Courtney Omell | 

25 Meals Under 500 Calories That Will Make You Drool

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Healthy food doesn’t have to mean boring food. And it also doesn’t have to mean too-small portion sizes. So rather than groan when you hear us say 500 calorie meals, prepare to drool. Because these particular 500 calorie meals are delicious, easy to make, and best of all, they’re filling. Better yet, there are options for breakfast, lunch, and dinner.

We’ve got a combination of slow cooker, one-pot, baked, and casserole dishes bursting with flavor (and not just salt). We also made sure to include the calorie breakdown, so all you have to do is cook the recipe, eat the meal, and be happy and healthy.

While these dinners will definitely make your body feel good, don’t forget about your wallet! Use these food coupons to save on all of the ingredients, and download the free The Krazy Coupon Lady app for more money-saving tips, cookware deals, and everything else you need.


1. Shrimp Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Sauce

Shrimp Tacos with Creamy Cilantro Sauce recipe

Taco night shouldn’t be limited to just Tuesdays. This low-calorie shrimp taco recipe is good enough to eat every day of the week. Marinating the shrimp for about 15 minutes before you cook them will lock in the flavor. The best part — three tacos equal 500 calories!

Shrimp Taco Recipe Under 500 Calories

Calories Per Serving: 492
Yield: 4 servings


Shrimp Marinade:

  • 1 1/2 lb 31/40 shrimp* (raw, peeled, deveined, tails removed)
  • 2 tablespoon olive oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • 1/2 teaspoon sweet paprika

Cilantro Sauce:

  • 3/4 cup plain Greek yogurt
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon lime zest
  • 1/2 tablespoon white vinegar
  • 2 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/4 cup cilantro leaves
  • 1/4 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt


  • 2 cups finely shredded cabbage
  • 10 – 12 small corn tortillas, warmed


  1. Whisk or blend all sauce ingredients together and refrigerate in a container.
  2. In a Ziploc bag, marinate the shrimp for 15 minutes.
  3. Use the remaining 1 tablespoon of olive oil to saute the shrimp in a medium-sized skillet over medium heat. Cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side.
  4. Assemble the tacos with 4 – 5 shrimp, cabbage, and cilantro sauce.
  5. As an option, top with pico de gallo and chopped avocado.

Tip: When shopping for frozen shrimp, you’ll notice a number or a number and the letter U on the bag. This represents how many shrimp are provided per pound. The letter U stands for under. The bigger the number, the smaller shrimp in the bag. For example, a U15 has 15 shrimp per pound, while a 51/60 has 51 to 60 shrimp per pound.


2. Sweet Potato and Kale Breakfast Casserole

Sweet Potato and Kale Breakfast Casserole recipe

I’m all about making a filling, healthy breakfast casserole that will last a few days. This hearty, low-calorie sweet potato and kale casserole is packed with protein and actually clocks in as one of our under 500 calorie meals, at just 354 per serving. Perfection.

Sweet Potato and Kale Breakfast Casserole Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 354
Yield: 8 servings


  • 1 lb pork sausage links, cut on a diagonal
  • 4 cups sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed (about 2 lb)
  • 1/2 large sweet onion, diced
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried basil
  • 10 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1 large tomato, diced
  • 1 cup kale, chopped


  1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees and lightly grease a 9 x 13 dish with nonstick spray.
  2. Brown the sausage in a large skillet on medium heat. After about 5 minutes, add the onion and potatoes until softened (another 5 minutes). Season with salt and pepper to taste. Drain any grease from the sausage.
  3. Add the mixture to the greased baking dish.
  4. In a large bowl, beat the eggs and add the milk and seasonings. Mix in the tomatoes and kale.
  5. Pour the egg mixture over the sausage and potatoes. Mix to combine.
  6. Bake uncovered for 45 minutes. Cool for 10 minutes before serving.

3. Spaghetti Squash with Marinara Sauce

Spaghetti Squash with Marinara Sauce recipe

Craving pasta but not the carb guilt? Spaghetti squash is a great alternative for 500 calorie meals because it’s low in calories but high in fiber. It’s versatile as faux pasta and can adapt to any flavor profile. Once cooked, it magically turns into pasta when you fork it. It’s easy as a side dish or main entree.

