Are you having trouble getting healthy, low carb meals on the table all week long? It’s not easy and it takes planning, preparation, and dedication. That’s why 3 billion pizzas are sold in the U.S. each year, and at least one of your neighbors will have a pizza delivered tonight. Not to take it all out on pizza, but many diabetics find that the combination of carbs (the crust), sugars (the sauce) and fat (from cheese, meats, and oils) in pizza leave them with prolonged high blood sugars. Who wants to eat a meal that makes you feel worse after than you did before?
If you have read some of our previous posts on meal planning, you may think we sound like a broken record. The thing is, we don’t have any new tips, because this technique really does work. We’ve been using it for years, and can’t come up with a better way. How can you plan diabetic-friendly dinners for an entire week? Here you go!
We recommend planning the meals ahead of time and making a grocery list. In time, this will become second nature. We believe in starting with your proteins. Assuming you are not vegetarian, choose 2 lean proteins (maybe two that are on sale that week at your grocery store). Good examples are: chicken breast, turkey breast, ground beef, ground turkey, ground chicken, boneless pork loin chops, marinated pork loin, beef steaks, shrimp, salmon, any other white fish. You will eat one protein for 3 nights and the other for 3 nights. Your 7th day of the week (your “rest” day), either eat a healthy meal out, or make a special trip to the store and prepare something fresh.
Start on Sunday evening by doing the hardest part, cooking the first protein (enough for all the people in your family for 3 nights). Once that’s done, you won’t need to spend more than 15- 20min each night pulling together dinner. I am cooking for 2 adults and 2 kids, so I would allot 3 chicken breasts a day. On Sunday afternoon, I buy a family pack with at least 9 chicken breasts. After I cut off any fat, I will bake all the chicken in the oven (with just salt and pepper). After setting aside 3 breasts for the first night’s meal (Sunday), I will cool and then store all the remaining chicken in Tupperware in the fridge. I might also buy 2.5 lbs ground beef for the second half of the week. On Tuesday or Wednesday evening (depending on which day is better for our schedule), I will pan fry all the ground beef in a frying pan, pouring off and discarding any moisture or fat that cooks off. I’ll then use 1/3 for Wednesday’s meal, and store the rest.
We plan our meals around the protein, and then we choose our veggies next. We try to have a salad (romaine or spinach) two days a week, and broccoli, zucchini, or green beans one or two days a week. Here’s a sample 6 day menu:
- Sunday- Baked chicken breast, steamed green beans, 15 minute quinoa/brown rice box mix
- Monday- Baked chicken sliced and served over large romaine salad with cucumbers and tomatoes, almond slivers and chopped grapes
- Tuesday- Chicken salad (chopped and mixed with light mayo and curry powder) served in romaine lettuce boats, with leftover green beans and tomatoes from prior nights
- Wednesday- Ground beef in marinara sauce served over oven-baked spaghetti squash
- Thursday- Taco salad (ground beef warmed, seasoned and served over romaine lettuce, with salsa, sour cream, cheese, 1/2 can black beans, and crushed tortilla chips)
- Friday- Chili (combine remaining ground beef with 1 cup marinara sauce, second 1/2 can black beans from last night, 1 shredded fresh zucchini, chili powder) and simmer 20 min
- Saturday- We may eat a healthy meal out at a restaurant and treat ourselves by sharing a dessert (usually ice cream)!
Team work makes the dream work. Ask your spouse or roommate help with planning, buying, cooking, or the daily “prep” work. Good luck! You can do it!