Recipes

39 Healthy, Low-calorie Meals That Are Delicious and Easy

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Last Updated: Sep 22, 2022

Low-calorie meals get a bad rep since folks think they have to eliminate tasty ingredients in order to hit their health and fitness goals.

Regardless if you are sticking to a keto diet or searching to add more nutritious, health-conscious foods into your life, you can enjoy the best of both worlds with low-calorie meals.

Adding vegetables and higher protein foods to your diet is an easy way to stick to a healthy lifestyle. From cauliflower pizza to air-fried chicken tenders, you can stick to low-calorie dishes without forfeiting the foods you love.

Put these low-calorie meals to the test and taste the victory of hitting your health milestones.

Table of Contents:

Low-calorie, high-protein meals

Adding more protein into your diet doesn’t mean you are increasing your calorie intake. Here are a few low-calorie, high-protein meals to test out.

1. Turkey-stuffed peppers

turkey stuffed peppers for low calorie meal

Stuffed peppers with turkey is a great recipe for those looking to increase their protein intake while also being cautious of calories. Saute ground turkey, red and yellow bell peppers, onion, zucchini, mushrooms and spinach in a skillet to create your mixture.

Stuff individual green or red bell peppers with your turkey mixture and bake for 15 minutes. Season with salt, pepper, Italian seasoning and garlic powder to taste.

Protein per serving: 25g

Calories per serving: ~280

Time to make: 20 minutes

2. Healthy deli wraps

An easy way to reduce your calories while hitting your protein goal is by rolling slices of your favorite deli meat in a piece of lettuce. Don’t forget to add in all your veggies and go-to condiments in your deli wraps.

Protein per serving: Will vary depending on type of deli meat

Calories per serving: ~100-175

Time to make: 5 minutes

3. Tuna-stuffed tomatoes with arugula

Tuna is packed with nutrients, and can be used for limitless dishes. All you need is store-bought or homemade tuna salad, large tomatoes and arugula to create the perfect low-calorie meal.

Protein per serving: 20g

Calories per serving: ~356

Time to make: 20 minutes

4. Apricot-chile glazed salmon

apricot chile glazed salmon

Take your salmon recipe to the next level with an apricot-chile glaze for a high-protein, low-calorie dish your family will devour. Combine apricot jam with chili powder to create your glaze. Cook your salmon via your preferred method and brush on the apricot-chile mixture.

Protein per serving: 29g

Calories per serving: 215

Time to make: 25 minutes

5. Cucumber and deli turkey roll-ups

Sliced deli turkey is an easy ingredient that is packed with protein to help you reach your health goals. There is no need for tortillas when it comes to these roll-ups. Simply slice thin pieces of cucumber and roll your deli meat inside for a utensil-free meal. Try dipping these bites into hummus or low-calorie ranch for an extra burst of flavor.

Protein per serving: 10g

Calories per serving: ~100

Time to make: 5 minutes

6. Ground turkey and black bean wraps

Take your fiesta to the next level with ground turkey and black bean wraps. This ground turkey recipe calls for low-carb tortillas, low-fat cheese and black beans. Once you cook your ground turkey to perfection, add a spoonful to the center of your wrap, sprinkle in low-fat cheese, black beans and any other veggies you desire. Don’t forget your favorite salsa for dipping!

Protein per serving: 19g

Calories per serving: ~267

Time to make: 25 minutes

7. Ground turkey with baked spaghetti squash and veggies

Ground turkey with baked spaghetti squash and veggies

Spaghetti squash is an excellent substitute for pasta with its stringy texture. When you add ground turkey, veggies and a choice of sauce to your baked squash, you won’t even notice you aren’t eating actual spaghetti. Try out this healthy, low-calorie recipe to reach your daily protein goal.

Protein per serving: 27g

Calories per serving: ~399

Time to make: 25 minutes

8. Cauliflower protein pizza

Did you know that cauliflower is a great substitute for pizza crust? Indulge in pizza night with your friends and family without hurting your health plan. Make your own cauliflower crust or buy one already prepared to save time. Build your pie with fresh vegetables, low-fat cheese and turkey pepperoni or grilled chicken for extra protein.

Protein per serving: Will vary depending on ingredients

Calories per serving: ~340

Time to make: 20 minutes

9. Spicy lamb meatballs

Lamb meatballs are not only high in protein, but they taste delicious. Once you form your meatballs, coat them in a rich yet healthy tomato sauce with garlic, onion, sherry and chili flakes for ultimate flavor. You can also swap the lamb for lean turkey or lean beef for even less calories.

