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Here's Exactly What To Make For Dinner This Week

Low-carb, low-stress. This easy-to-follow meal plan is the perfect way to get organized for the week ahead, and it's under $45!

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Low-carb diets are crazy popular right now.

BuzzFeed spoke with Brian St. Pierre, MS, RD, CSCS, Director of Performance Nutrition at Precision Nutrition and Amy Shapiro, MS, RD, of Real Nutrition NYC about what it means to be on a low-carb diet, and if/when low-carb dinners might be appropriate or helpful. Both agreed that any nutritional plan with fewer than 25-30% of calories from carbohydrates can be considered a low-carb. Both also stressed that, no matter how many carbs you're eating, the majority of them should be whole, unprocessed carbs like fruits, vegetables, legumes, potatoes, and whole grains.

But the low-carb route isn't for everyone. "If you're an athlete or a highly active individual, you're going to need more carbs," St. Pierre says. "If you’re someone who just walks around the neighborhood and doesn't do any high-level activity or exercise, you don’t need as many carbohydrates." Get more in-depth information about low-carb diets here.

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Eating a low-carb dinner can be delicious and healthy, even if you aren’t on a low-carb kick.

That said, eating a low-carb dinner can be beneficial for several reasons. "One of my easy tricks [for weight loss and weight maintenance] is to really focus on low-carb dinners," Shapiro says. "Carbs are our main source of energy, and we don't really need energy to sit on the couch and go to sleep." St. Pierre, on the other hand, says that, "there's nothing magical about having less carbs at night vs. during the day, but it can benefit you by helping you keep your total daily carbohydrate intake in check." So, whether or not you're on a low-carb diet, eating a low-carb dinner can be a healthy and easy way to keep your overall calorie and carbohydrate consumption in check.

So, want to give the low-carb dinner thing a try? Below you'll find a five-day dinner plan — complete with a grocery list — to make your weeknight meals as easy as possible.

All five recipes serve two people and are simple enough for a beginner cook. One serving of each recipe has 10 - 20 g carbohydrates, 30 - 40 g protein, and 350 - 400 calories. The recipes and grocery list can easily be doubled if you're feeding four people.

Here are the groceries you'll need to cook these five dinners:

Lauren Zaser / BuzzFeed

PRODUCE

Bibb lettuce - 2 heads $5.18*

Cabbage (green) - 1 small head $2.49

English cucumber - 1 large $1.33

Garlic - 1 head $0.49

Ginger - 1 medium piece $0.50

Fresh mint - 1 bunch $1.99

Fresh parsley - 1 bunch $1.39

Lemon - 1 medium $0.99

Red bell pepper - 3 large $3.99

Red onion - 2 small $1.98

MEAT/FISH

Chicken thighs, bone-in, skin-on - 4 large (about 1 ½ pounds) $3.48

Ground beef, 90% lean - 1 pound $6.04

Tuna (in water) - 2 5-ounce cans $3

PANTRY ITEMS

Fish sauce - 1 small bottle $3.19

Kalamata olives - 14 (about ½ cup) $1.99 from bulk bins

Peanuts (preferably roasted, unsalted) - ¼ cup $0.36 from bulk bins

Peanut butter (preferably natural peanut butter) - 1 tablespoon $2

Rice vinegar (unseasoned) - 1 small bottle $3.50


DAIRY

Feta cheese - 4 ounces $2.59

GROCERY TOTAL: $43.89

(We're assuming you already have olive oil, salt, and pepper.)

*Prices based on Key Food in New York, NY

When you get home from the grocery store, divide the ground beef in half and store it in two separate ziploc bags. Store one bag in the refrigerator and one bag in the freezer.

Daoleduc / Getty Images

On Monday night, cook the ground beef that's stored in the fridge. On Tuesday night, move the frozen ground beef from the freezer to the refrigerator, then cook it on Wednesday night. This will ensure that it will stay as fresh as possible and won't go bad in the fridge before you cook it!

