A Low-Carb Meal Plan You Can Follow for the Entire Week

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low carb meal plan: triptych image of honey mustard chicken, stir fried chicken and brussels sprouts and mediterranean sheet pan eggs
Colin Price/Skinnytaste One and Done/Ren Fuller

If you’ve just started a low-carb diet, more power to you. After all, it might help you lose weight, lower your cholesterol and blood pressure and reduce your risk for type 2 diabetes. But you still have to figure out what to cook for breakfast, lunch and dinner every single day—whew. Don’t sweat it: We made you an easy, tasty, low-carb meal plan that’ll get you through all 21 meals this week.

45 Low-Carb Side Dishes That Will Keep You Full Without Wrecking Your Diet

Monday Breakfast: 3-Ingredient Chia Pudding

  • Time Commitment: 5 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, <10 ingredients,
  • Carb Content: 17 grams carbs

With a whopping nine grams of fiber, this make-ahead breakfast will satisfy you in a way a handful of cereal could never. As for toppings, fresh fruit is a given. Use a blend of berries if they’re in season, or whatever flavors you prefer (we’re partial to pineapple and mango).

Monday Lunch: Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, high protein
  • Carb Content: 17 grams carbs

This isn’t your mother’s chicken salad (no offense, Mom). Swap the mayo for Greek yogurt and sandwich bread for crispy bell peppers and you’re left with a lower carb alternative that’s just as tasty. We’d be remiss not to mention that each serving packs an impressive 60 grams of protein. Lunch rut, be gone.

Monday Dinner: Spicy Stir-Fried Chicken and Shredded Brussels Bowls

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, <30 minutes, one pan, low sugar
  • Carb Content: 19 grams carbs

Mondays are for lightning-fast dinners, not toiling over a bunch of ingredients and dirty dishes. Brussels sprouts might seem unconventional, but you’ll be pleasantly surprised by the way they get all caramelized and crispy around the edges. And in case you need help shredding them, this is the easiest way.

Tuesday Breakfast: Crispy Kale and Egg Skillet for One

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: one pan, <15 minutes, 10 ingredients
  • Carb Content: 5 grams carbs

Why is breakfast either a frozen waffle or a 20-ingredient affair that’s unattainable on a weekday? This option strikes a balance between nutritious and low effort. The whole dish has only 5 grams of carbs, which leaves plenty of wiggle room to serve it with a side of whole wheat sourdough.

Tuesday Lunch: Smashed Potato and Chorizo Sheet Pan Salad

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, low sugar, high protein
  • Carb Content: 36 grams carbs

Sheet pan salad? Yep, it’s a thing…and it’s glorious. Here, potatoes soak up all the spicy juices from the chorizo while they roast in the oven. Then, they’re dressed a bright lime vinaigrette, tossed with lettuce for #health and sprinkled with queso fresco.

Tuesday Dinner: Spicy Slow Cooker Green Chicken Chili

  • Time Commitment: 6 hours, 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: make ahead, slow cooker recipe, gluten free
  • Carb Content: 30 grams carbs

No one wants to cook after a long day spent at work or with kids, so we’re encouraging you to start early—just toss all the ingredients into your slow cooker in the a.m. and your meal will be ready for you without much effort at all.

Wednesday Breakfast: Blueberry Cauliflower Smoothie

  • Time Commitment: 5 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <10 ingredients, no cook, <15 minutes
  • Carb Content: 39 grams carbs

We promise you won’t taste the cauliflower in this fruity concoction. You’ll only reap the fiber-rich, filling benefits. Plenty of blueberries, a dollop of almond butter and a splash of lime juice ensure it’s sweet but not cloying (and anything but vegetal).

Wednesday Lunch: Curried Chicken and Kale Salad with Creamy Harissa Dressing

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <30 minutes, high protein, make ahead
  • Carb Content: 23 grams carbs

Don’t let the laundry list of ingredients scare you away: This high-protein lunch comes together in 30 minutes (and tastes way more exciting than your usual kale Caesar). Make the dish ahead and store all the components in separate containers for ultimate convenience.

Wednesday Dinner: French Onion Sheet Pan Chicken

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, high protein, crowd-pleaser
  • Carb Content: 15 grams carbs

With its bubbly cheese topping and rich flavor, French onion soup is basically the meal of our dreams. This riff on the flavor profile is equal parts weeknight friendly and special occasion–worthy, plus it’s low-carb meal plan friendly. What’s not to love?

