Of all the things that I thought could have derailed my diet, a pandemic wasn’t one of them. Yet, here we are.
For those of you who maintained your keto diets during the lockdowns, you guys are rock stars. But, I think most people following any form of special diet probably had a hard time over the past months. Between gyms closing, food supply issues, and all the added stress, this pandemic has cost me a 20lb weight gain from February through June. That’s about 5lbs a month, or 1.25lbs a week. You don’t notice it at first. But, it creeps up.
I needed to think differently and change up how I keto. It took about six weeks to figure out, but I came up with a plan that worked for me and would insulate me from potential food chain supply issues. Since August, I have lost 15lbs of my pandemic weight gain, and it feels amazing to be back on track.
Failure to Plan Is Planning to Fail
Some of you may know, I’ve been a prepper for over a decade. I have loads of gorgeous jars of home-canned foods put away for my family. They come in handy whether there’s a power outage or if I’m just feeling lazy some weeknight. While my kids devour my home-canned sweet & sour pork over rice, I would still have to cook something for myself.
See, in an emergency, unless you have an actual food allergy, fed is always going to be better than unfed. So, on those occasions where I couldn’t get the preferred keto ingredient I needed, I would often just eat the same meal as my family. And before anyone asks why I don’t have my whole family eating keto, I’m not a one-diet-fits-all kind of person.
In the middle of supply chain issues, I came to a fast realization: I could only eat about 1/2 of my food storage and still eat keto. I failed to apply my prepper skills to my new way of eating. Hence, the twenty extra pounds.
I learned my lesson, and I won’t get caught unprepared again. In anticipation of increasing food shortages and stricter lockdowns over the cold and flu season, I have made some changes to how I stay in ketosis.
Staying keto during a pandemic is going to take a whole new plan and mindset. It requires planning and preparation. I’m talking about long-term keto food storage.
A Prepper’s Keto Food Storage
Keto food storage is going to look different than the typical prepper’s pantry. We will not have large stores of the typical prepper staples. These are usually grains, sugar, beans, powdered dairy and other powdered and dehydrated items.
Instead, keto food storage will be heavy in shelf-stable fats, meats (frozen, canned, and dehydrated), nuts and seeds, boxes of non-dairy milks, shelf-stable keto baking mixes, egg powder, and some low carb produce (frozen, canned, and dehydrated). My keto food storage is a mix of freezer storage, pantry items, and grow-at-home options.
One of the most frustrating aspects of COVID-19 is the lack of certain foods keto-dieters depend upon. The gaps in our food supply chain have been felt from the local grocery store to Amazon.
You can bypass this with switching to locally-produced food. In most areas, you can find local farm stands, CSA farms, and farmers markets. If you have a backyard, a balcony, a sunny window, or indoor grow lights, you can grow some of your produce.
One of the first things I did at the start of this pandemic was to place my yearly order for a cow. I get a cow for my freezer each year that is raised at a local farm and butchered on site. This year, I also ordered chickens and pork.
Buying meat this way is a large upfront expense, especially if you need to buy a storage freezer. But, you get better meat and it costs less than buying meat at the grocery store all year long.
If buying an entire cow is outside of your budget, it is still worth the investment in a storage freezer. You can still store good deals on bulk meat from wholesale clubs, local farms, and when meat at your regular store goes on sale. You can also stock up on low carb veggies and berries.
At the start of the COVID-19 pandemic, storage freezers were sold out. I am lucky in that I already had a large storage freezer. If I didn’t have one already, I would consider getting one now, even a smaller one, in case they sell out again this winter.
Here are some of the things I store in my freezer:
- Brussel sprouts
- Avocado puree with lemon (very smooth guacamole)
- Bones from meat eaten for making stock
- Bone stock (frozen in ice cube trays, then transferred to freezer bags_
Pantry storage should include a variety of canned goods, baking supplies, and bulk dry goods. You may also find pre-made mixes and shelf-stable convenience items.
