Skip to main content

These tasty meals are under 1,000 calories and cook in 30 minutes or less

What's for dinner when you're short on time? 10 1,000 calorie meals that are easy, tasty, and nutritious

On days when you have to work late and your kids have after-school activities, you might face the temptation of driving through a fast food line, but you would rather have a healthier alternative. So how do you whip up dinner in about 30 minutes that doesn’t skimp on nutrients—or worse, comes with a lot of fat and sodium? It can be tough to come up with good ideas, especially when so many kid-friendly dishes are packed with cheese, butter, and other yummy stuff that’s super satisfying but isn’t nutritious. However, with this list of healthy, under-1000-calorie meals for families, we’ll give you some ideas for preparing a quick meal that doesn’t pack on the calories.

various hot sandwiches

Super quick under-1000-calorie meals the whole family will love to gobble up

Turkey enchilada stir-fry with couscous

For an international flavor that spans the globe, you can prepare turkey enchilada stir-fry with couscous. At only 438 calories per serving, this dish is a fast and healthy meal that doesn’t require a lot of prep. Couscous only takes 5 minutes to boil. And for a time-saving hack, you can cook the ground turkey ahead of time. Try adding sliced avocado and pico de gallo for a tasty garnish.

Middle Eastern chicken burgers

Sandwiches rank high on a list of under 1000 calorie dinners for families. And this healthy favorite proves to be no different.

Middle Eastern chicken burgers offer a fun, fast, and lean dinner for a busy weeknight. You’ll combine ground chicken and plain yogurt with coriander, chopped onion, Kosher salt, pepper, and garlic. Then, you’ll form the mixture into patties and fry in olive oil over medium heat. Serve them on toasted buns and garnish with thinly sliced tomato, red onion, and lettuce.

Fried rice cauliflower

This dish also proves to be among the most popular under 1000 meals for families. It’s easy, nutritious, and yummy. Cauliflower fried rice offers a lot of flavor and versatility, and your family won’t believe that it’s not really rice. Although this easy dish only contains 222 calories, you’ll find it to be one of the most delicious. For a heartier meal, you can add chicken or pork.

For quicker prep, try using frozen riced cauliflower (not thawed) along with a cup each of diced carrots and peas. Also throwing in some honey, soy sauce, ginger, and garlic adds an extra tangy flavor.

lettuce wraps

Lettuce wraps

This is another meal where you can cook the filling ahead of time and store in a sturdy, plastic storage bag or a covered container in the refrigerator. You’ll prepare the filling (usually chicken or turkey) by cooking it with ginger, garlic, and onion. Throw in some toasted cashews or almonds for an added crunch.

Another wonderful aspect of this dish involves the vegetables. You can add some grilled veggies, like zucchini, squash, or asparagus to the mix. And don’t forget the bell peppers.

Also, the type of lettuce leaves that work best for holding the filling include:

  • Iceberg
  • Butter
  • Romaine

When you serve these wraps over a bed of rice or quinoa, you’ll have a fast and healthy meal for an evening when you’re pressed for time.

Shrimp scampi with ribbon pasta

Using pre-cooked shrimp makes this one-skillet meal a breeze to prepare. Plus, replacing regular spaghetti with edamame noodles shaves a few minutes off the boiling time—and adds a savory flavor. For an additional source of protein, you might consider trying chickpea or red lentil pasta which has the same texture as its wheat counterpart.

Along with the pasta, you’ll also add ribbons of squash by using a potato peeler. Combined with cherry tomatoes and pepper flakes, you’ll saute this mixture in olive oil for a quick, low-calorie treat.

Quick pasta toss with peas and artichokes

This dish offers a great way to use ham that’s leftover from your previous dinner. Plus, using frozen peas, a small jar of artichoke hearts, and Parmesan that’s already shredded saves time. When you include a pre-mixed garden salad or a tray of veggies with dip, you’ll have a dinner that’ll please the whole family.

chicken casserole with pasta

The almighty casserole: easy to throw together or prepare ahead of time

Likewise, you can’t forget about casseroles which often save the day during a busy week. Some might need to be made ahead of time and then baked on a weeknight, and others take just 30 minutes to throw together. Here are a few ideas:

Zucchini lasagna

Frozen zucchini and pre-made sauce will save you valuable minutes in prep time of this healthy comfort food. Either cottage cheese or ricotta work well with this mainstay. Also, consider sprinkling some mozzarella on top.

