healthy dinner for weight loss
It’s easy to keep track of what you eat when you build a strong portfolio of delicious low-calorie meals. We’ll get you started with this collection of easy dinner recipes that are low in calories but high in flavor. Or, if you’d like to make mealtimes even easier, subscribe to the Cooking Light Diet today to start receiving customizable meal plans featuring hundreds of low-cal breakfasts, lunches, and dinners.
When weight loss is your aim, you need to reduce your total calorie intake by around 500 calories a day. This equates to an intake of approximately 1,200-1,400 calories per day for women (or around 1,800 calories a day for men), depending upon height, weight and activity levels.
Spicy Tofu Tacos
Crumble up tofu with a the heat of poblano peppers, chile, and garlic, and you get a healthy version of spicy tacos at only 230 calories per serving.
Greek Salad Pasta
The best way to indulge in a plateful of pasta when you’re trying to lose weight? Fill it up with lots of lean chicken breast, tomatoes, cucumbers, and zesty onions.
Seared Salmon with Roasted Cauliflower
Simple ingredients roasted to lip-smacking perfection make this a healthy, easy dinner that tastes completely indulgent. Add a side of quinoa or bulgur, and you’ll still stay under 500 calories.
Southwestern Grilled Chicken Salad
When you’re craving a Tex-Mex feast for under 300 calories…
Shrimp, Avocado, and Egg Chopped Salad
Salad is a deceptive name for this hearty dinner, which fills your belly with three of our favorite ingredients—shrimp, hard-boiled eggs, and creamy avocado, all topped with a tasty lime dressing.
Spiced Grilled Eggplant With Fresh Tomato Salad
This tangy eggplant dish should be the star of your plate the next time you grill. Pair it with a wild rice salad for a complete—and completely filling—meal.
Pan-Roasted Bass With Papaya Relish
Take a break from salmon by grilling up this delicious bass, which gets a surprising kick of tropical flavor from diced papaya.
Roasted Sweet Potato and Chicken Salad
Each forkful gives you a bite of something deeply satisfying in this colorful salad, which stays under the 500-calorie mark.
Seared Coconut Lime Chicken With Snap Pea Slaw
Flavored with coconut and lime, this low-cal dinner will make you feel like you’re sitting on a beach in the sun.
Kale and Roasted Cauliflower Salad
Got kale? This deceptively simple salad has the added flavor of raisins and pine nuts, making it as tasty as it is good for you.
Light Chicken Parmesan
Every once in a while you just have to indulge in the comfort foods of your childhood, like a cheesy, gooey chicken parmesan. This version gives you the flavors you dream of, for only 270 calories.
Chicken Quinoa Bowl
Full of fiber and packed with vitamins, quinoa is a pretty perfect food. Top it with lean grilled chicken, arugula, and tomatoes and you get a deliciously healthy, high-protein meal that will keep you full for hours.
Shrimp Scampi With Zoodles
If you’re craving this classic trattoria dish, swap out the pasta for spiralized zucchini noodles, and you’ll save on calories and carbs without sacrificing the yum.
Balsamic Steak With Eggplant and Peppers
Meat lovers rejoice—this steak dish has all the flavors you love in only 390 calories per serving.
Oven-Roasted Salmon With Charred Lemon Vinaigrette
This elegant salmon recipe features the Mediterranean flavor of charred lemons, along with tasty fennel.
Crispy Tofu Bowl
You don’t have to be a vegetarian to enjoy this sweet-chili tofu bowl, packed with crunchy cashews and sitting on a bed of tasty quinoa.
Grilled Fish Tacos
Your favorite fish gets a delightful burst of pineapple flavor in these addictive (but low-cal!) tacos.
Okay, so after all these healthy, low-carb dinners of chicken, tofu, and fish, at some point you’re going to crave a big old heap of pasta! No worries—this light version of fettuccine Alfredo swaps out heavy cream with Greek yogurt.
Harvest Chicken Casserole
To fill you up on a chilly night, whip up this hearty chicken casserole, filled with delicious, good-for-you ingredients such as brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, and wild rice.
Smoky Vegan Black Bean Soup
Grab a slice of crusty bread and dip it into this heavenly black bean soup, loved by vegans and omnivores alike.
Cilantro Lime Salmon Bowl
Sweet honey, zesty limes, and crunchy red peppers make this salmon rice bowl a dinnertime favorite.
Light Chicken Cacciatore
Mmm, just like Mom used to make it…except instead of piling this savory dish on spaghetti, you add extra veggies and decadent olives.
Best-Ever Farro Salad
Hearty whole-grain farro has the perfect, chewy texture to keep you satisfied. Toss it with apples , pecans, and herbs for this addictive salad (add a piece of grilled chicken or fish on the side for a complete meal).
One-Pan Balsamic Chicken
Cook up this light chicken-and-veggies dish in just one pan—and sop up the delectable sauce with a whole grain such as bulgar or farro.
Skinny Burrito Bowl
This delicious bowl has everything you want from a burrito—but at a fraction of the calories.
White Bean and Tuna Salad With Basil Vinaigrette
This meal-sized salad tastes like the flavors of spring—with protein-rich tuna, eggs, and beans to keep you satisfied.