Here are some of the items that I have added or increased in my section of my prepper pantry.
- Shelf-Stable Protein
- Shelf-Stable Misc
- Homemade sauerkraut (or you can get canned)
- Pickles (homemade, or store-bought without sugar)
- Non-Dairy Milk/Cream
- Seeds, Nuts, Flours
- Powdered Eggs
- Keto Cereal/Granola
- Xanthan gum
- Coconut aminos
- Hot sauce
- Herbs & spices
- Sea salt with seaweed
- Avocado mayo
- Avocado oil
- Olive oil
- Coconut oil
- MCT oil
- Cauliflower rice- dehydrated
About that last item… you can easily buy dehydrated vegetables. However, I have a dehydrator and have been experimenting with making dehydrated cauliflower rice. For this, I rice up a head of cauliflower, roast it on a sheet of parchment at 400°F for 15 minutes. Then, I run the cauliflower rice through my dehydrator at 135°F for 6-8 hours. Store in mason jars with oxygen absorbers or freezer storage bags with as much air removed as possible. This allows you to store a lot of cauliflower rice in a small space.
You can also add a ton of keto baking mixes, like brownies, rolls, and hot breakfast porridges. These are comfort foods, and not exactly necessary for a keto diet. However, these are stressful times. People are looking for a bit of normalcy and something to boost their mood. Comfort foods can bring that taste of normalcy to the table.
Food storage is a wonderful thing. However, I prefer to eat fresh whenever possible. Normally, I would have planted a fall/winter garden outside with cold frames on top. But, the wood for my raised beds has been in the ground a while and is pretty beat up. They will be rebuilt for the spring.
For this fall and winter, however, I’m trying something different: growing indoors. I’ll be setting up some grow lights and timers in my basement. My indoor garden will include kale, swiss chard, lettuce, chives, radishes, and maybe pickling cucumbers. Other options might include dwarf lemon trees and other fruit bearing plants that can be grown potted indoors.
It would also be a great idea to start researching how to raise your own chickens, ducks, and rabbits.
Do Not Get Caught Without a Stocked Pantry Again
This is a stressful time for our country on multiple levels. Without getting into any political discussion, COVID-19 has resulted in numerous restrictions to our activities, as well as supply chain issues. It’s enough to wear on anyone’s patience. And, we’re hitting a point where people are feeling pandemic fatigue.
Having your own food storage can help mitigate some of the pandemic-related stress. Here are three benefits to having keto food stored up at home:
- Not having to wait in a line around the store because only so many people can be inside at one time.
- Not having to worry about supply chain issues.
- Not having to potentially expose yourself, or your family, to COVID-19 just to go to the store.
Building Your Own Pantry
Your pantry and food storage will look different than mine. You may really want a certain creamer or maybe you loathe chia pudding. Use my lists as a jumping off point, not a hard fast rule.
Your budget will dictate a lot of what you buy and how much you buy. Also, building up food storage to last several months can be daunting at first. I suggest making a one- week meal plan based on these foods. Then, each week, pick 2-3 items to stock up on. If you have the option of stocking up on bulk items, do so.
Look for any sales on these items, and get those first. Also look to see which items are selling out. Stock up on those, or find an alternative that works for you to stock up on. Those alternatives will likely sell out next.
Keep your pantry items somewhere cool, dark, and dry. Try to remove as much air as possible before storing. Air, light, heat, and moisture will destroy your precious food storage.
You may wish to invest in some canning, dehydrating, and vacuum sealing equipment. Vacuum sealing saves food from freezer burn. Dehydrating can save a lot of food in a small space. And pressure canning allows you to have beautiful jars of homemade stock, soups, and chili at the ready.
Have you managed to stay on your keto plan during COVID-19? How have the restrictions and shortages impacted you and your household? Would you like keto recipes based on keto food storage items? Let me know in the comments.