Spaghetti Squash with Marinara Sauce Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 184
Yield: 8 servings


  • 2 whole spaghetti squash
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon each: salt and ground black pepper
  • 4 cups marinara sauce


  1. Preheat the oven to 450 degrees. Prepare a large baking sheet with aluminum foil.
  2. On a cutting board, cut the squash in half lengthwise and scrape out the seeds, being careful not to pull the “strands.”
  3. Drizzle olive oil over the insides and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  4. Place flesh side down and use a fork to poke a few holes in the skin for air to release.
  5. Roast for 30 to 35 minutes, so it doesn’t get too mushy. In the meantime, warm your marinara sauce.
  6. After cooling for 15 minutes, flip the squash on its back and use a fork to scrape the insides to pull the “spaghetti” strands together.
  7. Toss the spaghetti squash in a saute pan with the marinara or serve some on top of the squash.


4. General Tso’s Tofu

General Tso's Tofu recipe

Add some spice to your 500 calorie meals with a kicked-up General Tso’s tofu dish. It’s vegan this time but meaty like the original chicken dish. The crispy coating comes together thanks to the sticky sauce. Pair it with brown or cauliflower rice to amp up the nutritional value and cut back on added calories.

General Tso’s Tofu Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 324 (not including rice)
Yield: 4 servings


  • 16 ounces extra firm tofu, diced


  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 1/8 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic clove
  • 4 tablespoons cornstarch

Finishing Sauce:

  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • 2 tablespoons tamari*
  • 1 tablespoon Hoisin Sauce
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 2 tablespoon sugar
  • 1 tablespoon cornstarch
  • 1/4 cup vegetable stock


  1. With your tofu diced, place it over a strainer to drain. Simply wrapping the diced tofu in multiple paper towels will help, too. Overnight is best, but at least 60 minutes will help remove the moisture. Less water = crisper.
  2. Make the sauce and set aside.
  3. With the pressed tofu as dry as possible, marinate it in a bag or bowl for 30 minutes. After that time, discard the marinade and gently toss the cubes in cornstarch, shaking off any excess.
  4. Pan-fry in one tablespoon of sesame oil until golden brown. Set aside.
  5. Combine the sauce ingredients in a small pot or shallow pan. Whisk until smooth. Add the tofu to the sauce until well coated and you’re done.
  6. Serve General Tso’s tofu over rice, cauliflower rice, or with sauteed bok choy.

Tip: Tamari is a gluten-free version of soy sauce, and it’s less salty.


5. Skillet Beef & Broccoli

Skillet Beef and Broccoli recipe

With this scrumptious Chinese-American classic, you’ll never order in again when you can have it as one of your 500 calorie meals. The silky brown sauce coats the beef and vegetables perfectly. Devour it alone or eat it with fluffy rice.

Skillet Beef & Broccoli Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 376
Yield: 4


  • 1 pound steak (flat iron, top-round, tri-tip, sirloin, flank)
  • 2 tablespoons sesame oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons cornstarch, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon granulated garlic
  • 1/2 yellow onion, sliced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon grated ginger (or ginger paste)
  • 1/2 cup water
  • 1/2 cup beef broth
  • 1/4 cup soy sauce
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 4 cups broccoli florets, chopped


  1. In a large bowl or Ziploc bag, whisk one tablespoon of cornstarch along with the seasonings and sesame oil.
  2. Cut the steak into thin strips against the grain. Cutting it with the grain will result in tough (not tender) bites. Add the meat to the marinade for 1 hour.
  3. Pour one tablespoon of sesame oil into a large skillet (or wok) over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook for 1 – 2 minutes, then add the marinated meat. Cook for an additional 5 minutes until the meat is no longer pink. Remove the steak and onions from the pan, and set aside to make the sauce.
  4. Over medium heat, add the cornstarch, garlic, ginger, water, broth, sugar, and soy sauce, scraping up the browned bits. Simmer for 5 – 6 minutes to thicken. Add the broccoli to coat, then the meat and onions.

Tip: Beef should register 135 – 145 degrees for medium doneness.


6. Zucchini Quiche

Zucchini Quiche recipe

Can 500 calorie meals still be cheesy and rich? Yep, we gotcha covered with this zucchini quiche. It’s perfect for a lazy weekend in your pajamas with your favorite tea or coffee.

