If I don’t take the time to sit down and make a meal plan for the week – two things happen. We eat out too much – spending money we shouldn’t on restaurant food, and I don’t eat as healthy as I’d like. Meal plans save money whether you’re cooking for one or six and you are more likely to make better choices when you plan ahead. I’ve been attempting to cut down on carbs so this week I’ve got some easy low carb dinner ideas for you!
Nothing against carbs – trust me, they are my favorite food group. But since I hit the 40’s, I’ve noticed that carbs don’t like me as much as I like them. Or maybe they do because they want to stick around on my hips and waist for a while!
One other thing – I’m not a dietician. This isn’t fancy or a complete representation of every food group or macros, calories, fat, carbs….. These are just simple and easy low carb dinner ideas that’ll make up for those nights that you throw up your hands and order pizza – nothing wrong with that in moderation. All of these ideas are based on feeding a family of 4 each night, so adjust as necessary.
Easy Low Carb Dinner Ideas
Grilled Chicken, Spinach Salad, and Green Beans (KETO FRIENDLY)
This is one of my favorites and so simple. If you’re fortunate enough to live near a farmer’s market, pick up some fresh veggies for your salad.
- 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
- 1 bag of baby spinach and romaine – any salad greens will do, but spinach is a nutritional winner
- 1 pint of tomatoes – any kind
- colby jack cheese
- 2 pieces of bacon (cooked and crumbled)
- green beans – canned is fine if you can’t find fresh
- Dale’s sauce for seasoning
- Spicy Montreal Steak seasoning
- olive oil, red wine vinegar, and balsamic vinegar, dry mustard, salt, and pepper (mix for the salad dressing)
Marinate the chicken in Dale’s or whatever other marinades you like. Add the steak seasoning (they also make a chicken, but we prefer the steak). Let sit while the grill is heating. We don’t measure the seasoning. Pretty much my hubs puts all the chicken on a pan, coats it with a small amount of Dale’s and less seasoning for the kids, more for us. Spicy Montreal Steak seasoning can add some heat! It sits and marinates until he’s ready to grill it. No need for an overnight or several hour marinade for this one.
Combine your greens, tomatoes, cukes, grated cheese, and the crumbled bacon in a large bowl. I add the dressing last when we are about to eat. Use a mason jar and just pour in the olive oil and various vinegar and seasonings until you like the taste. You can experiment with this a bit to see what you like. If you don’t love vinegar-based dressings, pick another low carb option from the store. Just be careful of store-bought dressings – they are often full of sugar.
Heat up the green beans on the stove, add in a chicken bouillon cube for flavoring if you’d like. And that’s it. You can add the chicken to the salad, eat is separate – whatever you like. My kids love this chicken. They aren’t that fond of salad yet, but the green beans give them some added nutrition. I usually throw in some fruit for them in place of the salad.
Lean Steak, Roasted Veggies, and Green Bean/Tomato Side
My family loves steak. To save money, I buy a lean top sirloin from the butcher’s case. Where I shop, that’s a more cost-effective way over the prepackaged steaks in the regular meat section.
- 1&1/2 pounds of sirloin steak (ideally at least an inch thick) and your favorite steak seasonings
- yellow squash
- olive oil
- salt/pepper/seasonings (I use Trader Joe’s seasoning)
- green beans
- cherry tomatoes
Marinate the steak in whatever seasonings you like and let it come to room temperature before grilling. If you can’t grill, you can always cook it inside. Check out this tutorial for pan-seared and oven cooked steaks from The Hungry Mouse.
Chop the zucchini, squash, and eggplant into 1-inch cubes. Drizzle with olive oil, season with salt and pepper and roast in a 400-degree oven. Start the eggplant first because it tends to take longer (around 30-35 mins). After about 20 minutes, add the zucchini and squash to the pan. If you’d like, you can add some grated parmesan the last 5 minutes of roasting for even more flavor. Go easy on the portion sizes because carbs can add up quickly.
One of my favorite green bean and cherry tomato sides is from The Simply Veg – It’s quick and the cherry tomatoes and seasonings give it a deliciously sweet flavor.
