Low carb meals are often sought out, for those who want to lose weight. But, finding suitable recipes can be a challenge. Some dishes may be more complicated, for those with minimum cooking skills. Others require costly ingredients and can put a strain on the food budget.
The trick to losing weight by reducing carbs, is to find pleasant tasking, easy to prepare dishes, that don’t cost an arm and a leg to put together.
Below are some recipes for low carb meals that are delicious, take little time to prepare, and cost little to make. Most will cost around $5 and don’t require searching for unusual ingredients.
Cleanout Pot Roast
- 1-2 onions (optional)
- several raw vegetables on hand, chopped or diced
- 1 small pork or beef roast (Substitute stew meat, chops, or steak)
- seasoning: salt, black or white pepper, and 203 bay leaves or 203 sprigs of rosemary
- worcestershire sauce (if available)
- 1/2 cup walnuts or almonds (if you have on hand)
This dish requires little preparation and can be made with foods in the refrigerator and freezer. Start by choosing the meat. If there is no remaining beef or pork, choose small cuts from the local grocer. You can use small cuts of steak or chops, if you don’t have a roast sitting around in the freezer. Often small roasts can be purchased for around $4. Start by tenderizing the meat and placing it in a stock pot or crock pot. Add vegetables lying around in the veggie bin.
If onions are available, slice a few of them and add right away.
Carrots, celery, peas, green beans, cabbage, broccoli, and cauliflower are some vegetables that work with a roast and add nutrient-dense protein. Left over walnuts or almonds in a bag can be added, for extra flavor and protein. There is no need to add potatoes, as they will only add unwanted carbs to the meal. All squashes and zucchini are also suitable for this type of dish.
The key to a good tasking pot roast is to add the vegetables and seasoning, then let them simmer with the meat for several hours. Worcestershire sauce or a small amount of beef broth can add flavor, if they are available at home. Otherwise, simple seasoning such as rosemary or bay leaves can be added before the concoction begins to simmer.
Plum Chicken with Cabbage
- 1 small package of drumsticks, 1 whole chicken, or larger pack of drumsticks
- 1 cup of plums for small pack chicken, two cups for larger. Can substitute apples, pears, or lemon/lime if a zestier dish is desired
- 1/2 shredded cabbage
- 1 teaspoon ginger
- 1 onion (if available)
- 3-4 carrots (if available)
- 1 stalk celery (if available)
- 1 can green beans, peas
- 1/2 chopped broccoli or cauliflower (if you happen to have)
Begin with a couple ripe plums from the local farmers market or grocery. Canned plums will also work for this dish. Next, a small pack of chicken drumsticks or a whole chicken for around $3 is needed. Finally, a small cabbage will complete the main ingredients of this dish. Some onions, scallions, carrots, or celery hanging around in the fridge can be added to this dish. The only additional requirements are spices.
Begin by slicing onions and placing them in the bottom of a stock pot, if they are being used. This is a good time to add carrots, if you plan on using them also. Then, place the chicken or chicken drumsticks on top of the onions and carrots. Next, blend plumbs, soy sauce, ginger, and five spice powder (if available) in the blender. Pour the blended plum mixture over the chicken. Simmer for 5-6 hours.
When the mixture is nearly cooked completely, add shredded cabbage and celery, to cook for another half hour. If larger packs of chicken are used, You can actually make several batches or meals of this mixture at once, bringing down the total cost to around $3 per meal. If plums are not available or out of season, pears or pear sauce, lemon/lime, or apples may be used.
Each fruit will give the dish a slightly different taste, but will enhance the taste of the chicken. Adding some hot sauce, chili pepper, or tabasco, will give the dish a bit of a kick.
