Six ways to stay low carb when you don’t want to cook

Six ways to stay low carb or keto when you don’t want to cook

How do you stay low carb or keto when you don’t want to cook? What do you do when you come home late, tired, or you’re simply unprepared?

Below, find our best ideas for how to stay low carb when you don’t feel like cooking at all or don’t have much time to cook.

1. Drink tea or coffee

A soothing cup of tea or coffee may be just enough to curb your appetite, especially if you add some heavy cream or melted butter.1 This may take you to your next planned meal, with no cooking.


2. Eat low-carb snacks

Fill your pantry and fridge with low-carb essentials so you can quickly make a platter with one or more of these low-carb snacks instead of cooking. Be sure to include at least one protein source.

  • Canned fish (tuna, salmon, sardines)
  • Variety of cheeses
  • Deli meat or cold cuts 2
  • Avocado
  • Nuts (Which are the best? Check out our guide.)
  • Frozen berries or other low-carb fruits
  • Cream
  • Pate
  • Beef jerky or pork rinds (with no sugars or wheat)
  • Full-fat yoghurt
  • Olives
  • Mayonnaise
  • Healthy fats – like olive oil – to drizzle over snacks such as mozzarella or veggies


3. Reheat leftovers

Get in the habit of making double or even triple meals and vegetables. Freeze the leftovers. A meal is waiting, ready to reheat, when you don’t want to cook. Leftovers are superb for lunches too. Check out our planned leftovers worksheet for ideas.


4. Do minimal cooking

Boil an egg.3 Fry a steak or buy a hot cooked chicken (without bread stuffing or sweet sauces). Add a bag of salad, a selection of cheeses and homemade mayonnaise. Dinner can be ready in 10 minutes. Get creative with salads and use your low-carb pantry essentials.

You can also use our simple keto plates. Here’s some inspiration:


5. Learn to love your slow cooker

If you know you’ll be home late but have time in the morning (or even the night before), use your slow cooker. Slow cookers are a fabulous way to transform cheaper cuts of meat into satisfying comfort meals. This is easy ‘set and forget’ cooking.

What can you prepare in your slow cooker? Here are some great ideas to cook up:


6. Fast intermittently

Are you really hungry? Learn to understand your appetite and eat only when hungry. This may not be an option for a family but is great for individuals. And there is no faster (pun intended!) or simpler option.

Find out everything you need to know in our complete guide, Intermittent fasting for beginners.



Try to be prepared so you’re not in this position too often: planning meals for the week or even a few days at a time will help a lot. Try to set time aside each evening to cook, or batch cook once a week.

Low-carb recipes
Keto recipes

Please leave a comment below letting us know how you stay low carb when you don’t want to cook.

/ Libby Jenkinson


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More guides

Visual low-carb guides


What are your best tips for how to stay low carb when you don’t want to cook? Please let us know below.

  1. Are you concerned that butter, cream, cheese and other foods foods high in saturated fat are unhealthy? In all likelihood, you don’t need to be.

    Although still considered controversial by some experts, several large systematic reviews of clinical trials have found no evidence that eating foods high in saturated fat increases the risk of heart disease, early death, or other health problems:

    British Medical Journal 2016: Re-evaluation of the traditional diet-heart hypothesis: analysis of recovered data from Minnesota Coronary Experiment (1968-73) [systematic review of randomized trials; strong evidence]

    Nutrition Journal 2017: The effect of replacing saturated fat with mostly n-6 polyunsaturated fat on coronary heart disease; a meta-analysis of randomized controlled trials [strong evidence]

    Learn more: A user guide to saturated fat

  2. Meat is a high-quality source of protein and other essential nutrients. The evidence linking it to heart disease, cancer, and other health issues is very weak: Guide to red meat: is it healthy?