HERE'S THE MENU:

We suggest you cook the dinners in this order, since Thursday's dinner calls for leftover red onions from Monday's dinner and leftover chicken from Tuesday's dinner.

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GINGER BEEF LETTUCE CUPS

Serves 2, with leftover red onions

INGREDIENTS
For the pickled red onions:

1 cup unseasoned rice vinegar

1 small red onion, thinly sliced


For the beef lettuce cups:

2 teaspoons olive oil

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

8 ounces ground beef, 90% lean

1 tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon red onion pickling liquid (or unseasoned rice vinegar)

⅓ cup pickled red onions (half of the above recipe)

½ a large English cucumber, seeds scraped out, chopped in ¼-inch pieces

¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

¼ cup fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

8-10 medium bibb lettuce leaves (from one head), washed and dried

2 tablespoons crushed peanuts (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS
For the pickled red onions:

Bring the rice vinegar to a boil in a small pot. Remove the pot from the heat and add the red onions. Let the onions sit in the liquid for at least 30 minutes. You'll use half the red onions in this recipe. Let the liquid and the remaining onions cool completely before storing (with all the liquid) in an airtight container in the fridge.

For the beef lettuce cups:

Heat the olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add the garlic and ginger, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until everything is fragrant and the garlic is starting to turn golden brown, about a minute. Add the beef, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring often, until the beef is cooked through and broken up into small pieces. Add the fish sauce, pickling liquid, and pickled red onions and stir to combine. Remove the skillet from the heat and add the cucumber, parsley, and mint.

Arrange the bibb lettuce leaves on two plates. Spoon a little of the beef mixture into the center of each cup, then garnish with the crushed peanuts.

Per serving: 362 calories, 21 g fat (5.6 g saturated fat), 11 g carbohydrate (3 g dietary fiber, 0.8 g sugars), 32.1 g protein, 70 mg cholesterol, 773 mg sodium

PAN-ROASTED CHICKEN THIGHS WITH BRAISED CABBAGE

Serves 2, with 2 leftover chicken thighs

INGREDIENTS

4 cloves garlic, minced

1 tablespoon minced ginger

2 tablespoons red onion pickling liquid (or unseasoned rice vinegar)

2 tablespoons fish sauce

4 small bone-in, skin-on chicken thighs (about 1 ½ pounds)

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

½ a small red onion, thinly sliced

½ a small head of green cabbage, cored and cut in rough 2-inch pieces

INSTRUCTIONS

To marinate the chicken, combine the garlic, ginger, pickling liquid, fish sauce, and olive oil in a medium, flat-bottomed airtight container. Add the chicken thighs and shake everything together. Let the mixture sit in the fridge for at least an hour, and up to 8 hours.

When you're ready to cook, preheat the oven to 400°F. Take the chicken out of the marinade, keeping the marinating liquid for later. Dry the chicken thighs thoroughly with paper towels, then season with a little salt and pepper.

Heat a large, oven-safe skillet over medium-high heat. Add the chicken thighs, skin side-down, and cook until the skin is light brown and crispy and most of the fat has rendered out and is liquid in the pan, 8-10 minutes. If the skin is starting to burn before it crisps, turn the heat down to medium and continue to cook until the skin is crispy.

Remove the chicken thighs from the skillet and set them aside on a plate, leaving the rendered fat in the skillet. With the skillet over medium heat, add the red onion and cook, stirring, until the onion starts to soften, about a minute. Add the cabbage and the leftover marinating liquid and stir so that the cabbage is coated with the liquid. Place the chicken thighs on top of the cabbage, skin side-up. Roast in the preheated oven until the chicken is cooked through and the cabbage is soft and slightly brown around the edges of the skillet, about 15 minutes.

Divide the cabbage between two plates, then top each with a chicken thigh. Let the two leftover chicken thighs cool completely, then store them in an airtight container in the fridge.

Per serving: 373 calories, 21.3 g fat (6.1 g saturated fat), 15.2 g carbohydrate (5.3 g dietary fiber, 0.1 g sugars), 30 g protein, 120 mg cholesterol, 525 mg sodium

On Tuesday night, remember to take the second bag of ground beef out of the freezer and put it in the fridge.