Spaghetti with squash
- 1 spaghetti squash
- 1 pound of ground meat
- 1 jar of favorite pasta sauce
- 1-2 bell or hungarian peppers (optional)
- Italian spices
- Parmesan cheese
- 1 cup grated cheese (for lasagna)
If you like pasta but don’t need the carbs, consider making spaghetti with squash. You can use ground beef or ground turkey in the sauce, if desired. Ground turkey is often much less expensive than ground beef. When browned and cooked in sauce, many people won’t taste the difference. Otherwise, a meat flavored sauce will work. Be sure to brown the meat, prior to adding to the sauce. This ensures it will be cooked thoroughly and helps bring out the taste in the sauce.
Begin by shredding or grating the spaghetti squash. Usually it shreds into very thin, long pieces, that resemble pasta. The squash can then be cooked separately in a sauce pan or added to the sauce. If adding to the sauce, make sure to simmer for a couple hours. Squash will add a mild, sweet flavor to the dish.
To make a heartier version, chop some bell or other peppers and add them to the sauce as well. Add browned onions and a couple cloves of garlic to the sauce, before you begin to simmer. Top the dish with parmesan cheese, just as you would a typical spaghetti dish.
If you want to use the spaghetti squash more like spaghetti noodles, the sauce can be prepared in advance. Simply cook the noodles by boiling or baking them in the oven. Squash can burn easily, so make sure to keep an eye out and keep baking temperatures at or below 350 degrees fahrenheit.
This dish can be altered to make other pasta dishes. For lasagna, replace the noodles with thinly slice squash of your choosing. Spaghetti squash also works nicely for this, but other squashes will work. Layer the dish like you would a typical lasagna dish, with the squash on the bottom, followed by tomato sauce (with or without meat), then grated cheese.
Mini Meatball Soup
This recipe is low carb, even when the oats are added to the meatballs. Oats are high in fiber as well. For a no carb option, make meatballs without the oats.
- 3-4 shredded carrots
- 1 pound lean ground meat (beef, turkey, pork sausage, or combination)
- 2 tablespoons whole oats
- Beef, chicken, or vegetable broth (1 quart)
- 2 teaspoons ginger (for Swedish meatballs)
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- sea salt
Shred carrots to the size and thickness of soup noodles. Pour broth into stockpot and begin to simmer on low. Add carrots. Prepare meatballs by adding the oats (sea salt, and pepper). To make them more like Swedish meatballs, add a tablespoon or two of cream and add the ginger. shape into balls. Brown the meatballs on all sides until thoroughly cooked. Add to the broth and carrots in the stock pot.
This meal is hearty, healthy, and costs little to make. It is likely to make more than one meal for a single person or a whole meal for a small family. To reduce costs even more, consider using ground turkey instead of beef.
This recipe can be served with or without rice. Obviously, for those following a low carb diet, the rice will be eliminated. This particular recipe eliminates the beans as well.
- 1 pound cajun or spicy sausage
- 1 can fire roasted tomatoes
- 1 package frozen stir fry onions and peppers
- 2 pounds okra
- 2 teaspoons cajun seasoning
- fresh chive or basil (for garnish if desired)
Combine all ingredients in a 4 quart pot or slow cooker. If sausage is pre-cooked, it doesn’t need any prior preparation. Otherwise, if ground sausage in the roll is used, it should be slightly browned before placing in the pot. Simmer on low heat for 6-8 hours. Serve hot and garnish with chives or basil, if desired.
Many of the low carb meals take a while to simmer or cook. However, they require a minimum of preparation and can be cooked in advance or overnight, then placed in the refrigerator. Low carb meals like these cost little to make. Most of them are loaded with nutrients, especially vitamin C, antioxidants, and B vitamins.
Each of these dishes can have substitutions, especially with certain vegetables.
The meals outlined above are low carb or have low carb versions, through elimination of the source of starch, like rice or potatoes. Most of them will make more than one meal, for a single adult. This makes them extremely budget friendly. When the cost per meal is figured, many of them fall well below the $5 meal limit.
With a little creativity and some advanced planning, a low carb diet can be fun and inspiring.