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Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way: Healthy Menus, Recipes, and the Shopping Lists That Will Keep the Whole Family at the Dinner Table Paperback – December 28, 2004

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Product Details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: Ballantine Books (December 28, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0345478061
  • ISBN-13: 978-0345478061
  • Product Dimensions: 7.3 x 0.6 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (77 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #263,665 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

About the Author

LEANNE ELY is considered the expert on family cooking and healthy eating. Between her popular Heart of a Woman radio show in Southern California and her weekly “Food for Thought” column at the ever-popular website, thousands of fans have already discovered Leanne Ely’s secrets to easily prepared, well-balanced meals.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.


Every time I turn around, it seems something new has appeared, making fabulous low-carb claims, whether it is a book, product, spokes- person, or what have you. The never-ending hit parade of all things low carb doesn’t seem to be coming to an end anytime soon. As a matter of fact, the business of low carb is escalating faster than the national deficit—not quite in the trillions of dollars, but definitely billions. For a long time I thought this was just a Dr. Stillman déjà-vu deal, until the flashback wouldn’t go away.

As the Dinner Diva of, I want to know what my subscribers want. A while back, I began getting hit with a ton of requests for a more low-carb-friendly Menu-Mailer. The last straw came when one of my subscribers who had been with me from the beginning e-mailed me and told me that her husband had been diagnosed with diabetes. And yes, she asked the fatal question: Would I please do a more low-carb-friendly Menu-Mailer?

Like a lot of people, I believed the low-carb fad diets would hit the skids anytime soon, and I couldn’t wait. I pooh-poohed the idea and scoffed at the notion of those limiting their carbs. In my mind, eating low carb was eating bacon, eggs, and steaks. You call that healthy?

I did a little research and discovered going low carb didn’t need to look like steak for every meal. Quite the contrary—it could be a lifestyle of variety and flavor, could actually contain vegetables, and be outright healthy. In the meantime, I tried going low carb myself. Not only did I feel better and more satiated, while eating less food, but I began to read and read some more on the actual, real-life, not-manufactured-for-your-viewing-pleasure science. There really is something behind this low-carb phenomenon. It is here to stay, and I’m very glad it is. I guess you could say that I’m a believer.

In August 2003, I realized this was something exciting and introduced my first Low-Carb Menu-Mailer (for more information on Menu-Mailer, go to I realize now, more than a year later, that low carb isn’t a diet; it’s a lifestyle and it is here to stay.

It is in that spirit that I offer you the next Saving Dinner book. While the recipes are low carb (and that is 10 or fewer net grams of carbs for the entrée—not counting the Serving Suggestions), there are certain members of your household who aren’t going to want to do low carb all the way, so there are regular, non-low-carb Serving Suggestions offered as well for that person or persons. You don’t have to make two dinners so you can low carb it, while the kids eat a regular, non-low-carb meal. Isn’t that great?

Just as the first Saving Dinner book offered you the recipes, menus, and shopping lists divvied up by weeks and seasons, so does this book. I think this is the way to go in today’s world—having the hard work of menu planning already done and ready to go. The shopping lists are again at your convenience, on my website in a printer-friendly format, just go to and click on Shopping Lists. You don’t need to schlep your book to the grocery store and take a chance on losing it.

A big caveat to those who may be following certain low-carb diets with big lists of do’s and don’ts. This book does not adhere to any one low-carb diet plan. It’s just low carb, end of story. You won’t find oddball ingredients like pork rinds, weird ketosis-inducing, low-carb mixes made with strange things you’ve never heard of. I use regular ingredients and admittedly, I’ve been skewered for it. People have written absolutely unprintable e-mails denouncing my low-carb ideas because I had the audacity to add 1 tablespoon of whole-wheat flour to a recipe—even though I’ve kept the recipe very low carb. Apparently, in their eyes I’ve committed the carbinal sin (get it?) by using big no-no ingredients.

But the issue in my mind, is keeping the recipes low carb (they are) and using real ingredients, easily accessible and found at just about any market, to carry out this goal. I’ve held true to this principle for years: that the more natural and real your ingredients are, the easier it is to accomplish and keep up as a lifestyle.

Consider this book as another weapon in your arsenal to keep you organized and on target to help you get dinner on the table. With this tool, you can accomplish that without having to sacrifice your time, health objectives, or sanity. Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way is all about helping you meet your goals.


Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way is designed to give you everything you need to do dinner. The recipes, serving suggestions, and, most important, categorized shopping lists are all contained within this book. Speaking of shopping lists, for your convenience, I have also added printer-friendly shopping lists to my website ( so you can print out the appropriate list without having to lug your book to the store.

There are two types of Serving Suggestions in the book: LC (low carb) and just Serving Suggestions (regular ones for non-low- carbing family members). The Serving Suggestions are asterisked on the grocery lists because I don’t want you to feel roped in by any of my suggestions. However, the LC Serving Suggestions are not asterisked, as I am trying to help you put together a complete, low-carb meal.

