No matter when you eat your biggest meal  of the day, your calories should still work for you. These meals are jam-packed with nutrients — from energy-sustaining protein to disease-fighting antioxidants — while still ensuring you keep calorie counts low. Each of these comforting and filling meals is well under 500 calories, meaning you'll be full and satisfied afterward without sacrificing weight-loss goals. Check out the recipes below!
— Additional reporting by Michele Foley, Lizzie Fuhr, and Jenny Sugar
Chickpea Coconut Curry With Sweet Potatoes
After one bite of this chickpea and sweet potato curry with coconut rice , you will be sold. Plus you make it ahead, so it takes minutes to prepare.
Carrot Fettuccine With Mushrooms and Red Pepper
Here's an equally satisfying, soft, and tender low-carb alternative to pasta  that's as easy to whip up as a bowl of spaghetti.
Mexican Tempeh Quinoa Salad
Made with cumin, cayenne, fresh lime juice, and cilantro, this filling dish  offers zesty, fresh flavor that screams to be enjoyed with a margarita!
Smashed Avocado Chickpea Salad
This creamy avocado chickpea salad  throws together in less than 10 minutes, and you can even make a batch ahead of time to have a few days' worth of meals all ready when hunger strikes.
Paleo Shrimp and Grits
If your ultimate comfort food tends to be Southern-fried, this clean-eating shrimp and grits recipe  will curb (and satisfy) those greasy cravings. Riced cauliflower simmers on the stove in a coconut milk bath to stand in for traditional corn grits, while fresh lemon, a little spice, and a touch of ghee make the shrimp portion of this classic dish much lighter.
Broccoli Slaw Stir-Fry
This veggie-packed stir-fry  has all the flavors you're craving — but since broccoli slaw stands in for noodles, you save big on carbs and calories.
Maple-Cumin Tofu With Farro
This tofu stir-fry  is so easy to whip up — it's fail-proof — and only takes about 40 minutes. Rich in savory flavor and comforting textures, it'll soon become a staple in your weekly meal plan too.
Thai Beef Salad
This hearty, flavorful Thai beef salad  is the perfect starter recipe if you've never cooked Thai food at home. Fresh, hydrating cucumber and romaine balance well with lean marinated beef for a filling post-workout dinner you'll crave.
Veggie Mac and Cheese
If you're craving mac and cheese but are trying to cut back on pasta, this low-carb mac and cheese recipe  is for you. Cheesy and creamy, this recipe lets Trader Joe's versatile organic broccoli slaw stand in for traditional noodles, so you won't leave the table feeling overstuffed and bloated.
Slow-Cooked Mexican Casserole
This Paleo slow-cooked Mexican casserole  is the perfect recipe to prep ahead on a Sunday afternoon for weekday breakfast-as-dinner days.
Broccoli Slaw Salad
Instead of fatty coleslaw, mix up this lightened-up broccoli slaw salad  recipe instead. Served with lean protein like grilled chicken breast atop, it makes for a low-calorie, filling comfort meal.
Cauliflower Fettuccine Alfredo
Your guests will never guess that cauliflower stands in for cream in this ingenious dairy-free fettuccine alfredo  recipe.
The homemade cilantro-lime dressing gives this taco salad  a fresh and zesty flavor perfect for the warmer weather. The layered ingredients also offer almost 25 grams of both protein and fiber. This is a great dinner when you need something fast after a hectic day: prep in advance and store in your fridge for a ready-to-go dinner.
Sweet Potato Pizza
Cut the carbs but not the comfort with this high-protein, vitamin-A-rich sweet potato crust pizza .
Calories per serving (half a pizza): 351
Vegan Bean Salad
After a hard workout, this vegan bean salad  is the perfect, protein-packed refreshing meal. It has more than 13 grams of fiber and nearly 17 grams to fill you up and help your muscles recover.
Avocado Shell Salad
No need for the oven for this refreshing dinner — avocado shell salad . It has 60 percent of your recommended fiber for the day, aids in digestion, and may even diminish belly fat .
Baby Kale Sesame Salad
Kale may be a nutritious powerhouse, but its flavor is anything but timid. If you're tried of making soups, smoothies, and salads from the dark green roughage, baby kale makes an excellent alternative. The little leaves are tender, mild in flavor, and don't require the prep (chopping and massaging) required for their more mature counterparts, but it still contains the disease-fighting nutrients you need. Baby kale, baby spinach, and chard make a perfect delicate combo for this sesame chicken salad .
Crockpot Mexican Chicken
For a healthy, protein-rich meal that doesn't rely on dairy for flavor, try this delicious Mexican-style chicken crockpot recipe  full of fresh ingredients. This preparation results in an absolutely delicious, fall-off-the-bone piece of meat.
