8 Low-Calorie Dinner Recipes That Are Surprisingly Satisfying

By The Clean Plates Team
|
August 1, 2022
Quick and Easy Beef Stir Fry
Image credit: Healthy Fitness Meals

So we want to kick off this story on low-calorie dinner recipes by noting that there is absolutely nothing wrong with calories. They’re the unit of measurement that we use to understand how much energy our food supplies our bodies with, and they are extremely necessary for our survival. However, there are a lot of reasons you may want to check out low calorie dinner recipes, especially since this particular collection is full of recipes that taste fantastic, are very satisfying, and are definitely nutritionally sound. If you’re trying to achieve gradual, healthy weight loss, or you’re looking for low-calorie recipes for another reason, these can help you adjust your caloric intake while still getting plenty of protein, fiber, healthy fats, and micronutrients.

Read next: Deprivation Doesn’t Work: I Lost 30 Pounds in 6 Months with This *Realistic* Strategy 

All of these low-calorie dinner recipes clock in somewhere between 200-400 calories. They’re also seriously nutrient-dense, so if you are trying to find low-calorie dinner recipes that offer excellent nutritional bang for your proverbial caloric buck, this is for you.

1. Healthy Shrimp & Grits 

low calorie dinner recipes: Healthy Shrimp & Grits

Image credit: Shutterstock

Shrimp and grits is classic Southern comfort food, but the truth is, you can make an absolutely delicious version of it for just 330 calories a serving. Surprisingly, ¼ cup of grits made with seasoned chicken broth is somehow only 45 calories, and large shrimp are about 10 calories each. So if you swap a traditional, cheese-laden recipe for this umami-packed mushroom version, you can enjoy a really satisfying meal — including six to eight large shrimp.

2. Vegan Paella with Tofu

Vegan Paella with Tofu

Image credit: The Picky eater

Yes, paella is traditionally made with tons of seafood and chicken thighs, but this vegan paella recipe is seriously delicious, the spicing is true to the Spanish classic, and it’s also a great opportunity to test out some vegan seafood options. While this low calorie dinner recipe only calls for tofu, there are a growing number of vegan seafood options you could include in here, including these vegan dusted scallops from Mind Blown and plant-based shrimp from BeLeaf. 

3. Greek Chicken Cauliflower Rice Bowls

low calorie dinner recipes: Greek Chicken Cauliflower Rice Bowls

Image credit: The Clean Eating Couple

We’re pretty big fans of any recipe that involves artichoke hearts and olives, and this one is no exception. This dish is full of filling protein, healthy fats, and fiber, not to mention plenty of vitamins and minerals, including manganese and potassium. Feel free to toss in some chopped red bell pepper and fresh parsley, too — and serve with a big lemon wedge to squeeze over the whole dish. 

4. Quick and Easy Beef Stir Fry

low calorie dinner recipes: Quick and Easy Beef Stir Fry

Image credit: Healthy Fitness Meals

Beef is seriously filling, and although it’s gotten a bad rap for being high in cholesterol, grass-fed red meat can actually be a great addition to many people’s diets. An easy, quick weeknight dinner, this stir fry takes less than half an hour to make and really scratches the “I just want to order takeout” itch without the expense and oil. Serve over cauliflower rice instead of white rice for a big antioxidant boost (and about 80% fewer calories). 

5. Vegan Sweet Potato Curry

low calorie dinner recipes: Vegan Sweet Potato Curry

Image credit: Shutterstock

With chickpeas, cauliflower, and sweet potatoes, this is a seriously filling meal full of protein, fiber, and healthy fats — not to mention, this dish makes great leftovers. Pro tip: never buy low-fat coconut milk. It’s just coconut milk that’s had water added to it, and it costs the same amount as the regular kind. We feel pretty confident in our ability to water down coconut milk all on our own, then save the rest for another dish later in the week.

6. Keto Salmon Cakes with Mustard Dill Sauce

low calorie dinner recipes: Keto Salmon Cakes with Mustard Dill Sauce

Image credit: Simply So Healthy

These salmon cakes are one of our favorite low-calorie dinner recipes: they’re gluten-free, keto-friendly, protein-packed, and take 23 minutes from start to finish. That’s the kind of simple, healthy, quick meal we love for a weeknight. We’d serve over a salad of mixed baby greens, letting the mustard-dill sauce double as a salad dressing. 

7. Strawberry Bruschetta Chicken

Strawberry Bruschetta Chicken

Image credit: Dinner Mom

Some people love a sweet-and-savory combination, while others can’t stand the concept. If you’re like us, the words “strawberry” and “chicken” together make your ears perk up in a good way, and if that’s the case, we can’t recommend this recipe enough. This recipe takes just 25 minutes to make, it’s delicious, looks really elegant on the plate, and it’s only 200 calories, which makes it a winner for us. For a fuller meal, serve with ¼ cup of cooked quinoa per person and a side of sautéed green beans — and you’ll still be under 300 calories for the whole meal.

8. Cioppino

Cioppino

Image credit: Shutterstock

Cioppino is a classic Italian seafood stew, and it’s one of those low-calorie dinner recipes that is naturally healthy without any changes or additions. It’s packed with four different kinds of seafood (although feel free to make substitutions as you see fit) and derives tons of flavor from fennel, tomatoes, and white wine. This is an excellent dinner all on its own, but feel free to pair with a simple Mediterranean cucumber salad, too — they’d be great together. 

Read next: These Wine Varietals Are Naturally Lower-Calorie — and Taste Fantastic

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