Sweet and Spicy Glazed Pork Tenderloin, Spinach, and Corn on the Cob
Now I know that corn is not low carb, but fresh corn is just too good to completely eliminate from my diet. It’s all about balance and moderation. If your goal is low or no carbs, skip the corn. My kids love it so we include it here and there. I feel better about adding a higher carb item such as corn when it’s paired with a protein and veggie-packed meal.
A friend gave me this recipe years ago and it’s still one of my absolute faves! The apple juice and maple syrup also add a bit more carbs to the meal so feel free to leave these out for an even lower carb meal.
- 1 pound pork tenderloin
- bag of baby spinach or fresh spinach
- bacon or prosciutto
- 4 ears of corn
- salt and pepper
- chili powder, ground chipotle chili pepper
- canola oil
- apple cider (or apple juice)
- maple syrup (I don’t use true maple syrup because of a budget and all so plain Karo Syrup works perfectly)
- apple cider vinegar
Mix 2 tsp chili powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp ground chipotle chili pepper in a small bowl. Coat all sides of the pork with the seasoning. Cut the pork tenderloin into one-inch slices. Heat 2 tsp canola oil in a large skillet over med/high heat. Cook the pork slices about 2 mins each side until no pink remains inside. Add 1/2 cup apple juice, 2 tbsp syrup, and 2 tsp cider vinegar to the pan. Toss the pork around in the mixture and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to medium and cook for another 2 minutes. Again – if you want a lower-carb option, skip the juice and syrup. Or reduce the quantities by half.
Cut 4 slices of bacon or prosciutto into small pieces and fry in a skillet. Once they are crispy, add the baby spinach in handfuls to the pan and stir around until it wilts. Add pepper for seasoning.
Corn on the Cob
Remove the husks and silks and wash each ear. Add to a microwave-safe dish with about 2 tbsp of water to the bottom. Microwave for around 5 -10 minutes on high. Pierce a kernel with a fork to test for doneness. Add a few pats of butter to each ear.
Another crowd favorite around here. I generally split the chicken into portions for me and the hubs and then kids because they like theirs less spicy. We eat this one solo – no sides needed.
Marinate the chicken ahead of time (ideally, the night before) and you’ll get a low carb (if you choose low carb tortillas), crowd-pleasing dinner on the table in no time! Check out all the details and recipe here!
Breakfast for Dinner
Seriously – bacon and eggs! Yes! I love having breakfast for dinner. In the morning we are entirely too rushed to sit down together for breakfast. So if we can enjoy it at dinner, why not?
If you’re going low carb or keto, skip any kind of bread/pancakes/waffles (unless you’re making a keto-friendly recipe). Scramble some eggs, fry some bacon, add cheese to the eggs if you like, and done! Make an omelet if you prefer – add a few cherry tomatoes or pepper slices for added flavor!
This is one of my favorite meals. The house smells amazing while the stew is cooking, it’s relatively easy to prepare, and it makes a ton! We usually get multiple meals for all of us when I make a big pot of this beef stew. I usually add two potatoes when I make it, but you can leave them out to reduce the carbs even more. My kids absolutely love this one and even take it for their lunch the next day!
It’s full of veggies and protein and turns out perfect every time! It’s true that all the ingredients aren’t no or low carb, but considering you don’t need a large portion of this one to be completely full, it’s a keeper for me! Get the full recipe here
Chicken and Asparagus
This one is super easy and quick! I cut up 3 or 4 chicken breasts into cubes and marinate them in zesty Italian dressing for at least 20 minutes or longer if you can. Heat a large skillet on medium-high heat and add all the chicken and marinade to the pan. Cook until done. I let mine cook until the marinade starts to caramelize a bit in the pan and it’s delicious!
While your chicken is marinating, get the asparagus in the oven. It takes about 20 minutes or so for the asparagus, depending on how much you like it cooked. You can check out my favorite recipe for zesty asparagus here! My kids don’t care for it though, so they get green beans when we have this meal.
Hopefully this gives you some good ideas for low carb dinners! It doesn’t have to be crazy complicated to eat healthy! And you get bonus points because you’ll save money and eat better by cooking at home! If you’re trying to improve your eating, be sure to check out these 5 Healthy Eating Habits You Need!