Eating healthy when you’re pressed for time can be a challenge. The sweet lure of GrubHub always there can be tempting, and completely through off your health goals. It’s difficult to measure calories when you order in, and portion control can totally be thrown out the window.
That’s why we’ve rounded up 17 of our favorite low cal vegetarian meals that you can have ready in less time than it will take for take-out to show up.
From Thai to Italian to classic American dishes, you can eat well and have meals ready quickly, without putting in hours of meal prepping over the weekend. All the recipes here can be made in about 30 minutes or less, and are between 100-500 calories per meal serving.
Thai Spicy Drunken Noodles
Drunken noodles, or Pad Ki Mao, are a Thai food staple that are fairly simple to make at home, and cost effective! In about 30 minutes you can have your fav thai take out dish with a fraction of the calories. The ingredients can be found at most regular grocery stores, no need to go to a specialty store for this one.
Vegan Chickpea Nuggets
Pair these vegan chickpea nuggets with a side salad and you’ve got a low cal vegetarian delight. Total cook time clocks in at around 35 minutes. To speed things up, make this ahead of time and keep a batch in the freezer. Easily take it out to dethaw and throw them in the oven! This is a meal the whole family can get behind– even the pickiest eaters.
Here are four of our favorite low cal ‘za recipes. If you’re feeling like some cheese, go ahead and live your best life; load it up! Though the cheese will add more calories to the pizza. Most of these recipes take ~30 minutes, about half the time it takes for your favorite pizza delivery to get there, and a fraction of the calories.
Stuffed Bell Peppers
Stuffed bell peppers can be done in so many different ways, and when you make them vegan style, the time to cook cuts down significantly. This recipe is for doing so in the dutch oven, but if you do these in your regular old oven, you can have dinner ready in about 30 minutes or less, cutting the time in half.
Low Cal Grilled Vegetable Frittata
This is a go-to recipe that works on any night of the week, with whatever ingredients you already have in your kitchen. Grilled Vegetable Frittata is ready in about 25 minutes and is under 300 calories per serving. These can be served for breakfast, lunch, or dinner and pair well with a side salad.
Vegetarian Hummus Breakfast Bagel
Breakfast is good any time of the day! This bagel recipe is packed with protein, under 300 calories and ready in 10 minutes. Goodbye greasy breakfast sandwiches, hello nutritious breakfast bagels!
White Bean Salad
This is a recipe that we make a double batch of and keep in the fridge for easy light meals, AND it only takes 5 minutes to whip up. This white bean salad can be a full meal itself, it pairs nicely with tortilla chips or a side that goes well with all kinds of main courses.
BBQ Pulled Jackfruit Tacos
Who says good barbecue is only for meat lovers? BBQ Pulled Jackfruit is a staple in our house. This recipe lays out how to make your own pulled Jackfruit for tacos (about 25 minutes) or you can purchase it already made up and have your taco Tuesday in under 10 minutes. Besides tacos, pulled jackfruit can also be a great substitute to make some killer BBQ sandwiches or salads, and with this low cal version of barbeque delectableness, no one misses the meat!
Low Cal Veggie Quesadillas
Continuing with a southwest inspired palette, we LOVE veggie quesadillas— ready in under 15 minutes and chalked full of flavor with under 400 calories per serving. You can serve this alongside a nice side salad, with some chips and salsa, or these babies can fly solo as well.
Instant Pot Ramen Bowls
And, we’re not talking the 50 cent packages on the shelves that we all survived off of in college. There are several different ways to play with a good vegetarian ramen bowl, and the instant pot makes it that much quicker! Here are a few different ramen recipes ready in under 30 minutes for those evenings you are craving a bowl of cozy.
Low Cal Vegetarian Italian Style Spaghetti Squash
Who doesn’t love a delicious Italian pasta dinner? I know I do, but my thighs will be regretting it later. Spaghetti Squash to the rescue! We love this simple recipe that clocks about 160 calories per serving, and you can even dress it up a little with some Italian seasoned seitan.
Skinny Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks
For a quick 5 star meal experience, Grilled Portobello Mushroom Steaks are perfect. The “steaks” themselves are only about 100 calories, so you can pair this with a quick salad and have dinner ready in less than 20 minutes, or add some baked sweet potato fries and have dinner ready in about 40 minutes– all under 400 calories for the whole meal.
15-Minute Skinny Vegetable Soba Noodles
Soba noodles are asian buckwheat noodles and a great substitute for nights you want to order in low mein. This recipe only clocks in about 170 calories per serving and is ready in under 15 minutes. We love adding a touch of chili garlic paste to this recipe as well.
Low Cal Vegetarian Instant Pot Kitchari
Kitchari is a deliciously spiced lentil porridge recipe that is used for ayurvedic cleanses because it’s easy on the digestive system, and very filling. Making it in the instant pot, you can have it ready in about 20 minutes. This hearty meal rings in at under 300 calories.
Instant Pot Sweet Potato Curry
Curry is a warm comfort food in our house, and the instant pot takes it from about a 50 minute recipe down to 20 or less. This sweet potato curry is under 500 calories per serving, and something that is simple to make in a batch and have ready on the fly. We normally will make a double batch of the curry, and stick it in the freezer. When your ready to dive back in, you can just heat up some rice and you’re ready to go.
10-Minute Healthy Cauliflower Rice
Yes, you can make a stir fry rice that is healthy! This recipe is ready in 10 minutes and each serving is only 270 calories. This low cal vegetarian option is on our weekday evening shortlist, and you can play around with using up whatever veggies are ready to be eaten in your fridge.
Low Cal Mushroom Stroganoff
This hardy dish is so full of flavor, even the non-believers won’t miss the beef. This low cal mushroom stroganoff only has 267 calories per serving and is a wonderful vegetarian twist on an american classic. This recipe calls for a couple kinds of mushrooms, but you can easily. work with what you’ve already got in the kitchen. You can also trade off the noodles for a spaghetti noodle to shave off some extra carbs.