Thursday Breakfast: Charred Breakfast Kale with Mushrooms and Ginger Tahini

  • Time Commitment: 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: plant based, gluten free, <500 calories
  • Carb Content: 33 grams carbs

Let’s make breakfast salad a thing, shall we? This dish is vegan as written, but you could add a soft-boiled egg on top if you like. Just don’t skip the punchy citrus-ginger-tahini dressing, which tames the kale as it adds flavor.

Thursday Lunch: Sheet-Pan Lemon Butter Veggies and Sausage

  • Time Commitment: 40 minutes
  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, make ahead
  • Carb Content: 18 grams carbs

Two things we love: hands-off lunches and zero dishes. This low-carb sheet pan recipe ticks both boxes, and it's tasty enough to eat all week. (That’s right, you can make it ahead for meal prep, too.) Use whatever mix of veggies you have in your fridge; just chop them in similar-sized pieces so they cook evenly.

Thursday Dinner: Honey Mustard Sheet-Pan Chicken with Brussels Sprouts

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, beginner-friendly, <10 ingredients
  • Carb Content: 23 grams carbs

If you’re searching for a delicious chicken dish that doesn’t involve trussing a whole bird or dirtying up a bunch of pans, this one has your name on it. (Personally, we were sold at “honey mustard,” but the minimal cleanup doesn’t hurt, either.)

Friday Breakfast: Sweet Potato Rösti with Fried Eggs and Greens

  • Time Commitment: 30 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <500 calories, <30 minutes, gluten free
  • Carb Content: 31 grams carbs

Not familiar with a rösti? It’s kind of like a potato pancake or a latke. Here, sweet potatoes add flavor, color and extra nutrition, but they can also be made with grated winter squash or carrots. Top it off with some peppery arugula and dive into your 30-minute masterpiece.

Friday Lunch: Low-Carb Zucchini Enchiladas

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: crowd-pleaser, make ahead
  • Carb Content: 26 grams carbs

By eliminating the tortillas, this version of gooey, cheesy enchiladas is low carb but still satisfying. Bonus, it reheats really well, so you can make a big pan and eat them over several days. Feel free to swap in ground turkey for beef (or eliminate the meat altogether).

Friday Dinner: Ina Garten’s Creamy Chicken Thighs with Lemon and Thyme

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 25 minutes
  • Why We Love It: one pan, special occasion-worthy
  • Carb Content: 10 grams carbs

It’s Friday night and Ina Garten is coming over for dinner—if only in spirit. But seriously, can you believe this one-skillet recipe is actually diet friendly? The chicken thighs are nestled in a sauce of onions, leeks and crème fraiche, but the skin still gets satisfyingly crispy.

Saturday Breakfast: Mediterranean Sheet Pan Eggs

  • Time Commitment: 50 minutes
  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, crowd-pleaser, <10 ingredients
  • Carb Content: 3 grams carbs

Instead of standing by the stove frantically waving a spatula to make eggs for your whole brood, toss everything onto a baking sheet and let the oven do the hard work. The thin layer is perfect for topping on toast, rolling into a tortilla or serving as the base of a breakfast salad.

Saturday Lunch: Spicy, Crunchy Tuna Salad Lettuce Cups

  • Time Commitment: 10 minutes
  • Why We Love It: <15 minutes, <10 ingredients, beginner-friendly
  • Carb Content: 6 grams carbs

Normally we find lettuce cups sad and boring. But when you pair them with tuna salad and our fave condiment, chile crisp, we’ll definitely bite. We like to use Kewpie mayo in the salad—it’s a Japanese brand of mayonnaise that’s seasoned with rice vinegar for a tangy-sweet flavor profile.

Saturday Dinner: Sheet Pan Roast Chicken with Potatoes, Radishes and Olives

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour
  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, <10 ingredients
  • Carb Content: 20 grams carbs

The secret to making a fancy-pants roast chicken in a mere hour? Spatchcocking the bird, which allows you to flatten it out on the pan and speed up the cooking time. Toss your vegetables on the same baking sheet and you’ll still have time to put your feet up with a glass of wine.

