16 Low-Calorie Mini Meals
Easy, Healthy Mini Meal Recipes
First things first: I'm not saying you can slim down by eating as much as you want whenever you want. What I am telling you is that if you choose the right foods—and that includes everything from waffles to homemade pizza—you can eat up to six times a day and still shed pounds. (We’re busting more weight loss myths here!)
The secret? Eating mini meals. Unlike the common recommendations for healthy snacks that can help you lose weight (such as an apple or walnuts), which have individual benefits, these mini meal recipes provide a balanced combination of carbohydrates, protein and fat. This powerful trio keeps you feeling satisfied and full of energy. You'll be less likely to reach for junk food (emotional eating or otherwise), and your body might even burn calories more efficiently.
To get you winning at weight loss—minus the starvation—keep reading for a menu of healthy snacks-with-benefits that you can graze from throughout the day. On-the-go mini meal ideas are included! If you're not exercising a few times a week but hope to drop pounds, aim for 1,200 calories, which means you'll need about four mini meals daily. If you're moderately active, you can aim for a range of 1,500 to 1,800 calories, or six mini meals each day.
Get ready for surprising flavors, delicious indulgences and a whole new take on weight loss that lets you eat almost around the clock.
5 Must-Know Facts About Mini Meals
True or False?
- Mini meals contain less than 100 calories.
- Mini meals are only eaten at breakfast, lunch and dinner.
- It takes no planning to prepare a mini meal.
- Chips and salsa make a balanced mini meal.
- It's best to skip mini meals—snacking leads to weight gain.
Answer: They're all false. Mini meals weigh in from 100 to 400 calories each and they're not just "three squares"—or meals you squeeze in between them. Instead, they're healthy recipes enjoyed every three or four hours.
These nutritional powerhouses do take some planning, so be sure to shop ahead for the ingredients you'll need for these mini meal recipes. You might even find it easier to prep some dishes ahead of time. And they should always include a protein (discover exactly how much protein you need) to best curb hunger and inspire weight loss.
Sweet Potato Smoothie
This smoothie has a surprise ingredient: baked sweet potato! Its complex carbs and fiber will give you lasting energy.
Blend 1/2 baked sweet potato, 1/2 banana, 1/2 cup plain, low-fat Greek yogurt, 1/2 cup skim milk and ice cubes. 210 calories
A quick-fix anytime mini meal, these cinnamon waffles can help you avoid the mid-afternoon slump.
Toast an Eggo Nutri-Grain whole wheat waffle and top with 2 tablespoons low-fat cottage cheese, 1/2 pear, sliced, and cinnamon. 159 calories
The best thing about this Sunshine Pudding is the nutrition in superfood chia seeds. They are packed with fiber, protein and also are a decent source of omega-3s.
Combine 1 cup vanilla soy milk, 2 tablespoons chia seeds, 1/4 teaspoon vanilla extract, a pinch of cinnamon and 1/2 cup fresh or frozen blueberries. Let sit in fridge overnight. 257 calories
It’s a bowlful of our favorite candy flavors—chocolate and almonds—without the added sugar. Our Chocolate Oatmeal comes together in mere minutes thanks to your microwave (which, BTW is awesome for instant breakfasts, too!).
Swirl 1 tablespoon almond butter and 1 tablespoon sweetened cocoa powder into 1 packet plain instant oatmeal. 250 calories
Nuts and Berries
The simple and indulgent flavors of creamy cheese and tart raspberries pair perfectly with crunchy cereal and nuts in Nuts and Berries, great for breakfast or an afternoon snack.
Top 1/2 cup dry high-fiber cereal with 2 tablespoons part-skim ricotta cheese, 1/2 cup frozen raspberries (warmed in microwave) and 1 tablespoon chopped nuts. 174 calories
A whole wheat pita is a handy and hearty crust for a quick-fix DIY Pizza. Step it up into a main dish meal with a few easy tweaks—try our Shrimp Pita Pizzas.
