10 Under-500 Calorie Meals That Are Actually Filling (And Delicious)

It’s like clockwork. As you sit at your desk, your suddenly-ravenous stomach starts to make that deeply seductive noise somewhat reminiscent of a whale’s mating call. You glance at the time, and the panic slowly settles in. It’s a measly two hours after lunch, and you already feel as though you’ve gone the entire day without so much as a morsel of food. What’s worse is that you have another four hours before comfortably nestling into your living room’s dreamy velour couch and happily devouring last weekend’s not-so-healthy leftovers.

If this scenario doesn’t sound familiar to you, feel free to pat yourself on the. However, if you’re like most people trying to survive the 9-to-5 grind, the 4 o’clock famine is as routine as our morning coffee habit. The likely culprit? A less than satisfactory lunch. All too often, we get sucked into e-mails, meetings, or the counterintuitive mentality of “good” (i.e. wimpy) eating in anticipation of the happy hour that oh-so-gloriously awaits us at the end of the day. Thus, we skip out on the good stuff that keeps us satiated and sane until our next meal. So what’s the solution? Fresh and satiating meals that contain the right balance of lean proteins, healthy fats, and complex carbohydrates. We’ve done the work for you and have handily rounded up 10, easy-to-prep meals that will consistently leave you feeling light, energized, and blissfully unfazed come 4 p.m.

Ed note: For vegan and vegetarian options, substitute plant-based meats, non-dairy cheeses, non-dairy eggs, non-dairy yogurt, vegetable broth, and almond butter when necessary.

Walking Tacos

walking-tacos
Fit Foodie Finds

It goes without saying that anything by the name of “taco” has us automatically smitten. But when our favorite Mexican fare is made portable? Say no more. Filled with satiating fats from creamy avocado, metabolism-boosting protein, and spices, this recipe from Fit Foodie Finds is a light and crave-worthy option once lunch or dinnertime rolls around.

  • Calories per serving: 401
  • Fat per serving: 25g
  • Protein per serving: 25

Fall Harvest Superfood Salad

Acorn-Squash-with-Kale-and-Sausage
Nutrition Stripped

Loaded with beautifying ingredients like kale, pumpkin seeds, and goji berries (just to name a few), this hearty, wintertime salad is the be-all, end-all of tasty, nutrient-packed combinations. Plus, for those days when you’re craving something warm and comforting, you can serve it up warm. We’ll eat to that!

  • Calories per serving: 400
  • Fat per serving: 17g
  • Protein per serving: 14

One Pan Healthy Sausage With Veggies

One Pan Healthy Sausage with Veggies
Chelsea's Messy Apron

We get extremely excited when we come across a meal that’s both healthy and delicious; however, if it requires more pots and pans than we can count on one hand, our interest is quickly lost. Enter: one-pan wonders like this mouthwatering recipe from Chelsea’s Messy Apron. A regular in our lunch and dinner rotation, it’s filled with flavorful chicken sausage and plenty of fiber-filled veggies to keep us full and fueled for hours.

  • Calories per serving: 429
  • Fat per serving: 36.5g
  • Protein per serving: 12.9g

Lean Lasagna

lean-lasagna
JulianneHough.com

Once the outside temperatures start to dip, we crave pasta like we crave Tom Hardy sans T-shirt (Just us?). However, we could definitely do without the punishing repercussions of carbohydrate overload like bloating, fatigue, and breakouts. Instead, this slimmed-down, veggie-based version cuts the carbs while fulfilling the craving. Plus, it’s from one of our favorite It girls/fitness gurus, Julianne Hough, so there’s that.

  • Calories per serving: 395
  • Fat per serving: 25g
  • Protein per serving: 34g

Ahi Tuna Poke Bowl

ahi-tuna-poke-bowl
Inspiralized

We love the bright and zesty notes of flavor in this filling, poke-inspired bowl. What feels like a gloriously indulgent meal gets a refreshing and super-light update with zucchini noodles in lieu of standard, wheat-based linguini. If you don’t have the time or means to spiralize your veggies, fear not. Most grocery stores like Whole Foods and Trader Joe’s now carry them pre-made in the refrigerated section.

  • Calories per serving: 187
  • Fat per serving: 11g
  • Protein per serving: 12g 

Lentil and Rice Bowls With Eggs and Bacon

lenti-rice-bowl-egg-bacon
Skinnytaste

We’ll admit that our breakfast-for-dinner obsession dates back to frosted tips, Britney Spears, and foam flat-forms. However, these days, we pass on sugar-drenched waffles and pancakes in favor of more savory, protein-packed options that will ease our cravings and keep our metabolism in tip-top shape. Loaded with lentils, eggs, brown rice, and yes, bacon, this cozy bowl will keep your hands out of the candy dish come mid-afternoon.

  • Calories per serving: 272
  • Fat per serving: 6g
  • Protein per serving: 12g

Detox Moroccan-Spiced Chickpea Glow Bow

moroccan-chickpeal-bowl
Pinch of Yum

Buzzwords like “detox” and “glow” can sometimes be misleading. After all, eating a raw stalk of kale won’t erase that pesky pimple, and desperately downing a bottle of charcoal lemonade from our favorite juice shop probably won’t nix our Sunday morning hangover (but hey, a girl can dream). However, this soul-warming bowl, filled with nutrient-packed goodies like chickpeas, turmeric, and colorful veggies, will definitely do more good than harm—especially when it comes to steadying your blood sugar levels and curbing your post-dinner sweet tooth.

  • Calories per serving: 232
  • Fat per serving: 6.5g
  • Protein per serving: 10.7g

Thai Peanut Chicken With Sticky Purple Rice

thai-peanut-chicken-sticky-rice
Ambitious Kitchen

We’ll openly admit to our obsession with all things served in a bowl—especially when said things come in the drool-worthy form of Thai peanut chicken. This healthy version of the popular dish has a whopping 33.4 grams of protein thanks to lean chicken breast and creamy, all-natural peanut butter. Plus, traditional white rice is replaced with purple for an extra one-two punch of fiber to ensure your survival through meetings, spin class, and the evening commute—without so much as a hunger pang.

  • Calories per serving: 450
  • Fat per serving: 17g
  • Protein per serving: 33.4g

Cauliflower Crust Pizza

cauliflower-crust-pizza
Chocolate Covered Kate

Like a weekly habit that would make Rory and Lorelai proud, pizza is an indulgence that we’re just not ready to part with. However, finding a satisfying recipe under 500 calories? That’s a tough bill to fit. Cue the oh-so-trendy cauliflower crust, an ingenious, gluten-free substitute for traditional dough that significantly weakens the caloric toll. And if you’re concerned about the taste, don’t be—try it now, and break up with your delivery service later.

  • Calories per slice: 49
  • Fat per slice: 1.4g
  • Protein per slice: 2.5g

Acorn Squash With Kale and Sausage

acorn-squash-kale-sausage
Epicurious

‘Tis the season for creamed, candied, and crave-worthy comfort food loaded with extra sugars, hydrogenated fats, and other suspicious ingredients that don’t do our waistline any favors. Indulge judiciously, and stay on track with simplified dishes like this brilliant stuffed squash number, which seamlessly incorporates protein, lots of leafy greens, and warming spices that will take the edge off midday cravings and nix late-night snacking.

  • Calories per serving: 376
  • Fat per serving: 17g
  • Protein per serving: 17g

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