Ready-Made, Low-Carb Foods at the Grocery Store

Grab-and-Go Meals That Are Tasty and Guilt-Free

salad bar


Just because there are days when you don't feel like cooking, don't assume that you have to throw your low-carb diet out of the window. Even if your grocery store doesn't have a dedicated, low-carb aisle, you can still easily assemble a low-carb, grab-and-go meal by following a few simple rules.

Focus on finding a good portion of protein, some vegetables, and only healthy fats. Always read the nutrition label, paying as much attention to the sugar content as the carbohydrates and saturated fats.

While the U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends a daily carb intake of between 225 and 325 grams, a low-carb diet is constrained to between 90 and 130 grams. This means that you'll want to aim for a per-meal carb intake of 30 to 45 grams (or less).

With these guidelines in mind, here are some ideas for a nutritious, low-carb meal-on-the-go:

Deli Counter Foods

The deli counter can be a great place to find low-carb foods. A popular choice is tuna, chicken, or shrimp salad that you can either eat on its own or wrap in a low-carb tortilla or lettuce cup.

Rotisserie chicken is also a healthy, take-home staple, but, if you don't want an entire chicken, you can order a portion-sized serving of grilled salmon and an extra-thick slice of roast beef, pastrami, or turkey breast instead.

Even if something looks low-carb, don't put it into your shopping cart unless you know what's in it. This includes prepared foods like crab cakes or meatloaf that are often packed with hidden carbs.

The same goes for all prepared salads. Always ask the deli server for information about the salad dressing (some of which are high in sugar). If he or she doesn't know, search for something else.

Salad Bars

Salad bars are often better than deli counters for a grab-and-go meal because you can mix and match to your own tastes and dietary preferences. When in doubt about dressings, blue cheese or plain oil and vinegar are the least likely to have added sugar. Or, you can buy your own bottle to take home.

Focus on mixed greens instead of iceberg lettuce which is lower in nutrients, and don't skimp on the protein. Always ensure a proper serving of cubed chicken, tuna, beans, tofu, or a boiled egg. On the other hand, be careful about cubed ham which is sometimes cured in sugar.

Other Foods

You don't have to search endless aisles and labels to complete your low-carb, take-home meal. Instead, go in with a general idea of the food types you can eat without fear.

They may include:

  • Pre-cut vegetables with a guacamole or hummus dip
  • Sugar-free yogurt and fresh berries
  • Low-carb fruits
  • Individually wrapped cheeses like Mini-Bel or Mini-Gouda
  • Black or stuffed olives
  • Deviled eggs or whole boiled eggs, often found in the cheese case
  • Sugar-free gelatin cups
  • Sliced tomato with mozzarella, basil, and balsamic vinegar
  • Buffalo chicken wings made with hot sauce and spices (no sugar-based, sticky sauces)
  • Roasted seaweed snacks
  • Parmesan cheese crisps
  • Dried roasted edamame (instead of mixed nuts)
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Article Sources
  • U.S. Food and Drug Administration. "Total Carbohydrate." Silver Spring, Maryland; updated April 1, 2017.