Dinner for a diabetic

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7 Easy Lunches for Type 2 Diabetes

Salads with lots of raw vegetables are best, including carrots, cucumbers, radishes, celery, and spinach. Sprinkle nuts or seeds on top, add a few dried cranberries, and garnish with some avocado chunks to give it zip. Choose a salad dressing made with vinegar and olive oil to avoid added sugars found in fat-free and low-fat versions, and limit the serving to one tablespoon for a side salad and two tablespoons for an entrée-sized salad.

2. Sandwiches

As with salads, there are many ways to spice up a sandwich. Start with whole-grain bread or a whole-wheat tortilla. Pick a lean meat, such as turkey, ham, or grilled chicken; layer on your choice of veggies; add mustard, low-fat mayonnaise, or hummus to the mix — and you have a filling and tasty lunch. Stay away from greasy chips, French fries, and other fattening sides. Instead choose fruit, a few pretzels, or carrot and celery sticks to complement your meal.

3. Hearty Soups

Soup can be a good option for lunch, with many healthy choices to consider. Chicken noodle, chicken and rice, and tomato (made without cream) are all good choices. Others include butternut squash, gazpacho and other chunky vegetable varieties, miso, and pasta and bean soups. Avoid cream-based soups and chowders. Remember, soup freezes well. You can make a large batch and freeze it in individual containers; with a microwave you have a nearly instant lunch.

4. Pasta

As long as you choose whole-grain pasta, you can eat all types of noodles, such as penne, angel hair, or spaghetti. Top it with a healthy tomato sauce, then throw in chicken, shrimp, or turkey meatballs, and a variety of vegetables. Add a crisp salad and you have a healthy and filling lunch.

5. Pizza

Pizza can be a good choice — in moderation. Choose a thin-crust variety, ask for light cheese, and include vegetables as the topping instead of fatty meats like pepperoni.

6. Tuna, Chicken, and Shrimp Salads

When you make these protein-based mixes, you can control the mayonnaise and the good-health factor. Choose low-fat mayo, and not too much of it. Add fiber and bulk with chopped celery, diced bell pepper, and chopped onions to taste. Serve on whole-grain bread or scoop onto a bed of lettuce.

7. Veggie Stir-Fry

For a more exotic lunch, go for a bowl of vegetable stir-fry and brown rice. Avoid the fast-food version, which can be high in fat and sodium, and make it yourself by sautéing the vegetables with a healthy cooking spray and soy sauce. Prepare it the night before for dinner, making enough to bring leftovers for lunch.

More Healthy Lunch Tips for Type 2 Diabetes

To better control type 2 diabetes, keep these tips in mind:

  • Choose low-fat or fat-free salad dressings and watch how much you use.
  • Pick whole-grain bread over white bread.
  • Practice portion control.
  • Follow the diabetes food pyramid: Eat more grains, beans, and starchy vegetables and less fats, sweets, and alcohol. In between, and equally divided, are protein choices, non-starchy vegetables, fruit, and milk and dairy products.
  • Choose lean protein sources, such as turkey, ham, chicken, lean roast beef, and fish.
  • Avoid fried foods.
  • Stay away from fatty chips and mayonnaise-based salads, like potato salad. Complement your meal with sliced carrots and celery or fruit salad.
  • If you are craving a sweet after lunch and fresh fruit just won’t do, reach for sugar-free, fat-free frozen yogurt. Be careful of sorbets and sherbets that are loaded with sugar.
  • Avoid sugary beverages; drink water and tea instead.

Consult with a certified diabetes educator or registered dietitian to get more lunch ideas. How much and what types of food you should eat varies, depending on your specific needs — a dietitian can help create a meal plan that is right for you.

Low-Cost, Low-Carb – 19 Diabetes Recipes that Fit the Bill

By Catherine Newman

Cooking can get expensive when being mindful of nutrition, so we’ve put together a list of meals that come in under $3 per serving. Enjoy!

