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Easy Low Carb Meals To Prep For Beginners: Dinner & Lunch

Lindsay Malone MS, RDN, CSO, LD
10 - 12 MIN.

IN THIS ARTICLE
  • Low Carb Meal Prep - The Basics
  • Time Savers for Low Carb Meal Prep
  • Family Low Carb Meal Prep
  • Low Carb Meal Prep Recipes For Beginners
  • Low Carb Meal Prep Recipes For Dinner
  • Low Carb Meal Prep Recipes For Lunch

Low Carb Meal Prep

04-13-20


Eating low carb doesn’t mean you have to grind your own almond flour every time you need to eat! And it certainly doesn’t mean giving up all your favorite meals. With a little planning and basic prep, healthy, low carb meals can come together painlessly, no matter your experience level in the kitchen.

Low Carb Meal Prep - The Basics

If you’ve ever painted a room in your house, you know that prepping is everything! If you don’t get the room and supplies ready, the job will take twice as long and probably look nothing like the pristine Pinterest pic you saved twelve times. Eating healthy is no different. If your end goal is to eat healthy and low carb, it's pretty difficult to stay on track unless you spend a little time upfront to get a plan in place for the week. Unless your plan is to eat peanut butter out of the jar, but that would get old fast.

So, what does prepping even mean? Chopping vegetables? Pre-cooking? An entire Sunday making your fridge look like the grab and go section of Whole Foods? When it comes to low carb meal prep, it really depends on how much time you want to spend.

Follow the below steps and stop when you run out of time. It really is that simple.

  • Map out a basic weekly meal plan to save time shopping. Choose meals that can be prepared simultaneously to limit wait time in the kitchen, for example - a slow cooker meal, a baked dish, and something on the stovetop. 
  • Shop smart. Save time and have groceries delivered. While you wait, start to gather any ingredients you need like spices and oils.
  • Prep your space. Clear the counters in your kitchen, preheat the oven, dust off any equipment you may need and get your storage containers out and ready to go. 
  • Clean and chop. Rinse off produce and chop what you need for meals and snacks. Make sure to eliminate as much water as possible before storing fresh produce, this will help it last longer in the refrigerator. 
  • Precook what you can. If you have just a little more time, prep your proteins. Brown ground meat, bake chicken, hard boil some eggs, etc. This is a huge time-saving step for the week, you can always add spices, sauces, and dressings later if you need to. Have a little more time? Bring together a few or all of your recipes for the week. Pro Tip: Get anything that needs to bake into the oven first so you can continue down your checklist with minimal lag time.
  • Store and celebrate. Time to store your goods. Depending on the recipe and how much you’ve prepped, food can be stored in large containers and portioned out later or pre-portioned for more of a grab and eat type experience. If your recipe is only halfway to the finish line, you can store ingredients separately and pull the meal together quickly when you’re ready to eat.

TIME SAVERS FOR LOW CARB MEAL PREP

Save yourself some time with both low carb and keto meal prep by adding these items to your grocery list:

  • Steam in the bag vegetables
  • Prewashed salad greens
  • Chopped vegetables (pro tip: check out the salad bar if the chopped veggies in the produce section are sparse or looking old. Forget about time, this one might save you a finger as well!)
  • Rotisserie chicken
  • Precooked bacon
  • Frozen burger patties
  • Ready made guacamole
  • Frozen cauliflower rice or mash
  • Spiralized vegetables
  • Pre-cook spaghetti squash 

Family Low Carb Meal Prep

If you're eating low carb and cooking for a family, don’t fall prey to making separate meals - take it from a mom of three, you’ll burn out fast! Instead, make a base meal that can be adapted for everyone in the household. For example: one pot of meatballs and sauce with spaghetti squash for you, regular pasta for the family or stir fry with cauliflower rice for you and regular rice for the family. This way you’ll save your sanity and hopefully, the rest of the family will try some new vegetables along the way. You might even convert them to like the low carb option better!

Need a little inspiration? If you want to stay on track with your health care goals, by cutting back the carbs, boosting nutrition, eating more veggies, and if you're looking for some great healthy meal prep ideas for weight loss, we’ve rounded up some recipes to help get you started!

Low Carb Meal Prep Recipes For Beginners 

These low carb meal prep recipes for beginners are a great way to get your meal prep mojo going without losing your mind or your weekend in the process. Nutrition information may change based on serving size and ingredients used. 

  1. Kielbasa and Veggies Sheet Pan Meal

Time: 45 minutes

Serving: 1 ½ cup

Nutrition Info: Cal 270, Fat 16 g, Total Carb 16.5 g, Fiber 6g, Net Carb 10.5 g*, Protein 19.5 g 

*make this dish lower in carbs by selecting low/no sugar kielbasa like Garret Valley

  1. Keto Egg Muffins

Egg muffins are an absolute home run for low carb meal prep. Think of it as a grab and go omelet you can eat all week long. The beauty of making this recipe in a muffin tin is that they don’t all have to be the same - you can put sausage in one, veggies in another, cheese only in a few...you get the idea.

