Low-carb dinners the whole family will enjoy

Seven recipes to get you started.
Published September 4, 2020

Meal planning doesn’t have to be complicated, even when it comes to low-carb dinner ideas for the whole family. From eggplant lasagna to tuna wraps, most of these low-carb family meals are made with minimal ingredients and can be on the table in 30 minutes or less.


What is low-carb eating?


Generally speaking, a low-carb diet restricts carbohydrate intake to 130 grams or less per day. Fat and protein make up the rest of the eating plan, with each type of low-carb diet emphasizing different ratios of these macronutrients.


To reduce carbohydrate intake, limit or avoid starchy foods such as pasta, bread (and other baked goods), legumes, bananas, beer, dried fruit, potatoes, yams, sweeteners (with the exception of Stevia, artificial sweeteners, and sugar alcohols like xylitol), as well as low-calorie/low-fat dairy products and salad dressings.


Reinvent pasta night


Traditional pasta noodles might be off the table, but there’s no reason you need to give up your favourite sauces and pasta toppings. Many pasta sauces are naturally low in carbohydrates and pair equally as well with zoodles or other veggie “noodles.” Look for store-bought sauces without added sugar (many commercial tomato sauces are surprisingly high in sugar) and be mindful of homemade sauces that have been thickened with flour, cornstarch, or arrowroot flour.


Keep a stash of zoodles and portioned-out pasta sauces in the freezer (zucchini, butternut squash or jicama all work well.) On busy nights, defrost the pasta sauce in the microwave, cook the zoodles from frozen, and dinner is on the table in less than 20 minutes.


Up the satiety factor of zoodles by adding meatballs to the meal, experimenting with Italian, Mediterranean, Moroccan and Asian-inspired add-ins. Whether you’re making your own from scratch or buying frozen meatballs, make sure the ingredient list doesn’t include breadcrumbs or panko crumbs to keep the carbohydrate count low.


Use thinly sliced zucchini or eggplant (cut lengthwise with a sharp knife or mandolin) in place of lasagna noodles. To prevent the slices from releasing excess water as the lasagna bakes, place them in a colander, sprinkling each layer liberally with salt. Let sit for 30 minutes and rinse with cold water; pat dry and prepare the lasagna as instructed.


Shirataki noodles, also known as konjac or miracle noodles, are made from the konjac plant and contain less than 1 gram of carbohydrates per 100 gram serving. With their distinctive springy texture and ramen-like appearance, shirataki noodles work best in stir fry recipes and noodle bowls.


Fuel up on low-carb flatbread-style recipes


While you might think your days of pizza and wraps are over, there are plenty of ways to recreate these classic dishes as low-carb recipes. If you aren’t committed to a super-restrictive low-carb diet (less than 100 grams of carbohydrates per day), you can experiment with store-bought and homemade low-carb “cheat” bread. Low-carb bread is typically made with almond or coconut flour and has a noticeably different taste and texture than traditional bread.


Top thick slices of eggplant with pizza sauce or olive oil, cheese, ground meat, veggies, and fresh herbs for a low-carb take on pizza and flatbread. If you aren’t heavily restricting carbohydrates, try using a cauliflower crust for the base (you can make your own or buy a frozen crust.)


Raw greens like kale, Swiss chard, and cabbage make sturdy stand-ins for wraps or tortillas. Stuff the leaves with tuna or chicken salad (or any other low-carb spread or filling), roll everything up, and secure with a toothpick. Green wraps can be made up to a day in advance and are ideal for a last-minute family meal on extra-busy weeknights.