30 Light Summer Meals Under 500 Calories
While we’ll never pass up the opportunity for a creamy, cheesy, decadent meal, sometimes we’re more in the mood for light, low-cal recipes—especially in the summer, when the forecast is hot and muggy seven days a week. Voilà: Here are 30 light summer meals, all clocking in at under 500 calories.
One-Pot, 15-Minute Pasta Limone (457 calories)
Pasta that won’t weigh you down with a ton of cheese or meat? Yep, the proof is in the skillet. Plus, this dish takes almost no effort to make.
Yellow Tomato Gazpacho (468 calories)
When July rolls around, all we want to eat are hyper-seasonal, low-effort meals. With yellow tomatoes and peaches, this chilled soup is just the ticket.
20-Minute Burrata Salad with Stone Fruit and Asparagus (372 calories)
You can have your cheese and eat it too; just pair it with nutrient-packed green veggies and stone fruit instead of a charcuterie board.
One-Pot Tomato Basil Pasta (318 calories)
On nights when you don’t feel like spending hours in the kitchen, reach for this 20-minute, one-pot stroke of genius. Bonus points if you use fresh basil from your garden.
Shaved Moroccan Carrot Toast (317 calories)
You can keep your avocado toast. We’re letting carrots steal the show with this easy and effortless ten-minute meal.
Bruschetta Chicken (305 calories)
This one-skillet dinner is quickly becoming a summer go-to, thanks to its minimal cleanup and deceivingly indulgent taste.
Zoodles with Summer Vegetables (240 calories)
Stumped on what to do with your most recent farmers market haul? We’ve got the answer: this 25-minute zoodle masterpiece.
Zucchini Noodle Pad See Ew (479 calories)
Or, if you want to switch up your zoodle game, try this healthy update on a Thai takeout staple. The zoodles are flat instead of skinny, and the soy-based sauce is mouthwateringly good.
Pan-Fried Cod with Orange and Swiss Chard (408 calories)
If you thought cooking fish was tricky and time-consuming, think again. Here, pan-frying keeps things on the lighter side while also eliminating that whole turning-on-the-oven thing.
15-Minute Mediterranean Couscous with Tuna and Pepperoncini (419 calories)
It’s lunchtime and you’re stuck between a PB&J and a hard place. Might we suggest making this flavorful grain bowl instead? Psst: It takes only 15 minutes.
Cold Lemon Zoodles (198 calories)
We’re big fans of a cold noodle meal, especially when it’s 90 degrees with 100 percent humidity. Think of this recipe as climate-control in a bowl.
Broccoli Rabe and Burrata with Lemon (198 calories)
This creamy, tangy dish actually serves four as a side, but if you’ve always dreamed of eating broccoli rabe and burrata as a meal (we have), it could serve two and still clock in at less than 400 calories.
Sumac and Fennel Fattoush (275 calories)
What’s a fattoush? It’s basically an herbaceous, spicy salad that features pita chips on top. Aren’t you glad you know now?
Vegan Avocado Caesar Salad (315 calories)
We’re all for a classic Caesar salad, but why is it that they’re often secret calorie bombs? This vegan version is a little more nutritious and just as flavorful as the original.
20-Minute Shrimp Scampi Zoodles (312 calories)
Our ultimate summer fantasy revolves around eating this low-cal skillet dish on the porch…at sunset…with a glass of—OK, you get the picture.
Chicken and Snap Pea Stir-Fry (228 calories)
A light summer meal doesn’t have to leave you starving in 30 minutes. This chicken stir-fry is full of satisfying protein, but it’s still a breeze to make.
Sweet Corn, Tomato and Zucchini Grain Salad with Peach-Dijon Vinaigrette (260 calories)
The edible flowers are really just a finishing touch, but don’t they make this salad look stunning? And considering the whole thing takes 15 minutes to make, they’re an easy way to impress.
Radish Barbecue Bowls with Tangy Honey-Mustard Dressing (456 calories)
Barbecue won’t ever be the same, thanks to this briny, charred radish bowl. You won’t miss the meat, we promise.
Grilled Watermelon Steaks (427 calories)
Nothing against filet mignon, but we’re partial to grilled watermelon these days. It’s way more exciting than fruit salad and won’t weigh you down like a steak.
Cauliflower Rice Bowl with Curried Lentils, Carrots and Yogurt (280 calories)
No one said low-cal had to be boring, so we’re filling up on this spiced legume and yogurt combo that’s both flavorful and nutritious.
Watermelon Poke Bowls (386 calories)
It’s all about the three c’s: cool, crunchy and crazy-delicious. This riff on poke is going on our menu from now until September.
Kamut and Sour Cherry Meze (183 calories)
If you’re unfamiliar with kamut, it’s a sweet, nutty ancient grain that’s kind of like couscous, but with more flavor. Here, it’s complemented by summer’s finest treat, the sour cherry.
Avocado Chicken Salad Recipe (355 calories)
Some chicken salads belong in a deli case. Others belong on your lunch plate. This avo-laden version is definitely the latter.
15-Minute Gazpacho with Cucumber, Red Pepper and Basil (159 calories)
No stove, no problem. If you’ve got a blender, you’re 15 minutes away from this fab summer soup.
Chicken Kebabs with Garlic Lemon Yogurt (345 calories)
When it comes to effortless grilling, these kebabs take the cake. And while your chicken marinates in a Mediterranean spice blend, you can whip up the refreshing dipping sauce to go with it.
Ginger-Pineapple Shrimp Stir-Fry (461 calories)
A little spicy, a little sweet and exactly what we want to eat on a humid, sticky night.
Instant Pot Vegetable Lasagna with Vegan Basil Ricotta (456 calories)
Lasagna in the Instant Pot? Yep, it’s a thing, and it’s the secret behind this stoveless, ovenless vegan beauty.
Greek Yogurt Chicken Salad Stuffed Peppers (116 calories)
A Greek yogurt dressing keeps things light, while crispy bell pepper boats replace the usual bread. (Um, can we eat all our lunches in bell pepper boats?)
Vegan Lentil-Mushroom Burgers (371 calories)
Gone are the days of dry, flavorless veggie burgers. These ones are tasty, easy and—dare we say?—juicy.
Korean-Style Popcorn Cauliflower (308 calories)
Itty-bitty cauliflower pieces are pan-fried and tossed in a gochujang glaze that’s just sweet enough. In other words: See ya, popcorn shrimp.