Zucchini Quiche Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 203
Yield: 6


  • 1 9-inch refrigerated pie dough
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1/2 cup medium onion, diced
  • 2 medium zucchini, sliced thinly
  • 1/2 cup bell pepper, diced
  • 1 1/2 cups white button mushrooms, sliced
  • 4 cups kale, chopped
  • 6 eggs
  • 1/2 cup whole milk
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 teaspoon fresh basil, chopped
  • 1 cup shredded mozzarella cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and prepare the dough as instructed in a 9-inch deep pie pan.
  2. Meanwhile, in a large skillet, saute vegetables over medium heat in olive oil for 6 – 7 minutes. Add the kale until it softens. Set aside.
  3. In a large bowl, whisk the eggs, milk, herbs, and seasonings.
  4. Once the crust is slightly cooled, add the vegetables, then the egg mixture.
  5. Bake uncovered for 50 minutes or until the top is golden and the eggs are set.

7. Creamy Tuscan Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach

Creamy Tuscan Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach recipe

Chicken is a versatile protein that can easily be used for 500 calorie meals. In less than 40 minutes, you can have an irresistible and easy dish that’s great for those busy weeknights.

Creamy Tuscan Chicken with Sun-Dried Tomatoes and Spinach Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 427
Yield: 4


  • 4 boneless skinless chicken breasts
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1/4 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1/2 cup all-purpose flour, for dredging
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil


  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 ounces button mushrooms, sliced
  • 1 tablespoon flour
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1/2 cup chicken broth
  • 3/4 cup heavy cream
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup baby spinach leaves
  • 1/3 cup oil-packed sun-dried tomatoes, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh parsley, chopped


  1. Season chicken breasts with spices. Cook in a large skillet over medium heat for 3 – 4 minutes on each side. Set aside.
  2. In the same skillet, add the butter and cook the mushrooms and garlic for 5 – 6 minutes. Sprinkle the flour and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the remaining ingredients and simmer for 2 – 3 minutes.
  4. Place the chicken in the sauce or serve with pasta and the sauce on top with the chicken.

Psst … check these chicken coupons before heading to the grocery store.


8. Low-Carb Turkey Chili

Low Carb Turkey Chili recipe

On a cold fall day, a big pot of chili is so comforting, but it doesn’t have to be made with ground beef to be drool-worthy. Using ground turkey lowers the fat and caloric intake. This leaner meat choice doesn’t have a lot of the flavor that beef does, so use a good spice blend. It’s one of our favorite 500 calorie meals that’s worth the 40-minute cook time.

Low-Carb Turkey Chili Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 442
Yield: 12


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 2 bell peppers, diced
  • 3 garlic cloves minced
  • 2 pounds ground turkey
  • 1 14.5-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 2 16-ounce cans of red kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 tablespoon each: ground cumin, paprika, onion powder, garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 1/2 – 2 cups water


  1. Prepare the spice blend ahead of time and set it aside.
  2. Heat olive oil in a Dutch oven or large pot over medium heat. Add the vegetables and garlic until softened (about 5 – 6 minutes), then mix in the ground turkey. Cook until no longer pink and slightly browned. Season as you go.
  3. After the meat is cooked, add the diced tomatoes (with the juice) and kidney beans. Stir well and check for seasoning. Cook for 1 – 2 minutes and add water as needed to your desired consistency. Simmer on low for 30 minutes.

Tip: Meat coupons are rare, but there are often fantastic promotions to save big. Stock up when prices are more than 25% off.


9. One-Pot Coconut Chickpea Curry

One-pot Coconut Chickpea Curry recipe

Cozy up with this Asian-inspired recipe that’s vegetarian, hardy, and full of flavor. And you can make it all in one pot, which is my favorite reason to love it. You won’t even notice this falls in the 500 calorie meals category. It’s also a delicious way to sneak in some plant-based protein for your kids.

One-Pot Coconut Chickpea Curry Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 498
Yield: 4


  • 1/2 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, sliced
  • 3 minced garlic cloves
  • 1 tablespoon ginger paste
  • 2 teaspoons ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon each: ground cumin, ground turmeric
  • 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 3 tomatoes, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons lentils, rinsed
  • 3 tablespoons coconut milk
  • 1 16-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup spinach, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice


  1. Saute the onion, garlic, and ginger for 2 – 3 minutes. Add the spices and cook for an additional 1 – 2 minutes.
  2. Mix in the tomatoes, lentils, and coconut milk. Simmer covered for 15 minutes to soften the lentils.
  3. Add the chickpeas, spinach, and lemon juice. Simmer for 5 more minutes.
  4. Top with chopped cilantro and serve over basmati rice. For a sweeter taste, add a tablespoon of brown sugar.