Protein per serving: 28g

Calories per serving: ~344

Time to make: 25 minutes

Easy low-calorie meals

Looking for delicious dishes that won’t take you long to prepare? Here are a few easy low-calorie meals that take 30 minutes or less to make.

10. Light Greek salad

light greek salad

When it comes to figuring out what to eat, you can never go wrong with a Greek salad. Chop up kalamata olives, cucumbers, Roma tomatoes and red onion and add your ingredients to a large bowl. Add salt and pepper to taste and sprinkle in feta to complete your low-calorie meal.

Calories per serving: ~150

Time to make: 20 minutes

11. Cashew-cauliflower soup

Did you know you can create a creamy soup without using cream? This cashew-cauliflower soup is smooth, thick and easy to make. Grab your largest pot and get ready to make the tastiest vegan recipe you’ve ever had.

Calories per serving: ~360

Time to make: 25 minutes

12. Rice cakes with avocado yogurt dip

Rice cakes are a great snack to take on the go. Add avocado, nonfat or Greek yogurt, cilantro, onion, lime, salt and pepper to your food processor to create the ultimate avocado yogurt dip for your rice cakes.

Calories per serving: ~150

Time to make: 10 minutes

13. Healthy BLT

low calorie BLT

Nothing says “tasty” more than a classic BLT, but how can you make it healthier? Take cooked turkey bacon, lettuce and tomato and layer it on cauliflower rounds, gluten-free bread or your favorite bread for the ultimate sandwich.

Calories per serving: Will vary depending on type of bread

Time to make: 10 minutes

14. Avocado tuna salad

Sure, we’ve heard of stuffed tomatoes and peppers before, but avocado tuna salad is a new twist on the popular healthy dish. Take your homemade or store-bought tuna salad and add it to the center of a halved avocado. Season with salt and pepper and lemon juice to complete this easy meal.

Calories per serving: ~239

Time to make: 5 minutes

15. Mini veggie egg bites

These tiny egg bites are the perfect low-calorie meal since they’re high in protein and you can sneak in vegetables. Whisk six or more eggs with a splash of your milk of choice, broccoli, spinach and cooked turkey bacon. Pour your batter into muffin tins and bake for 10-12 minutes or until golden.

Calories per serving: ~150

Time to make: 20 minutes

16. Hearty Southwestern soup

low calorie hearty Southwestern soup

Making a hearty Southwestern soup is an excellent option if you are looking for low-calorie slow cooker meals. You can also make it on your stovetop for a quick meal. Mix together minced garlic, chili powder and cumin with chicken broth, pumpkin puree, black beans, corn, salsa and shredded rotisserie chicken. Stir all ingredients on low heat for 10-15 minutes.

Calories per serving: ~263

Time to make: 20 minutes

17. Cauliflower tacos

For an easy and quick recipe, cauliflower tacos will be your best friend. Sprinkle cumin, chili powder, paprika and salt over cauliflower and bake or air fry until crispy. Warm tortillas in the oven or on the stovetop and get ready to assemble your healthy tacos. Garnish them with adobo sauce, lime juice, cilantro and cabbage.

Calories per serving: ~440

Time to make: 30 minutes

Low-calorie filling dinners

Less is more when it comes to making these low-calorie filling dinners. These dishes are packed with protein to keep you satisfied well after you finish.

18. Grilled salmon skewers

Grilled salmon skewers

Skewers are a time-efficient yet filling dinner idea to try year-round. Add sliced salmon fillets to skewers and grill for six to eight minutes on medium coals. Swap out the sauce each season to change the flavor of your salmon skewers. In the summer, add a melon salsa for a light, refreshing kick.

Calories per serving: ~474

Time to make: 25 minutes

19. Buffalo tofu salad

Switching to a vegetarian diet doesn’t mean you have to give up your love for buffalo wings. Create a buffalo tofu salad that is easy to make, filling and low in calories. Cook your tofu pieces in a nonstick skillet over medium-high heat for four minutes per side. Coat the tofu with your hot sauce mixture and add it to your prepared salad of celery, radishes and choice of salad dressing.

Calories per serving: ~492

Time to make: 25 minutes

20. Juicy salmon burgers

Swap your traditional hamburger with fresh salmon burgers. The key is to chop your salmon by hand to ensure you have the juiciest burgers. Once you form your salmon patties, grill as you normally would for two to three minutes per side. Top your burgers with a lemon-yogurt mixture for a burst of flavor.