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I know that I’m preaching to the choir here – the choir being every person who is buying ingredients and making food – but keeping meals on the table can be a costly proposition. And it gets even more expensive when you’re heavily weighing nutrition or managing a chronic condition like diabetes. (My daughter has celiac disease, and my unwillingness to spend $6 for a tiny loaf of bread actually motivated me to learn gluten-free bread baking. #silverlinings.) Happily, many of the world’s most nutrient-dense ingredients – eggs and dried beans, I’m looking at you – happen to be spectacularly budget-friendly as well, and by “budget-friendly,” we’re referring to meals that should run you no more than two or three dollars a serving. (I’m not giving exact costs per serving here, since obviously things like a commitment to, say, organic produce or sustainably-farmed meats will change the price of the ingredients. But I used organic everything in my recipe testing, and the meals were still coming in at under $3 a serving.)

“Because you are not one of my actual children, it probably doesn’t occur to you to be impressed that only two of the four new recipes are bean-based. The truth is that we eat a lot of beans at home, and this is partly because they are cheap and partly because they are nutrition powerhouses and mostly because they are fantastic and we love them. That said, there was once a tiny story in our local police blotter about kids calling the cops because they were tired of being served beans for dinner (true story) and I worried for just a second that it was my kids (it wasn’t).

In addition to beans, what you’ll see here is a reliance on crafty cooking and seasoning techniques to shepherd those low-cost ingredients from the fridge to the dinner plate. Because once you’re not eating traditional pasta – and not eating pasta is a good way of reducing your carbohydrate load – it gets a little harder to throw an inexpensive meal on the table. Until I was watching carbs (and, in my house, gluten) spaghetti or fusilli was the perfect inexpensive go-to. Or X-on-toast, a favorite dinner of ours for years. Instead, I’m now turning to cheaper proteins and vegetables, learning how to coax them into exciting dinners that won’t break the bank or spike everybody’s blood sugar or kill anybody with repetitiveness of the “Scrambled eggs again?” variety. See what you think – and please feel free to report back on your own tips and tricks. We’d love to incorporate your thinking in our development.

1. Crustless Quiche with Broccoli, Cheddar, and Mustard

The crustlessness of this quiche does double-duty: it eliminates the fussy, pain-in-the-neck part of quiche-making, and it turns the dish happily low-carb.

View the recipe.

2. Two-Bean Beef Chili

This is a deliciously hearty, tangy version of the classic, and it’s amazingly easy to make.

View the recipe.

3. Lentil Salad with Garlicky Sausage

This is a yummy, deeply satisfying, and highly nutritious main-dish salad that manages to be tender and crunchy and tangy and rich all at once.

View the recipe.

4. Long-Roasted Chicken Thighs

One beautiful thing about this recipe is that, although it spends a long time in the oven, it requires almost nothing from you. Another is that it scales up beautifully: you can easily double or triple it to feed a holiday crowd.

View the recipe.

5. Chia pudding (Adam’s recipe)

Little impact on blood glucose, very filling and tasty, three minutes to make without cooking, inexpensive, and stocked with Omega 3s and fiber.

View the recipe.

6. Scrambled Omelet

Okay, these are just eggs scrambled with omelet-type ingredients, but I like the sound of it – and also, I prefer scrambled eggs because they’re unfussy and the eggs are fluffier.

View the recipe.

7. Cottage Cheese Pancakes

My daughter and I would basically eat these every morning – and sometimes, for weeks at a time, we do. It’s mostly only running out of cottage cheese that slows us down.

View the recipe.

8. Baked Huevos Rancheros

This version seems to have paid a visit to its Tunisian cousin, shakshuka, which is a dish of eggs baked or poached in a spicy tomato sauce. And it’s delicious: saucy, a little spicy (or not!).

View the recipe.

9. Perfect Boiled Eggs

You hear a lot about hard-boiled eggs, and a fair amount about soft-boiled, but not so much about medium-boiled. Which is sad, because medium-boiled turns out to be the gateway egg for people who don’t like hard-boiled eggs.

