Learning to Food Prep: 6 Easy and Healthy 400 Calorie Meal Ideas
A few weeks back, I wrote about why I made an effort to stop snacking and focus on eating real meals more often instead.
I got a lot of requests for ideas for 400 calorie meals that don’t take a lot of time to make, so I thought I’d do a quick post on it to get you guys thinking of ideas for your own meals.
Below are some of my favorite super easy and healthy meals you can make in 10 minutes or less or prep ahead of time to bring healthy food with you on the go. They’re all around 400 calories, with a good balance of protein, carbohydrates, and fats to keep you feeling satisfied, mentally sharp, and ready to crush your workouts.
Now, please keep in mind that everyone has different goals, and I’m highly aware that some of you follow a Paleo/gluten-free/dairy-free/vegan/etc. diet. If that’s you, and some of the food choices below don’t meet your personal dietary requirements, please feel free to substitute any ingredients for something that does. Get creative and think outside of the box!
Toast & Cottage Cheese
Ideal for: Breakfast, pre-workout, post-workout
This is one of my favorite, super simple meals for pre-workout or mid-afternoon mealtime. It’s insanely easy to make, yet is very satisfying and a great energy booster. If you want to take it to go, you can always just substitute a half peanut butter banana sandwich for the toast.
1 piece whole grain or Ezekiel bread 1 Tbsp peanut butter, almond butter, or other nut butter 1/2 cup low fat cottage cheese 1/2 banana 1/3 cup blueberries or other berries
Toast a piece of whole grain or Ezekiel bread, then topped with almond butter and sliced bananas. Serve with cottage cheese and blueberries topped with a bit of cinnamon on the side!
Total calories: 375 Protein: 24g Carbohydrates: 48g Fat: 12.5g
Healthy Huevos Rancheros
Ideal for: Breakfast or a quick meal any time of the day
I love tacos any time of the day, but breakfast tacos just seem extra exciting for some reason, and these healthy huevos rancheros are a great, protein-packed meal option for when you have a few minutes in the morning to whip up some breakfast.
Tip: These tacos are also delicious any other time of the day.
One whole egg Three egg whites Two corn tortillas 1/2 cup black beans 1/2 cup baby spinach 1/4 sliced small avocado Salsa & cilantro to taste
Whip the egg and egg whites together in a bowl and heat the beans in the microwave or on the stovetop. Turn a nonstick pan on low to medium heat, then add the spinach to the pan. Once the spinach begins to wilt, add the egg mixture and scramble until fluffy. Add the eggs/spinach to the tortillas (pre-warmed if desired), then top with avocado, salsa, and cilantro. Serve with a side of black beans.
Total calories: 400 Protein: 25g Carbohydrates: 45g Fat: 12g
Sweet Potatoes & Cottage Cheese
Ideal for: Breakfast, pre-workout, post-workout
In case you guys hadn't noticed already, I have a pretty big sweet tooth. But instead of filling up on candy and high sugar treats, I try and tame it with healthier foods — and sweet potatoes are one of my favorite ways to add a little sweetness to my meals without overloading on sugar.
Combined with the cottage cheese and almond butter, this meal is super filling but tasty, and if you pre-make your sweet potatoes beforehand only takes a couple of minutes to toss together.
1 medium pre-baked sweet potato 2/3 cup cottage cheese 1 Tbsp almond butter Cinnamon to taste
Heat one medium sweet potato and serve with cottage cheese and almond butter. Top with a sprinkle of cinnamon.
Total calories: 355 Protein: 24g Carbohydrates: 40g Fat: 11g
Easy Veggie Stir Fry With Brown Rice
Ideal for: An easy dinner
This is one of my favorite dinners to fill me up and get in a good amount of veggies, protein, and carbs in not much time. And if you pre-make the rice beforehand (I always make extras to have around), pre-cook your protein, and pre-cut your veggies, it takes less than 10 minutes to put it all together.
Note: This particular meal pretty light on sauce because that’s how I like it, so if you prefer more sauce just adjust to your own personal tastebuds.
