Tasty dinners for family under 1000 calories

What's for dinner? This question might be one of the most difficult to answer. In a family, it often has to be something everyone enjoys and can afford. Food prices have been soaring recently, so making something that is healthy and filling yet inexpensive is a challenge. Here are some ideas that fit into those categories!

How many calories do you need per day?

When trying to lose weight, it is important to know approximately how many calories you need to be eating each day. When trying to gain weight, knowing the number of calories you are consuming daily will also help. The number of calories depends on your current weight and your goal weight.

Calories are units of energy that your body needs to function each day. The average person requires 2,000 calories per day to maintain their current weight level. This is considered the baseline amount that your body needs in order to "survive" but there are many factors that can contribute to you actually needing more or less than this amount.

How do I calculate my TDEE?

TDEE (Total Daily Energy Expenditure) is a measurement tool used by fitness trainers and nutritionists to help individuals determine how many calories they should be consuming on a daily basis if their goal is weight loss, muscle gain, or weight maintenance. Calculating the number of calories you need daily takes into account such factors as age, height, sex, and weight as well as activity levels.

To determine your TDEE, there are two components to take into account: BMR (Basal Metabolic Rate) and the physical activity level that you engage in on a daily basis. Once these have been determined, simply put them together for your total daily calorie expenditure. Here's how to calculate it!

  1. Multiply your weight by 10 if you are sedentary (little or no exercise). The result is approximately how many calories your body needs each day for normal bodily functions such as respiration, digestion, etc. This number accounts for about 60% of the TDEE equation.
  2. Multiply your weight by 11 if you are lightly active (light exercise/sports 1-3 days/week). The result is approximately how many calories your body needs each day for exercising. This number accounts for about 20% of the TDEE equation.
  3. Multiply your weight by 13 if you are moderately active (moderate exercise/sports 3-5 days/week). The result is approximately how many calories your body needs each day for exercising. This number accounts for about 24% of the TDEE equation.
  4. Multiply your weight by 15 if you are very active (hard exercise/sports 6-7 days a week). The result is approximately how many calories your body needs each day for exercising. This number accounts for about 26% of the TDEE equation.
  5. Add together all three previous equations, which should result in your total daily calorie expenditure. This number accounts for about 60-80% of the TDEE equation.

Let`s cook

These five recipes incorporate nutrient-rich ingredients known not just for their flavor but also for their health benefits. These meals do not focus on losing weight or counting calories but instead give you a way of cooking tasty food within a budget without sacrificing your health. All these dinners clock in under 1000 calories per serving and less than 20 dollars per person. Many common ingredients were used to help you save time and money as well as keep costs low.

Fried rice

It is extremely versatile because you can use whatever ingredients are available to make it taste great. This is a fun meal for everyone to help prepare, and the end result makes enough that there will be leftovers for lunch the next day too!

You will need:

  • 1 bag of rice (can be brown or white)
  • Olive oil
  • Eggs, beaten
  • 2 carrots, peeled and grated (you can also use pre-grated carrots)
  • Soy sauce to taste


Heat the olive oil in a wok or large frying pan. Add the eggs to let them cook for 1 minute then remove. Add the carrots and stir fry for another 3 minutes. Now add the contents of your wok to the rice (and meat if desired). Stir it all together with soy sauce to taste. The rice should absorb most of the liquid but still be moist. Also any vegetables you have left over can be added at this point, such as peppers, onion, or cabbage.

Lettuce wraps

This is a great idea instead of tacos or burritos because you can prepare the filling and bring it to work with you. It is also a healthy, low-calorie meal that keeps your portions under control!

You will need:

  • Romaine lettuce leaves (you can even use iceberg if no others are available)
  • 1 tsp olive oil
  • ½ pound ground turkey or beef
  • Your favorite taco fixings such as shredded cheese, salsa, avocado slices etc.


Heat the olive oil in a pan over medium-high heat. Add the meat and cook thoroughly. Now spread out a sheet of wax paper about 12 inches long on a surface where you can make a wrap without anything sticking to it. Spread some meat into the center of the paper, add your favorite taco toppings and fold the edges in to form a roll. It is best to eat it while it is still warm so you do not have to worry about making your lettuce cold.

Chicken chops with applesauce

This is an easy meal to prepare that tastes great. You can use pork chops if you do not like chicken, and feel free to replace the applesauce with cranberry sauce or just eat it with some fruit.

You will need:

  • 4 boneless skinless chicken thighs (breast can also be used if desired)
  • 2 chopped yellow onions
  • 1 cup of flour
  • ½ tsp salt
  • 1/8 tsp pepper
  • Canola oil for frying


Remove excess fat from the chicken. Mix together the flour, salt, and pepper in a plastic bag. Put around 1/3 cup of flour mix into the bag at a time depending on how many chops you are making. Place 1 or 2 chops in the bag and shake until they are completely coated. Repeat with remaining chops. Heat canola oil in a pan to medium-high heat then add the chicken.