I would strongly suggest that you read the recipes before you hit the grocery store each week with the list. It helps to know what your menu is about before you head out the door. That five minutes of reading through the menu and recipes may help you make a quick decision if your store is out of something or if you would prefer a substitute. You can’t do that if you don’t know what you’re shopping for!

This book is chock full of sidebars . . . read them! There is a ton of information to help you take full advantage of these menus and to make the recipes your own. As I was writing these recipes out, I would think of something else that would empower you in the kitchen, so I made a sidebar out of it. The more you know, the faster you’re able to do the recipes and shopping. That’s a good thing!

When appropriate, I have added Do-Ahead Tips to help make dinner easier the next day (e.g., precooking turkey or chicken for a salad, etc.). However, there are all kinds of things you can do the day before, if you so desire. I kept it basic, you might want to do more—it’s totally up to you. You also can move days around if you want—just remember that the Do-Ahead Tips may no longer be appropriate if you do.

If you do want to make substitutions (due to allergies, preferences, etc.) on some of the grocery items, feel free! For those who are more kosher minded, the pork and shellfish recipes can easily be substituted out with any poultry, chicken being a very easy fit.

Just remember, Saving Dinner the Low-Carb Way is another weapon in your arsenal to help you conquer the drive-thru and keep your family at the dinner table. Enjoy! SAVING



Week One

DAY ONE: Sweet Teriyaki Pork Chops

DAY TWO: Low-Carb Mexican Casserole

DAY THREE: Jack Fish

DAY FOUR: Bourbon Chicken on Spinach

DAY FIVE: Happy Family Beef Stir-Fry

DAY SIX: Crock Goulash



4 boneless, skinless chicken breast halves

1 pound beef flank steak

4 boneless pork chops (4–6 ounces each)

11/2 pounds boneless pork (cut into 1-inch cubes)

1 pound ground turkey

1 pound cod fillets (if not using frozen, other firm white fish can be used instead)


olive oil

sesame oil (dark; sometimes called toasted; comes in a small bottle)

teriyaki sauce

soy sauce (low sodium, if available)




**lc salad dressing—your choice


1 small green bell pepper

1 small red bell pepper

1/2 pound snow-pea pods

2 bunches green onions (you’ll need 1/2 cup + 4 teaspoons)

3 pounds onions (keep on hand)

2 medium tomatoes

1 head garlic

1 piece gingerroot (you’ll need 1 tablespoon grated)

1 bag spinach (you’ll need 4 cups); **lc (1 meal)

red cabbage (you’ll need 3 cups)

**lc 2 heads lettuce (not iceberg) (2 meals)

**lc salad veggies (2 meals)

**lc spaghetti squash (1 meal)

**lc green beans (1 meal)

**lc turnip (1 meal)

**lc broccoli (1 meal)

**lc cauliflower (1 meal)

**lc pumpkin wedges (purchase a small pie pumpkin or sugar pumpkin) (1 meal)

**russet potatoes (1 meal)

**red potatoes (2 meals)


1 141/2-ounce can chicken broth (you’ll need 1/2 cup)

1 jar salsa (you’ll need 3/4 cup)

black olives (you’ll need 1/4 cup chopped)

apple juice (you’ll need 4 tablespoons, if not using bourbon)

**black beans SPICES

garlic powder



caraway seed



half-and-half (you’ll need 1/2 cup)

sour cream (you’ll need 4 tablespoons + 1/2 cup)

Cheddar cheese (you’ll need 1 cup shredded)

Monterey Jack cheese (you’ll need 1/2 cup shredded)

**lc 8-ounce package cream cheese


whole-wheat flour



1 package taco seasoning mix

**2 pounds brown rice


1 pound cod fillets (if not using fresh)


**lc low-carb tortillas


bourbon (you’ll need 4 tablespoons, if not using apple juice)


Serves 4

1 tablespoon olive oil

1 small green bell pepper...

More About the Author

Leanne Ely is a certified nutritionist and the host of Her syndicated column, 'The Dinner Diva,' appears in 250 newspapers nationwide. She writes a popular 'Food for Thought' column on the ever-popular website, and hosts 'The Dinner Diva' radio show on Blog Talk Radio. Ely also writes her own e-zine, Healthy Foods and is the author of several books, including the recent Body Clutter, which was a New York Times bestseller. She lives in North Carolina with her two teenage children.

Customer Reviews

The recipes are easy to make.
Lily C. Baker
I LOVE the concept of having the weekly menu planned out as well as the grocery list put together and ready for shopping.
The recipes I have tried so far have been very good.
P. J. Wetzel

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

112 of 115 people found the following review helpful By Kcorn TOP 100 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on February 11, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
Making the adjustment to low carb has meant learning a whole new way to cook. Before I discovered this book, other recipes I've tried have been bland or required too much prep time.
Not this one. From the very first page, I was able to hit the ground running, since the book comes compete with WEEKLY shopping lists and recipes that take a short time to throw together but taste like they've taken all day to cook. We enjoyed Cube steaks with onion gravy, Thai Shrimp, Skillet Chicken Mediterranean and more.
Don't be scared by the "exotic" sounds of some of the recipes. This is family cooking, NOT something that you could only eat if you had the most refined of palates. If your kids aren't fish lovers, you might want to keep some simple alternatives on hand but on most nights, they should be able to eat the same menu as the "Low carbers".
ONE caveat - Some of the recipes are designed for a crockpot. I don't have one and I found it simple to adjust the cooking times. It was no big deal. But do keep in mind that at least one recipe a week is designed for a crockpot. Again, this wasn't a big deal to me, even without one.
In every other way, the book is perfect for our needs and we've branched out into newer, better recipes than before. Thanks, Leanne!
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49 of 49 people found the following review helpful By elviswoman on October 6, 2006
Format: Paperback
I bought this book along with Saving Dinner and Saving Dinner for the Holidays last year.

