Here are a few easy dinner options that are quick, effortless and stay within 500 calories per serving.
Chicken Ranch Tacos1 of 11
This recipe, popularized by Pinterest users everywhere, is amazing when you're in a pinch. Best of all, it requires only four main ingredients! This recipe makes 4 to 6 servings.
• 4 chicken breasts
• 1 packet taco seasoning
• 1 packet ranch dressing
• 14 oz. chicken broth
• Corn tortillas
• Shredded lettuce
• Chopped tomatoes
Place chicken, seasoning packets and broth in a slow cooker, and set on low for 5 hours. Remove chicken and shred with two forks. Replace lid and continue cooking for 30 more minutes. Serve on corn tortillas, garnished with shredded lettuce and tomatoes.
Nutrition Info: 355 calories, 16 grams carbs, 20 grams protein
Cheeseburger Soup2 of 11
This kid-friendly recipe will be a hit with the entire family, and it's hard to go wrong when beef, cheddar and garlic are involved. Measure about one cup per serving of this hearty soup.
• 1 lb. lean ground beef
• 1/2 medium onion, finely diced
• 1/2 tsp. minced garlic
• 1.5 lb. bag small potatoes, quartered
• 1 cup matchstick cut carrots
• 1 stalk celery, finely diced
• 5 cups chicken broth
• 1/2 tsp. salt
• 2 cups milk
• 1/4 cup all-purpose flour
• 1 1/2 cups shredded cheddar cheese
In a medium skillet over medium-high heat, cook ground beef and onion until beef is browned. Add garlic and cook for an additional minute. Place beef in slow cooker. Add potatoes, carrots, celery, broth and salt. Cook on low for 8 hours until potatoes and carrots are tender. Then, whisk together milk and flour in a separate bowl and stir into the slow cooker. Cook for another 30 minutes until soup thickens. Stir in cheese and serve.
Nutrition Info: 424 calories, 26 grams carbs, 29 grams protein
Pita Pizza3 of 11
Pita pizza is simply the easiest way to enjoy a pizza without all the processed ingredients used in takeout versions. Freshen this one up with your favorite veggies, or stick with plain cheese for a classic pie.
• 1 whole wheat pita bread
• 1/8 cup tomato sauce
• 1/4 cup part-skim mozzarella
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Spread tomato sauce on the pita and sprinkle with mozzarella. Bake for about five minutes or until golden brown on the edges. Broil briefly for a crispier crust.
Nutrition Info: 239 calories, 39 grams carbs, 15 grams protein
Stuffed Green Pepper4 of 11
Stuffed peppers are a classic meal that's filling, wholesome and adds a little extra spice to the typical casserole. This recipe is so good that you'll probably want two–which is still below the 500-calorie line!
• 1 lb. ground turkey
• 1 green pepper, seeded and chopped
• 1/4 cup onion, chopped
• 2 cloves garlic, minced
• 1/4 cup tomato sauce
• 1/2 tsp. thyme
• 1/2 tsp. oregano
• 1 tsp. salt
• 4 whole green peppers, tops and seeds removed
• Mozzarella cheese, shredded
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Brown turkey in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add onion, garlic, chopped green pepper, tomato sauce and spices to the skillet. Cook for about five minutes or until veggies are tender. Set whole peppers in a baking dish and fill with meat mixture. Bake for 45 to 50 minutes, until peppers are tender. Remove from oven and top with shredded mozzarella cheese. Bake for an additional five minutes until cheese is melted.
Nutrition Info: 218 calories, 16 grams carbs, 42 grams protein
Fettuccine Alfredo5 of 11
Healthy Fettuccine Alfredo? Yes, it exists!
• 6 oz. uncooked fettuccine
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 2 garlic cloves, minced
• 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
• 3/4 cup low sodium chicken broth
• 3/4 cup 1% milk
• 1/4 cup Parmesan cheese, grated
• 1 tsp. lemon juice
• 1/8 tsp. salt
• 1/8 tsp. pepper
• Chopped parsley
Boil pasta according to directions. Meanwhile, put olive oil and garlic in a large sauté pan. Cook for one minute. Whisk in flour and cook for an additional minute. Pour in broth and milk; bring to a simmer and cook until thickened, stirring frequently. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan cheese. Season with salt and pepper, serve over cooked and drained pasta and garnish with chopped parsley, if desired.
Nutrition Info: 306 calories, 37 grams carbs, 13 grams protein
Quinoa Corn Chowder6 of 11
This recipe is practically a superfood powerhouse, and it incorporates lean proteins and numerous veggies that most miss in a day's diet.