View the recipe.

10. Lemony Hummus

Good hummus is tangy, creamy, and versatile. (As opposed to bad hummus, which is bland, gritty, and pointless.)

View the recipe.

11. Green Roll-Ups

If you’re counting carbs, or thinking about carbs, or wondering why you’re tired after lunch or your blood sugar is all over the place, well, bread is kind of an obvious place to cast your side-eye. Which doesn’t mean you can never eat it, but maybe you’d like to mix up your routine a little!

View the recipe.

12. Zippy Egg Salad / Zippy Tuna Salad

Homemade egg salad is a wonderful treat – which is kind of amazing, considering how easy, cheap, and full of nutrients it is.

View the recipe.

13. Mason-Jar Salads

This is the most perfectly portable lunch ever, and it’s pinterest-pretty and exciting to boot! Plus, you can make 2 or 3 at one time and eat them a few days in a row.

View the recipe.

14. Any-Veggie Soup

This is a very forgiving recipe that takes well to lots of vegetal odds and ends. (You might even call it, just to yourself, Crisper-Drawer-Clean-Out Soup.)

View the recipe.

15. Quesadizza

This versatile snack has the open, round look of a pizza, the cheese-and-tortilla ingredients of a quesadilla, and the topping opportunities of nachos.

View the recipe.

16. Cheater Deviled Eggs

If true deviled eggs were a practical snack, I would eat them every day. But they don’t actually keep well enough to be a go-to, and they’re too fiddly to make fresh daily. These, however, are entirely practical, and I do eat one most days.

View the recipe.

17. Rotisserie Chicken Meals

I love supermarket rotisserie chickens because they’re inexpensive and they’re tasty – and because they lend themselves to such a lovely range of meals, without the fuss of first prepping and cooking the chicken.

View the recipe.

18. Zucchini Noodles

So, yes, oodles of zoodles and all that – it’s true that spiralizing vegetables, i.e. slicing them into spaghetti-shaped strands, is kind of a food trend. But zucchini noodles are light and delicious, naturally low in carbohydrates, and naturally high in fiber and nutrients.

View the recipe.

19. Cauliflower Rice

Cauliflower rice is not really like rice. But it is delicious and satisfying as its own thing – a cross between a vegetable and something vaguely grain-like, and it’s packed with vitamins and fiber instead of carbs.

View the recipe.

About Catherine

Catherine loves to write about food and feeding people. In addition to her recipe and parenting blog Ben & Birdy (which has about 15,000 weekly readers), she edits the ChopChop series of mission-driven cooking magazines. This kids’ cooking magazine won the James Beard Publication of the Year award in 2013 – the first non-profit ever to win it – and a Parents’ Choice Gold Award. Last year they started the WIC version of the magazine for families enrolled in the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC), and are currently developing Seasoned, their senior version, commissioned by the AARP. They distribute over a million magazines annually, through paid subscriptions, doctor’s offices, schools, and hospitals. Their mission started with obesity as its explicit focus – and has shifted, over the years, to a more holistic one, with health and happiness at its core. That’s the same vibe Catherine brings to the diaTribe column.

The Best 7-Day Diabetes Meal Plan

Eating healthy with diabetes is easy and delicious with this 7-day diabetes diet plan. The simple meals and snacks that makes this plan so simple and realistic to follow feature the best foods for diabetes, like complex carbohydrates (think whole grains and fresh fruits and vegetables), lean protein and healthy fats. The carbohydrates are balanced throughout each day with each meal containing 2-3 carb servings (30-45 grams of carbohydrates) and each snack containing around 1 carb serving (15 grams of carbohydrates). To help keep your blood sugar from spiking too high too quickly, we limited refined carbohydrates (like white bread, white pasta and white rice) and have also cut down on saturated fats and sodium, which can negatively impact your health if you eat too much.