10. 10-Minute Black Bean & Corn Quesadillas

10-Minute Black Bean & Corn Quesadillas recipe

When you’re craving quesadillas but don’t want all the calories that come with the type packed with meat, choose this tasty vegetarian alternative instead. We love 500 calorie meals that sneak in an extra serving of veggies while still being oh-so-tasty.

10-Minute Black Bean & Corn Quesadillas Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 484
Yield: 8


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 medium onion, diced
  • 1/2 small bell pepper, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1 10-ounce can corn
  • 1/2 cup salsa
  • 1/2 tablespoon fresh lime juice
  • 1 (15-ounce) can black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/4 bunch fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons butter
  • 8 8-inch flour tortillas, warmed
  • 6 ounces shredded Monterey and Colby-Jack cheese


  1. Over medium heat, soften the onion, bell pepper, and garlic in olive oil for about 3 minutes. Add the spices and cook until fragrant.
  2. Mix in the corn, salsa, lime juice, black beans, and cilantro until thoroughly combined. Check the seasoning level and add more if needed.
  3. In a large skillet, melt two teaspoons of butter over medium. Add the tortilla and top it with one-half cup of the filling, then sprinkle it with cheese. Fold over with a spatula and cook until golden, crispy, and cheesy. Cut into triangles. Repeat for the other tortillas.

11. Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables

Pan Roasted Chicken and Vegetables recipe

I love a good sheet pan dinner. The cleanup is easy, and the dinnertime is even faster. Leg quarters are a larger cut of meat, but the flavor is so much better with the bone in. Season it well (it can take it), and let it cook on a bed of vegetables for the ultimate 500 calorie meal.

Pan-Roasted Chicken and Vegetables Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 495
Yield: 6


  • 1/2 tablespoon salt
  • 1/2 tablespoon ground black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon each: garlic powder, onion powder, dried thyme, paprika, dried oregano, dried rosemary
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1 lb carrots, sliced ½ inch thick
  • 1 large onion, sliced
  • 1 zucchini, sliced into spears
  • 1 red bell pepper, sliced
  • 1/2 lb Yukon gold potatoes, chopped
  • 3 lb chicken leg quarters, bone-in, skin on


  1. Combine the spices and set aside.
  2. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper and preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  3. In a bowl, combine 1 tablespoon of olive oil and the vegetables. Sprinkle some of the seasoning mix on top. Lay them on the baking sheet in an even layer.
  4. Add the leg quarters to the bowl and season them with the same seasoning mix, coating evenly. Lay the chicken on top of the vegetables.
  5. Roast for 40 – 50 minutes or until the thermometer reads at least 165 degrees. For crispy skin, position the pan under the broiler for two minutes.

12. Baked Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers

Baked Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers recipe

These quinoa-stuffed bell peppers reach the ideal state of being filling and flavorful without all the sluggishness that sometimes comes after a dense and cheesy southwestern meal.

Baked Mexican Quinoa Stuffed Peppers Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 419
Yield: 6


  • 6 large red, yellow, or orange bell peppers (halved, seeds removed)
  • Salt and ground black pepper to taste
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa
  • 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 cup fiesta corn
  • 2 tablespoons chopped cilantro
  • 2 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 3 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 1/2 teaspoons ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 cup shredded cheddar cheese


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Line a sheet tray with nonstick cooking spray or use a 9 x 13 pan with foil.
  2. Sprinkle the bell peppers with salt and pepper. Place them cut side up on the tray. Bake for 15 minutes.
  3. Meanwhile, mix the remaining ingredients together, except the cheese.
  4. Evenly add the mix to the peppers, top with cheese, and bake for 15 minutes.
  5. Serve with salsa, guacamole, or hot sauce!


13. Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon

Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon recipe

Brighten up your dinner with the refreshing taste of honey mustard and the ease of this salmon recipe. Serve over brown rice for one of our 500 calorie meals your family is bound to love.