• 1 cup quinoa
• 3 tbsp. canola oil
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1 red pepper, diced
• 1 tsp. garlic, minced
• 1 tsp. dried parsley
• 1/2 tsp. dried thyme
• 1 1/2 tsp. salt
• 1/4 cup flour
• 3 cups chicken broth
• 2 cups milk
• 4 cups fresh corn
• 1 can white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
• Shredded cheese for garnish
In a large pot, toast quinoa over medium heat for about two minutes. Add oil, onion and pepper and sauté for about three to five minutes until soft; add spices and cook for an additional minute. Add flour and stir until combined. Whisk in broth and milk. Bring to a simmer, stirring frequently. Reduce heat to medium-low and cook uncovered for 15 to 20 minutes until quinoa is cooked, also stirring frequently. Add corn and beans and heat through before serving.
Nutrition Info: 313 calories, 6 grams carbs, 12 grams protein
Stir-Fry Zucchini Noodles7 of 11
If you're up for a light dinner that packs a ton of flavor, minus the carbs, you'll hit the mark with this recipe. At only 137 calories per serving, you can go back for seconds (and thirds) without feeling guilty.
• 2 tbsp. vegetable oil
• 2 yellow onions, spiralized
• 4 small zucchini, spiralized
• 1 tbsp. soy sauce
• 2 tbsp. teriyaki sauce
• 1 tbsp. sesame seeds
Heat oil in a wok or large skillet over medium heat. Add onions and cook for about five minutes, until translucent. Stir in zucchini and cook for two minutes. Add sauces and sesame seeds; mix and continue cooking for five minutes until zucchini is tender.
Nutrition Info: 137 calories, 13 grams carbs, 4 grams protein
Cheddar & Carrot Mac and Cheese8 of 11
Getting in your five servings of veggies per day can be tough for those averse to greens! Try "hiding" your veggies in this comfort food classic.
• 8 oz. pasta shells
• 1 lb. baby carrots
• 1 1/2 cups reduced fat cheddar, shredded
• 2 tbsp. bread crumbs
• Salt and pepper to taste
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Place carrots in a microwave safe container with 1/2 cup water, and cook on high for five to seven minutes or until softened. Cook pasta in salted water according to directions; drain pasta, reserving one cup of cooking liquid. Return pasta to the pot. Place carrots with their remaining cooking liquid in a blender. Add the cup of cooking water from the pasta and blend until smooth. Add the carrot puree to the pasta and cook over medium heat for five minutes. Reduce heat to low, add cheese and stir until melted and creamy. Season with salt and pepper. Pour mixture into a greased baking dish, and sprinkle with breadcrumbs. Bake for about 25 minutes, until sides are bubbling. Broil for the last two minutes for a crispy top.
Nutrition Info: 321 calories, 52 grams carbs, 19 grams protein
Coconut Crusted Salmon9 of 11
Those lacking confidence in their ability to cook salmon will appreciate the ease of this dish. With a simple five-ingredient list, it's a go-to recipe that's elegant enough for company.
• 1/4 cup coconut flour
• 1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
• 1/4 tsp. salt
• 1 egg, beaten
• 1 1/2 lb. wild salmon, skinned and sliced into four filets
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Mix flour, coconut and salt in a shallow bowl. Dip the salmon in the beaten egg and then coat on both sides with the coconut mixture. Lay the filets flat on a sheet pan. Bake for 15 to 20 minutes, flipping once, until the internal temperature of the salmon is above 135 degrees and that crust is slightly browned and crisp. For more crispy goodness, broil the salmon for the last few minutes.
Nutrition Info: 435 calories, 12 grams carbs, 29 grams protein
Sweet Potato Chili10 of 11
Dress this recipe up with lots of spices or tone it down for a simpler soup. As a bonus, each serving is only 213 calories, so there's more room for dessert (in moderation, of course).
• 1 medium onion, diced
• 1 tbsp. olive oil
• 3 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
• 1 16-oz. jar chunky salsa
• 1 15-oz. can black beans, drained
• 2 cups vegetable stock
• 2 cups water
• 1 tbsp. chili powder
• 2 tsp. ground cumin
• 1/2 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1/2 tsp. chipotle powder
• 2 tsp. hot sauce
• Chopped cilantro
• Diced red onion, chopped
• Diced avocado
• Fresh lime wedges
In a large pot over medium heat, cook onions in oil and season with a bit of salt and pepper. Stir until translucent. Add sweet potato and desired spices and cook for three minutes. Add salsa, water and vegetable stock. Bring to a low boil over medium-high heat, and then reduce to a simmer. Add black beans, cover and cook for 20 to 30 minutes until sweet potatoes are tender and the soup has thickened. Serve and top as desired.
Nutrition Info: 213 calories, 47 grams carbs, 7 grams protein