  3. Eggs are an excellent source of protein. Although they’re high in cholesterol, eggs don’t seem to raise cholesterol levels much in most people, and they may even reduce some heart disease risk factors:

    The American Journal of Clinical Nutrition 2018: Effect of a high-egg diet on cardiometabolic risk factors in people with type 2 diabetes: the Diabetes and Egg (DIABEGG) Study—randomized weight-loss and follow-up phase [randomized trial; moderate evidence]

    Nutrients 2017: Consuming two eggs per day, as compared to an oatmeal breakfast, decreases plasma ghrelin while maintaining the LDL/HDL ratio [moderate evidence]

    Current Opinion in Clinical Nutrition and Metabolic Care 2006: Dietary cholesterol provided by eggs and plasma lipoproteins in healthy populations [overview article; ungraded]


  1. Karen SCHMIDT
    Keep cheese curds and jerky at all times...?
  2. Belle
    When my hubby and I are on the go, we always have a triangle of French Brie with us.
    No time to stop for lunch? Just take a vew neatly cut pieces....
  3. Elizabeth
    Chicken broth with butter kills hunger for a few hours.

    Flavor and smooth cream cheese with olive oil, garlic and salt - or any strong flavor you like - and when you're famished, roll it up in hard salami slices, spread it on celery, etc.

    Keep hard-boiled eggs in the fridge to make deviled eggs with extra mayonnaise, or to chop up and add to tuna or green salad.

    Reply: #40
  4. Randal L. Schwartz
    I've eaten 98% of my meals over the three-and-a-half year ketogenic period in restaurants (both fast and slow). I can instantly scan the menu for food that is already LCHF, or how to modify nearly any item with a few modifications (at Wendy's, "a Double Baconator with Cheese minus the Artery Clogging Bun, please!"). And as more people are getting T2D, more restaurants are completely unshocked by such modifications. Give it a try! No cooking!
  5. Tim H
    A half-spoon of butter/lard with some added flavor such as mustard, mayo, Indian pickles. Chase it with a bite of cheese. Repeat.
  6. gnealhou
    My no-cooking food ideas:

    * Keto friendly snacks: olives, almond, macademias, crudite with a mayo or sour cream based dip
    * Once a week, I make oopsie bread. Grab some and make a sandwich.
    * Meal replacements: several websites sell keto friendly protein powders. Search around for your sweetener of choice; I use True Nutrition because they use stevia and let me build a custom blend with protein, fiber, and vitamins. Mix with a little heavy cream, some water, and shake/blend thoroughly.
    * Know the keto friendly restaurants in your area. A few local Chinese places are happy to do "no rice, extra vegetables", and a nearby Thai restaurant will swap out rice for shredded cabbage. Yeah, it's probably got some corn starch and a touch of sugar, but not enough to break my low carb diet.
    * I'm considering this but haven't done it yet: making savory "fat bombs" ahead of time, then consuming throughout the week.

  7. gnealhou
    First, develop easy, keto-friendly options before you reach a "no-cooking" night. If you don't feel like cooking and don't have any easy keto friendly options, the temptation to consume carbs is much higher.

    Second, make sure your keto-friendly options are good enough to have even when you feel like cooking. This reduces food waste and minimizes the temptation to break your diet.

    Finally, make sure to have multiple options including sweet and savory choices. If you only have one option, it will get overused and you'll get tired of it.

