check that out!)
Here are a couple more easy go-to keto lunch ideas for work:
Easy Egg Wraps
These Low-Carb Easy Egg Wraps are a great alternative to traditional wheat tortillas and more exciting! Eggs are full of vitamins and minerals, and high in protein (one egg has 6 grams of protein and healthy fats!), and when you fill them with ingredients like turkey and avocado make for an especially delicious, keto-friendly lunch. Definitely experiment with these by adding your favorite ingredients!
Italian Chicken Bowl
This Easy Italian Chicken Bowl is full of yummy stuff in bite-sized pieces and is absolutely perfect as a healthy option for work lunches. It can be prepped on Sunday ready for the week as it will keep in the fridge for 3-4 days, but it is so tasty it wouldn’t last longer than that anyway! This recipe allows you to swap out the vegetables for whatever you like, so you can’t go wrong!
With so many delicious keto lunch options you really won’t be able to go wrong! If you’re prepping lunches to take to work, don’t forget to grab some HighKey snacks to keep in your bag or in your desk for those I-need-food-now emergencies!
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Lindsay Malone, MS, RDN, CSO, LD
Lindsay Malone is a Functional and Integrative Medicine dietitian empowering individuals to take charge of their health with evidenced-based nutrition information.