Whether you are cooking for one person or for a larger group planning meals is a good idea – you put more thought into what you eat, you are more likely to eat a wider variety of food, you do more cooking from scratch, you are less likely to get take away or eat junk food, you eat tastier healthier meals and you save money. However, while it is a very good idea in general, it is essential, in my opinion when starting with Atkins.
At the beginning, it is simpler to use meal plans on Atkins or at least recipes where the carb amount is already calculated. However, once you get used to it, counting carbs is pretty straightforward – see our post on How to count carbs while following Atkins in Ireland for more information.
Meal planning resources
There are a number of options when looking for Atkins friendly meal planning ideas:
- There are excellent meal plans at the back of the New Atkins New You book for each phase. It even includes plans for for different carb levels in the different phases e.g. when you are at 35g of carbs in phase two for instance. It does make it simple as the carb amounts are included for each meal so you get to learn how much carbs are in different foods. Also the meals included there are in general simple foods that do not involve a huge amount of preparation or cooking. The book also has a number of recipes for sauces and salad dressings.
- By registering for free on the UK Atkins site you can use the weekly Meal Planner there. Just indicate the phase you are in and it will generate a meal plan. Each of the meals has a link to the relevant recipe. (The printable shopping list is not very practical however).
Do keep in mind, with every meal plan that if there is a food or a meal you don’t like you can substitute another with a similar carb amount. It is very important that you enjoy what you are eating – something very much achievable with Atkins! If you are eating the same things over and over, you will get bored of it and who would stick with a diet like that for long? Just because it’s day four of the diet and the meal plan for day four includes a food you don’t like, doesn’t mean you have to eat it! Just swap it for one you do like. Remember, the goal is to lose the weight and make it stay lost – in order to do that you need to make sure that the diet is one you enjoy so you can stick to it long term and tailor it to your tastes and to your individual lifestyle.
Atkins friendly recipes
You can also simply look up low carb Atkins friendly recipes. There are many excellent websites with delicious recipes. Again most will have the carb amounts already calculated but you will find it becomes easy to adapt almost any recipe so that it is low carb and counting carbs soon becomes second nature. Here are a few resources to get you started:
- We are building up our collection of check out the Atkins friendly recipes here on eatingAtkins.ie so do check back often or better still sign up to our newsletter to get them straight to your inbox. Do check out our article on breakfast ideas too. We always make sure to include the carb amounts and also to convert measurements to grammes and millilitres where possible to make it easier for our Irish readers. If there are any unusual ingredients, we include information on where to get them in Ireland.
- You will also find hundreds of recipes for each phase on the UK Atkins site.
- Our EatingAtkins Pinterest board is another resource you can use when planning your meals. It has pictures of meals we have cooked and might be useful for ideas for you too.
- The New Atkins New You Cookbook available from our online shop, has over 200 recipes that you can make in less than 30 minutes.
Of course, you don’t have to stick to using Atkins or low carb recipes – you can simply modify regular recipes so that they are low carb e.g. make cauliflower rice instead of regular rice. Or very simply, just omit the potatoes and have extra vegetables – for example fish with two or three veg or roast beef with a selection of roast vegetables. Take a look at our post on How to Start the Atkins Diet for more practical tips on getting started with your new Atkins lifestyle – one where you get to really enjoy delicious food and lose weight for good – you really can have it all with Atkins!
Sample Meal Plans on Atkins
I’ve included our meal plans from the last few weeks here, just to give an example of what a typical week would look like for our family and to give you ideas when writing your meal plan. We are in the Maintenance phase now and generally don’t need to add up the carb amounts so I haven’t included them – over four and a half years in, we know what foods we can eat without needing to count carbs. Many of these would also be suitable in induction. We do keep an eye on our weight and if it creeps up by a few pounds, we pay closer attention to the carb amounts for a week or two. Again, if some of these meals don’t appeal – just find ones that you do love.
|Mon||Lunch||Mushroom soup + MIM|
|Dinner||Fish curry + cauliflower rice|
|Wed||Lunch||Red peppers with 3 cheeses + chicken drumsticks|
|Thurs||Lunch||Mexican avocado salad|
|Dinner||Gammon steak + turnip|
|Dinner||Pork belly with leek/courgette/spinach|
|Dinner||Roast chicken portions with leek/courgette/spinach|
|Dinner||Fish curry with stir fried pak choi & creamed spinach|
|Dinner||Roast chicken with roast cauliflower|
|Dinner||Duck with roast veg (celeriac, squash, carrots)|
|Mon||Lunch||Round courgette stuffed with goats cheese & almond|
|Dinner||Roast chicken portions with leek/courgette/spinach|
|Wed||Lunch||Salad with chicken (cooked night before)|
|Dinner||Roast beef with roast veg (squash, sweep potato, carrot, parsnip, turnip)|
|Thurs||Lunch||Tomato, Cucumber and Avocado salad|
|Dinner||Roast duck with roast veg|
|Fri||Lunch||Soup from extra roast veg|
|Dinner||Salmon with creamed spinach and roast fennel|
You will notice that I haven’t included breakfasts here – that is because breakfast for us is generally an omelet – with different fillings each morning depending on what is in the fridge. We usually have porridge with cream once or twice a week. Also for snacks, we would generally have a slice of ham, some cheese, nuts, natural yogurt with berries or of course lovely Atkins bars.
Atkins Meal planning tips
Here are some tips to keep in mind while writing your meal plan:
- Keep in mind what you have on each day. So for instance if you know that you will be home late on a particular day, try to make something the previous night that will do two days.
- If lunch is something that takes a bit more cooking you might want to choose something that takes less time to cook for dinner that evening.
- Keep in mind what you can easily bring to work with you – this will also depend on whether you have access to a microwave in work if it is something warm.
- When buying ingredients for a recipe, see whether another recipe that week could use up the rest if you are likely to have some left over. For instance, if you are making a roast dinner – you could use leftover veg to make a soup the following day.
- Cook part of another meal at the same time so for instance if cooking chicken portions for dinner one evening, cook some extra portions so that you can have them with a salad for lunch the following day. This is much better than buying packets of cooked chicken which are more processed and generally have added sugar as well as other additives.
- Make a note on your meal plan of the page number where you saw the recipe or the website.
- As you write down each meal check the recipes if necessary, write down your grocery list at the same time leaving out anything you already have.
- Before deciding meals, check what ingredients you have that need to be used up and choose a meal that needs that ingredient. This will cut down on waste.
- Keep a master list of meals you add to your plan – that way you can refer to it for ideas when meal planning.
- Stick the meal plan on your fridge. That way, you and everyone else in the house knows what is on the menu! Having decided what to eat and having everything you need to cook it in your kitchen already makes a world of difference in how easy it is to follow your meal plan.
What are your top tips for planning meals on Atkins? Do share them with us in the comments.