epistemic status: these recommendations are based on anecdata and implicit models. I may be making bad recommendations based on overgeneralizing from my experience. use with caution.
Here are some resources I've found to be useful in making keto a lifestyle, rather than a temporary diet. I'll make the case for doing keto at all in another post. Suffice it to say that I don't believe anyone's models about why any diet should work, including the keto community, but also think that keto is the best option available.
I found that I couldn't get going without being able to look forward to the things I was giving up, and while originally this took the form of once-a-month cheat days, I'm now using these substitutes and am in keto near 100% of the time. I'd plateaued before I started using substitutes, but if I stop doing keto I quickly gain ~15-20 lbs. I've decided that keto needs to be an ongoing treatment for my apparent propensity for high weight, and these substitutes are critical for making it an acceptable plan to stay keto indefinitely.
If you just need to get started, I'd recommend buying a good supply of something you already love that can be easily made keto. For me, this was initially modified burrito bowls from berkeley bowl, then tikka masala recipe I was already making regularly. don't try to go all in on the first day, just get the resources necessary to be keto until you can get this sort of stuff. it took me months, there's no rush, just get it when you want it.
I've found dieting to be next to impossible without having comfort food available, so these substitutes are heavily focused on that.
I typically eat only about one meal a day, which puts my costs at about $5-7 a day, totaling $150 to $200/mo.
Burrito bowls from Berkeley bowl's tacqueria (or any other tacqueria, really - this was originally introduced to me to be done at chipotle). I use this as my go-to "I feel like shit and want comfort food right the now." without this I could not do the diet. I've been working on duplicating berkeley bowl's recipe for carnitas so I can do this at home, but it turns out that's actually really difficult to get right.
- Ask for a burrito bowl
- Tell them to skip the beans and rice. (they were initially very confused by this request.)
- Ask them to start with a meat - I like carnitas
- Get extra meat. At berkeley bowl, they charge it by weight, so I get a lot of extra meat. some places seem to charge multiplicatively, rather than additively, for amount of meat, so don't get much from those places.
- Add cheese, sour cream, guacamole, and lettuce. (Or skip/add some depending on what you like. The vegetable-y things can be a bit high in carb count, though. I never get the salsas.)
I keep some basic foods on hand to allow snacking and such. When I first started keto, I didn't have a lot of mental energy, so this sort of thing was most of what I ate. I now usually make more structured meals.
- cheese - these two together make a good instant snack
- lunchmeat, especially the thicker-sliced kind - I sometimes use it as pseudo-tortillas and make tacos or etc, because lol
- more cheese
- holy shit so much cheese, it's basically the cheese diet
- not bacon. I hate preparing bacon.
I use misc directly-low-carb snackfoods as meals sometimes. good for making sure that when I feel antsy and want to anxiety-eat, it's still on-diet and I can have a lot.
- blue diamond flavored almonds, especially the habanero flavor. you can get these at walgreens. these are a staple some months - there have been weeks where I literally just ate one can a day, and no other food.
- peanuts. just salted peanuts.
- berkeley bowl's buffalo peanuts.
- berkeley bowl has royal hawaiian brand flavored macadamia nuts, which I like as chip replacements.
- previously pork rinds. I realized I hated them a while ago though, once I found other options for chip replacements.
http://www.questnutrition.com/ - these folks make a bunch of awesome things, that don't even bill themselves as low carb explicitly but are made out of the right ingredients and have super low net carb counts.
- I love quest bars. I wrote a bunch of amazon reviews on each flavor I tried, but my favorites were mint, chocolate chip cookie dough, coconut cashew, and lemon.
- They also have some protein chips. They feel more like baked chips, and they're definitely protein based rather than carb based, but they're very nice as carriers of some good flavor and have a similar satisfaction from eating them.
- you can get these either at GNC or on amazon. I'd suggest trying some from GNC before getting much on amazon.
- there are also a bunch of other low carb protein bars now, apparently. I don't know much about any of the others, though I know Kirkland - costco's brand - has one.
https://chocorite.com/ - this is amazing, they make milk chocolate based on stevia that actually passes for milk chocolate. They also make a few other candy types. Walgreens used to have their stuff, but not anymore.
- https://chocorite.com/low-carb-candy-bars.html - I'd recommend only getting the bigger boxes, as they're much more price efficient. I've had the crispy caramel and peanut butter cup patty.
- https://chocorite.com/low-carb-sugar-free-chocolate-bars.html - I've had their crunch and milk bars, both are pretty good.
- do not buy any of their dark chocolate. it's basically straight baking chocolate. if you're into dark, just get 75%+ dark from normal places and you'll be much better off.
http://www.greatlowcarb.com/ - these folks make bread that I find convincing, and yet is extremely low carb. it's based on purified wheat gluten. I buy it online, there are no stores close to me that stock it.
- their sesame bread - $1 per two slices - is my default for sandwiches and is actually pretty good in and of itself, even ignoring that it's keto. which is really saying something. the other things in this list are just good-for-keto, but I actively like this one on its own.
- their pizza crust - $1.50 per fourth-slice - is ok, it wasn't mind blowing but it was good, here's a super simple recipe for using it
- on the bottom: their pizza crust
- sauce: half a ~15oz can of crushed tomatoes,
- mixed with: four tbsp of tomato paste
- on top of the sauce: a bunch of mozzarella, I probably used somewhere around three cups of pre-shredded
- toppings: a bunch of fresh basil and pepperoni
- cook: at ~350ish in the oven for until the cheese looks melty
- their hamburger buns - $1.30/bun - are ok but nothing to write home about. I'd rather they were sesame buns. but I can keep having hamburgers, which is pretty great! though I don't currently use ketchup, you could as long as it wasn't a huge amount.
- their bagels are a bit tough, but are nice to lightly toast. their breads don't seem to toast very well - don't cook them for a long time unless it's on pretty damn low.
- I haven't had their pasta, but I'm curious about it. it looks somewhat price inefficient - maybe $2.50 a meal. depends on how much else you need to make it a meal, I guess.
Halo top ice cream - these folks make ice cream of which I can have two pints in one day and not break keto, as long as I don't consume any other sources of carbs. Unlike the bread, they distribute fairly widely, it's at several stores in berkeley, including berkeley bowl.
- Their chocolate tastes like mcdonald's chocolate ice cream, imo. It doesn't taste super chocolatey like typical ice cream brands' chocolate, but I actually like this as I find most chocolate ice cream to be overpoweringly chocolatey.
- their vanilla is fine, though it's a bit weak in texture imo, compared to the others.
- their mint is by far my favorite.
- their strawberry would be my favorite, but has slightly more carbohydrate/pint, just enough to not allow me to eat much else on a day when I have a pint of it.
http://www.zevia.com/ - I'm not crazy about this stuff, but it's pretty good when I'm craving something to drink. It's carried by berkeley bowl. beware, while they don't have ethanol alcohol, they have a lot of sugar alcohols and boy is it obvious. I don't think you can get drunk on them, though.
- Root beer flavor is weird when paired with sugar alcohols
- Lemon-lime makes a pretty good match up.
- Ginger ale was awful imo.
- IIRC I liked cream soda a fair amount.
I've also found http://ruled.me really useful for their awesome recipes.