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Eat Well ·

5 Healthy Low-Calorie Meals You Can Enjoy Year Round

By Shoshana Pritzker, RD, CDN, CSSD, CISSN

Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, RD


Figuring out what to eat for dinner is arguably the most difficult task of the day. A little help in that department can mean the difference between a nutritious, low-calorie meal or reaching for takeout. Since it’s not uncommon for family members to have no idea what they want to eat either, this list of healthy low-calorie meals should make your life a bit easier.

These healthy low-calorie meals are quick-and-easy to prepare while maximizing flavor and freshness. To create your own healthy dinner, be sure to include these components:


  • Make protein the star. Pick a protein and base your meal around that. For example, chicken breast is a versatile lean protein. Choose grilled chicken, then determine your flavor profiles and sides.
  • Always include fiber. Fiber helps keep you feeling full and satisfied. Remember to include fibrous whole grains, lots of non-starchy vegetables or some fruit with each meal.
  • Make half your plate vegetables. Veggies provide bulk to meals and can keep calorie intake low while allowing you to eat more (learn the difference between non-starchy vs starchy vegetables).
  • Herbs, spices, marinades, and dressings are your friend. Use these to create flavor and palatability, and to prevent boredom.
  • Choose healthy fats. Poly- and mono-unsaturated fatty acids are important for fat-soluble vitamin absorption and function to maintain the integrity of your hair, skin and nails. They also improve the flavor and satiety of meals. Try using olive oil, nuts and seeds, nut butters, avocado, and low-fat dairy in your meals and snacks.

Benefits of Eating Healthy Year Round

Improving the quality of your diet and adopting those new standards year-round means more than shedding pounds. The benefits of eating healthy year-round have a positive impact on well-being and quality of life.


Losing and maintaining a healthy weight is dependent upon what you eat every day. Research suggests following a nutritious meal plan packed with low-calorie, nourishing meals throughout the year is an effective strategy for maintaining a healthy body weight.[1]


Plus, yo-yo dieting, or weight cycling (when your weight fluctuates due to periods of low-calorie dieting followed by high-calorie intake), has been shown to increase cardiovascular and obesity risk factors.[2]


Filling your diet with nutritious, low-calorie meals year-round and establishing this as a way of life while allowing some wiggle room can help prevent feelings of restriction and deprivation that contribute to binge eating and yo-yo dieting.

5 Healthy Low-Calorie Meal Recipes

1.  Chicken Chickpea Curry

Food for weight loss doesn’t have to be bland. This recipe for Chicken Chickpea Curry will have your taste buds salivating while filling your belly with lean protein and complex, high-fiber carbs.


Makes 4 servings


  • 1-pound boneless, skinless chicken breast, cut into 2-inch cubes
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 teaspoons minced garlic
  • 1 small yellow onion, diced
  • 1 ½ teaspoon turmeric
  • 1 tablespoons curry powder
  • ¼ teaspoon cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon garam masala
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1 ¼ cup low sodium chicken or vegetable broth
  • ¾ cup plain nonfat Greek yogurt
  • 1 ½ cup canned chickpeas, rinsed and drained


1.       Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium-high heat. Add the chicken pieces. Allow to brown on each side, about 2-3 minutes. Remove the chicken and set aside.

2.       Add the onions and garlic to the pot. Cook, stirring constantly, until translucent and fragrant. Then add the turmeric, curry powder, cardamom, and garam masala. Stir until well combined.

3.       Add the chicken back to the pot along with the ginger and chicken stock. Cover; increase heat until slow simmer. Cook for 10 minutes.

4.       Add chickpeas and Greek yogurt. Stir. Continue to simmer for an additional 8-10 minutes. Serve as is or with ½ cup of cooked rice.

2.  Honey Soy Sheet Pan Salmon with Asparagus

Photo by kajakiki on iStock



This quick and easy meal is packed with flavor and nutrients. Salmon is an excellent source of omega-3 fatty acids and protein that keeps you feeling full for longer.


Makes 2-3 servings


  • 12 ounces salmon filets
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons soy sauce
  • 1 tablespoon sesame oil
  • ¼ teaspoon black pepper
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • ½ teaspoon crushed red pepper (optional)
  • 1 pound asparagus, with ends cut off


1.       Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray a baking sheet with nonstick cooking spray or line it with parchment paper. Set aside.

2.       In a small bowl, whisk together the honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, pepper and garlic.

3.       Arrange the salmon and asparagus on the baking sheet.

4.       Using a basting brush, apply the honey mixture to each salmon filet.

5.       Bake until the salmon is cooked through, and the asparagus is tender; about 12 to 15 minutes.

3.  Stuffed Bell Peppers

Photo by: Igor Ploskin on iStock



This grain-free version of stuffed peppers is packed with protein and flavor. Prepare this meal in advance and freeze it for dinner later in the month.


Makes 4 servings


  • 1 pound 95% lean ground beef or 99% lean ground turkey breast
  • 4 large green bell peppers, tops cut off; ribs and seeds removed and rinsed
  • 1 ½ teaspoon ground black pepper
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 (14-ounce) can diced tomatoes
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 1 teaspoon minced garlic
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon oregano


1.       Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

2.       In a 4-quart Dutch oven or saucepan, add enough water to cover the peppers. Heat to boiling; add peppers. Cook for about 2 minutes, then drain. Set aside to cool.

3.       Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat; add the olive oil and garlic to the pan. Heat until fragrant. Add the onion to the pan, and cook until soft and translucent, about 2-3 minutes.

