Healthy Dinner Swaps

The Lazy Girl's Guide to a Low-Cal Dinner

Rumor has it that it takes a lot of extra work to cook up a healthy meal — not true! Without dieting or sacrificing taste, we have simple tips, tricks, and swaps that will easily lighten up your dinner without much effort. It's as simple as downsizing plates and choosing wine over a cocktail. The best part? Before you think this all sounds too good to be true, read our lazy girl's guide to find out how easy and tasty it truly is.

  • Pack up the leftovers: Going back for seconds and sometimes even thirds can easily make a good meal go bad. If you're guilty of eating more than your fair share, pack up the extras before you sit down for your first serving. Not only will you have your next day's lunch ready to go, you'll be less likely to overeat.
  • Trade in white rice for brown: While white rice may be a guilty pleasure, try your best to choose brown. Brown rice is significantly higher in nutritional value and can even reduce the risk of type 2 diabetes.
  • Break up with butter and bread: Break the habit of having bread and butter before dinner. If you must have something before dinner, opt for a fiber-filled option like veggies with dip or even rice crackers to significantly cut calories.
  • Rethink your pasta: A simple way to save about 130 calories is to switch whole-wheat spaghetti for squash. It's not hard to make and can lend itself to a variety of pasta dishes, including one with roasted shrimp.
  • Become a wino, not a mixologist: Although fruity cocktails are great, they can often add up to around 400 calories! If you're looking to wind down at dinner, stick with wine. It's rich in antioxidants and around 100 calories per glass.

Get more tips for making a healthier dinner fast.

  • Ditch the dried fruit: Rather than opting for dried fruit in your salad (around 130 calories per a quarter cup), save yourself by sticking with the fresh stuff.
  • Bake, steam, but never fry: Fried foods are a diet buster. If you're still craving that crispy, crunchy texture, turn on the oven. These fried alternatives will leave you satisfied, minus the extra fat and calories. Plus, the cleanup will be easier too!
  • Size down: To avoid eating more calories than you intend, serve up dinner on salad plates instead of your larger, entrée-size ones. Because we take visual cues when it comes to eating, this will help with portion control and save you calories.
  • Trade in chips for veggies: If you're enjoying an appetizer before dinner, stay clear of the chips and dip. Instead, replace the chips with veggies and whip up one of these healthy dips.
  • You'll get more from vinegar than cream: No need to go dressing-free, just switch out your creamy favorite for a simple balsamic vinegar dressing or one of these salad dressings under 50 calories.
  • Spice it, don't sauce it: Rather than slathering your protein in a heavy BBQ or butter sauce, add flavor through spice. Not only are spices calorie-free, they're loaded with flavor, too.
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