Zucchini tomato bake

Frozen or fresh zucchini also work for this 30-minute casserole. All you have to do is toss the veggies, herbs, and parmesan together and bake.

Healthy chicken broccoli casserole

Skipping the canned soup, you can easily whip up this casserole using whole wheat or veggie pasta. This is a great way to use leftover chicken or turkey.

Stuffed cabbage rolls

What makes this meal fast and easy? The leftovers, of course! You’ll combine leftover ground turkey or pork with brown rice from a previous meal with chopped cabbage along with tomato sauce and a plethora of herbs.

Feeding the family healthy meals doesn’t have to be hard or time-consuming

At last, evening time won’t find you in a bind for fast and healthy dinners. A few other hacks to keep in mind include cooking meats during the weekend to store in the refrigerator and chopping veggies ahead of time or sticking to the frozen options. Also, planning meals for the week helps to save time—and trips to the grocery store. Finally, feel free to get creative with this list of under 1000 calorie meals for families and make some modifications that suit your family’s taste.

Editors' Recommendations

Leslie Anderson
Former Digital Trends Contributor
Leslie Anderson is a freelance writer/writing coach from Roswell, N.M. She enjoys gardening, cooking, and helping students…
Transform a boring meal with these inventive but cheap ramen noodle recipes
What's not to love about budget-friendly ramen noodle recipes that are healthy?
Ramen noodles in a bowl ready to eat

Ramen noodles have a long history and not just on college campuses and in the kitchens of 20-somethings. These yummy noodles are a favorite and inexpensive, too. So where did ramen noodles originate from? It turns out ramen noodles were introduced to the Japanese from Chinese food carts. Their origin dates back to the early 1900s, when ramen noodles were a hit in both countries.

For a long time, ramen was called "Chinese soba." Even back then, ramen noodles were considered a budget-friendly meal option. By the 1990s, the masses stopped thinking of ramen as cheap, and it entered the realm of gourmet with ramen houses.

Read more
10 healthy family meals to add into your weekly rotation to spice things up
These 10 recipes are a great start to healthy family meals
Table with fresh, homemade food.

While the new year is when many of us typically pledge to start anew by exercising regularly and eating better, there's no wrong time to start adding healthy meals into your weekly meal rotation. Only it's not as easy as it sounds, especially when you're the person in your family who is responsible for making meals that everyone will eat (and hopefully enjoy).

Life is busy and it can be stressful trying to come up with healthy meals that everyone in the family will enjoy. Thankfully, there are many options for healthy family meals that, with a bit of planning, can help keep everyone on track. If you're trying to eat better, these healthy family meals are sure to please everyone.

Read more
4 easy meals for new parents to cook when they’ve just brought home a new baby
Easy eats to make that'll fit your newborn's schedule
Hungry mom eating

When you've come home from the hospital with your newborn, things are going to change quickly. There are going to be intermittent feedings, countless diaper changes, and more. One thing you're not going to want to do for the first week or so is cook meals.

First of all, you need to take it easy on yourself. But there are plenty of easy meals for new parents when it comes to "fix-it-and-forget-it" favorites! Just think, toss these dinners in the oven and you're done! We're sharing some of our favorite easy meals to cook when you have just brought home your baby. Enjoy!
Easy meals for new parents who have little time and energy to cook
Chicken Burrito Bowls
A delicious chicken burrito bowl can be a wonderful and easy kit to have put together and ready and waiting for when it is time to make them. But what exactly goes into a burrito bowl? It has rice, black beans, tomatoes, southwestern flavored chicken for protein, and salsa and cheese. You can, of course, add other things like lettuce and Greek yogurt. But this wonderful recipe from Thriving Home Blog shares how easy it is to put this meal together. Putting everything into a freezer bag until it is time to use it is a great idea. These bowls are easy to make and are customizable just for you. With a prep time of five minutes, you cannot go wrong with these burrito bowls.

Read more