Honey Mustard Glazed Salmon Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 309
Yield: 4


  • 4 6-ounce salmon filets
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
  • 1 tablespoon butter
  • 1 tablespoon brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons Dijon mustard
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 tablespoon tamari (or soy sauce)
  • 1⁄2 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Season the salmon on both sides with salt and pepper.
  3. In a small saucepan, melt the butter with the brown sugar. Stir in the mustard, honey, and tamari until the sugar dissolves. Set aside.
  4. In an ovenproof pan, heat the oil over high heat.
  5. Place the salmon flesh side down and cook for 3 – 4 minutes on each side.
  6. Add some of the glaze to the pan and bake for 5 – 6 minutes. Remove from the oven and brush on the remaining glaze.


14. Slow Cooker Pork Stew

Slow Cooker Pork Stew recipe

Flavorful, easy, and just under 500 calories. I predict this slow-cooker pork stew will soon become a family weekend staple. Just set it and get on with your weekend.

Slow Cooker Pork Stew Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 421
Yield: 8


  • 1 tablespoon canola or vegetable oil
  • 1 1/2 lb (24 ounces) pork tenderloins, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon pepper
  • 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
  • 1 red bell pepper, chopped
  • 2 large carrots, cut into 1/2-inch slices
  • 2 celery stalks, chopped
  • 1 medium onion, chopped
  • 4 minced garlic cloves
  • 2 1/2 cups beef broth
  • 1/2 cup dry red wine
  • 2 tablespoons tomato paste
  • 1/3 cup pitted dried plums (prunes), chopped
  • 2 bay leaves
  • 1 fresh rosemary sprig
  • 1 fresh thyme sprig


  1. Heat the slow cooker on low.
  2. Season the pork with salt and pepper, dredge in flour, shaking off excess. Set aside.
  3. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat with 1 tablespoon of oil. Add the vegetables and garlic, cooking for 3 – 4 minutes. Remove from heat and pour into the slow cooker.
  4. In the same skillet, sear the tenderloin on both sides for 3 minutes on each side.
  5. Top the tenderloin with the vegetables. Whisk the broth and tomato paste together and pour the mixture into the slow cooker.
  6. Add the plums, garlic, bay leaves, rosemary, and thyme.
  7. Cook covered for 5 – 6 hours.
  8. Before serving, discard the herbs. Serve over rice or mashed potatoes.

15. Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup

Creamy chicken and wild rice soup in a bowl

This chicken and wild rice soup is comforting and flavorful. It’s one of our 500 calorie meals perfect for chilly days. The combination of chicken, nutty wild rice, and creamy broth creates a satisfying meal. You can use shredded rotisserie chicken to make this recipe even quicker.

Creamy Chicken and Wild Rice Soup Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 261
Yield: 6 servings


  • 5 bacon slices, chopped
  • 1 cup diced onion
  • 1 cup carrots, cut into coins
  • 1/2 cup thinly sliced celery
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 8 ounces pre-sliced mushrooms
  • 4 garlic cloves, minced
  • 4 cups chicken stock
  • 4 cups chopped kale
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 1/2 cups shredded skinless, boneless chicken breast
  • 8-ounce package pre-cooked wild rice
  • 1 cup half-and-half


  1. Heat a large enameled soup pan over medium-high.
  2. Add bacon to the pan and cook until crisp, about 4 to 5 minutes.
  3. Remove bacon from the pan with a slotted spoon, and reserve a tablespoon of drippings.
  4. Add the onion, carrot, and celery to the bacon drippings and cook for 5 minutes.
  5. Next, add the thyme, mushrooms, and garlic to cook for another 5 minutes.
  6. Add stock and bring to a boil.
  7. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes.
  8. Add kale, salt, and pepper, and cook for 3 minutes.
  9. Stir in half-and-half, chicken, and rice.

16. Kale and Sausage Naan Pizzas

A close up of a pizza with kale on it

Naan pizzas are a delicious and healthy option for a quick dinner. Making your own pizzas at home using naan bread as a base is also a great way to save money compared to ordering takeout or delivery. Plus, they’re fewer calories than traditional crusts. These are fun mini pizzas that kids can help with, too!

