Your First Week of Keto
An easy and nutritious meal plan for one, or many
“I want to go full keto, but I don’t know what to eat?”
Senza’s coaching team answers this question in one form or another many times a day. Last month, we set out to prove that preparing a week of keto-friendly meals can be easy, straightforward, and (wait for it) - fun!
For inspiration, we looked back at five years of Senza logging trends to find the most popular foods among users who’ve made progress toward their goals. We also reflected on our own personal journeys, and the kinds of meals we like to make for ourselves and our families.
Next, we outlined the following criteria for success:
- Keep it simple: The flow of the week allows for minimal prep/cooking time and takes advantage of batch-cooking techniques. By conserving time in the kitchen, you’ll be in a good place to enjoy the start of your keto journey.
- Introduce nutrient-dense foods: We recommend considering food quality right from the start. The variety of healthy proteins and fats we selected will keep you satiated and energized as you make the transition to ketosis.
- Plan for substitutions: Our coaches incorporated broadly appealing flavors that can be modified to suit personal tastes.
- Make it budget-friendly: A focus on economical cuts of meat and avoiding unusual and expensive ingredients help to keep the costs in line with typical food spend.
Designed for the keto beginner, this keto meal plan is a basic set of low-carb dishes that just about anyone can make. Below, you’ll find a shopping list, food quality recommendations, practical substitutions, and cost estimates from a range of stores near us. If you decide to give it a try, download the printable shopping list to take along to the store.
Macros & Serving Sizes
Each day’s meals add up to less than 20 grams of net carbs to keep you in ketosis, while allowing for some optional snacks. The amounts of protein and fat should be adjusted based on your individual macro settings. You can add snacks from our Practical Keto Snacks post to round out your nutrition for the day, just be sure to log them accurately.
Remember that protein is the only macronutrient target that you want to meet or exceed each day because it maintains existing muscle. If you need more protein than the meal plan suggests, increase the amount of eggs, meat or seafood with each meal, or add a higher-protein snack to boost your intake.
Senza's recommended carb, fat and calorie settings are upper limits, and there’s no need to “hit” those levels. Stay below 25NC to maintain ketosis and have enough dietary fat to feel full.
The Senza Food Journal makes it easy to fine-tune this plan for your personal macro settings. You can pre-log the meals for a future day and use the slider to adjust the amounts until the Macro Bar is in line with your nutritional needs. For a tutorial on using the journal to plan meals ahead, watch the video below, or read our post, Senza FAQs for the Keto Beginner.
11 Recipes for Your First Week of Keto
|Sunday||Fried Eggs, Sausage & Avocado||Curry Chicken Salad*||Easiest Ground Beef Tacos||
Fried Eggs, Sausage & Avocado
Curry Chicken Salad
Easiest Ground Beef Tacos
|Tuesday||Keto Collagen Smoothie*||
Curry Chicken Salad
Easiest Ground Beef Tacos & Homemade Spicy Guacamole*
|Wednesday||Keto Collagen Smoothie||
Keto Plate for One,
Turkey & Swiss
Sheet Pan Salmon & Veggies
|Thursday||Pesto Egg Scramble||
Sheet Pan Salmon & Veggies
Baja Style Carnitas with
Sheet Pan Veggies*
|Friday||Pesto Egg Scramble||
Keto Plate for One, Turkey & Swiss
Baja Style Carnitas with Sheet Pan Veggies
|Saturday||Morning Keto Mocha*||
Pulled Pork Salad
* Recipe Notes
Curry Chicken Salad: This recipe calls for cashews, which we've replaced with pecans, for slightly lower NCs and a shorter ingredient list. It also suggests wrapping with collard greens, but any large-leaf lettuce works just as well. You can roast or poach a whole chicken in advance or buy a pre-cooked rotisserie chicken to save time.
Ground Beef Tacos: Toppings such as sour cream and shredded cheese are optional with the taco recipe and should be logged separately in your journal. We've included Homemade Spicy Guacamole in the nutrition plan for Tuesday specifically, to keep the fat intake in line with other days.
Keto Collagen Smoothie: For an easy way to increase protein, add a second packet of collagen powder to the blender. The extra smoothie serving may separate in the fridge overnight but can easily be re-blended for the second morning's serving.
Baja-Style Carnitas: This meal calls for having sheet pan veggies on the side, which are prepared ahead of time with the previous night's salmon dinner. A serving size is approximately 6 oz of the cooked pork. If you cook a larger size pork shoulder, remember you can always freeze the leftovers for an easy future meal.
Morning Keto Mocha: This recipe calls for cacao butter, but we've suggested replacing that with butter, ghee, or coconut oil to keep the costs down.
Take Your Electrolytes
It's important to supplement sodium, potassium, and magnesium daily during the transition to ketosis. We recommend choosing an all-in-one brand formulated for keto, such as Keto Vitals, Redmond Re-lyte, or Ultima Replenisher. Or you can take each mineral separately. See Section 1 of Senza FAQs for the Keto Beginner for more info about electrolyte replenishment strategies.
Weekend Meal Prep
- Print/view the shopping list and note any items you have already.
- Shop for the ingredients you need.
- Cook the chicken, unless you buy pre-cooked. Season whole chicken with salt and pepper and roast at 425 until thigh meat reaches 165 degrees. Alternatively, our recipe for Poached Whole Chicken & Stock makes a flavorful broth that you can freeze for future keto meals. Shred cooked meat and refrigerate for the curry chicken salad recipe.
- Search for all recipes in the Senza Recipe Box and save them as Favorites by tapping the heart icon. Later, you’ll be able to find them under the Main Menu/My Food.