Coconut Curry Butternut Squash
This comforting, creamy coconut curry butternut squash soup  is cream-free and the perfect way to add a few metabolism-boosting spices like cumin and turmeric to your diet.
Sweet Potato Burger With Creamy Avocado Spread
So robust in flavor, these hearty veggie burgers  are made with the goodness of sweet potatoes, black beans, millet, and corn. The creamy avocado sauce on top adds the perfect touch.
Gluten-Free Veggie Pasta Bake
Using a mix of veggies like zucchini, spaghetti squash, and other veggies instead of penne means you can load on the cheese and still enjoy a low-calorie, ooey-gooey, cheesy bowl of steamy pasta. Even better? This veggie pasta bake  is gluten-free.
Fried chicken is the definition of Southern comfort, but just one piece can weigh in at over 700 calories. Skip the classic, and opt for this lower-calorie, just-as-delicious fried chicken alternative  that's baked in the oven.
Creamy Flat-Belly Soup
If your digestion needs a reset, opting for high-fiber, antioxidant-rich foods will help you feel better from the inside out. This creamy chard and spinach soup  is easy to make and full of belly-relieving nutrients. Leafy greens, almond butter, and bell pepper will help soothe your stomach and shrink your belly. Adding a touch of low-fat cream cheese turns this soup into a creamy concoction without adding a lot of calories.
Citrus Chicken Salad
This version of Trader Joe's citrus chicken salad  tastes better than the original and is just as low in calories. A mix of digestion-relieving cabbage and papaya and hydrating, antioxidant-rich daikon — along with a tangy, Thai-inspired citrus dressing — makes for a flavorful, filling lunch that's high in protein and low in fat and calories.
Spicy Sweet Potato Salad
High-fiber sweet potatoes in this spicy salad recipe  can regulate blood sugar and help you lose weight, while a spicy, antioxidant-rich red pepper and jalapeño dressing ties everything together.
A comforting bowl of spaghetti bolognese is often what's needed after a long day (or any day, really). Loading down on beef, however, can leave you feeling heavy and tired. Solve this problem — and cut back on calories, fat, and cholesterol — with this recipe for vegan bolognese .
Cream-Free Potato Leek Soup
You can do without the butter and cream of the classic potato leek soup recipe and go for this dairy-free potato leek soup , made velvety smooth from pureed beans and potatoes instead.
Apple Cabbage Detox Salad
For a lightened-up take on classic coleslaw, whip up this detox salad  instead. Apples marry with the dynamic duo of red and Savoy cabbage, combining for a fiber-filled meal that aids in digestion. The addition of fennel seeds adds to the fiber factor, plus a kick of cayenne boosts your metabolism.
Paleo Stuffed Peppers
For a warming, quick supper, look to these Italian-style Paleo stuffed peppers  for inspiration. With just a few ingredients and less than 30 minutes, you can create a fresh, clean meal with more than 30 grams of protein!
Hemp and Cabbage Detox Salad
If you're on the hunt for a quick and tasty detoxifying recipe, this crunchy cabbage and hemp salad  is for you. If you haven't tried them yet, it's time to give hemp seeds a try. They're a great source of omega-3s and vitamin E for vegans and vegetarians, and the combination of the cold-pressed oil and seeds in this recipe gives this fresh salad a nutty flavor you'll love.
Spaghetti Squash Mac and Cheese
If you're looking to lighten things up the next time you dig into a comforting bowl of mac and cheese, opt for this twist on tradition that amps up the nutritional value as it cuts back on calories and carbs. Versatile and nutrient-rich spaghetti squash lays the base to this recipe , while broccoli adds more vitamin A.
Eggless Kale Caesar Salad
For just the same addictive taste as the original with an added bonus — vitamin A-rich superfood kale — opt for this lighter Caesar salad  dressing instead. This recipe omits the egg yolk and a lot of the cheese for a lower-calorie dressing that tastes exactly like the classic. Using kale instead of romaine lettuce increases the nutrients and adds texture and flavor and allows the salad to keep in your fridge without going limp.
Broccoli Slaw Pasta
This cheesy, garlicky "pasta"  from healthy chef Hungry Girl is the best of both worlds — it's just as fast to make as any simple pasta dish and doesn't come overloaded with carbs. And since it's a similarly low-calorie and low-carb pasta alternative as spaghetti squash (one whole bag of broccoli slaw is only 100 calories and five grams of carbs) without all the prep, it's perfect for any gluten-free girl on the go.
Settle in with a large, comforting bowl of cumin-spiced lentils ; packed with protein and fiber, this gluten-free meal satisfies no matter how hungry you are.
Versatile, quick, and perfect for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, a basic tofu scramble is a great go-to meal. This vegan tofu scramble  brings the Southwest to your table, fast.