Kale and Sausage Naan Pizza Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 498
Yield: 4 servings


  • 3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 12 ounces ground sausage
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 8 cups lightly packed chopped kale
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  • 2 whole-wheat Naan
  • ¾ cup shredded mozzarella
  • Pinch of kosher salt


  1. Preheat your oven’s broiler to high.
  2. Heat 2 tablespoons of oil and the garlic in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat.
  3. When the garlic becomes fragrant, add the ground turkey, paprika, and a pinch of kosher salt.
  4. Cook the turkey and break it up for about 2 to 3 minutes.
  5. Add the chopped kale, red wine vinegar, and another pinch of salt.
  6. Cook until the kale is wilted and the turkey is no longer pink which will take about 3 minutes more.
  7. Remove the pan from the heat.
  8. Place the naan on a baking sheet and brush them with oil.
  9. Top the naan pizzas with the turkey mixture and shredded mozzarella.
  10. Broil the pizzas until the cheese is melted and just starting to brown.



17. Falafel burgers

Falafel burgers in some foil

Falafel burgers are a healthier option than regular burgers because you can have your patty and eat it too. They’re full of protein and fiber but won’t leave you feeling weighed down. Using whole wheat pitas in place of a bun is also a great way to cut calories.

Falafel Burgers Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 161
Yield: 4 servings


  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
  • 1 small red onion, roughly chopped
  • 1 garlic clove
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander or caraway
  • 1/4 cup packed flat-leaf parsley
  • ½ teaspoon chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 2 tablespoons oilve oil
  • 4 whole-wheat pitas


  1. Drain the chickpeas, rinse, and pat dry with a kitchen towel.
  2. Add the chickpeas to a food processor with the onion, garlic, parsley, cumin, coriander, chili powder, flour, and a pinch of kosher salt.
  3. Blend until fairly smooth, then shape into four patties with your hands.
  4. Heat the olive oil in a nonstick frying pan on medium heat.
  5. Fry the burgers for 3 – 4 minutes on each side until lightly golden.
  6. Serve with the pita bread like a burger.


18. Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Ground chicken lettuce wraps on a plate

These chicken lettuce wraps are one of the best 500 calorie meals because they require so few ingredients and can be totally customized. The recipe below is for an Asian-inspired lettuce wrap, but you could also use taco seasonings and dress it up with some taco accoutrements.

Easy Chicken Lettuce Wraps Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 120
Yield: 6 servings


  • 1/2 cup yellow onion, diced
  • 1 pound ground chicken
  • 1/4 cup fresh cilantro chopped
  • 3 tablespoons fresh lime juice
  • 1 tablespoon soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon rice vinegar
  • 1 head bibb lettuce separated into cups


  1. Wash and dry lettuce cups. Set them aside.
  2. Cook the ground chicken with the onion over medium heat until the chicken is no longer pink.
  3. Stir in cilantro, lime juice, soy sauce, and rice vinegar.
  4. Serve with a heaping scoop of chicken on a lettuce cup.


19. Puttanesca Spaghetti

A plate of puttanesca spaghetti

With its simple ingredients and quick preparation time, spaghetti puttanesca is a great choice for a delicious and stress-free weeknight dinner. The savory and briny flavors of the sauce paired with al dente pasta create a satisfying meal that doesn’t feel low calorie.

Puttanesca Spaghetti Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 495
Yield: 4 servings


3 tablespoons olive oil
1 onion, diced
3 garlic cloves, minced
1 15-ounce can diced tomatoes
5 anchovy fillets, finely chopped
1 4-ounce can pitted black olives
2 teaspoons capers, drained
10 ounces dried spaghetti
1/4 cup packed flat-leaf parsley, finely chopped
½ teaspoon red pepper flakes (optional)


  1. Heat the oil in a nonstick pan over medium heat. Add the onion along with a pinch of salt and cook for 5 – 8 minutes until soft.
  2. Add the garlic and chili flakes, and cook for another minute.
  3. Pour in the diced tomatoes. Add the anchovies, olives, and capers. Bring to a simmer and cook for 15 minutes, uncovered.
  4. While the sauce is simmering, cook the spaghetti following the package instructions.
  5. Drain the pasta and immediately toss it with the sauce and parsley.


20. Lean Beef and Quinoa Burgers

A close up on a burger made with quinoa

This recipe uses quinoa as the grain, but you could also use brown rice or bulgur. Quinoa, while filling, has a low glycemic index. That means it can help regulate blood sugar levels and keep you feeling full and satisfied for longer. It makes a nutritious addition to a lean beef burger.