Related: Healthy Diabetes Recipes

What we definitely didn’t skimp on is flavor. The meals and snacks in this diet plan feature fresh ingredients and plenty of herbs and spices that add flavor without adding extra sodium. Eating with diabetes doesn’t need to be difficult—choose a variety of nutritious foods, as we do in this diet meal plan, and add in daily exercise for a healthy and sustainable approach to managing diabetes

See all our our healthy meal plans for diabetes and don’t miss our collection of delicious diabetes-friendly recipes.

7-Day Diabetes Diet Plan

See what a healthy diabetes meal plan looks like at 1,200 calories per day.

How to Meal-Prep Your Week of Meals:

  1. Prep the Chipotle-Lime Cauliflower Taco Bowls and store in an air-tight container (To buy: amazon.com, $25.99 for 5) to have as a ready-made lunch on Days 2 through 5. (See the step-by-step guide for meal prepping this recipe plus two more diabetes-friendly recipes!)
  2. Make 5 servings of the Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oats and store in leak-proof cotainers (To buy: amazon.com, $20 for 6) to have as grab-and-go breakfasts on Days 2 through 6.
  3. Start the Slow-Cooker Vegetable Soup early enough on Day 1 so that it’s ready by dinner time.

Related: The Best 30-Day Diabetes Diet Plan

Day 1

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Breakfast (281 calories, 33 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Everything Bagel Avocado Toast
  • 1/2 cup blueberries
  • 1/2 nonfat plain Greek yogurt

A.M. Snack (66 calories, 3 g carbohydrates)

  • 20 pistachios

Lunch (325 calories, 40 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Veggie & Hummus Sandwich

If you’ll be taking this sandwich to go, store in a reusable silicone bag (To buy: amazon.com, $12 for 1).

P.M. Snack (95 calories, 25 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 medium apple, sliced and sprinkled with cinnamon

Dinner (428 calories, 47 g carbohydrates)

  • 2 cups Slow-Cooker Vegetable Soup topped with 2 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 slice whole-wheat bread, toasted and drizzled with 2 tsp. olive oil

Make Ahead Tip: Save 2 cups each of the Slow-Cooker Vegetable Soup and store in an airtight container (To buy: amazon.com, $7.19 for 1) for Day 6 and 7.

Daily Total: 1,195 calories, 54 g protein, 148 g carbohydrates, 37 g fiber, 49 g sugar, 49 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1,924 mg sodium

Day 2

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Breakfast (276 calories, 43 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oats
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped pecans

A.M. Snack (77 calories, 20 g carbohydrates)

  • 15 cherries

Lunch (344 calories, 47 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Chipotle-Lime Cauliflower Taco Bowls
  • 1 medium apple, sliced and sprinkled with cinnamon

Dinner (411 calories, 41 g carbohydrates)

  • 2 1/2 cups Lentil & Roasted Vegetable Salad with Green Goddess Dressing topped with 1/2 cup croutons

Daily Total: 1,204 calories, 37 g protein, 176 g carbohydrates, 40 g fiber, 61 g sugar, 45 g fat, 8 g saturated fat, 1,638 mg sodium

Day 3

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  • 1 serving Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oats
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped pecans

A.M. Snack (30 calories, 8 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 medium plum
  • 1 serving Chipotle-Lime Cauliflower Taco Bowls

P.M. Snack (62 calories, 15 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 medium orange

Dinner (483 calories, 53 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 1/3 cups Chicken Sausage & Peppers
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice tossed with 1/2 tsp. each olive oil and no-salt-added Italian seasoning
  • 2 cups mixed greens topped with 2 Tbsp. Italian vinaigrette dressing*

*When buying premade salad dressings, look for one made without added sugars. And, choose one made with olive oil or canola oil.

Make Ahead Tip: Cook an extra 1/2 cup of brown rice to have for dinner on Day 7. You can substitute brown rice for the farro in the dinner recipe for Day 4. If you choose to do so, cook an extra 2 cups of rice tonight to save yourself time tomorrow.