Spanish Chorizo Stew
When you want something a little spicy to warm up your belly on a cool autumn night, whip up this hearty stew, filled with chickpeas and chorizo sausage for a low-cal indulgence.
Fried fish is a summertime favorite—this version of cornmeal-crusted catfish saves calories by baking instead of frying, but you still get the same delicious flavor!
Moroccan Meatballs With Roasted Tomatoes and Chickpeas
Meatballs don’t just belong on spaghetti. This version, flavored with cinnamon, cumin, and allspice, has an addictive flavor that pairs up perfectly with couscous and tomatoes for a special treat, all under 400 calories.
Blackened Shrimp and Brown Rice Bowl
Are you drooling yet? This tangy shrimp bowl is as delicious as it looks, with avocado, brown rice, and corn salsa adding the finish touches.
Grilled Chicken Kabobs
Spicy harissa paste is the secret ingredient to these seductive kebabs. Paired with the super-grain bulgur and protein-rich chickpeas, this is a winning meal that stays under 500 calories.
Cod in Parchment With Orange-and-Leek Couscous
Impress your dinner guests with this elegant-looking—but deceptively simple—baked cod dish.
Buffalo Chicken Sandwich
Pack in the protein but skip the mess of frying with this lean, easy-to-eat take on hot wings. All you need are a few basic ingredients, about 20 minutes to pull it all together, and a taste for heat.
Bison meat tends to be leaner than beef.Four ounces of cooked, ground grass-fed bison contains 203 calories, 29 grams of protein, and 10 grams of fat. The same amount of beef has 272 calories, 28 grams of protein, and 16 grams of fat.
Spicy Pork Chops with Pineapple
The chili powder, chipotle, ancho, and cayenne combine into firestorm of heat, tempered only by the enhanced sweetness of fresh pineapple rings grilled in pork juices. With a little mint and sea salt on top, it’s hearty and light all at once.
Bell Pepper Beef Stir-Fry
This quintessential bachelor meal is a huge level up from ramen bricks. It features lean sirloin, bushels of vegetables, and a secret sauce. Perfect the date-caliber dish and you may not be a bachelor for long?
“Oh, this? It’s just something I whipped up…”
Snapper a la Veracruz
It’s a quick fish dish with a kick.
What You’ll Need:
1/4 cup pitted, chopped green olives
2 Tbsp capers
1 pint cherry tomatoes
1 handful fresh parsley or cilantro, roughly chopped
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup olive oil
Fresh or pickled jalapenos, chopped (optional)
4 fillets snapper (or other firm white fish, like cod or halibut), 4 to 6 oz each
Salt to taste
How to Make It:
1. Heat the grill to medium low. In a mixing bowl, combine the olives, capers, cherry tomatoes, parsley or cilantro, lime juice, olive oil, and jalapenos if using.
2. Fold four sheets of aluminum foil in half lengthwise, and then unfold and lay them on the counter. Season each fish fillet with salt and place it on one side of the foil, parallel to the crease. Top each fillet with one-quarter of the salsa. Fold the foil over so it covers the fish completely, and then roll the edges tightly to seal the package.
3. Place the packets on the grill grate and close the lid (with the lid down, the grill temperature should max out around 450°F). Cook the fillets until they’re done all the way through, 8 to 10 minutes. Slash the packets open just before eating.
Asian Beef Salad with Sriracha Honey Dressing
Bring the heat, and cool off, with this forkful of flavor.
What You’ll Need:
1 lb flank steak
Salt and pepper to taste
2 tsp honey
1 tsp sriracha or other hot sauce
1/2 Tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
Juice of 1 lime
1/4 cup canola oil
1 bag watercress or 1 head Bibb lettuce
1 pint cherry tomatoes, halved
1 small red onion, thinly sliced
1 avocado, peeled, pitted, and diced
1/2 English cucumber, thinly sliced
Handful of cilantro leaves
How to Make It:
1. Preheat a grill, grill pan, or cast-iron skillet on medium high. Season the steak with salt and pepper and cook it to medium rare, 3 to 4 minutes per side. Let the steak rest for at least 5 minutes and then slice it thinly across the grain.
2. While the meat rests, combine the honey, sriracha, soy sauce, and lime juice with a pinch of pepper in a mixing bowl. Gradually whisk in the oil.
3. In a large bowl, toss the steak slices with the vegetables and cilantro. Drizzle in the dressing and toss until the salad is lightly coated.
Chicken Farro Salad
If salads just don’t fill you up, swap the greens for grains. They have more flavor, carry a strong dose of gut-filling fiber.
What You’ll Need:
3 (8 oz) pouches microwavable farro, quinoa, or brown rice
1/2 cup bottled sesame dressing
1 cup halved green seedless grapes
1 cup small-diced seedless cucumber
1/4 cup chopped fresh flat-leaf parsley
2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill
1 lb grilled boneless skinless chicken breast strips
How to Make It:
In 4 storage containers, divide the grain, dressing, grapes, cucumber, parsley, and dill and toss to combine. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Top with the chicken. Can be served hot, at room temperature, or cold. Will hold in an airtight container in the refrigerator for up to a week.