Top a whole wheat pita with 2 tablespoons marinara sauce, 1 shredded Mini Babybel mozzarella cheese and 1/2 cup sliced mushrooms. Place in toaster oven until cheese melts. 250 calories
Stuffed Bell Pepper
This Stuffed Bell Pepper is a fun way to get a boost of Vitamin C (from the yellow pepper) and it’s fun to snack on the crunchy pepper after you finish the filling.
Slice a large red or yellow bell pepper in half and seed. Mix 2 ounces chopped grilled chicken, 1/4 cup shredded carrots, 1/2 small chopped apple, 2 tablespoons Craisins and 1/4 avocado. Stuff mixture into pepper halves. 289 calories
Boost fiber and protein in Beef-and-Veggie-Packed Soup by adding chickpeas and frozen veggies (try blends with carrots, peas, asparagus and green beans).
Add 1/2 cup canned, rinsed chickpeas and 1/2 cup frozen veggies to 1 serving Campbell's Healthy Request Vegetable Beef Soup. 235 calories
Mexican Baked Potato
We like using the microwave to speed up baked potato prep for this Mexican Baked Potato. Check out the method in this Baked Potatoes Florentine recipe, and keep the recipe handy for a filling dinner.
Top 1 baked potato with 2 tablespoons salsa, 1/2 cup black beans, chili powder, cilantro and 2 tablespoons low-fat Greek yogurt. 264 calories
Spicy Turkey Wrap
Horseradish adds a hot boost to these Spicy Turkey Wraps. If tomatoes are out of season, swap in roasted red peppers instead.
Roll 2 slices turkey, arugula, 1 sliced heirloom tomato and 1 teaspoon horseradish sauce in a Flatout wrap. 209 calories
Instead of white rice, opt for gluten-free protein-packed quinoa (an ancient grain) as the base for this sweet and tangy Shrimp Stir-Fry.
Sauté 2 ounces fresh shrimp, 3/4 cup frozen veggies, 10 pods shelled edamame, 2 tablespoons crushed pineapple and 1 tablespoon low-sodium soy sauce in 1/2 tablespoon sesame oil. Serve over 1/4 cup cooked quinoa. 357 calories
Beef and Veggie Kabob
Skewered meats, like this Beef and Veggie Kabob is a staple in Mediterranean fare. Adding a coating of pesto sauce amps up the flavor; try swapping in lamb for the beef and make this mint pesto.
Skewer lean beef (2 ounces total) with cherry tomatoes, mushrooms, onions and peppers (1 cup veggies total) and brush with 1 tablespoon pesto sauce. 198 calories
We are major Deviled Eggs fans at FC! Check out our collection of picnic- and snacking-perfect variations.
Mix yolks of 2 Eggland's Best hard-cooked peeled eggs with 1/2 cup chopped veggies and 1 tablespoon light mayo. Stuff into whites and add 5 multigrain pita chips. 278 calories
The invention of pouches of protein-rich tuna has completely transformed Tuna Salad. And we also go crazy over ready-to-eat beets that taste as good as if you roasted them yourself.
Top 2 cups mixed greens with 1 single-serving pouch tuna, 1/2 cup shredded carrots, 1/2 cup fresh chopped beets, 1/4 avocado and balsamic glaze. 282 calories
Turkey Meatloaf Muffin
Lean ground turkey gets made over into a totally satisfying (and super cute!) mini meal in Turkey Meatloaf Muffins. Try a seasoned bread crumb for an extra level of flavor.
In a medium bowl, combine 2 cups chopped mixed vegetables with your favorite seasonings (garlic powder, onion, etc.), 1/2 cup bread crumbs, 1 egg and 1 pound lean ground turkey. Coat muffin tin with nonstick cooking spray, fill each cup 3/4 full and bake at 400 degrees for 20 to 25 minutes. Makes 20 muffins. Serve 3 with 1/2 an oven-roasted potato and 1/2 cup veggies. 311 calories