Food & Recipes

8 Easy Ways to Shave More Than 200 Calories Off Your Favorite Meals Without Losing Flavor

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Let’s be honest, healthy eating feels like a full-time job. You’re either stuck with hours of preparation to bland-ify your favorite meals or you end up mainlining rice cakes. You want to cut down your cholesterol levels and calorie intake, but why does it have to be so exhausting? Well, luckily we investigated a few easy ingredient substitutes and approximated how you can simply shave off calories from your favorite meals while still respecting your taste buds!

1. Cheeseburgers

cheeseburger lean meat

Burgers and franks are such barbecue staples, and parting with them entirely feels like an attack on summer as a whole! But you can’t load up on the fatty foods like you used to, so it’s simply a matter of cutting out different layers, not to mention careful meat selection. When you’re buying your beef, opt for 90-percent-lean beef for your patties and make them in slightly smaller portions. Super simple! If you’re trying to cut down on carbs, then opt for whole wheat English muffins instead of generic white buns.

As for the toppings, you might find it hard to part with ketchup and mayonnaise, and we totally get it. But if you want a change, consider substituting with guacamole! The end result? You’ll reduce the calories by almost half, and hey, everyone loves avocados!

Regular Angus beef, white bread buns, tomatoes, onions, American cheese, ketchup, and mayonnaise: Approximately 601 calories

Burger with lean beef, whole-wheat English Muffin buns, and guacamole: 325

Calories Saved: 276

2. Mashed Potatoes

mashed potatoes

When you consider all the artery-clogging sour cream and butter that goes into mashed potatoes, it seems like a big sacrifice. That’s painful when you realize this side dish is a favorite for the kids, but you can work around it. There is a controversial catch, though: substituting the potatoes altogether and making mashed cauli-tatoes! Ta-da!

To make cauliflower mashed “potatoes,” you want to cut the florets from the stem and steam them as you normally would. From there you just put them in a blender, pulse them for approximately 20 to 30 seconds (make sure they don’t get too thin), and dress them up accordingly. When you start with a healthier base, you can afford to accessorize a little, so even with salt, pepper, garlic, and butter you can cut out hundreds of calories. 

Mashed Potatoes With Butter, Sour Cream, and 2-percent milk: 300 calories a serving

Mashed Cauli-tatoes with Butter, Garlic, Salt, and Pepper: 61 calories a serving

Calories saved: 239

3. Lasagna

lasagna

For this, your move is to simply switch out the culprit of all those saturated fats: the cheeses. NO, not entirely, don’t panic! Just opt for the part-skim ricotta and mozzarella instead of the whole version. You’re already halfway there! Then it’s simply a matter of selecting whole grain pasta instead of the always problematic white version. Then switch out the ground beef for something a bit more green. Spinach will give you good protein boost!

Homemade Lasagna With Meat and Sauce: Approximately 377 calories per square

Homemade Vegetable Lasagna: Approximately 145 calories per square

Calories Saved: 232

4. Spaghetti and Meatballs

spaghetti

On a related note, this other pasta combo is such a traditional meal, and such a blend of all the things that are bad for you. Look, we don’t plan on giving up our grandmother’s sauce recipe anytime soon. But let’s just try parting with the red sauce this once and dip into the magical world of zucchini noodles. Try a vegetable-rich recipe for fewer calories per serving, and you can even fit in two turkey meatballs without any guilt.

Spaghetti, two meat balls, red sauce, and Parmesan cheese: Approximately 571 calories per cup of spaghetti

Garlic Parmesan zucchini spaghetti with two turkey meat balls: Approximately 277

Calories Saved: 294

5. Pancakes

honey blueberry pancakes

Mixing up a classic batch of Aunt Jemima’s is a go-to Saturday morning move. It’s also a triple stack of carbs slathered with  butter and sugar-rich syrup, so maybe not your healthiest option. Instead, you can opt to make your pancakes with Greek yogurt and dress it up with fresh fruit. Blueberries are our pick, but next-to-no-cal options like strawberries and raspberries are wonderful, too!

Classic Buttermilk Pancake Stack With Butter and Syrup: Approximately 421 calories with three

Homemade Yogurt Pancakes With Blueberries: Approximately 170 calories with three

Calories Saved: 251

6. Meatloaf and Baked Potatoes

meatloaf

The best trick to making your meatloaf leaner goes back to, well, switching out the meat. Here, we want to try for ground turkey instead of a ground pork and beef combo; really, cutting out red meat is a big win overall. And then we just have to tackle the potato quandary again. Yes, it goes back to getting rid of butter and ditching the white potatoes entirely, but that still doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy some spuds. Try a baked sweet potato, something that can stand on it’s own and still please the kids. (You can save even more time by microwaving your sweet potatoes.)

One Slice of Pork and Beef Meatloaf With a Baked White Potato: Approximately 581 calories

One Slice of Turkey Meatloaf With a Sweet Potato: Approximately 315 calories

Calories Saved: 266

7. Breakfast Sandwich

breakfast sandwich

There isn’t any secret here: While bagels and croissants are breakfast classics, there are few foods more full of calories. As such, simply switching out those breads for a multi-grain English muffin again is a smart move. Then we just pull the old beef-to-turkey move, low-fat cheddar, and use scrambled egg whites instead of whole eggs. It shouldn’t take any more time than your usual bacon, egg, and cheese.

Bacon, Egg, and Cheese on a Bagel: Approximately 440 calories

Turkey Bacon, Egg Whites, and Cheese on an English Muffin: Approximately 235 calories

Calories Saved: 205

8. Pizza

pizza

Two slices of standard Domino’s pepperoni pizza is about 600 calories and not that good for you. What can you possibly do to figure this one out? A major move when it comes to carb-cutting: tortilla pizza. Making your pizza super flat lowers your calorie count a whole ton, and this particular recipe is super low for the whole pie.

Two slices of Domino’s pepperoni pizza: Approximately 600 calories

One tortilla pepperoni pizza: Approximately 250 calories

Calories Saved: At least 350

So long as you’re just a little bit conscious while grocery shopping and are willing to get a bit experimental, you won’t have to quit flavorful food. Thank goodness.

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