Making low carb dinners has been quite the adjustment! Since getting my Fitbit, I’ve been religiously logging my food with the app before and after every meal. What I have come to notice though, is that many of my $5 Dinners have a lot of carbs! Many of my budget-oriented dinners are centered around carbs like pasta or stuffing. In fact, it’s a recurring pattern when you search ‘cheap meals’ or ‘budget friendly dinners’ on Pinterest. Dishes like soups and stews make sense- but when you start finding pasta dishes like homemade mac n cheese, pasta bakes- even my fajita pasta dish– there’s a lot of carbs in there! Usually I read that there are around 40+ g of carbs for 1/2 cup of dry pasta. Dishes like turkey tacos– the Mission flour tortillas are 25 g per tortilla…. With my new daily allowance, those options aren’t always worth it to me.
Since December, I have realigned my diet with the keto-diet. The keto diet is a low carb diet with high amounts of protein and healthy fats. Many of the Pinterest results surrounding ‘keto diet’ focus on losing weight, and it indeed helps you lose weight. However, I have found that it helps treat my epilepsy more than anything. My rationale behind making low carb dishes is that the proteins keep me balanced and the healthy fats like olive oil, avocados, foods like cottage cheese, and bacon and pork sausage! helps my brain function. I limit my carb intake to 75-85 g per day. Not only do I do that because my mom said it’s a method of losing weight, but if I go over my carb intake with simple carbs, I get a wicked migraine that doesn’t go away with a couple pills of Advil.
Now, I don’t strictly stick with keto-diet because there are some foods, like bananas and apples, that I’m just not going to give up! I understand that there are sugars in those foods, and I budget for it- especially for the days I workout.
How I have Been Meal Planning Low Carb Dinners
- Morning Snack– I start my morning with a cup of coffee and Jordan Skinny Syrup– it’s a zero calorie, zero sugar sweetener. 1/2 tbs is enough to sweeten the Strong, Big cup option on my Keurig so the 25 ml bottle is going to last forever! And when I bought it, it was only $10!
- Breakfast- As a ‘protein boost’ to my day, I drink Premier Protein shakes– chocolate flavored. It has 5 g carbs, 3 g fat, 30 g protein. I buy it at Costco for around $28/box of 18 and that is almost the same price on Amazon. Plus I love my chocolate so 1 of these each day keeps that craving away. 😉 There are vanilla, coffee, and caramel flavors too.
- Lunch– Lunch is sometimes tricky for me, I’m working on it and I will share more recipes with you as I continue to amend my meal planning for lunch and dinner. I usually go for tuna and Ritz crackers. I found a big order of them on Amazon because it was going to be quicker than going to Costco that week…. 😉 Tuna is packed with protein and my may and sweet relish doesn’t add too many carbs to the meal. I eat 10 Ritz crackers (sometimes more or less) and feel pretty full until snack time or dinner.
- Snacking & Workouts– I try to eat a tiny snack at 8 oz of water before my workouts so that I know that I have something in me to get me through the 45-60 minute workouts. Plus I crave protein and fatty foods afterwards. So before, I eat either 2 TBS peanut butter with 1/2 apple, 1/2 a banana or as a special treat: 1/2 banana, 1 TBS of peanut butter and 1 slice of Franz whole grain toast! I try not to eat my bread lately since there are 19 g per slice and 38 g would really cut into my allowance… bummer. After my workout, I like to eat 1/2 cup cottage cheese with 1/2 cup of organic Kirkland peaches *without any syrup falling into my bowl*.
- Dinner– Dinners have been a little tricky for me. Sometimes I eat chicken strips made with my AirFryer, sometimes my Quinoa soup (a new creation of mine), sometimes Turkey meatloaf with sugar-free maple syrup…here is a roundup post of my recipes that are either low carb dinners or made with complex-carb ingredients.
IF, monitoring your carbs isn’t a priority (and that’s okay too!) signup for a $5 Dinner Freebie Cheat Sheet. I’m also working on making a Guide to Healthy Meal Planning, feel free to signup to get first update on that!
My Low Carb Dinners
Not on the list– my chicken strips recipe that I make in my Airfryer. It’s simple, I eat it with honey (I know, that’s weird), and sometimes I add a veggie like green beans to it, but more often than not, I enjoy just the protein and few carbs.
Budgeting for a Low Carb Diet - The Tiny Twenty-Something
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