Some things in life are just better, and more effective, with a plan. If you are considering a healthy lifestyle modification, it is usually best to accompany it with a plan – a guide – an outline of how you are going to achieve that modification. Specifically, when it comes to a diet, some forethought can go a long way to your success. While there are a ton of different diets for you to try, today’s article focuses on the low carb way of eating. This is your all-encompassing guide to low carb meal plans.
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What is the low carb diet?
A low carb diet is any eating style that limits one particular macronutrient. I’m sure you can guess what it is. The macronutrient that gets the bad end of the deal with this diet is, indeed, carbohydrates. Carbohydrates are commonly found in foods like bread, cereal, pasta, sweets, and starchy vegetables and fruit.
Carbohydrates are not inherently bad, but today’s standard American diet has too much of them when compared to the other macronutrients that make up your diet – fat and protein. A low carb diet aims to drastically reduce the amount of carbs eaten while replacing them with food sources that are higher in fat and protein.
As Ultimate Meal Plans puts it, a low carb diet is a specific diet – but it’s also a specific class of diets that all vary in unique ways. Paleo, keto, and the Atkins diet would all be considered low carb diets but they all vary slightly in their approach and food sources. A person could also follow a general low carb diet that is neither of the diets mentioned above. Ultimately, each person needs to find out what approach works best for them and their lifestyle.
Regardless of which diet is chosen, some planning needs to take place to ensure that the desired results are achieved. This is where meal planning comes in handy.
What is meal planning?
Meal planning is quite simply the act of planning out your meals for the week – or at least the next few days. This also requires making a list of the foods needed, shopping for the ingredients at the store, and could even include prepping some meals or ingredients.People practice the act of meal planning for many reasons.
One reason may be that they want to make the decision of what to eat easier on themselves if their upcoming schedule is busy. Another reason for a meal plan is that it can help you budget and save money on food. We all know how tempting it can be to grab take out when days go awry or get busy. Meal planning helps avoid this and saves you money by doing so. That is most definitely a win-win for everyone.
Meal planning is also essential if you are following a specific diet – like a low carb diet, for example. To follow a low carb lifestyle, you will need to ensure that your meals are compliant to the specific diet’s rules. This requires that your cabinets, pantry, and fridge are stocked with the appropriate foods, sauces, spices, and beverages needed to help you stick to your plan.
How to meal plan for a low carb diet
The most effective way to find success while following a low carb diet is to make a plan and then stick to it as closely as possible. First things first, pencil in this task on your calendar on a day when you have some free time. Sundays usually work well for myself, but this will be dependent upon your schedule and lifestyle.
Next, decide what meals you want to make for the upcoming week. Consult your favorite recipe blog, your cookbook collection, or Google for ideas. I use my Notes app to keep a list of what meals work for me for the next week of my life. In general, I have a couple of staple meals that I make week-to-week for ease. Then, I throw in a couple of new recipes for some variety and to fight off the repetitive meal boredom that can sometimes arise.
Once you have your collection of recipes, make a shopping list for your trip to the grocery store. I like to do a once-over of my current stash of groceries so I know what I need to buy at the store and what I already have at home. To make this task even easier, I like to order my groceries online and then pick them up at the store later that day.
The last thing that falls into the meal planning category is to do any additional prepping that makes cooking easier throughout the week. This may include pre-cutting vegetables like carrots, broccoli off of the head, or trimming Brussels sprouts. If any of your meals hold up in the refrigerator over a couple of days, you could prep them too. I personally like to prepare a couple of breakfast items like chia seed pudding or egg muffins so I can grab and go in the morning. Once this is done, you are on your way to having a successful, and hopefully much easier, week.
Of course, this is just a general outline of how the meal planning process can go. Take what strategies work for you and your life and toss the rest. The ultimate key to making any lifestyle change is finding what habits are most sustainable and doable for you and your life. If you have any meal planning tips and tricks you live by, I’d love to read about it in a comment below.
A sample five-day low carb meal plan
If you have made it this far, you are probably wondering if I’m ever going to share an example of a low carb meal plan for you. Well, you are in luck. Below, you will find a simple and easy low carb meal plan that includes options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.
Breakfast: Egg muffin cups
Lunch: Lettuce turkey wrap
Dinner: Tuna cakes with slaw
Breakfast: Chia seed pudding
Lunch: Leftover tuna cakes
Dinner: Flank steak with chimichurri
Breakfast: Egg muffin cups
Lunch: Leftover steak with chimichurri
Dinner: Pesto shrimp salad
Breakfast: Chia seed pudding
Lunch: Pesto egg salad
Dinner: Pumpkin spiced chicken thighs
Breakfast: Turkey sausage patties with lemon spinach
Lunch: Leftover pumpkin spiced chicken thighs
Dinner: Cream of zucchini soup
This gives you a general idea of the kind of variety that you can get in your diet when you take a bit of time to plan out your meals. While there are some repeats for the sake of ease and to prevent food waste, there is also a good amount of variety that will keep you from getting bored with your eating routine.
Low carb snack ideas
Who doesn’t love a good snack? Just because you are following a specific diet doesn’t mean you can’t partake in a snack every now and then. We recommend keeping some low carb appropriate snacks on hand for times that you may need some extra fuel in between meals. Here are some of our favorite low carb snacks.
Hard-boiled or deviled eggs
Fresh vegetables like bell peppers, broccoli, asparagus, zucchini, spinach, celery
Low carb fruits like raspberries, strawberries, blackberries, kiwi, grapefruit, watermelon, peaches
Ultimate Low Carb Meal Plans
Sometimes, you just do not have the bandwidth to meal plan for yourself. Everyone goes through moments of overwhelm, and it is within these moments that caring for yourself becomes even more important. If you want to take the task of meal planning off of your metaphorical plate, outsource it to a company. We recommend Ultimate Meal Plans.
Ultimate Meal Plans is a subscription-based meal planning service that delivers a week’s worth of meal plans to your inbox every week. Ultimate Meal Plans gives you a fully customizable low carb meal plan to suit your needs. You can choose the number of people you are cooking for, exclude ingredients to suit taste or dietary requirements, and you will get a fully customized set of recipes and shopping list to match.
One of the things we love about Ultimate Meal Plans is the ease of their recipes. They utilize the 15/5 rule which makes their meals simple to whip up but still delicious. The 15/5 rule means that none of their recipes take over 15 minutes to make or require more than 5 ingredients. This is especially helpful for those times in life where things are crazy and busy. The last thing you need when life is wild is for a recipe to require a million ingredients and hours to cook.
Low Carb meal planning starts today!
If you’re ready to make a lifestyle change and cut back on the carbs, give a low carb meal plan a try. This planning method will help you reach your goals in a sustainable method and build upon healthy living habits.
Other meal planning resources
We’ve built out a ton of meal plan resources on all sorts of diets. Check them out below
- Gluten Free Meal Plan Guide
- Low Carb Meal Plan Guide
- Weight Loss Meal Plans
- Healthy Meal Plans
- Banting Diet Meal Plans
- AIP Meal Plans
- Paleo Meal Plans
- Keto Meal Plans
Download Your FREE Paleo Starter Kit Today!
- 3-Day Paleo Diet Meal Plan
- Comprehensive Paleo Diet Shopping List
- 5 of Our Favorite Paleo Diet Recipes