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GREEK STUFFED PEPPERS

Serves 2


For this recipe, look for bell peppers with a wide, flat bottom. You want peppers that will stand up on their own in the oven.

INGREDIENTS

2 large red bell peppers

½ a small red onion, minced

8 ounces ground beef, 90% lean

3 ounces feta cheese, crumbled

6 pitted kalamata olives, roughly chopped

¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, chopped

¼ cup fresh mint leaves, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


PREPARATION

Preheat the oven to 400°F.

Cut the tops off of the bell peppers, then scrape out the seeds and white pith. Save the pepper tops and set them aside.

In a medium mixing bowl, combine all the remaining ingredients, season with salt and pepper, and stir together so that everything is thoroughly mixed. Divide the beef mixture in half and stuff it into the peppers, then place the tops of the peppers back on top. Transfer the peppers to a baking sheet or oven-safe skillet, then bake in the preheated oven until the meat is cooked through and the peppers are soft and starting to shrivel, 40 to 45 minutes.

Per serving: 376 calories, 18.4 g fat (4.1 g saturated fat), 19.7 g carbohydrate (7.6 g dietary fiber, 4.2 g sugars), 33 g protein, 113 mg cholesterol, 661 mg sodium

CHICKEN THIGHS WITH HERBS AND PEANUT SLAW

Serves 2

For this recipe, you'll need the 2 leftover chicken thighs from Tuesday's dinner.

INGREDIENTS

1 tablespoon natural peanut butter (we used crunchy)

½ tablespoon fish sauce

1 tablespoon red onion pickling liquid (or unseasoned rice vinegar)

½ tablespoon olive oil

⅓ cup pickled red onion (half of the recipe from Monday night's dinner)

½ a small head of green cabbage, thinly sliced

1 large red bell pepper, cored and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped

2 tablespoons fresh mint leaves, roughly chopped

2 cooked chicken thighs, bone and skin removed, thinly sliced

2 tablespoons crushed peanuts (optional)

INSTRUCTIONS

In a large mixing bowl, whisk together the peanut butter, fish sauce, pickling liquid, and olive oil. Add the pickled onion, cabbage, bell pepper, parsley, and mint. Toss everything to coat the vegetables completely with the peanut dressing.

Divide the slaw evenly between two bowls, then top with the sliced chicken thighs and crushed peanuts.

Per serving: 398 calories, 23.3 g fat (10.4 g saturated fat), 15.9 g carbohydrate (4 g dietary fiber, 6.3 g sugars), 31.5 g carbohydrates, 108 mg cholesterol, 803 mg sodium

TUNA SALAD WITH FETA AND OLIVES

Serves 2

INGREDIENTS

2 5-ounce cans tuna in water, drained

2 tablespoons olive oil, divided

¼ cup fresh parsley leaves, roughly chopped, divided

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

Juice of 1 lemon

1 head of bibb lettuce, leaves separated, washed, and dried

½ a large English cucumber, cut into rough 1-inch pieces

1 ounce feta cheese, crumbled

8 pitted kalamata olives, halved


INSTRUCTIONS

In a medium mixing bowl, combine the tuna, 1 tablespoon olive oil, and 2 tablespoons chopped parsley. Season with salt and pepper, then mix everything together and set aside.

In a large mixing bowl, combine the rest of the chopped parsley and the lemon juice. Season with salt and pepper, then whisk to combine. Add the remaining tablespoon of olive oil and whisk to combine. Add the bibb lettuce leaves to the bowl and gently toss them to coat them with the vinaigrette. Divide the lettuce between two bowls, then top each bowl with the dressed tuna, cucumber, feta, and olives.

Per serving: 363 calories, 17.3 g fat (4.2 g saturated fat), 13.8 g carbohydrate (3.9 g dietary fiber, 3.4 g sugars), 39 g protein, 71 mg cholesterol, 1,106 mg sodium

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