Six Easy Low Calorie Dinners

Many of us hesitate to cook, and we opt to order takeout instead because we simply don’t have enough time after a long and stressful day. But you don’t have to be a nutrition whiz to know that most food you order from a restaurant—even the non-fast food kind—is filled with more calories and fat than you’d ever imagine adding at home. That’s why it’s best to cook up your own grub—the easy, yet still healthy, way. Here are our favorite one-pan meals that are low in calories but high in flavor.

Low calorie dinner ideas

Eating low calorie dinners doesn’t have to be hard. Instead, the simpler the meal, the easier it is for it to be low calorie. Calories add up quick when you toss in extra fats and carbohydrates into your meal, so keep it simple and your dinners will be delicious – and low calorie. Low calorie dinner ideas include:

  • Roasted lemon garlic butter shrimp and asparagus
  • Cauliflower curry with potatoes
  • Mongolian beef zoodles
  • Sesame chicken and broccoli
  • Spicy chickpea Shakshuka
  • Paleo Mexican chicken stir fry

Roasted lemon garlic butter shrimp and asparagus

When you’re pressed for time but craving a hearty, healthy and nourishing meal, turn to this time-honored classic. It requires just two main ingredients along with plenty of spices to add full flavor without the guilt. Shrimp is an excellent source of protein, especially when steamed. It contains over 75 percent of our daily recommended dose of vitamin B12 and over 100 percent of the selenium we need in a day. Asparagus couldn’t be healthier, either. It’s a great source of vitamin K, vitamin B1, is a natural diuretic and has been shown to fight cancer.

Get the recipe: Carlsbad Cravings

Cauliflower curry with potatoes

If you’re vegetarian or vegan, or simply a lover of vegetables, this dish is right up your alley. It’s loaded with full, spicy flavor and packed with hearty nutrients that will give you lasting energy. There’s a reason why cauliflower was the “it” veggie of 2017—it’s ridiculously good for you. Research has found that cauliflower helps reduce the risk of cancer, heart disease and brain disorders, fights inflammation and boosts digestion. It also aids in balancing your hormones! But, let’s be honest, the best part about this recipe is that it takes just 30 minutes to prep and cook!

Get the recipe: Savory Tooth

Mongolian beef zoodles

Zoodles, or zucchini sliced in the shape of noodles, is often an ingredient replacement in pasta-oriented dishes, but it is also the perfect substitute for Asian noodles. It’s healthier than its starchy counterpart in every way, and many argue that it’s more flavorful! This dish is dangerously addictive—and so easy to make. It calls for protein-packed flank steak, garlic, ginger, pineapple, carrots and, of course, zucchini. You can use a sauce of your choosing, but this recipe calls for a Thai sweet chili sauce for some zing.

Get the recipe: Life Made Sweeter

Sesame chicken and broccoli

For a light but satisfying meal that couldn’t be easier to throw together, try this take on take-out sesame chicken. It requires just four basic ingredients—boneless chicken, broccoli florets, peanut oil and black sesame seeds—along with plenty of sauces and seasonings that you can pick and choose from. Once everything is prepared, you simply pour everything onto a pan and let it cook for 12-14 minutes, or until it’s nice and browned to your liking!

Get the recipe: Kalyn’s Kitchen

Spicy chickpea Shakshuka

This traditional Middle Eastern dish packs a whole lot of flavor in a relatively healthy punch. The secret to a scrumptious shakshuka is buying fresh, ideally farmer’s market, ingredients. The fragrant and palatable combination of red onion, garlic, red pepper and a myriad of spices including paprika, cumin and fresh basil, all mixed in with whole plum tomatoes and roasted in a bed of poached eggs is to die for. While this is traditionally a breakfast dish, it’s a nutritious meal for any time of day!

Get the recipe: The Petite Cook

Paleo Mexican chicken stir fry

Stir fries are great—no matter how you slice or season them—but we have to say, this Mexican-style twist is one for the books. It’s full of flavor, it’s low carb, paleo-friendly, gluten-free and has a healthy balance of fats, proteins and carbs, which you’ll want to fill up on before your next class. What’s more: It only takes 20 minutes to make! *Trying it tonight*

Get the recipe: Sweet C’s

Jenn Sinrich is an editor in New York City, a self-proclaimed foodie always looking for the healthier version of all recipes, a passionate lover of all things cheese, a friendly New Yorker, Bostonian at heart and proud Red Sox fan. Love cats? Cheese? Mac n' Cheese? Follow her on Twitter and Instagram.