Sunday Breakfast: Quiche with Gluten-Free Sweet Potato Crust

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 20 minutes
  • Why We Love It: special occasion–worthy, crowd-pleaser, gluten free
  • Carb Content: 15 grams carbs

This quiche has the same eggy, cheesy deliciousness as the brunch dish you love, but with a crispy crust made of sweet potato slices that’s nutritious, tasty and low carb to boot. We like a combination of Gruyère and kale, but you could riff on the filling with other cheese and greens (like Emmentaler and spinach or fontina and chard).

Sunday Lunch: Spicy Lemon-Ginger Chicken Soup

  • Time Commitment: 1 hour, 15 minutes
  • Why We Love It: high protein, make ahead, beginner-friendly
  • Carb Content: 15 grams carbs

Making homemade chicken soup sounds like an undertaking, but it’s really as easy as poaching the meat in water and enjoying the savory broth that results. Customize your bowl with any type of tender green (and add rice if you want to bulk it up).

Sunday Dinner: Salmon with Pesto and Blistered Tomatoes

  • Time Commitment: 35 minutes
  • Why We Love It: sheet pan recipe, special occasion–worthy, <10 ingredients
  • Carb Content: 11 grams carbs

You’re only six ingredients and 35 minutes away from this stunning entrée, which calls for store-bought pesto to simplify the cooking process. Plate it over greens or cauliflower rice to keep the carbs to a minimum (or treat yourself for a week well done and pair it with a slice of homemade peasant bread).

Frequently Asked Questions

How Many Carbs Should You Aim for in a Day?

Per the current Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2020-2025, folks who are not on a doctor-approved dietary plan should get 45 to 65 percent of their daily calories from carbs, which translates to somewhere between 225 and 325 grams of carbohydrates per day if you’re on a 2,000 calorie diet.

Why Should Someone Try a Low-Carb Meal Plan?

Reasons for cutting carbs include diabetes—research shows that modest carbohydrate reduction can improve glycemic control and insulin sensitivity—and weight loss. And medical experts do confirm that cutting carbs can help with weight loss for some in the short term. 

What Makes a Meal “Low Carb?”

While there’s no official definition of low carb, the NIH generally defines the diet as consuming less than 130 carbohydrates per day (or less than 26 percent of your daily caloric intake). For this low carb meal plan, we considered any one meal under 40 grams of carbs to be “low carb.”

What’s an Example of a Low-Carb Diet?

There are many popular low carb eating plans, but here are a few you might recognize:
·      Ketogenic diet: A low carb, high fat, moderate protein diet that severely limits daily carb intake to about 20 to 50 grams per day.
·      Dukan diet: A high protein, low carb diet that’s divided into four “phases” to purportedly optimize weight loss.
·      Paleo diet: Aka the “caveman diet,” which ditches grains, legumes, processed foods and most dairy in order to mimic the foods eaten by humans in the Paleolithic era.

What Foods Can You Eat on a Low-Carb Diet?

If you’re following a low-carb meal plan, you’ll want to load up on foods that are high in protein and healthy fats but low in carbohydrates and sugars. That can include:
·      Animal proteins: eggs, meat, poultry
·      Seafood: fish, shellfish
·      Vegetables: leafy greens, cruciferous vegetables, low starch vegetables
·      Lower sugar fruits: berries, avocado, citrus
·      Full-fat dairy: cheese, whole milk yogurt
·      Nuts and seeds: whole nuts, nut butters, chia seeds, pumpkin seeds

What Foods Should You Avoid on a Low-Carb Diet?

Your exact diet will vary based on how many carbs you’re aiming to consume in a day, but in general, a low carb diet limits the following types of foods:
·      Sweets: candy, baked goods and anything with added sugar
·      Refined grains: white rice, white pasta
·      Processed foods: fast food, potato chips, pretzels and other packaged snacks
·      Sweetened beverages: soda, sports drinks and some alcoholic beverages

Are There Caveats to Following a Low-Carb Diet?

Even if weight loss is your aim, don’t forget that healthy carbohydrates, specifically the complex kind, are a valuable source of energy and nutrients that your body needs to thrive. Unless you have consulted a doctor, your goal should be to consume carbs according to the above guidelines and not let your love of bread lead to an unbalanced diet.


Senior Food Editor

Katherine Gillen is PureWow’s senior food editor. She’s a writer, recipe developer and food stylist with a degree in culinary arts and professional experience in New York City...