When we take a break from some of the fabulous games and gadgets we get to tell you about, we try to sneak in a recipe or two. We always try to incorporate some of our diet goals in our meal planning. Among the common misconceptions about dieting is that it is more expensive, but I’m going to show you it isn’t. Eating healthy doesn’t have to be a budget-buster. In fact a budget friendly meal can be made for well under $20 for a family of four thanks to the great Rollback prices at Walmart, AND be healthy at the same time! As an additional bonus, they aren’t complicated either – they can be rather simple dinners.

Losing weight doesn't mean expensive meals. We feed four for under $20 AND remain under 600 calories! - SahmReviews.com #RollIntoSavings #CollectiveBias

I’ve found my best weight-loss success when I limit my caloric intake to 1,500 calories (male) and my wife sticks with 1,200. This still allows for three full meals a day with two snacks in-between to keep the hunger pains at bay. For me I use the 2-4-6 rule (invented by ME), which stands for 200 calories for breakfast, 400 for lunch and 600 for dinner. That leaves 300 calories for miscellaneous snacking/cheating! Here’s an example of how I make our dinners.

Losing weight doesn't mean expensive meals. We feed four for under $20 AND remain under 600 calories! - SahmReviews.com #RollIntoSavings #CollectiveBias

I always start with the protein, making sure we have enough for at least four 3 oz. servings. Fortunately the chicken breasts we purchased are enormous, and at a pound each, one is more than plenty for our family of four. Instead of adding salt and spice, I usually choose to marinate it. Rather than using a typical (and more expensive) marinade, I find it is just as good to use a salad dressing. In this case I chose Kraft’s Zesty Italian Dressing. We’ll grill up this breast using our favorite kitchen appliance, our T-Fal OptiGrill. Total cost of the protein? Just under $4 with a little bit of chicken and nearly the whole bottle of dressing left over. Total calories per 3 oz. serving is approximately 120.

Losing weight doesn't mean expensive meals. We feed four for under $20 AND remain under 600 calories! - SahmReviews.com #RollIntoSavings #CollectiveBias

Next we’ll need some vegetables, and one of our favorite things to do is to pan-roast something fresh. Spray on a little bit of oil and add kosher salt. That’s it! Cost for four servings is less than $2 and rings in at well under 40 calories.

Losing weight doesn't mean expensive meals. We feed four for under $20 AND remain under 600 calories! - SahmReviews.com #RollIntoSavings #CollectiveBias

Roasted red potatoes with kosher salt and Velveeta Shredded Cheese represents our starch. Again, a little bit of spray-on oil to keep them from sticking is necessary, without adding many calories to the meal. Because the cheese is an accent and not the main portion of the dish, only a half-serving each is needed. Figure $3 for a little over a pound of potatoes and the bag of cheese (which you will have most leftover for later) and around 190 calories for a serving. For that many calories, it’s a good thing they are yummy!

Which brings me to the fruit (and dessert at the same time) portion of the meal. This is a special recipe in our family, one which I remember my father making for my brother and I when we were in grade school. I don’t know if it was his invention (he was a HUGE Elvis fan and always attributed this salad to him) or whether he read it somewhere, but either way it is one of those side dishes that I will always associate with him. It’s super-simple to make, full of flavor and really a winner with my kids as well.

Jerry’s Elvis-Inspired Peanut Butter & Honey Banana Salad

One banana, sliced
1/4 cup Kraft Mayonnaise
1 tbsp peanut butter
1 tbsp honey

Mix mayonnaise, peanut butter and honey in a bowl until combined.
Toss in banana slices and gently stir until well-covered.
Serve or chill. Makes four small servings.

The total cost is around $9 if you have to buy all the ingredients new, but you really don’t use very much. Per serving this is expensive calorie-wise at 156 in each portion, but well worth it even if I have to use some cheat-calories!

Losing weight doesn't mean expensive meals. We feed four for under $20 AND remain under 600 calories! - SahmReviews.com #RollIntoSavings #CollectiveBias

Thee total monetary cost of this meal for a family of four tallies up to approximately $18 (we drink water with our meals). How did we do on our diet? This entire meal is only 506 calories!

Sometimes we’ll leave out the starchy side dish and replace it with a second vegetable (a salad perhaps) which allows us to have larger portions of everything else. As you can see, these types of budget recipes can not only save you money, especially around those tougher mid- and end-of-month tight times, but they can be good for your waistline as well.

Losing weight doesn't mean expensive meals. We feed four for under $20 AND remain under 600 calories! - SahmReviews.com #RollIntoSavings #CollectiveBias

50 thoughts on “Simple Dinners Under 600 Calories

  1. I’ve always loved the combination of banana, peanut butter and honey. Never thought to use mayonnaise too! I’ll have to try this, and your other ideas here. Thanks so much!

  2. I never understand why people believe eating low cal has to be so hard and expensive. It’s rather simple by making healthier choices.

    That banana salad sounds amazing. I’m going to have to give it a try.

  3. This looks so yummy! I also try to stay within 1200 calories a day, so this meal would be perfect for my family. The salad looks amazing, and sounds so decadent. It definitely doesn’t look diet-friendly. Kudos for finding a yummy dessert that doesn’t go crazy on calories!

  4. That meal looks amazing. I marinate chicken with salad dressing all the time. I’m hungry and now I’m craving some chicken with potatoes and green beans. I hope lunch is good here at my conference today!

  5. I agree that healthy dinners can be both affordable and low-calorie. I personally can’t stand, mayonnaise, however, haha. Regular mayo has the most odd flavor. But either of these recipes could be substituted with more natural alternatives easily, which is great. Thanks for sharing!

    1. Allison – When we discovered how good beans are prepared like this – as opposed to the usual steam or boil – we started making them a lot more often. As a bonus, the kids love them!

    1. Jen – We’ve found it makes a huge difference depending on the sides we prepare with it. When we rely on the protein as the main part of the meal, yes we want more. When we prepare a salad, vegetables, fresh fruit to go along with it, we’re usually pretty full.

  6. Wow, Peanut Butter & Honey Banana salad….my hubby already said he’s going to make that. Thanks for the great recipes. My hubby and I are both watching our diets and new, tasty meals always help. Thanks again.

  7. I’m a calorie counter too, and I build in room for snacks as well. It’s too hard to go from dinner to the next day without a little something!

  8. I love pan-frying green beans, zuchinni spears, and asparagus spears. They are just tastier and easier to keep from over cooking them. I don’t ever use bottled salad dressings so probably would have to borrow some from a neighbor to try this. Thanks for the info

  9. Now this looks awesome! When we make our string beans, we steam them a little, then we put a little butter and some brown sugar in a pan and cook them on the stove top. They are so good!

  10. That all looks so good. The mayo is a shocker in that salad, but I have all the ingredients already at home, so what the heck, I’m going to give it a try.

  11. I’ve never been a fan of bananas with peanut butter (big Elvis fan, though!). However, I do love peanut butter and honey on toast.

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