  8. Haydon
    Savoury Fat Bomb's I can see the sense in that fasting friendly would be good. Flavours limitless. Any ideas anyone? First million dollars in the making lol.
    Reply: #10
  9. Tracy mansfield
    A delicious avo and raspberry shake with full fat yogurt is very filling and so easy to make
  10. Krystle
    I literally received this book from Amazon in the mail today!! It's called "Sweet and Savory Fat Bombs" by Martina Slajerova. :D There are some AMAZING recipes I'm there, I'm so excited to start making them tomorrow.
  11. Krystle
    I eat out often and I've found it's not very difficult to eat LCHF, even at fast food joints. McDonald's serves their breakfast a la carte; you can buy scrambled or 'egg rounds', sausage and a coffee. Carl's Jr./Hardee's will lettuce wrap any burger you want, including their guacamole and bacon thickburger. Most places are willing to sub a side salad or veggies instead of fries or other carby sides. When everyone else is eating pizza, I order chicken wings or an entree salad (and sometimes steal a piece of pizza or two to eat the cheese and toppings.) When it's Chinese takeout, I get stirfry veggies instead of rice/noodles and the least sauced meat I can find...which is usually bbq pork (extra fatty too!), teriyaki chicken with the sauce on the side, or beef and broccoli. When it's Mexican food, I get a big plate of fajitas and just leave the tortillas to sit all by their lonesome selves. Traditional Italian restaurants are a bit tricky, but I've found pretty tasty entree salads on most menus, just beware of the bread basket! You can definitely make this way of eating a permanent lifestyle, whether you cook or eat out.
  12. Meritxell
    Precisely today I've had to lunch out, at a Viena Restaurant here, in Catalonia. They are very kind and serve your hamburguer "on the plate" (without bun): a salad, "gazpacho" (vegetables cold soup) and a hamburguer with brie cheese, sauteed onion and serrano ham. Terrific!
  13. Mikeypa
    So what do you do when you get to the point where you're not hungry but still WANT to eat... Like for me at this moment it close to lunch I've been fasting since dinner the night before I'm not hungry but WANT to eat something! How can you change that desire? I don't want to WANT food any more! Please help!
    Reply: #39
  14. AlisonB
    Still struggling as a vegetarian. Eggs and cheese can get very boring - and I don't like peppers or mushrooms.
    Reply: #21
  15. LyndaF
    My recommendation would be to look towards Hemp Seed Hearts (mild, nutty flavour & loaded with "complete" protein, 3 tbs has 10 g protein), hemp protein powder, and chia seeds (3tbs has 5 g protein and 11g of the 13g carbs are fibre) for additional protein sources. The Hemp hearts would be good on salad or stir fry, in savoury fat bombs or some sort of "bread", the powder added to smoothies, and the chia seeds make an awesome pudding with heavy cream or coconut milk (I usually put them in some water first to make a thick paste as I've found they don't swell up in fatty liquids so well) and flavoured with cocoa and/or vanilla. Try red chard for colour in stir fries or omelets instead of peppers. Not so much "no cook", but you could prep ahead of time. The occasional (half?) serving of pulses probably wouldn't hurt too much either.
    Reply: #16
  16. AlisonB
    Thank you very much Lynda. A lot of new things for me to look into there. I've never heard of Hemp Seed Hearts and have been unsure about the use of protein powder because it feels like I wouldn't be eating 'real' food. Love the idea of using chia seeds to make a pudding. Just had a quick look online and everything you suggest is available online from a UK site. Thanks again.
  17. Vala
    Now that the weather is getting hot again (Shanghai) I am finding it hard to eat fat. The cheese goes sweaty in no time flat (yukk) and I am scared of mayo plain and simple. Eating in the fridge isn't really a happy affair.
    Also, I‘d like to ask one question regarding sweeteners…what is the rap on erythritol? Tks and Brgds
    Reply: #18
  18. Peter Biörck Team Diet Doctor
    Vala, We recommend avoiding all type of sweeteners at least for daily usage.
  19. Gretha Nichols
    I have found canned salmon and tuna very helpful, with mayo on lettuce; also Harry Ramsden fish and chips restaurant makes a fabulous hamburger with bacon and melted cheese, (no bun please and salad instead of fries) ymmm. But I also find coffee and tea a good substitute.
  20. Chris
    Try one of the many ketogenic meal replacements (Keto Chow, KetoSoy, Keto Fuel, etc...)
  21. ChrisM
    You are welcome to join the (small but growing) facebook group "Vegetarian Keto". You will probably get some more ideas there if you ask!
  22. Jeannette Koh
    My father has gout. Will this diet work for him?
    Reply: #38
  23. Sherry
    I have a friend who does the diet with me. For a couple of meals a week, I buy the ingredients and she prepares the food. Saves her money and saves me time.
  24. Janet
    I have debilitating fatigue and can't do the work of cooking and cleaning up. I can only manage to eat snack type foods for 3 days and then I go off program. I'm also picky and can't stand what I call pig trough eating; Dumping everything into a slow cooker or skillet and cooking it. The sickest people who really need to be on a healthy diet can't manage it and there's no help out there. Even worse, people are hostile because they are lucky enough not to understand the inability for one to have the ability to take care of oneself.
    Reply: #52
  25. Sheila
    Fast-food restaurant s do not use real grass fed beef. Is it grass brought to a cow or is the cattle out in the hills. The fat chains are different.
    Reply: #43
  26. Corinne Vallienne
    I eat avocado with soy sauce or boiled eggs with mayonnaise.
  27. Jaime
    Has anyone ever used protein powder with whole milk to replace a meal, like breakfast daily? If so, can you let me know how it works for you?
  28. Priscilla
    My no-cooking advice - Costco is your friend! All the items below are available at Costco, love it!

