What a Delicious & Filling 400-Calorie Dinner Looks Like

by Danielle Omar
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When it comes to creating a satisfying meal, fewer calories doesn’t necessarily mean less satisfaction. It’s a lot easier to create filling, delicious dinners at a conservative 400-calorie count by sticking to nutrient-dense foods that bring fiber, lean protein and healthy fat to the table. That means more flavor, with fewer empty calories.

Recipes that include beans, fish, lean meats like chicken and turkey, low-fat dairy, whole grains, plant-based fats and vegetables help keep you full while eating less. Non-starchy vegetables and greens (think asparagus, tomatoes, spinach and peppers) are another secret weapon for adding lots of volume without loading up on calories, so you can fill your whole plate and not feel deprived.


The final key to making delicious meals that don’t go overboard on calories is adding a hit of flavor. Spices and fresh herbs, plus additions like garlic, ginger and fresh citrus, kick up the flavor of your meals with limited calories. Try these four flavorful dishes that fill the bill.


  • 2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 clove garlic, minced
  • 1 cup raw spinach
  • 1/2 cup cherry tomatoes, halved
  • 1 1/2  cups spaghetti squash, cooked and shredded
  • 1/2 cup chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 ounce crumbled feta


Heat the olive oil in a saute pan over medium-high heat. Add the garlic, spinach and tomatoes and cook for 45 minutes, until the spinach is wilted and the tomatoes are soft.

Add the spaghetti squash and chickpeas and toss to combine. Top with crumbled feta.

Recipe makes 1 serving.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 387; Total Fat: 17g; Saturated Fat: 6g; Carbohydrate: 49g; Dietary Fiber: 10g; Protein: 13g


  • 1 4-ounce filet salmon
  • 15 asparagus spears
  • 1 cup green beans
  • 1/2 teaspoon chopped fresh thyme
  • Juice of 1/2 lemon
  • 1/4 cup uncooked quinoa


Heat the oven to 400°F. Line a sheet pan with foil or parchment paper.  Place the salmon filet, asparagus and broccoli on the sheet pan in a single layer. Sprinkle with thyme and lemon juice and roast for 1015 minutes, until the salmon is cooked through.

Meanwhile, cook the quinoa according to package directions. Serve the salmon and veggies over the quinoa.

Recipe makes 1 serving.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 393; Total Fat: 10g; Saturated Fat: 1g; Carbohydrate: 41g; Dietary Fiber: 6g; Protein: 36g


  • 1/2 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1/4 cup onion, chopped
  • 1/2 cup red bell pepper, chopped
  • 1 cup canned diced tomatoes
  • 1/2 cup black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1/2 cup sweet potato, diced
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 teaspoon smoked paprika
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 1 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 avocado, diced
  • 2 tablespoons nonfat plain Greek yogurt


Heat the olive oil in a large pot or Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add the onion and peppers and cook for 34 minutes, until just softened.

Add the diced tomatoes, black beans, sweet potato, water, smoked paprika, chili powder and cumin. Bring to a simmer, cover and cook for 1520 minutes, until the sweet potato is tender. Serve topped with avocado and Greek yogurt.

Recipe makes 1 serving.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 393; Total Fat: 9g; Saturated Fat: 2g; Carbohydrate: 62g; Dietary Fiber: 17g; Protein: 16g


  • 3 ounces chicken breast, cooked and shredded
  • 1/2 cup brown rice, cooked
  • 1 cup broccoli florets
  • 1/2 cup carrots, diced
  • 1 tablespoon natural peanut butter
  • 1 tablespoon light coconut milk
  • 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
  • 1 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 1/2 teaspoon honey
  • 1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger, grated
  • 1 tablespoon cilantro, chopped
  • 1 lime wedge


Place the broccoli and carrots in a microwave-safe bowl with a splash of water. Microwave 34 minutes, until tender. Alternately, place broccoli and carrots in a steamer basket over boiling water. Cover and steam for 67 minutes, until tender.

Drain remaining water and add the cooked chicken and brown rice to the bowl.

In a small bowl, whisk together peanut butter, coconut milk, rice vinegar, soy sauce and ginger. Pour the peanut sauce over the chicken, rice and veggies. Top with cilantro and a squeeze of lime.

Recipe makes 1 serving.

Nutrition Information: Calories: 402; Total Fat: 13g; Saturated Fat: 3g; Carbohydrate: 44g; Dietary Fiber: 7g; Protein: 29g


  • davedave12

    4 oz salmon 3 oz chicken — how will I button my pants?

  • Lindley Pete

    According to the recipe creator…when you add in the ingredients for the Mediterranean Spaghetti Squash they come out at 558 calories…so your pants will unbutton themselves davedave12 if you are consuming one hundred odd calories more “in secret”?! lol!


    I would love these recipes to be on printables for the kitchen similar to way cooking and recipe sites have it if possible.

  • Jah Leah

    Recipes look really good. Wish they were exportable to mfp

  • stgabrn

    I do not like salmon. I do not like chicken breasts. I just as well eat straw. I do like sweet potatoes. i am sick to death of yellow squash and zucchini squash and spaghetti squash. Isn’t there any diet meals that include BEEF? Just wondering.

  • stgabrn

    Amy, thank you, I am so old I remember the first time the Adkins diet went around. It worked then,,nothing like a great angus T-Bone, a baked tater, and a big salad,,,and this is what kills it,,the darn piece of cheese cake or a piece of pie. LOL,,thanks for your answer.