Beef and Quinoa Burger Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 389
Yield: 6 servings


  • 2 tablespoons cooking oil
  • 16 ounces fresh spinach leaves
  • 1 pound lean ground beef
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon chili powder
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 1⁄4 teaspoon black pepper
  • Pinch of cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1 large egg
  • 2 cups cooked quinoa (this is about 2/3 cup uncooked)
  • 6 whole wheat burger buns


  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees Fahrenheit. Grease a rimmed baking sheet with oil.
  2. Heat a large nonstick skillet on medium heat. Once the pan is heated, add the onion and cook until soft, about 5 – 8 minutes. Add the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the ground beef to the onions. Cook until nearly cooked through, about 4 minutes. Add the spinach and cook until wilted and the meat is fully cooked. Set aside to cool completely.
  4. Once the meat mixture has cooled, add it to a food processor. Toss in the cumin, chili powder, salt, and pepper (and the cayenne if you’re using it). Pulse the mixture several times until fully mixed but not pureed. You can stop the machine and and scrape down the sides if needed. Transfer to a large bowl.
  5. Add the egg and quinoa and mix until combined, using a rubber spatula or your hands.
  6. Create 6 burger patties and put them on the greased baking sheet.
  7. Bake for 10 – 15 minutes, then flip them. Cook another 10 – 15 minutes until browned on the edges.
  8. Serve the burgers on the buns with your favorite toppings.


21. One-Pot Barley and Bean Soup

A bowl of barley and bean soup

The combination of fiber-rich beans and barley can help regulate blood sugar levels, support digestive health, and promote a healthy heart by reducing cholesterol and inflammation. February is a great time to stock up on canned goods — like beans — so you can fill up your tummy for less.

Barley and Bean Soup Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 488
Yield: 4 servings


  • 2 tablespoons vegetable oil
  • 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
  • 1 fennel bulb, cored and sliced
  • 5 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 28-ounce can diced tomatoes
  • 3 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 cup pearl barley
  • 1 16-ounce can butter beans, drained and rinsed
  • 2 cups packed spinach
  • 1/4 cup grated parmesan



  1. Heat a saucepan over medium heat and add the oil. Toss in the onion and fennel and cook until softened, about 10 to 15 minutes. Add the garlic at the last minute or so. Cook just until fragrant.
  2. Add the tomatoes, vegetable stock, and barley to the pan.
  3. Mash half the chickpeas in a bowl with a fork and add them to the pan.
  4. Bring everything to a boil. Cover the pot and reduce the heat, simmering for 45 minutes until the barley is cooked.
  5. Add the remaining whole chickpeas and the butter beans to the soup. Cook for about 3 minutes.
  6. Stir in the spinach and cook until wilted.
  7. Scoop the soup into bowls and top with 1 tablespoon of grated parmesan each.


22. Greek Chicken Wrap

A greek chicken wrap with some ingredients on a wood surface

If possible, use a whole wheat tortilla for this recipe, as it will help cut down on carbs and calories while providing additional fiber when compared to regular tortillas. They also have fewer calories and more fiber than whole wheat bread.

Healthy Greek Chicken Wrap Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 237
Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1/4 cup pitted kalamata olives, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons crumbled feta
  • 1 1/2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon chopped fresh oregano (or 1 teaspoon dried)
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 cup shredded skinless, boneless rotisserie chicken breast
  • 2 small cucumbers, chopped
  • 6 tablespoons plain hummus
  • 6 8-inch whole-wheat flour tortillas
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper (optional)



  1. Dump the halved tomatoes, olives, feta, lemon juice, oregano, olive oil, cayenne pepper, chicken, and cucumber into a big bowl.
  2. Toss to combine. Add salt and pepper to your liking.
  3. Spread a tablespoon of hummus to cover one half of the tortilla.
  4. Top each tortilla with about 1/2 cup of the chicken mixture.
  5. Roll the wraps and enjoy.


23. Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Bake

An italian sausage gnocchi bake in a pan on a table

The key to keeping this recipe lower in calories is to stick to only 1/2 pound of meat and not overdoing the cheese.