Daily Total: 1,195 calories, 45 g protein, 166 g carbohydrates, 35 g fiber, 54 g sugar, 44 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1,678 mg sodium

Day 4

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  • 1 serving Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oats
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped pecans
  • 15 cherries
  • 1 serving Chipotle-Lime Cauliflower Taco Bowls
  • 1 medium orange

Dinner (450 calories, 41 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Lemon-Herb Salmon with Caponata & Farro*

*Don’t have farro? You can substitute another whole grain you have on hand, like brown rice.

Daily Total: 1,209 calories, 58 g protein, 166 g carbohydrates, 36 g fiber, 60 g sugar, 40 g fat, 7 g saturated fat, 1,422 mg sodium

Day 5

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  • 1 serving Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oats
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped pecans
  • 1 plum
  • 1 serving Chipotle-Lime Cauliflower Taco Bowls

P.M. Snack (103 calories, 26 g carbohydrates)

  • 20 cherries

Dinner (457 calories, 36 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Spaghetti Squash & Meatballs
  • 1 1/2 cups mixed greens topped with 1 Tbsp. Italian vinaigrette dressing

Daily Total: 1,211 calories, 54 g protein, 160 g carbohydrates, 36 g fiber, 63 g sugar, 44 g fat, 9 g saturated fat, 1,635 mg sodium

Day 6

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  • 1 serving Cinnamon Roll Overnight Oats
  • 1/2 cup raspberries
  • 1 Tbsp. chopped pecans

A.M. Snack (129 calories, 33 g carbohydrates)

  • 25 cherries

Lunch (275 calories, 36 g carbohydrates)

  • 2 cups Slow-Cooker Vegetable Soup topped with 2 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium orange

Dinner (464 calories, 53 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Apple-Glazed Chicken with Spinach
  • 1/2 cup Steamed Butternut Squash tossed with 1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil, 1/2 tsp. thyme and a pinch each of salt and pepper.

Daily Total: 1,206 calories, 59 g protein, 180 g carbohydrates, 33 g total fiber, 87 g sugar, 35 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 2,288 mg sodium

Day 7

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Make Ahead Tip: Tonight’s dinner is a slow-cooker recipe. Make sure you start it early enough in the day that it will be ready in time for dinner.

Breakfast (349 calories, 59 g carbohydrates)

  • 2 Blueberry-Pecan Pancakes
  • 1/2 cup blueberries, fresh or frozen
  • 1 Tbsp. maple syrup

A.M. Snack (62 calories, 15 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 medium orange

Lunch (254 calories, 35 g carbohydrates)

  • 2 cups Slow-Cooker Vegetable Soup topped with 1 Tbsp. shredded Parmesan cheese
  • 1 medium apple

Dinner (444 calories, 48 g carbohydrates)

  • 1 serving Mushroom-Sauced Pork Chops
  • 1/2 cup cooked brown rice
  • 3/4 cup Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sun-Dried Tomato Pesto

Daily Total: 1,203 calories, 59 g protein, 183 g carbohydrates, 29 g fiber, 77 g sugar, 31 g fat, 6 g saturated fat, 1,775 mg sodium

You Did It!

Congratulations on finishing this weekly meal plan for diabetes. Whether you made every single meal in this plan or simply used it as a guide for healthy eating, we hope you found it inspirational, exciting and informational. Don’t miss our other healthy meal plans for diabetes and collection of delicious diabetes-friendly recipes.

Watch: What Does a 1-Day Diabetes Meal Plan Look Like?

Don’t Miss!

The Best 30-Day Diabetes Diet Plan

3-Day Diabetes Meal Plan: 1,200 Calories

1-Day 1,500-Calorie Diabetes Meal Plan for Weight Loss

3-Day Diabetes Meal Plan: 1,500 Calories

Diabetes Diet Center

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