- Make the Curry Chicken Salad and save leftovers for Monday/Tuesday.
- Cook ground beef for tacos, and save leftovers for Monday/Tuesday.
Mid-Week Meal Prep
- Chop cauliflower, mushrooms, bell pepper, and onion. You should have about four cups total: two cups for Sheet Pan Salmon & Veggies for Wednesday dinner and Thursday lunch; and an extra two cups to serve with Baja Carnitas for Thursday and Friday dinners.
- In the morning, place the pork shoulder in a crock pot, Dutch oven or Instant Pot, following recipe directions. Slow-cook during the day, (or pressure cook closer to your meal time) and enjoy for dinner. Save leftovers for Friday dinner and Saturday lunch.
Create a meal with any ingredients or portions that are left in the fridge. Make sure to include a protein source equivalent to 25-35g protein, and some optional veggies. For example, you could have leftover pulled pork and two hard boiled eggs served with baby spinach and avocado. Log your leftovers separately to get a complete picture of your nutrition for the day.
Your Keto Food Shopping List
- Salmon - 8-12 oz
- Ground beef - 2 lbs
- Pork shoulder - 2-3 lbs
- Whole chicken - 3-4 lbs (or 1 cooked rotisserie chicken, or 2 cups pre-cooked and shredded chicken)
- Eggs - 1 dozen large
- Breakfast sausage links - 8 oz
- Deli turkey - 4 oz
- Swiss cheese - 4 oz
- Butter - 2 sticks
- Plain Greek yogurt, full-fat - 1 small container (5 oz)
- Sour cream and/or shredded cheese for tacos
- Cream for coffee
- Pecans - 6 oz (or sub sliced almonds, pepitas, or cashews)
- Almond butter - 1 oz (or sub other nut/seed butter, unsweetened)
- Optional: Hemp seeds or cacao nibs (for smoothie topping) - 1 tbsp
- Cauliflower - 1 large head
- Cremini mushrooms - 8 oz
- Yellow onion - 1 medium
- Bell peppers - 2 large
- Romaine, iceberg, or butter lettuce - 1 large head (or 1 bunch collard greens, for wrapping tacos and chicken salad)
- Baby spinach - 5 oz or 1 bunch
- Spring mix baby lettuce blend - 5 oz
- Chives - 1 small bunch (or sub dried)
- Cilantro - 1 bunch
- Avocados - 3 medium or large
- Granny smith (green) apple - 1 small
- Blackberries - 1/2 pint fresh or 1 bag frozen (10 oz)
- Lemon - 1 whole
- Limes - 2 whole
- Orange - 1 whole
- Mayonnaise - avocado oil or olive oil base - 1 jar, or homemade
- Coconut milk, full-fat, unsweetened - 1 can (14.5 oz)
- Collagen powder - 1-2 Tbsp or 1-2 single-serve packets (12g each)
- Cacao powder - 1-2 Tbsp
- Olive oil or avocado oil - 1/4 cup
- Coconut oil
- Curry powder - 2 tsp
- Taco seasoning - 2 packets
- Sea salt, such as Redmond Real Salt
- Black pepper
- Pesto - 1 small container or jar
If this meal plan appeals to you, download the printable shopping list to take along to the store.
Food Quality Considerations
Whenever possible, try to purchase ingredients that are free of residual pesticides, toxins, and additives. These chemicals cause inflammation that can interfere with the benefits of ketosis.
Meat & Seafood: Look for wild-caught salmon, 100% grass-fed and grass-finished beef, and pasture-raised chickens/eggs; deli turkey, bacon, and sausage should be free of added nitrates and sugar.
Dairy: Butter, cream, and cheese ideally should come from 100% grass-fed cows raised entirely on pasture. When purchasing heavy cream, avoid emulsifiers such as carrageenan, gums, and polysorbate 80.
Nuts/Seeds: Whenever possible, choose brands that are grown without sprays. Raw, sprouted, and unsalted are preferred (so you can add your own high-quality sea salt).
Produce: Look for local options that are grown without the use of sprays. For many small farms, the process of getting certified as "USDA Organic" is cost prohibitive. Don't hesitate to ask local growers about their farming methods, so you can decide.
Pantry Items: The most problematic ingredients to avoid while purchasing pre-made pantry items include:
- Vegetable oils (always avoid corn, canola, soy, safflower, and sunflower oil) - opt for avocado, coconut or olive oil instead.
- Artificial sweeteners (avoid aspartame, sucralose, maltitol, acesulfame k) - choose stevia, monk fruit or erythritol.
- Preservatives/additives (avoid polysorbate, sodium benzoate, citric acid, guar gum, MSG, maltodextrin) - fresh food doesn't require any of these chemicals!
What does keto food cost?
We are gathering estimated costs from a range of grocery stores, to give you an idea of what to budget for this meal plan. These estimates assume buying the smallest available size of each item, and that you have none of the ingredients on hand. The actual cost likely will be lower when you factor in the items that are already in your pantry, as well as discounted pricing for larger sizes of staples.
- Mainstream supermarket chain, mostly conventional ingredients: $120-$130
- Specialty market, mostly organic and grass-fed/wild-caught ingredients: $160-$175
- Farm stand direct with Planet Keto bundle: Coming soon!
Ready to begin?
Download the printable shopping list and then start adding these keto recipes to your Senza Food Journal and adjusting the amounts to fit your macros. If you get stuck, you can always ask a coach for help in the app.
Keep calm, and keto on!
See more free keto meal plans, from our 2020 Keto-in-Place series.
Content provided by Senza is not medical advice. It is intended for informational and educational purposes only.