    Meal 1 idea -- Grab one of each and head out to work - the meal is done and ready to go! I eat this for lunch over a salad if you like:
    1. Hard-boiled and shelled eggs comes 2x in a pack with 10 packs
    2. Fully cooked bacon - no pre-cooking needed just heat in microwave or eat it cold
    3. Wholly Guacamole in to go pouch sizes
    4. 2x baby bell cheeses

    Meal 2 idea:
    1. Buy mushrooms, asparagus and cabbage and add two tablespoons of butter. Portion these out in raw form to meals sizes. I use a food saver vacuum seal to keep in the fridge for the week. Microwave for 5 mins or so when ready to eat. No cooking.
    2. Costco sells cooked chicken skewers. Combine this with a salad and the veggies you microwave. Top with olive oil, a bit of lemon juice and avocado or your fav salad dressing.

  29. Barbara
    Open a can of sardines or mackerel and whizz up a quick salad to go with it, serve with an olive oil vinaigrette
  30. barbara g
    pickles help me not be hungry and with a lot of sugar cravings
  31. esther
    I'm not too good at cooking can I buy low carb food from any retailers please
    Reply: #51
  32. Dori
    I'm confused. In the 18 Tips, it says women should avoid fruit and all should avoid dairy. Then, in the recipes, I see both used. : (
  33. ellen henke
    I buy things like cottage cheese,sour cream,salsa, cheese sticks which I can put in my purse..hard boiled eggs, olives, celery, romaine lettuce,cream cheese with herbs, coffee, eggs with cheese..
  34. Jackie
    I work 7 days away from home, and all food is prepared by a catering company. I find it hard to keep myself motivated while i am away from home and with maintaining a HF woe so I try and take as much HF products with me. I buy wholly-gucomolli from Walmart and take this with me. Like this product as it is individually packages of one serving. I season my butter and take this with me. I take cans of fish, so I travel with a can opener. Lol I don't usually get hungry for snacks, but I love dessert. So I make different types of fat bombs, cheesecakes, and jams. I truly think that LCHF or Keto is the best way to continue a healthy lifestyle.
  35. Laurie
    In NZ, Watties sell mixed frozen vege servings in microwaveable bags, two to a pack. The low carb ones are under 5g (green, yellow & edamame beans; green beans, snow peas & broccoli; carrot, snow peas & broccoli). I always have plenty of them in the freezer, pop a bag in the microwave for 2 mins, tip them onto a plate, top with a can of sardines or other canned fish or leftover meat or egg, and cover with butter/ olive oil/ dukkah/ mayo/ spices etc to jazz up & add fat. Delicious!
  36. Danielle P.
    I came across a FABULOUS keto tomato soup with Asiago, so easy to make, but it claims 4 servings and uses one cup of heavy cream and 1/4 of a cup of water?? How does one cup and 1/4 of liquid make 4 servings. Help!! It’s such amazing soup. But I’m ready to stop making it, because it amounts to 600 calories per a normal cup.
  37. Janice
    Can you eat Atkins low carb meals/bars/shakes on the ketogenic diet?
  38. Mari
    If you’re a member on Diet doctor, watch Andreas Eenfeldt’s recently posted interview of Dr Eric Westman, MD, “After a day or two, the hunger goes away.” They discuss gout and keto ... not a show stopper, by any means, per Westman.
  39. TINA

    So what do you do when you get to the point where you're not hungry but still WANT to eat... Like for me at this moment it close to lunch I've been fasting since dinner the night before I'm not hungry but WANT to eat something! How can you change that desire? I don't want to WANT food any more! Please help!