4.       Add the meat to the pan, breaking it up with a spatula as it cooks. Season the meat with oregano, salt, and pepper and cook until it browns. Reduce heat to medium and the diced tomatoes and continue to cook for about 5 minutes.

5.       Carefully fill the peppers with sloppy joe meat until full. Stand the bell peppers up in an ungreased 8-inch square glass-baking dish. Pour any remaining sauce over the peppers.

6.       Cover tightly with foil and bake for 10 minutes. Uncover and bake about 10-15 minutes longer or until the peppers are tender. Allow it to cool before serving.

4.  Shrimp and White Bean Kale Soup

This recipe for Shrimp and White Bean Kale Soup is ideal for a meal plan for weight loss. It’s packed with veggies, lean protein, and fiber to keep you full and satisfied. Tip: Freeze half for later in the month.


Makes 8 servings


  • 1 lb. peeled and deveined shrimp, ready to eat
  • 2 15-ounce cans cannellini beans or white kidney beans, drained and rinsed
  • 4 cups low sodium vegetable broth
  • 4 cups water
  • 3 medium celery stalks, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 2 medium carrots, cut into 1-inch pieces
  • 1 medium yellow onion, diced
  • 2 cloves garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1 large bunch kale, chopped
  • 1/4 cup heavy cream
  • salt and pepper to taste


1.       Heat the olive oil over medium-high heat in a large skillet. Add the celery, carrots, and onion, and cook until softened and onions are translucent, about 4-5 minutes.

2.       Add the garlic and cook, stirring constantly, for 1-2 minutes. Remove from the heat and set aside.

3.       Bring the water and broth to a boil over medium-high heat in a large saucepan. Add the cooked vegetables, shrimp, beans, and kale to the boiling broth mixture. Reduce heat to a simmer. Allow to cook for 15 minutes. Add the cream, salt, and pepper; cook, stirring frequently, for another 5 minutes.

4.       If using raw shrimp, you may need to allow the soup to cook longer or until the shrimp is cooked through.

5.       Serve warm.

5.  Black Bean Lentil Salad

Grab a fasting bar in the afternoon before heading home for this delicious, low-calorie meal. This recipe for Black Bean Lentil Salad contains 20 grams of plant-based protein.


Makes 4 servings


  • 1 cup dry brown lentils
  • 1 15-ounce can black beans, rinsed and drained
  • 1 medium red bell pepper, seeded and chopped
  • 1/2 small red onion, minced
  • 2 small Roma tomatoes, diced
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1 tablespoon garlic, minced
  • 1/4 teaspoon crushed dried rosemary
  • 1/4 teaspoon dried oregano
  • salt and black pepper to taste


1.       Place lentils in a large saucepan; add enough water to cover by 1 inch. Bring water to a boil and cook until tender, about 10 minutes; drain and allow to cool.

2.       In a small bowl, combine the olive oil, herbs, and spices. Set it aside.

3.       In a large bowl, combine the cooked lentils, drained black beans, tomatoes, red pepper, onions, garlic, and olive oil mixture. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve warm or cold.


Looking for healthy meals without all the meal prep and cooking? Jenny Craig can help! Check out our complete weight loss plans that now include new Fresh meals! View Plans.






This article is based on scientific research and/or other scientific articles and was written by an experienced health and lifestyle contributor and reviewed by certified professionals. 

Our goal at Jenny Craig is to provide the most up-to-date and objective information on health-related topics, so our readers can make informed decisions based on factual content. All articles undergo an extensive review process, and depending on the topic, are reviewed by a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) or Nutritionist, to ensure accuracy. 


This article contains trusted sources including scientific, peer-reviewed papers. All references are hyperlinked at the end of the article to take readers directly to the source.





[1] Kim JY. Optimal Diet Strategies for Weight Loss and Weight Loss Maintenance. J Obes Metab Syndr. 2021 Mar 30;30(1):20-31. doi:10.7570/jomes20065

[2] Rhee EJ. Weight Cycling and Its Cardiometabolic Impact. J Obes Metab Syndr. 2017 Dec 30;26(4):237-242. doi:10.7570/jomes.2017.26.4.23

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Shoshana Pritzker, RD, CDN, CSSD, CISSN

By Shoshana Pritzker, RD, CDN, CSSD, CISSN

Shoshana is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Sports Nutritionist in private practice based on Long Island, New York. With over 15 years in the health, nutrition and fitness fields, Shoshana has worked with brands including Nature’s Bounty Company, Joy Bauer “The Today Show Dietitian,” Oxygen Magazine, and others. Shoshana’s nutrition philosophy includes the mantra that “all foods fit,” making room for a healthy balance while building a healthy relationship with food. In her spare time, you’ll find Shoshana sharing tips and tricks for feeding her two toddlers, while trying to manage it all — from the meltdowns to the messes to the kisses and the hugs.

Favorite healthy snack: Greek yogurt topped with fruit, granola and yogurt almonds
Briana Rodriquez, RD

Reviewed by Briana Rodriquez, RD

Briana is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and Certified Personal Trainer for Jenny Craig, based in Carlsbad, California. She is passionate about utilizing food as functional and preventative medicine. Guided by a simplistic and optimistic approach, Briana’s philosophy is to help people improve their health and achieve their goals through the development of sustainable habits to live a healthy life. In her free time, you can find her strength training, indoor cycling, coffee tasting, and at local eateries with her husband and two dogs.

Favorite healthy snack: peanut butter with celery alongside a grapefruit-flavored sparkling water (so refreshing!)


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