3 Easy to Make 500 Calorie Meals (Filling and Delicious)
So, your New Year’s resolution is to eat healthier, lose weight, yadda yadda yadda. It’s the same old song and dance as every year prior, but this year, you really mean it.
While there are a plethora of diets and even more fads circulating the interwebs, why not just learn how to prepare healthful meals without so many rules? Sounds easier said than done, but with a little knowledge, you can arm yourself with the tools necessary to really get the job done this year.
And who knows—maybe you will enjoy a healthier way of eating so much you won’t have to make the same boring resolutions again next year.
The following is my foolproof method for creating easy 500 calorie meals, that are not only jampacked with nutrient-dense foods, but will keep your cravings, hunger, and energy in check.
The measurements I use are based on the hand-sized portions, which have not failed me yet.
How to Make Your Own 500 Calorie Meals
Step 1: Start by selecting your protein source (I generally shoot for ~3-ounce portions). Here is a super useful resources to check the protein count.
Or to keep it really simple, you can just use this list of the most common protein choices:
- Chicken: 141 calories; 28 g protein
- Steak: 158 calories; 26 g protein
- Turkey: 135 calories; 25 g protein
- Pork: 122 calories; 22 g protein
- Egg (1 egg): 71 calories; 6 g protein
- Salmon: 155 calories; 22 g protein
- Tuna: 99 calories; 22 g protein
- Shrimp: 101 calories; 20 g protein
- Lobster: 76 calories; 16 g protein
- Scallops: 75 calories; 14 g protein
Step 2: Then add a good carbohydrate source (I generally stick with about ½ cup per serving). Here’s another helpful resource.
Or use this list of some common carb choices:
- Quinoa: 111 calories; 20 g carbs
- Whole-wheat pasta: 112 calories; 23 g carbs
- Brown rice: 103 calories; 22 g carbs
- Oatmeal: 83 calories; 14 g carbs
- Whole-wheat tortilla: 92 calories; 15 g carbs
- Whole-wheat bread: 71 calories; 12 g carbs
Step 3: Then add a healthy fat source such as nuts, nut butters, coconut oil, butter, ghee, avocado, etc. Again, here’s a helpful resource.
Step 4: I am all for including dark green leafy vegetables whenever possible, as well as a whole host of other colorful vegetables (cauliflower, sweet potato, spaghetti squash, tomatoes, to name a few). I am heavy handed with vegetables, so you can often find one or even two full cups of veggies on my plate at each meal.
The key with this is to be mindful of not only the vitamins and nutrients contained in your vegetables, but the overall benefit to your diet. Cruciferous vegetables are low in calories but high in fiber and nutrients, which is perfect. Adding them to your diet is not only an excellent weight-loss strategy but may also improve your overall health.
Regardless if some of my meals end up being vegetarian while others tend to be more meat and potato-ish, I always balance it out throughout the day, depending on my energy expenditure.
The following recipes regularly find their way into my rotation. Bonus: each one of these delicious recipes are under 500 calories. Enjoy!
5 Tasty & Easy 500 Calorie Meals You Can Make At Home
1. Bruschetta Chicken
- 4 thin-cut boneless, skinless chicken breasts
- 4 tomatoes
- ½ red onion
- 2 cloves garlic
- 1/3 cup fresh basil
- 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil (EVOO)
- 2 Tbsp Italian Seasoning
- Salt and pepper, to taste
- 2 cups cooked quinoa
- *Optional Balsamic vinegar
- *Optional parmesan cheese
- Season chicken on both sides with Italian seasoning and optional salt and pepper, to taste.
- Heat 1 Tbsp of EVOO over medium heat and add chicken.
- Brown both sides of chicken until fully cooked.
- While the chicken cooks, mix together the remaining 1 Tbsp EVOO, tomatoes, red onion, garlic, and basil.
- Divide the tomato mixture among the chicken breasts.
- Add ½ cup quinoa to the plate.
- Optional—garnish with additional basil, balsamic vinegar, and Parmesan cheese.
Yields 4 servings
- Calories: 342
- Total Fat: 13.7 g
- Total Carbohydrate: 20.6 g
- Protein: 33.6 g
2. Pecan Crusted Salmon
- 4 salmon fillets
- 2 Tbsp maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp Greek yogurt
- 4 tsp finely chopped pecans
- ¼ teaspoon salt
- ⅛ teaspoon dried garlic powder
- Fresh arugula
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Whisk together maple syrup and yogurt until smooth.
- Spread mixture evenly atop each salmon filet.
- Mix remaining ingredients and gently press into top of each salmon filet.
- Bake for 8 – 10 minutes or until salmon flakes easily with a fork.
- Serve atop a bed of arugula, and drizzle with your favorite dressing.
Chef Note: I love to add a squeeze of fresh lemon or some Balsamic to this under 500 calorie meal. Since it is low in calories as written, you could also add something a little heartier or even do a Greek yogurt and maple syrup drizzle to bring out those flavors more.
Yields 4 servings
- Calories: 203
- Total Fat: 10 g
- Total Carbohydrate: 7.5 g
- Protein: 18.9 g
3. Shrimp Spring Rolls with Chili Sauce
- 8 rice spring roll papers
- 8 large shrimp deveined/butterflied/cooked
- 1 medium beet
- ½ red bell pepper
- ½ orange bell pepper
- ½ yellow bell pepper
- 1 cup cucumber
- 1 cup carrots
- 1 cup bib lettuce
- 1 large bunch cilantro
- 8 ounces of rice noodles
- Chili garlic sauce
- Slice all veggies thinly so they can be easily layered. You could use a mandolin, if you have one, but a trusty, sharpened kitchen knife will suffice.
- Submerge each rice paper one at a time into hot water to soften. This takes about 10 seconds give or take, but don’t oversoak, which only results in a thick, sticky mess.
- Once soft, transfer to a clean, slightly damp surface, and gently smooth out into a circle.
- Layer all ingredients (beets, carrots, cucumber, lettuce, peppers, cilantro, and one shrimp).
- Roll over once, then tuck bottom in, and continue rolling until sealed.
- Serve atop cooked rice noodles.
- Garnish with chili garlic sauce.
Chef Note: Rice spring roll papers are easier to use than one might think. They are quite stretchy once wet and can hold more filling than you may imagine. Be careful once sealed, though, as you won’t be able to make changes to your wrap. They seal together like glue and are so transparent it is like trying to find the end of a roll of tape.
Chef Note: I love these because they are so satisfying and flavorful. I splurge on the chili garlic sauce to complement the raw veggies. You could add a miso soup or rice in lieu of the rice noodles if you wanted a little something-something more. Or you could just enjoy this 500 calorie meal and save those extra calories for dessert!
Yields 4 servings
- Calories: 139
- Total Fat: 0.5 g
- Total Carbohydrate: 24.5 g
- Protein: 4.8 g