Here's how to make a week's worth of low-carb lunches in 15 minutes or less using some of our favorite products from Trader Joe's.

Carolyn A. Hodges, R.D.
December 31, 2019

When it comes to following a low-carb diet, sticking with meals that pack in plenty of protein, volume and flavor will keep you satisfied until your next meal or snack. And while some low-carb diet recommendations restrict carbohydrates to very low amounts, it's important to incorporate some carbohydrate at each meal to ensure you're getting enough key nutrients, like fiber (we suggest about 15 grams of carbohydrate per meal when following a low-carb plan).

If you're trying to stick with a healthy low-carb eating plan, we're sharing three step-by-step meal-prep guides so you can prepare a week's worth of low-carb lunches using just four or five products from Trader Joe's. These recipes total 15 grams of carbohydrate or less per serving and incorporate some of our favorite TJ's shortcut and convenience items so cooking is kept to a minimum. You'll need as little as 10 minutes to prepare four lunches for the week (assuming you'll take leftovers or dine out once during the week).

Tips for Meal-Prepping Low-Carb Lunches from Trader Joe's

Build a base with low-carb vegetables

To bulk up your lunch bowl while keeping carbohydrates low, pile in the low-carb vegetables, like lettuce, cabbage, asparagus and zucchini. Cut down on prep time by snagging a bag or two of Trader Joe's ready-to-eat greens blends or salad mixes. Or, make your way to the freezer section where you'll find an assortment of low-carb options, like zucchini noodles. We love TJ's cauliflower-based products, like their frozen riced cauliflower, which is a great substitute for grains and our low-carb base of choice in the Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Grilled Asparagus & Chicken Sausage.

Include at least one lean protein

When it comes to satiety, a serving or two of protein at each meal goes a long way on a low-carb eating plan. To save time, take advantage of Trader Joe's cooked chicken products, which you can find in both the refrigerated and freezer sections. Or browse the center aisles for a unique assortment of canned proteins, like wild salmon. We're doubling down on the protein in these Shrimp Niçoise Meal-Prep Bowls by using Trader Joe's Frozen Cooked Shrimp (which thaw in a few minutes) and Fresh Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs (no boiling required!).

Incorporate a healthy fat

Fat adds both flavor and staying power, which is why you'll want to include a serving at every meal. Dressings, dips and assorted nuts and seeds abound at Trader Joe's, and many of these fit right in when eating low-carb. In addition to adding healthy fat, these items can bump up the protein and fiber content of meals. Whether it's prepared pesto or olive tapenade from the refrigerated section or a unique nut product—we love Trader Joe's Sesame Honey Almonds that are used as a topper in the Asian-Style Chicken Salad Bowls—there's no simpler way to jazz up your lunch bowl.

How to Meal-Prep Low-Carb Lunches Using Products from Trader Joe's

Shop your neighborhood Trader Joe's for a handful of items and then meet us back here for the step-by-step meal-prep plans to prepare grab-and-go lunches for the week. These lunches clock in at 15 grams of carbs or less per serving and require no more than 15 minutes to assemble. Each of these recipes makes four servings, so you can plan on one day of leftovers or lunch out.

Cauliflower Rice Bowls with Grilled Asparagus & Chicken Sausage

Save on carbs by swapping in Trader Joe's frozen Organic Riced Cauliflower for regular rice in these super-satisfying veg-packed bowls. At lunchtime, reheat to steaming and top with a generous 1/4 cup of TJ's kale pesto.

Step 1: Cook chicken sausage

Heat 2 teaspoons olive oil in a nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add 4 sliced Trader Joe's fully cooked Organic Sweet Italian Chicken Sausage links and cook, stirring often, until heated through and browned on both sides, about 5 minutes; set aside.

Step 2: Heat cauliflower rice and asparagus

Follow the directions on the packages to prepare 1 (12-ounce) bag of Trader Joe's frozen Organic Riced Cauliflower and 1 (12-ounce) bag of Trader Joe's frozen Grilled Asparagus Spears (each will heat in about 3 to 4 minutes in the microwave); set aside to cool slightly.

Step 3: Portion out pesto

Divide 1 (8-ounce) container of Trader Joe's Vegan Kale, Cashew & Basil Pesto into each of 4 small lidded containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Step 4: Assemble lunch containers

Divide riced cauliflower among 4 single-serving lidded containers. Top each with one-fourth of the asparagus and one-fourth of the chicken sausage. Seal the containers and refrigerated for up to 4 days. To reheat, vent the lid and microwave on High until steaming, 2½ to 3 minutes. Top with pesto before serving.

Shrimp Niçoise Meal-Prep Bowls

This low-carb meal-prep version of the classic composed salad comes together in about 10 minutes thanks to pretrimmed green beans and prepared olive tapenade. And with a whopping 41 grams of protein per serving, it will keep hunger at bay all afternoon. To switch things up, feel free to swap in canned tuna or leftover roasted salmon for the shrimp.

Step 1: Steam green beans

Cook 1 (12-ounce) package Trader Joe's fresh Haricots Verts in the microwave according to package instructions (this will take 2 to 4 minutes); set aside to cool.

Step 2: Halve eggs

Cut the eggs in 1 (9.3-ounce) package of Trader Joe's Fresh Hard-Cooked Peeled Eggs in half; set aside.

Step 3: Portion out tapenade

Measure 2 tablespoons Trader Joe's Traditional Olive Tapenade into each of 4 small lidded single-serve containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Step 4: Assemble lunch containers (leave the shrimp out for now)

Divide the cooled green beans among 4 lidded single-serving containers. Top each with 3 egg halves and one-fourth of a (10-ounce) container of Trader Joe's Organic Cherry Tomatoes. Seal the containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Step 5: Thaw shrimp

In the morning before taking your lunch to go, transfer one-fourth of a bag of Trader Joe's frozen Large Cooked Shrimp (about 1 cup) to a colander and run under cool water until thawed, 2 to 3 minutes. Add to the meal-prep container. Add a lemon wedge to the container, if desired. Just before serving, top with tapenade and freshly squeezed lemon juice, if desired.

Asian-Style Chicken Salad Bowls

A bag of prechopped red and green cabbage serves as the crunchy low-carb base in these 4-ingredient salad bowls—which only require 10 minutes to assemble. Top with Trader Joe's Sesame Honey Almonds and Organic Toasted Sesame Dressing and you have irresistible lunches you'll look forward to all week.

Step 1: Cut up chicken

Cut 1 (12-ounce) package Trader Joe's Grilled Seasoned White Meat Chicken Strips (from the refrigerated section) into bite-size pieces; set aside.

Step 2: Portion out salad dressing

Measure 2 tablespoons Trader Joe's Organic Toasted Sesame Dressing into each of 4 small lidded single-serve containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days.

Step 3: Assemble lunch containers

Divide 1 (9-ounce) package Trader Joe's Organic Shredded Green & Red Cabbage with Orange Carrots among 4 single-serving lidded containers. Top each with one-fourth of the chicken and 2 tablespoons Trader Joe's Sesame Honey Almonds. Seal the containers and refrigerate for up to 4 days. Toss with dressing just before serving.