Whether you're trying to lose weight or just want to be more mindful of what you're eating (especially after a long day of work when you're exhausted, hungry, and tempted to reach for that bag of chips), keeping track of your calorie intake can set you on a healthier path.
That said, there is growing evidence that it's not only about how many calories you consume, it's about what types of calories you take in. Recent reports show that reducing calorie intake alone may not lead to weight loss—instead, staying healthy requires a wider and longer-term approach to eating well.
With that in mind, we're sharing a medley of 500-calorie meals (many with even fewer calories) as well as some simple lifestyle tips that can help you enjoy healthy eating any day or night of the week.
When looking to cut calories, these easy yet effective lifestyle tips will help you eat well and feel good.
With theses healthy tips, you're already halfway there. And the following recipes will help take you across the finish line. You can get inspired with ideas, modify each dish to your own liking, and know exactly where your calories are coming from.
Easy meals you can make from scratch? You got it. No slow cooker, pressure cooker, or Instapot required.
Cooking & Prep Time: 25 minutes
Calories Per Serving: 162
This low-calorie chicken recipe lets you shake up your basic chicken dinner. Literally. Place chicken breasts and seasoning in a bag, shake it all up to get a good coating, then sauté the chicken in a pan for about six minutes. Meanwhile, you can make the creamy avocado sauce with just a few simple ingredients. The key is using non-fat Greek yogurt to avoid unwanted calories, fat, and sugar.
Cooking & Prep Time: 20 minutes
Calories Per Serving: 320
For this tasty, low-calorie recipe, your first step will be downloading the free Tovala app for iOs or Android. Once that's done, you simply gather your lamb chops, coat them with a little olive oil, salt, and pepper, and place them in the Tovala Oven. Minutes later, you'll have cooked-to-perfection chops that you can serve alongside steamed veggies or sliced apples for a touch of low-carb sweetness.
Cooking & Prep Time: 30 minutes
Calories Per Serving: 347
Low-calorie kielbasa, are you crazy? No, not at all. This colorful one-skillet dish might look like a calorie bomb, but replacing high-fat meat sausage with turkey kielbasa is the secret weapon. Throw in some black beans, onions, mushrooms, corn, red peppers, kale, or any other veggies you like for added nutrients (and virtually no extra calories). Add a dash of cayenne, and you’ll have a meal with a real kick.
Cooking & Prep Time: 18 minutes
Calories Per Serving: 460
It doesn't get much simpler than this meat-free take on a tasty Italian classic that you'll find on the Tovala app. Perfect for those nights when you feel like pasta, but don't actually want pasta, this baked gnocchi dish requires just a few ingredients—a quarter cup of Beyond Beef®, half a cup of tomato sauce, one cup of gnocchi—mixed into a mini loaf pan—and that's about it. Finish with two tablespoons of Parmesan cheese, or if you want to keep it totally plant-based, simply sprinkle vegan Parm instead.
Cooking & Prep Time: 1 hour, 15 minutes
Calories Per Serving: 327
There's almost no comfort food more comforting than a pot pie, and this vegetarian version will transport your taste buds back to childhood. Using ready-made phyllo dough, lentils, and whatever veggies you like—peas, carrots, zucchini, cauliflower, broccoli, butternut squash, mushrooms—this delicious dish is perfect as a standalone meal or served with a side salad. (By the way, don't let that long cooking time scare you—your oven will do most of the work.)
Cooking & Prep Time: 15 minutes
Calories Per Serving: 430
Using fewer than 10 ingredients and boasting a whopping 54 grams of protein, this low-calorie recipe for peach mustard pork chops is also low-carb when served on a bed of mixed greens. Finish with a little crumbled goat cheese and a drizzle of balsamic vinegar for an ideal lunch or dinner. We know, your stomach is already growling, so be sure to download the Tovala app and get this recipe ASAP.
Cooking & Prep Time: 30 minutes
Calories Per Serving: 427
This 30-minute, one-pan Moroccan chicken dinner recipe is loaded with so much spicy-sweet goodness you won't believe it's gluten-free, paleo friendly, and Whole30 compliant. No grains or sugar, just protein-rich chicken and nutrient-dense veggies like cauliflower, carrots, sweet onion, crushed tomatoes, and a handful of spices. Oh, and don't forget the fresh orange juice, which imparts just enough sweetness to complement the savory, crispy chicken.
Cooking & Prep Time: 19 minutes
Calories Per Serving: 240
All you need is the Tovala app, a few ingredients, and less than 20 minutes to create this delicious, low-carb dish any day or night of the week. Baked cod is perfect when you don't like "fishy" seafood but still want a light, yet flavorful healthy recipe centered around fish. Serve with a salad of baby arugula, cherry tomatoes, and a DIY dressing for a low-calorie dinner (or lunch) you'll want on repeat.
Cooking & Prep Time: 30 minutes
Calories Per Serving: 452 (about 2½ cups)
Feel like Mexican but don't want the same old tacos or chicken enchiladas with high-carb tortillas? This chipotle-flavored burrito bowl is just what you need—fast, easy, and better than takeout. Loaded with vegetables, this healthy dinner uses quinoa in place of rice for fewer carbs and more protein. While the recipe calls for pinto beans, you can just as easily use black beans or even chickpeas. Want to make it vegan? Simply omit the chicken or replace it with tofu or tempeh.
Cooking & Prep Time: 45 minutes
Calories Per Serving: 421
With just six ingredients and a little effort, this savory butternut squash and red lentil soup is so good you won’t believe it’s vegan. Packed with protein and brimming with flavor, this healthy dinner can be made with a food processor or an old-fashioned potato masher. Just remember to only use red lentils with this recipe to keep the cooking time to a minimum and maintain that tantalizing color.
Paying attention to the quantity of calories you consume is an important part of healthy eating, but it’s also about the quality of calories. That doesn’t mean you have to eat the same kale and chicken salad day after day. On the contrary, you can get variety, nutrition, flavor, and convenience. And it's all possible with Tovala Meals.
Each Tovala Meal is crafted, prepped, and perfectly portioned by a real chef using only real ingredients—with nothing artificial ever added. With hundreds of choices and a new menu every week (including many 500-calorie meals), Tovala caters to your specific dietary needs—low-calorie, low-carb, high-protein, gluten-free, or vegetarian—to help you form healthy, lifelong habits that will benefit you for years to come. Now that's healthy eating you can count on.