Calories per serving: ~460

Time to make: 55 minutes

21. Healthy turkey meatloaf muffins

Healthy turkey meatloaf muffins

Thanksgiving turkey doesn’t have to come only once a year with these healthy turkey meatloaf muffins. Combine ground turkey with breadcrumbs and seasoning, then add them to muffin tins. Cook these bites for 45 minutes or until golden brown and enjoy.

Calories per serving: ~255

Time to make: 65 minutes

22. Low-carb teriyaki stir fry

Teriyaki sauce is normally packed with added sugar and high in carbs, but there is a way to create a low-carb teriyaki stir fry. You can use coconut aminos, apple cider vinegar, sesame oil, garlic, ginger and coconut sugar to create a keto-friendly sauce. Marinate your chicken with the healthy sauce and saute on medium heat for five minutes. Add in broccoli and preferred vegetables to the pan and steam for an additional two to three minutes.

Calories per serving: ~363

Time to make: 25 minutes

23. Lemon cod with asparagus

Add a hint of zing to your cod recipe with lemon juice. You can create your own sauce with lemon juice, garlic salt, melted butter, thyme and black pepper. Complete this low-calorie meal with asparagus.

Calories per serving: ~293

Time to make: 15 minutes

24. One-pan Mediterranean cod

One-pan Mediterranean cod

One-pan meals are a great way to create a filling low-calorie dinner. Coat your cod fillets with olive oil, salt and pepper. Sear the cod for five to six minutes with onions, garlic and sliced peppers. Pour in the vinegar, seasoning, cherry tomatoes and olives. After simmering for 12 minutes, spoon your sauce on top for a boost of flavor.

Calories per serving: ~176

Time to make: 30 minutes

25. Lemon baked flounder

Swap out your usual salmon dish for lemon-baked flounder paired with your choice of sauteed vegetables. Add thinly sliced pieces of lemon to the top of your flounder and bake until golden brown.

Calories per serving: ~199

Time to make: 20 minutes

26. Seasoned mahi-mahi with asparagus

Seasoned mahi-mahi with asparagus

Take your grilled mahi-mahi to the next level with a lemon butter sauce that is surprisingly low in calories. Cook your fish as you normally would, and drizzle on the lemon butter mixture. Round out your filling dinner with grilled asparagus.

Calories per serving: ~189

Time to make: 30 minutes

Low-calorie meals with chicken

Chicken is an excellent source of protein and can be used to create low-calorie meals. Check out the list below to find new chicken recipes.

27. Gluten-free panko-crusted chicken strips

Gluten-free panko-crusted chicken strips

Chicken strips are a beloved meal for most Americans, but they have also been deemed unhealthy. Thankfully, you can swap out your breadcrumbs for gluten-free panko and cook the strips in an air fryer or bake in an oven instead of deep frying. Pair them with homemade potato wedges to complete your low-calorie meal.

Calories per serving: Will vary depending on breadcrumbs

Time to make: 30 minutes

28. Healthy Kung Pao chicken

Kung Pao chicken is a delicious meal, but the traditional dish can be high in calories. Swap your standard sauce for low-sodium soy sauce or coconut aminos to reduce calories. Choose brown rice over white rice for higher fiber, and add a side of sauteed broccoli or stir fry vegetables.

Calories per serving: ~367

Time to make: 60 minutes

29. Cucumber yogurt grilled chicken

Spice up your grilled chicken with a cucumber yogurt sauce that is tasty and low in calories. Take chopped cucumbers, low-fat yogurt, green onions, fresh mint, cumin, salt and pepper to create your mixture. Grill until the chicken is cooked through and brush on your sauce halfway through.

Calories per serving: ~159

Time to make: 30 minutes

30. Citrus grilled chicken rice bowls

Citrus grilled chicken rice bowls

The summer season is a perfect time to incorporate citrus marinades into your chicken recipes. Create your citrus sauce with orange juice, lemon juice, olive oil, vinegar, orange zest, salt, pepper, scallions and sugar. Let your chicken sit in the marinade for 10 minutes to four hours before cooking. Serve over rice, arugula, carrots, cucumbers and mint.

Calories per serving: ~399

Time to make: 20 minutes

31. Chipotle chicken lettuce wraps

Kick taco Tuesday up a notch with these chipotle chicken lettuce wraps. Marinate your chicken in adobo sauce and grill for three to five minutes on each side until golden brown. Add your chicken to lettuce wraps and top with lime juice and your favorite fajita veggies.