Cook for around 3 minutes on each side until both sides are browned and crispy. While cooking, add chopped onions to the pan to soften them up a little bit. In another small saucepan over low heat melt 1 tablespoon of butter and stir in applesauce. To serve, spoon some applesauce onto the plate and top with chicken chop topped with onion pieces from the frying pan!

Chicken masala

This is a wonderful, spicy dish that everyone will love. It has its roots in India and is usually made with heavy cream or coconut milk, but this version uses low fat yogurt to make it healthier without sacrificing any flavor.

You will need:

  • 1/4 tsp cayenne pepper
  • 1 tbsp curry powder
  • ½ tsp salt
  • Ground black pepper (to taste)
  • 2 boneless skinless chicken breasts (can be substituted for thighs)
  • 1 chopped onion
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 14 oz can of diced tomatoes with juice from the can


In a small bowl mix together the cayenne pepper, curry powder, salt, and pepper. With a sharp knife cut slits in the chicken breast and stuff each one with some of the spice mix (if you don't like spicy food feel free to leave this step out). Heat oil in a pan over medium-high heat and add chicken breasts, cooking until both sides are browned (around 3 minutes on each side).

Remove from pan and set aside. Add onion and garlic to pan and cook for 2 more minutes then add diced tomatoes, juice included. Return chicken breasts to the pan if possible (without burning yourself) and let simmer for at least 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. You can serve this dish over rice or simply eat it by itself!

Zucchini noodles with meatballs

This meal is great for making your own family-sized portions, or you can simply make it for yourself! This recipe uses zucchini noodles which are a very healthy alternative to traditional pasta. You can even find them pre-made at the grocery store in the produce section!

You will need:

  • Olive oil cooking spray
  • ½ pound 97% lean ground beef
  • ¾ cup old fashioned oats (not instant) crushed into small pieces
  • 1 tbsp fresh parsley, chopped finely
  • zucchini (2-3)
  • 2 tbsp of your favorite pasta sauce


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees and spray a baking tray with cooking oil. Combine the ground beef, crushed oats, and chopped parsley in a bowl. Mix well until all ingredients are incorporated throughout the meat. Form into 8 balls then flatten into patties that are about ½ inch thick or less.

Bake for 15 minutes on each side until browned. In the meantime, spiralize your zucchini noodles using a spiralizer tool if available, or just use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons out of it! Cook according to package directions (usually around 2 minutes) and add some pasta sauce on top when finished cooking! Serve meatballs over noodles for an easy delicious meal!

Vietnamese chicken soup

This soup has its roots in Vietnam and is normally made with rice noodles, but we are keeping it healthier by using zoodles instead! This dish is on the spicier side and is actually a very popular street food in Vietnam. You can either serve this as an appetizer or as a full meal depending on how many zoodles you eat.

You will need:

  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • ½ tsp crushed red pepper flakes (to taste)
  • 1-inch piece of ginger peeled and grated or finely chopped
  • 3 boneless skinless chicken breasts cut into cubes (can be substituted for thighs)
  • 1 tbsp fish sauce (can be found in the International section at the grocery store)
  • 2 chopped shallots
  • 5 cups low sodium chicken broth (you can use water and bullion to make homemade if you like)
  • ½ tsp pepper
  • 6 oz zoodles (can be substituted for rice noodles or angel hair pasta to make it traditional)


Chop up all your vegetables and add them to a large pot over medium heat. Cook until the onion is soft which should take around 3 minutes. Add in ground chicken and cook until browned on all sides. Season with salt and pepper and add in the broth, red pepper flakes, and fish sauce. Bring mixture to a boil then let simmer for 10 minutes or until chicken is cooked through. Make a few slits in the zucchini noodles and add them to the soup mixture, let cook for another minute then serve! If you don't have a spiralizer just use a vegetable peeler to make ribbons out of it instead!


This is a classic french dish that can be served as a side or appetizer. It is extremely easy to make and has all kinds of different vegetables in it which means you're getting lots of vitamins! This recipe makes for about six servings so feel free to share it with your friends or family if you don't want it sitting around the house for too long!

You will need:

  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cups eggplant, cut into cubes (if using Japanese eggplants remove the skin first)
  • 1 large summer squash, cut into cubes
  • 1 red onion, cut into cubes
  • 6 tbsp tomato paste (can use less if desired)
  • 3 cloves garlic minced very finely (can grate it if you don't want to chop it)
  • 1 tbsp oregano (if desired can use basil instead)
  • salt and pepper (to taste)


Heat up the olive oil in a large frying pan or wok. Make sure that your vegetables are cut into similar-sized cubes so they cook evenly. Add in the eggplant, summer squash, red onion, and garlic, and let cook until veggies start to soften which should take around four minutes on medium heat.

This is also a good time to add in any other seasonings if you choose! Add in tomato paste after about five minutes once veggies have softened as well as salt and pepper for taste. Reduce heat to low and let simmer for another five minutes or until veggies are cooked to desired softness. Feel free to top with extra seasonings if you wish!