    Replies: #42, #47, #50
  40. Mary
    Good ideas! I’m always looking for ways to surmount the 2pm hungries at work. I get in at 630 and depending on early morning load at home I don’t always have time to fix lunch before I leave. Some days I work 10-12 hrs before lvng work so I’m starving when I get home.
  41. Frank
    I am trying to find meals I can prepare in advance and reheat during the week. Basically 3 or 4 days of dinner ready to heat and eat.
  42. Georgia
    Hi Tina, when you really want to eat something (but don't need to) how about snacking on some strawberries or a little bit of cheese? I tend to crave sweet stuff after dinner (even though I'm not really hungry) and so I've been making myself a stevia sweetened hot chocolate with a little bit of cream or milk depending on how I feel. I'm also going to try making some thin shortbread biscuits with almond flour soon when I feel like a treat with my hot drink!
  43. Scarlett420
    Have you heard of Burgerville? They have them in Oregon. It's a few steps above McDs. They only source local, and I believe they buy grass fed, non GMO and a few other things I can't remember. And it's amazing, even better without the bun and their fries are not great so you don't even crave them when you're there.
  44. Gloria Mcmillian
    Not sure what to eat because low carb food is mostly garbage. I need a company that prepares food. I don't cook. Is there a company that prepares food and ships?
    Replies: #45, #49
  45. russell

    Not sure what to eat because low carb food is mostly garbage. I need a company that prepares food. I don't cook. Is there a company that prepares food and ships?

    Gloria, not sure what you mean when you say low carb food is mostly's just real, whole food. If you want processed, pre-packaged prepared food....well, yeah, that's mostly garbage, and usually NOT low carb, Maybe you're looking for something like ?

  46. 1 comment removed
  47. Jayme Flanagan
    That happened to me as well. I was full and starving all the time. I believe it was because I don’t have a gallbladder and can’t process the high fat very well because of that.
  48. Julie
    Can you hire Trisha Yearwood to do some keto southern style recipes?
  49. Julie
    Have a friend cook for you
  50. Julie
    butter coffee
  51. Julie
    Get a friend to cook for you
  52. Grandi
    I have ME/CFS and do keep a full-time desk job, but there is absolutely nothing left at the end of the day. I have to do all cooking, shopping, laundry, cleaning on weekends but if I manage all that, I may have to call out on Monday/Tuesday. So yeah, unable to sustain keto, or any diet requiring cooking. I tried meal delivery programs but either just chemicals and not food (think Jenny) or so, so expensive. What to do?!?!
    Reply: #59
  53. Bill
    There is no advantage to "free range" (or "cage free") eggs. If you are going to eat eggs either buy "pastured" or regular eggs. The so called free range eggs just means that the hens do have an opportunity to leave the hen house but that is typically to a fenced concrete pad.

    While I'm at it... Egg cartons promoting 'organic vegetarian feed' is ludicrous. Chicken are not vegetarians. They are primarily meat eaters. They eat mostly worms and insects but will really go after lizards and snakes if the opportunity is there!

  54. LaFawn
    This website has got to be the best visually while being effective/functional. So kudos, Diet Doctor website builders!

    This website is a good source. The visuals (plates of food, types of veggies etc) are my favorite tool to help overcome 48 years of bad habits.

  55. Sarah Hart
    Spread ham with cream cheese, roll up and slice. Serve with a little cubed cheddar and sliced tomato...

    Or I do the chorizo cabbage thing - not sure what it's called... fry chorizo, remove from pan, fry sliced white cabbage in butter, add cream replace chorizo. I know you said no cooking but this is so quick it barely counts as cooking...

  56. 1 comment removed
  57. Chris
    Usually, my partner and I go out for dinner on a no-cook night or we might have a cold platter (always enough fresh produce and cold meats/cheeses in the fridge). During the winter, I have an agreement with my neighbour/friend, whom I converted to keto as well :-), that consists of cooking for the other once a week. Our favourite restaurant is closed for the winter (they adapt all their platters to LCHF on demand), so the cooking exchange seemed a good idea, as it takes at least one night of cooking-pressure off (do I smell a pun here?) and supports social engagement, which is beneficial for our general well-being, weight loss and health.
  58. Matt
    I'll take a bite of dark chocolate and then a bite of almond at the same time. Or, avocado!
  59. Annie
    Hey there, I am also an m.e person. For me this was/is a gradual process. Suggestion:
    reference the visual charts here when shopping and start by eating your chosen foods as often as possible (I found buying too many tasty and inspiring things in one haul actually created stress). But don't slip backwards, keep a rough journal even if you only have energy to fill it out once/week. Being chronically ill makes the application of any diet a bit more complex, but don't give up. Just be carb aware to start with as a sustainable way of eating... Then, when your mind is ready, go low carb and keto will almost be natural. That's how I started. :-)

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