I LOVE the concept of having the weekly menu planned out as well as the grocery list put together and ready for shopping. We went through the entire book and I have to say, it really broadened our food horizons as we had been stuck in a rut for a long time with our regular foods. Also, the books really did eliminate a lot of stress by allowing me to know in advance "What's for dinner" and be ready to prepare it.

The only cons I can think of would be that the food is not exactly kid friendly, and you will need to be an open minded eater. If you have a lot of people with finicky preferences in your household, this may not be the book for you. Also, our grocery bill for two went up from about $75 a week to $125 because of the veggies and meats. Good, healthy quality food ingredients, but unfortunately, painful to the wallet.

That said, I have NEVER seen a low carb book out there that compares to this one, the food is good, the variety is there, and it takes the low carb lifestyle above and beyond "bunless burgers" and eggs and bacon.

Overall, I would recommend Leanne's Saving Dinner books. For the open minded foodie. Or for those weeks that you just want to not worry about dinner and the grocery list. These books are great to have and do offer a good variety of recipes to broaden horizons while removing some stress.
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63 of 65 people found the following review helpful By Jacquita G on January 11, 2005
Format: Paperback
Leanne Ely has done it again! She provides great family friendly recipes that are healthy and yummy! You will never feel deprived eating like this. No hard-to-find high-priced ingredients here - it's real food for real people. Even those not interested in low-carb will benefit from this book. With each recipe, she provides serving suggestions for those who aren't giving up carbs. I highly recommed this book!
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25 of 25 people found the following review helpful By Treva Burgess on April 4, 2005
Format: Paperback
I've been faithfully using the original Saving Dinner for quite some time and purchased SDLC about 2 months ago. I love the low carb version equally but differently than the original. For starters, I thought going low carb was a fad. Little did I know the nutritional benefits! Second, these menus serve 4 instead of 6. Since it's just me and my 1 year old DD, I use 1 week of menus to last 2 weeks. It's great and I don't have so many leftovers that I feel like I'm eating the same thing all the time! Third, I've discovered I love soup. Who knew?!? I thought I was a soup-hater. Turns out I LOVE homemade soups and have a huge distaste for the canned stuff. Finally, I've learned to embrace new vegetables. This is a big deal for me. I'm 26 and only learned to love vegetables in my 20s. Now I'm expanding my horizons even more.

If you haven't checked out Leanne Ely's books, I encourage you to do so. Be adventurous! Try something new! If nothing else, learn how to plan a menu the way she does.
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32 of 34 people found the following review helpful By Donna Askins on February 22, 2005
Format: Paperback
Any cookbook can throw a bunch of recipes at you. But no other I know of has thought up "what's for dinner" every night for a year -- and made it so incredibly painless! The shopping list for each week is available online, too. Just print out your current week, cross off what you already have in your kitchen, and buy what the lady says to (I even once gave the list to my DH and even he couldn't screw it up - no offense!). Bang! Everything you need for a week's worth of dinner is right there & ready to go. The only *minor* problem we have has is that in a 2-person household, fresh ingredients don't always get used up before they spoil; so you may have to juggle the order of the meals a bit. This book is HIGHLY RECOMMENDED from a fulltime worker with an hour's commute each way because a healthy, tasty dinner is always at hand. Bon appetit!
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21 of 21 people found the following review helpful By DKH on September 20, 2005
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
I've tried maybe 10-15 of the recipes so far. Most have been big hits. No outrageous food items. Leanne Ely knows how to use combinations of spices that make your mouth sing! We are loving these recipes. Her explanations are also crystal clear so you have the feeling that you'll have success -- and you do. The plan of giving you a weekly shopping list is interesting. I don't do that each week, but it sure makes things easy going to the store (or pantry). The most wonderful thing about this book is that I don't have to cook 2 different meals for my family. I eat a moderate carb diet so I appreciate the lower carb count in the recipes, however, she gives ideas of what to add to the meal to round it out for family members who want that full-carb feeling. Ha! Each recipe has a nutritional analysis, too. I find this especially helpful as I'm not doing as much fat as the typical low-carb diet. I can tweak the recipes to lower the fat more easily than I could lower the carbs on a regular cookbook. (Ely's regular SAVING DINNER cookbook has tons more carbs but less fat.) I'm thrilled with what I'm finding in this book. My kids have given me unsolicited complements!!! That ranks!
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