Panko-Crusted White Fish
This protein-packed, simply prepared panko-crusted white fish recipe  is the perfect post-workout dinner.
Blueberry, Quinoa, and Kale Salad
This colorful salad  has a bit of everything: blueberries, carrots, tomatoes, almonds, nori, kale, and quinoa, all blended with an Asian-inspired soy ginger dressing. Talk about eating the rainbow!
Toasted Quinoa and Cabbage
If you need a break from a weekend of heavy meals, then make this digestion-aiding lemony toasted quinoa and wilted cabbage  dish.
Spicy Cauliflower Lasagna
Red pepper flakes, cinnamon, and roasted cauliflower give this healthy version of lasagna  amazing depth of flavor.
Vegan Split Pea Soup
One-pot meals like this vegan split pea soup  definitely don't lack dimension. With plenty of spices and sweet potatoes, a large bowl will fill you up for hours.
Mac and Cheese
Yes, you can have delicious, healthy mac and cheese. This version  owes its low calorie count — and appropriate orange hue — to pureed butternut squash.
A hearty bowl of creamy cheddar soup can soothe the soul, but it's not always so great for the waist. This healthy cheddar soup recipe  keeps the texture you crave but nixes calories by using cauliflower to create a creamy soup base.
A light, refreshing meal is perfect for hot Summer days. Try this chirashi bowl , made with fresh vegetables, brown rice, and sushi-grade tuna, to cool off in the heat.
Red Pepper and Lentil Bake
High in vitamin A, vitamin C, and fiber, red bell peppers make a perfect accompaniment to protein-rich lentils in this low-calorie recipe. Even better news? You'll be surprised at how large an under-250-calorie portion of this cheesy red pepper and lentil bake  really is.
Fried rice should definitely not be on anyone's healthy-eating menu, so get the taste — and kill the cravings — with this paleo perfect cauliflower fried "rice"  recipe instead.
Lighten up traditional carbonara with this whole wheat spaghetti carbonara  made with low-fat milk and, yes, a healthy dose of parmesan cheese.
Healthy Chicken Salad
Traditional chicken salad clocks in at 500 calories, but this healthy chicken salad  is 139 calories a serving. The secret? A simple swap of Greek yogurt for mayo. Serve with one or two slices of bread (like wheat bread, 220 calories  for two slices).
Calories (with two slices of wheat bread): 359
Thai Peanut Soba Noodles
Make this Thai-inspired soba noodle salad  for dinner, enjoy it for lunch the next day. The flavors develop with time, making this protein-rich and fiber-full cold dish perfect as leftovers.
Turmeric-Spiced Mushroom Pilaf
Turmeric might just be a super spice: it's been known to boost immunity, relieve digestive discomfort, and possibly prevent disease. This turmeric-spiced mushroom pilaf  is made with a generous dose of turmeric added to a brown rice and mushroom mixture. The result is a mildly spicy, satisfying one-pot meal that helps you feel your best.
Serve these paleo meatballs  on a salad or bed of zucchini noodles, and you'll still hit your under-500 calorie goal.
Sweet Potato, Chickpea, and Quinoa Burger
This sweet potato, chickpea, and quinoa veggie burger  is perfectly spiced and completely satisfying. At 202 calories per patty, you can add a 120-calorie whole wheat bun and lettuce, tomato, and ketchup (34 calories ) and still come in at well under 500 calories.
Calories (with bun and fixings): 356
Cauliflower Crust Pizza
Yes, you can eat half a pizza without guilt. This cauliflower crust pizza  features a gluten-free crust and fresh tomatoes, skim mozzarella cheese, and basil leaves for a healthy take on a classic.
No-Mac and Cheese
What's the secret to making a pasta-less mac and cheese just as irresistible as the classic? Cauliflower, the perfect vehicle for a cheesy, creamy sauce made from cheese, coconut milk, butter, and coconut flour. While this gluten-free no-mac and cheese  is under 400 calories, note that it's high in saturated fat, so enjoy this comforting dish in moderation.
Zucchini Noodles Aglio et Olio
For those days when you're craving nothing but pasta, reach for a huge bowl of this garlicky zucchini pasta dish . A sprinkle of almond meal instead of breadcrumbs takes this recipe over the top.
Chicken and Vegetable Quinoa Bowl
For nights when you don't have time to spend in the kitchen, this chicken and sweet potato quinoa bowl  comes together fast. With 40 percent of your recommended daily intake of fiber and 20 grams of protein, it makes an ideal post-workout meal.
Sweet and Sour Chicken
Save money and hundreds of calories by opting for a lightened-up version of Chinese takeout. This sweet and sour chicken recipe  is light on calories and fat.
Chickpea and Kale Soup
Make a big batch of this chickpea and kale soup  on the weekend, then enjoy hearty, healthy lunches or dinners all week.