Italian Sausage and Gnocchi Bake Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 318
Yield: 6 servings


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 small yellow onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1/2 pound ground Italian sausage
  • 1 28-ounce can chopped tomatoes
  • 16 ounces cooked gnocchi
  • 4 ounces fresh mozzarella, torn into pieces
  • Handful of fresh basil, roughly torn



  1. Preheat your oven’s broiler to high.
  2. Heat an ovenproof pan over medium heat. Add the oil and cook the onion for 8 – 10 minutes, until soft. Stir in the garlic and cook for another minute.
  3. Add the sausage and use a spoon to break it up and cook until browned.
  4. Pour in the tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.
  5. Bring everything to a simmer and add the cooked gnocchi. Stir to combine.
  6. Stir half of the mozzarella and the basil into the pan.
  7. Top with the rest of the mozzarella.
  8. Place the ovenproof pan under the broiler and cook (while watching) for no more than 3 minutes. Remove from the oven as soon as the top begins to brown.


24. Chicken Fried Rice

Chicken fried rice on a plate

Making healthy chicken fried rice at home is a great way to enjoy a takeout dish while controlling the ingredients and nutritional value. By using brown rice, lots of veggies, and lean protein like chicken, you can create one of our most flavorful 500 calorie meals. It’s also much lower in sodium (and price!) than what you’d get at a restaurant.

Easy Chicken Fried Rice Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 420
Yield: 2 servings


  • 2 cups cooked brown rice
  • 1 chicken breast, cut into bite-sized cubes
  • 1/2 cup frozen mixed vegetables
  • 2 green onions, chopped
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 egg
  • 3 teaspoons sesame oil, divided
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce



  1. Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add one teaspoon of the oil and let it warm through.
  2. Add the chicken and season with salt and pepper. Cook completely, about 3 – 5 minutes. Transfer to a plate and set aside.
  3. Pour another teaspoon of oil into the skillet. Add the frozen veggies and cook until warmed through.
  4. Add the minced garlic and cook for just 30 seconds.
  5. Crack the egg into a small bowl and gently whisk with a fork.
  6. Create a well in the center of the skillet with the cooked veggies. Add the egg and scramble it.
  7. Drizzle in the final teaspoon of oil. Add the cooked rice and chicken to the pan, tossing everything together.
  8. Stir in the soy sauce and serve topped with chopped green onions.


25. Sweet Potato Curry

A bowl of sweet potato curry

The sweet potatoes in this curry recipe add a natural sweetness and creaminess to it while also providing fiber, vitamins, and antioxidants. It’s a satisfying addition to our 500 calorie meals.

Sweet Potato Curry Recipe

Calories Per Serving: 420 (not including rice)
Yield: 2 servings


  • 1 tablespoon coconut oil
  • 1 small onion, finely diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 2-inch piece ginger, grated
  • 3 tablespoons Thai red curry paste
  • 1 tablespoon creamy peanut butter
  • 2 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 14-ounce can coconut milk
  • 7 ounces spinach
  • Juice from one lime
  • Cooked jasmine rice, to serve (optional)
  • Roasted peanuts for topping (optional)



  1. Melt the coconut oil in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion and cook to soften, about 5 minutes.
  2. Add minced garlic and grated ginger. Cook for 1 minute.
  3. Stir in Thai red curry paste, peanut butter, and sweet potato.
  4. Pour in the coconut milk and 2/3 cup water.
  5. Bring everything to a boil and then turn down the heat. Simmer for 25 – 30 minutes uncovered.
  6. Use a fork to test the sweet potatoes for doneness. The fork will slide through easily if the sweet potatoes are softened and done cooking.
  7. Stir in the spinach and lime juice. Season well with salt and pepper.
  8. Serve with cooked rice and a sprinkle of chopped roasted peanuts on top.


How to save on ingredients for 500 calorie meals and food containers:

various vegetables in the aldi produce aisle


  • Shop for fruits and veggies at Aldi. Across the board, produce prices are lower at Aldi than anywhere else (yes, even Walmart!). Be picky, though; quality can be hit or miss.
  • Get up to 40% off supermarket prices at Misfits Market sells “ugly” (but not bruised or rotten) produce at a steep discount. This is a subscription box and “you get what you get” in a weekly delivery. You don’t choose your items.
  • Download Ibotta for cash-back offers on produce. You’ll see offers like $0.25 back when you buy green beans, strawberries, or blueberries. Scan your receipt after you buy to get credited via PayPal. Best part? You can combine these offers with paper coupons!

Related: Here’s more about how to save on fresh produce.


Other low-calorie ingredients:

Which 500-calorie meals have you tried? Share any recipes or tips in the comments below.

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