Time: 60 minutes

Serving: 2 muffins

Nutrition Info: Cal 384, Fat 33 g, Total Carb 3 g, Fiber 0g, Net Carb 3 g, Protein 18 g 

  1. Baked Salmon Foil Packet

Time: 30 minutes

Serving: 1 packet 

Nutrition Info: Cal 400, Fat 24 g, Total Carb 6 g, Fiber 6 g, Net Carb 2 g, Protein 36 g

  1. Roasted Asian Shrimp and Brussels Sprouts Sheet Pan Meal

Time: 50 minutes

Serving: ¼ lb of shrimp and ¼ of the sprouts

Nutrition Info: Cal 296, Fat 13 g, Total Carb 9 g, Fiber 3 g, Net Carb 6 g, Protein 31 g

  1. Simple Baked Chicken Breast

Baked chicken breasts are a staple for low carb and keto meal prep. This recipe also has instructions for the air fryer, slow cooker and grill so, use whatever is easiest for you. Chicken can be paired with steam in the bag vegetables, quickly stir-fried, or thrown on top of a bed of lettuce for a quick, simple, and healthy meal.

Time: 30-45 minutes

Serving: about 4 oz chicken

Nutrition Info: Cal 150, Fat 5 g, Total Carb 0 g, Fiber 0 g, Net Carb 0 g, Protein 26 g

  1. Egg Roll in a Bowl

This recipe is perfect if you have a craving for take-out. It literally tastes exactly like the inside of an eggroll. Using ready-made coleslaw mix saves some time on prep and ensures this recipe comes together in less time than it would take to order those egg rolls you’ve been craving.

Time: approximately 15-20 minutes

Serving: ¼ of the recipe 

Nutrition Info: Cal 330, Fat 23 g, Total Carb 5 g, Fiber 2 g, Net Carb 3 g, Protein 24 g

  1. Peanut Butter Brownies

Your eyes have not deceived you, there is actually a dessert on this list! Hallelujah! It may surprise you that desserts can fit into a low carb lifestyle. When it comes to low carb desserts, it's all about using good quality, low carb baking ingredients

In my experience, people tend to do better eating low carb if they plan for desserts. Think about it, inevitably you'll want something sweet. You can try to ignore the craving or cobble together something mildly resembling a dessert last minute that is completely unsatisfying. Alternatively, you can plan and have something ready to go you’ll actually be excited to eat. 

Time: 40 minutes

Serving: one 2” x 2.5” square (recipe serves 12)

Nutrition Info: Cal 391, Fat 26 g, Total Carb 21 g, Fiber 7 g, Net Carb 5 g, Protein 7 g

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Low Carb Meal Prep Recipes For Dinner

Dinner can be a challenging meal for anyone, let alone someone trying to eat healthily. We all know this is the time of day when patience and time are limited. But, a bit of prep and good, high protein, low carb dinner recipes are here to save the day. You know how good it feels to walk in the door and smell dinner cooking in the Crockpot, it's literally amazing, right? Get that feeling every night with these low carb recipes perfect for dinner meal prep.

  1. One-Skillet Chicken with Lemon Garlic

One-pan dishes are a great time saver. Recipes never count clean up time in their estimation and if you don’t keep the equipment to a minimum it could really add up.

Time: 40 minutes

Serving: Approximately 5 oz of chicken and 1 cup of the recipe veggies

Nutrition Info: Cal 464, Fat 37 g, Total Carb 9 g, Fiber 3 g, Net Carb 6 g, Protein 25 g

  1. Spaghetti Squash and Meatballs

Spaghetti squash is an excellent stand-in for pasta. If the taste or texture isn’t your favorite, try spiralized zucchini noodles (zoodles) or shirataki noodles. If using store-bought marinara sauce, be careful and remember to read labels and look for a sauce with no added sugar in the ingredient list. 

Time: 45 minutes

Serving:1 cup spaghetti squash + 2 meatballs + 2 oz of mozzarella cheese

Nutrition Info: Cal 376, Fat 28 g, Total Carb 13 g, Fiber 2 g, Net Carb 11 g, Protein 24 g

  1. The Perfect Bunless Burger

Time: approximately 15-20 minutes

Serving: 1 burger with caramelized onions

Nutrition Info: Cal 531, Fat 45 g, Total Carb 5 g, Fiber 1 g, Net Carb 4 g, Protein 26 g

  1. Low Carb Taco Bowls

Who doesn’t love taco night? This recipe is easily adaptable for the whole family. Add in some tortillas for those not eating low carb and you’re all set. 