Calories per serving: ~450

Time to make: 40 minutes

32. Glazed chicken with peaches

Peaches are the perfect spring and summer fruit to add to your low-calorie meals with chicken. This chicken recipe calls for fresh peaches, olive oil, soy sauce, garlic, mustard, salt and pepper. Grill your chicken as you normally would and top with your peach mixture.

Calories per serving: ~503

Time to make: 30 minutes

33. Air-fried BBQ chicken tenders

Air-fried BBQ chicken tenders

Chicken tenders and BBQ sauce aren’t traditionally associated with low-calorie meals, but this recipe is an exception. Mix low-sugar BBQ sauce with mustard and honey. Coat your chicken in panko breadcrumbs and place in your air fryer. Cook for 10 minutes on each side until crispy. Serve with your BBQ sauce mixture for a perfect meal.

Calories per serving: ~100

Time to make: 90 minutes

34. Apple-stuffed chicken breasts

Say goodbye to boring grilled chicken and hello to apple-stuffed chicken breasts. Create your chicken filling by heating butter, onion, apples, cheese and fresh thyme. Cut a pocket in the middle of your chicken breasts and add in the filling. Bake your chicken for 20-24 minutes and brush with honey mustard glaze for the last two minutes of cooking.

Calories per serving: ~188

Time to make: 110 minutes

35. Dill and lemon chicken

Dill and lemon go together like two peas in a pod. When you mix them together you create a Greek-inspired sauce that pairs well with chicken and most other meats. Try this low-calorie chicken recipe with green beans or asparagus and drizzle on your dill and lemon sauce.

Calories per serving: ~170

Time to make: 30 minutes

36. Chicken zoodle soup

Chicken zoodle soup

Chicken zoodle soup is good for the soul and is even low in calories. Swap out your traditional pasta noodles for zucchini spirals for a paleo-friendly dish. You can even make a vegan meal by removing the chicken from this soup recipe.

Calories per serving: ~227

Time to make: 30 minutes

37. One-pan chicken fajitas

Bring the flavor to your dinner table every time with one-pan chicken fajitas. Add chicken, peppers and onion to a baking sheet and sprinkle with garlic powder, chili powder and olive oil. Serve with lettuce wraps or tortillas to complete your fajita dish.

Calories per serving: ~470

Time to make: 30 minutes

38. Parmesan-crusted chicken with green beans

Chicken Parmesan is a beloved Italian-style dish, but the high calories aren’t great for weekly meals. Create a healthier Parmesan-crusted chicken with only a few ingredients and one sheet pan.

Coat your chicken breasts in egg and a mixture of breadcrumbs, Italian seasoning, garlic powder, onion powder, salt, pepper and Parmesan cheese. Bake your chicken for 15 minutes and serve with garlic powder and olive oil green beans.

Calories per serving: ~321

Time to make: 30 minutes

39. Roasted tomato baked chicken

Roasted tomato baked chicken

Chicken with roasted tomatoes is a simple yet delicious low-calorie meal anyone can cook. Combine cherry tomatoes, olive oil and fresh herbs to create your roasted tomato sauce. Bake both the chicken and tomatoes for 15 minutes until golden and serve with chopped parsley.

Calories per serving: ~217

Time to make: 25 minutes

Low-calorie meals FAQ

How to cook low-calorie meals

Cooking low-calorie meals involves swapping traditional food options with ingredients that are higher in protein and lower in calories. You can swap flour tortillas with whole wheat wraps or use lettuce instead of a hamburger bun. Instead of frying your chicken, try baking it or using an air fryer.

What foods fill you up but are low in calories?

Greek yogurt, oats and eggs are filling foods that are low in calories. Fish is another great source of protein if you are looking to reduce your calorie intake. For snacks, try munching on berries or high-fiber popcorn.

Final thoughts on low-calorie meals

Low-calorie meals are surely delicious and versatile, whether they’re small snacks or filling dinners. You can choose from chicken dishes, fish options or vegetarian meals. The possibilities are endless when it comes to finding recipes that don’t involve high calories.

Stock up on all your vegetables and proteins with Instacart’s easy online ordering to save time. Have all of your fresh produce and meat delivered to your door. Shop all your low-calorie meal ingredients for same-day delivery today.

4 week low calorie meal plan
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