Simple Dinners Under 600 Calories
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.
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.
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.
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.
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!
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.
50 thoughts on “Simple Dinners Under 600 Calories”
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!
Wonderful ideas! Thank you for sharing!
I’m always looking for healthy dinners! I need to try this!
these dinners look amazing and so easy!! I will be coming back to your blog often!!!
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.
I love this dinner menu. I never would have thought of making a banana salad, but now that you mention it this does sound really good.
That meal looks great. I know my kiddos would love the peanut butter and banana recipe. I too am watching my calories. Thanks for sharing.
Low calorie, but it looks totally filling! I need to try that.
I would love to try that Banana PB&J! That might just be the perfect lunch meal.
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!
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!
This looks delish – never would think to include mayo in this type of recipe
This meal looks amazing, my hubs loves asparagus so this would be great for us!
Great recipes! Will be pinning for later. Love Kraft products too!
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!
Oh that looks amazing and how I love that it’s under 600 calories!
It seems like a bit strange of a combination, but I’m willing to give it a try. You sure made it look yummy!
I’ve never had that salad before. Looks delicious though!!
We love easy at home dinners with products we already have. Yum!
The beans look so good. I never would have put mayo and pb together, but I’m going ot have to try this. Anything elvis inspired is good! 🙂
Thanks for the dinner ideas!
Your meal looks great and so does the price! I should cook with beans more often.
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!
Thank you for the wonderful dinner ideas!
Love this, thank you so much!! 🙂
This looks really good! I’ve never tried the banana salad.
Our kids love it, Sarah. You’ll have to let us know what you think!
Do you find the portion sizes filling? I love this idea, but I normally eat a whole chicken breast myself.
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.
That meal looks delicious! I’m a big fan of roasting, though. You can roast just about anything and it’ll taste good.
We like roasted vegetables also, Crystal, but since the kids have taken a liking to these, we stick with it.
The dinner sounds yummy and that salad sounds unique. I bet my family would like it.
It’s a unique mix – bananas with mayo. But it works really well all together. My kids ask for it every time we buy bananas.
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.
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!
I know what you mean, Liz. For me, the snacks are rewards so it doesn’t seem like a diet.
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
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!
This is something that looks really appetizing and love that it is low calories for a single meal
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.
Never thought of using the mayonnaise. Not sure I can but I’ll give it a try. Thanks for the recipe.
What lovely recipes, thank you for sharing them with us.
Looks delicious! 🙂
Great idea! I love simple recipes that do not pack a lot of calories!
I’m always looking for new recipes (especially at a budget) so this is great! I’ll have to try this out soon.
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.
This looks really delicious and like ti would be fun to make with the family.
This recipe looks very tasty. Thanks for sharing!