Time: 25 minutes

Serving: ¼ of the recipe

Nutrition Info: Cal 360, Fat 28 g, Total Carb 5 g, Fiber 2 g, Net Carb 3 g, Protein 21 g

  1. Keto Low Carb Pot Roast

Time: 10 hours (slow cooker recipe)

Serving: ⅓ lb of meat + ½ cup or so of the recipe veggies 

Nutrition Info: Cal 307, Fat 19 g, Total Carb 2 g, Fiber 0 g, Net Carb 2 g, Protein 29 g

  1. Keto Vegan Vindaloo Tofu

If you’ve never had tofu, this is a good starter recipe. It comes together very simply with a ready-made sauce and stores nicely in the fridge until you’re ready to eat it. And check out the protein - 21 g, pretty good for a plant-based dish! That’s the protein equivalent of 3 eggs.

Time: 55 minutes

Serving: 3 oz of tofu, ⅔ cup recipe veggies

Nutrition Info: Cal 400, Fat 32 g, Total Carb 18 g, Fiber 7 g, Net Carb 11 g, Protein 21 g

  1. Sheet Pan Chicken Fajitas

This recipe is a regular in our household. It's super simple and easily adaptable with different proteins and veggies depending on what you have on hand. 

Time: 25 minutes

Serving: 4 oz chicken and ½ cup of veggies

Nutrition Info: Cal 194, Fat 7 g, Total Carb 5 g, Fiber 1 g, Net Carb 4 g, Protein 27 g

Low Carb Meal Prep Recipes For Lunch 

Low carb lunch meal prep does not need to be boring or take all day. So stock up on your favorite airtight containers and get started with some of these low carb lunch gems.

  1. Keto Greek Chicken Bowls

Time: 45 minutes

Serving: 4 oz of chicken, ⅔ cup of vegetables

Nutrition Info*: Cal 445, Fat 31g, Total Carb 11g, Fiber 2g, Net Carb 9g, Protein 31g

*Nutrition data recalculated for this recipe using USDA Food Data Central

  1. No-Cook Bento Box

Time: 10 minutes

Serving: 1 box 

Nutrition Info: 539 Cal, Fat 40 g, Total Carb 16 g, Fiber 7 g, Net Carb 9 g, Protein 36 g

  1. Veggie Labneh Keto Meal Prep Bowls

This recipe calls for marinated cheese balls (insert inappropriate joke here). If you don’t have time to make these in advance you can sub in a combination of feta, ricotta, and cream cheese or plain buffalo mozzarella balls instead, some stores even carry pre-marinated cheese balls just check the label to make sure the marinade isn’t full of carbs.

Time: 45 minutes

Serving: 4 oz cheese + 2 cups of veggies

Nutrition Info: Cal 454, Fat 42 g, Total Carb 13 g, Fiber 4 g, Net Carb 9 g, Protein 10 g

  1. Shrimp Salad with Avocado

Time: 30 minutes

Serving: ⅓ lb of shrimp salad

Nutrition Info: 429 Cal, Fat 32 g, Total Carb 12 g, Fiber 5 g, Net Carb 7 g, Protein 26 g

  1. Spinach and Bacon Crustless Quiche

Crustless quiche is an underused low carb staple. Don’t save this ridiculously simple dish for a fancy brunch, enjoy it for any meal of the day. 

Time: 1 hour

Serving: 1/6th of the quiche, about 3” x 3” x 3” triangle slice

Nutrition Info: 327 Cal, Fat 26 g, Total Carb 7 g, Fiber 3 g, Net Carb 4 g, Protein 20 g

  1. Keto Cobb Salad

Whoever said salads aren’t filling, has never tried this salad! All ingredients can be prepped ahead, except wait until right before you eat to slice the avocado otherwise it will be an unappealing brown by the time you get to it. 

Time: 20 minutes

Serving: ½ recipe (3 cups vegetables, 1 egg, 2 tablespoons dressing, 2 slices bacon, ½ avocado)

Nutrition Info: 945 Cal, Fat 81 g, Total Carb 15 g, Fiber 9 g, Net Carb 6 g, Protein 43 g

  1. Slow Cooker Chili 

Time: 8 hours (slow cooker)

Serving: 1 cup

Nutrition Info*: 343 Cal, Fat 24 g, Total Carb 12 g, Fiber 4 g, Net Carb 8 g, Protein 22 g

*Nutrition data recalculated for this recipe using USDA Food Data Central

Low Carb Meal Prep - A Little Goes a Long Way

With low carb meal prep, a little goes a long way. Invest a little bit of time and energy upfront to help your week go a little smoother, while staying on track with your healthy eating and lifestyle goals. 

If you’re super short on time, consider meal kits that do the prep work for you.

Need more inspiration? Check out our collection of delicious keto-friendly, low carb recipes.
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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.

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