Sad salad? Boring plain chicken breast with steamed broccoli? Er…definitely not! Not in these delicious meals under 400 calories. There is no need to sacrifice flavor and eliminate all your faves.
We have everything from soup meals to comfort food to meat, chicken, fish and veggie meals with low calories, good nutrition and big flavors. Light, filling, vibrant and delish.
My #1 favorite on the list is the vegetarian shepherds pie. It tastes better than regular shepherds pie with the unique, colorful and more nutritious root vegetable mash topping – and it’s pure comfort food. We use plant-based meat for the filling, but regular ground beef is fine too. Not to be missed.
How to cut calories, not flavor
We’re not giving diet advice here. Just a few basic common sense ideas from the professionals:
Cut down your portions. Eat less. I know no one wants to hear this – especially my husband! But this is one of the easiest ways to reduce calories (ok, easy for the cook, not the eater).
Include more vegetables and less protein on your plate. Change the ratio.
Eat less fast foods, high saturated fat foods, highly processed foods and high calorie snacks like chocolate, candy, chips, fries, sour cream.
Stick to low carb foods or at least ‘good carbs’ such as quinoa, black beans, sweet potatoes, fruit, whole grains like oats, butternut squash, brown rice.
Check nutrition information on food labels. Sugar hides everywhere.
What you’ll find in our 400 calorie dinners
Main dishes under 400 calories per serving (several are under 300 and even 200 calories per serving).
Low calorie meals with healthy ingredients that are loaded with fresh vegetables, fiber and nutrients. If you read our blog, you know that we add baby spinach in everything possible to boost nutrition and color.
Soup meals that will give you leftovers for the next day or two. These are great low calorie meal prep ideas.
Tasty dinners that are stand-alone (no other sides needed). For those that aren’t, we suggest lower calorie side dishes.
Light recipes that are also quick, prepared in 30 minutes or less.
As always, our recipes include:
easy to follow instructions
shortcuts where possible
make ahead, prep ahead and freezer instructions
lots of variations and substitutes to tailor meals to your taste and what you have on hand.
For this post, you will see a calorie counter under the recipe picture as well.
What you will not find
Diet or weight loss advice
Appetizers, desserts, breakfast items and side dishes (except for suggestions with certain recipes). We’re focusing on main dishes.
Bottom line: We hope you will find a delicious, low-calorie meal or two to add to your rotation that the whole family will enjoy.
Low calorie soup recipes (400 calories or less)
All these hearty, nutritious soups are complete meals in a bowl. If you’re lucky enough to have leftovers, they make a great lunch too.
Red Lentil Soup with Vegetables
Calories per serving: 273Prep Time: 7 min Total Time: 45 min# Servings: 5What to serve it with: Nothing needed. Or if you want, serve with a small side salad (with a low fat dressing) or some plain crackers.
Calories per serving: 236Prep Time: 10 minTotal Time: 16 min# Servings: 4What to serve it with: For a more substantial meal, add tofu, chopped leftover chicken or cooked shrimp. Or make vegetable rice paper rolls (121 calories per roll)
Calories per serving: 259Prep Time: 8minTotal Time: 1 hour 18 min# Servings: 6What to serve it with: Nothing needed. If you like, serve with a side salad, crackers or a piece of lower calorie or multigrain bread.
Calories per serving: 382Prep Time: 10 minTotal Time: 22 min# Servings: 4What to serve it with: Nothing needed, especially if you add cooked chicken, shrimp or tofu cubes. Or any leftover meat. 1 cup/140 grams shrimp is 170 calories.
Calories per serving: 285Prep Time: 10 minTotal Time: 30 min# Servings: 6What to serve it with: Nothing need as the soup as orzo pasta, veggies and meatballs for a complete meal in a bowl. Parmesan cheese is not included in the calorie count.
Low calorie vegetarian meals (400 calories or less)
Easy Cast Iron Pizza (22 minutes)
Calories per slice: 194Prep Time: 7 minTotal Time: 22 min# Slices: 6What to serve it with: Add whatever toppings you like (with more calories) or serve the pizza with a side salad. Or go for two slices and call it a day!
Calories per serving: 394Prep Time: 15 minTotal Time: 1 hour# Servings: 5-6What to serve it with: Nothing needed except a small salad if you like. A full satisfying meal made with plant-based meat topped with a root vegetable mash (regular ground beef or chicken can be substituted).
Calories per serving: 395Prep Time: 10 minTotal Time: 25 min# Servings: 4What to serve it with: Add chicken or tofu or lower calorie shrimp if you like. To reduce the per serving calories, use less rice and more veggies. Still delish!
Calories per serving: 294Prep Time: 5 minTotal Time: 25 min# Servings: 5What to serve it with: You have some calorie room to add leftover cooked chicken (1/2 cup/70 grams is 74 calories), tofu (1/2 cup/120 grams is 94 calories) or cooked shrimp (1/2 cup cooked is 104 calories)
Calories per serving: 400Prep Time: 7 minTotal Time: 37 min# Servings: 4What to serve it with: Nothing needed. It has pasta, a cheese sauce, mushrooms and spinach. Or opt for a crunchy cucumber, sliced bell peppers or tomato slices.
Calories per serving: 193Prep Time: 6 min;Total Time: 35 min# Servings: 6-8What to serve it with: Nothing needed. A stand alone delicious meal and great as leftovers. Use a lean protein like ground white chicken instead of beef if you like.
Calories per serving: 309Prep Time: 10 min;Total Time: 30 min (plus marinating time if you choose)# Servings: 5What to serve it with: How about a nice citrus salad or roasted baby cauliflower (129 calories per serving).
Calories per serving: 191Prep Time: 14 min;Total Time: 20 min# Servings: 4What to serve it with: This simple recipe would make a healthy dinner with the egg drop soup with vegetables (236 calories per serving) shown above.
Calories per serving: 263 (not including bun and toppings)Prep Time: 8 min;Total Time: 55 min# Servings: 3What to serve it with: Try charred onions on the grill. My trick with the buns is to slice off or gouge out some of the bread in the middle to make the bun thinner with less calories.
Calories per serving: 394Prep Time: 8 minTotal Time: 3 hours (with marinating)# Servings: 3What to serve it with: 1/2 cup/100 grams of cooked rice (130 calories) or mango Thai salad Marinating time can be cut to 30 minutes at room temperature.