1–2 cups veggies like broccoli, asparagus, red peppers, cauliflower, snap peas, etc. 4 oz chicken or substitute 3/4 cup brown rice 1 Tbsp Bragg’s aminos or soy sauce 1–2 Tbsp water 1 Tbsp sesame seeds or 1/8 Tbsp avocado 1 tsp sesame oil Salt, pepper, hot sauce, and lemon juice to taste
Pre-cook your brown rice and cook your chicken or substitute. Chop your veggies into small, bite sized pieces, then turn a non-stick pan on medium heat. Add the sesame oil, then toss in the longest cooking vegetable (cauliflower or broccoli). Add the water, cover, and cook for a few minutes until slightly softer. Add any remaining veggies, stir in the aminos, add a pinch of sea salt and pepper, and cook for a few more minutes or until the veggies are at your desired crunch level.
Toss the veggies over the rice and chicken (heat beforehand), then add additional pepper, fresh squeezed lemon juice, hot sauce, and sprinkle with sesame seeds.
Total calories: 410 Protein: 30g Carbohydrates: 41g Fat: 14g
High Protein Chopped Salad With Quinoa
Ideal for: An easy lunch or dinner
This salad is an easy meal to make ahead of time, especially if you pre-make your quinoa (I like to cook big batches of quinoa so I have it on hand whenever I need to make a quick meal). Pre-making chicken (or chicken substitute) and chopping a bunch of veggies and putting them in containers beforehand can also cut your cooking down time by a ton.
It’s also a great one to bring with you for lunch or whenever you’re on the go!
3–4 cups chopped mixed lettuce or spinach, chopped 3/4 cups cooked quinoa, prepared ahead of time 4 oz chicken or substitute 1/2 cup your favorite veggies such as peppers, carrots, cucumber, broccoli, etc., chopped 1 Tbsp balsamic dressing or oil/vinegar mix Lemon juice & fresh pepper to taste Optional: sliced avocado or 1–2 Tbsp chopped nuts
Pre-cook your quinoa and chicken or chicken substitute and chop your veggies. Coarsely chop lettuce or spinach, then add veggies and toss well with lemon and dressing (you can also do this at the end, but I find it mixes a lot better if you dress it at this stage). Add quinoa and chicken then sprinkle with pepper and top with sliced avocado or nuts.
Total calories: 370 Protein: 32g Carbohydrates: 38g Fat: 11g
High Protein Applesauce Pancakes
Ideal for: Breakfast or post-workout
These applesauce protein pancakes are my go-to post-workout meal if I have time to make more than just a shake. They’re packed with protein to help you meet your protein levels for the day, and also include lots of good carbohydrates to help your muscles recover quicker after a workout.
Tip: You can make a couple of batches of these and store extras in the freezer. Just toss them in a toaster oven and they heat up great!
1 serving vanilla whey protein powder 1/4 cup oats 1/3 cup unsweetened applesauce 2–3 egg whites 3 Tbsp cottage cheese 1/2 tsp vanilla extract 1/2 tsp cinnamon 1/4 tsp baking powder
Blend all of the ingredients together so that there are no more chunks of oatmeal or cottage cheese. Heat a nonstick pan to medium high, then pour the batter into your desired pancake shapes once the pan is hot. I tend to stick to smaller pancakes since they’re much easier to flip.
When small bubbles start forming on the pancakes and they’re lightly browned on one side, flip the pancakes.
Fully cook the other side (be careful not to burn them!), then top with whatever you like.
Calories: 300 Protein: 40g Carbohydrates: 26g Fat: 4g Fiber: 4.5g
Food Prep Tips To Make Your Life Easier
I know it can be pretty overwhelming to think about eating so often, especially if you have a demanding job, aren’t home very often, or don’t have a lot of time to cook. Luckily, there are several ways to make eating healthy easier by prepping your food ahead of time.
Here are a few of my go-to food prep tips:
Pre-bake foods like sweet potatoes, chicken or chicken substitute, and roasted veggies in large batches beforehand so that you have 3–5 days worth of easy, healthy options to choose from.
Make large portions of healthy grains like quinoa and brown rice so that you have easy, healthy carbs at hand at all times.
Pre-cut veggies like red and orange peppers, carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower so that they’re easy to grab for snacking or quick stir fries.
Get some good to go/tupperware containers that you can easily pack in a lunch box or meal prep bag (I recently got one of these and love it, but you can even use one of those cheap Trader Joe’s cooler bags and just stick a couple of cooler ice blocks in it).
Always make leftovers! Seriously, start getting in the habit of this and it will make your life so much easier. Make twice as much as usual at dinner, make enough oatmeal for the next few mornings, make extra of a recipe and freeze the rest for later. That way, when you have zero time to cook, you’ll always know you have something quick and healthy you can grab in a hurry.