500-Calorie Dinners in 3 Steps or Less (Weekly Plan & Shopping List!)

March 6, 2024

Our column, ThePrep, has everything you’ll need to make meal planning and meal prep as easy as can be. Nutritional needs differ from one individual to another, and we invite you to use these dinner plans as inspiration and tweak them as you see fit. to get a meal plan delivered to your inbox every Saturday!

Hi, it’s Carolyn Malcoun, associate editorial director for EatingWell, stepping in for Maria this week. My daughter and I spent the last week in Florida visiting my parents. While we did ride our bikes and swim daily, we also ate out a lot and had something sweet every day (because, vacation!). Now that I’m back at home, my body is ready to get back to a normal routine. We also have a busy week ahead as our daughter starts volleyball, plus another session of indoor soccer. So this week’s dinner plan is full of easy three-step dinners that are all around 500 calories. Let’s dig in!

Your Weekly Plan

Monday: Tuesday: Wednesday: Thursday: Friday:


Sunday: Copycat Olive Garden Pasta e Fagioli

Photographer: Robby Lozano, Food Stylist: Margaret Dickey, Prop Stylist: Julia Bayless

has been a thing at my house all winter, and this weekend is no exception. We’ll dig into this soup tonight and have leftovers for lunch another day this week. I grew up going to the Olive Garden, so I am excited to give this copycat recipe a try! I’ll serve larger 2-cup servings to get us closer to our goal of 500 calories.

Total calories: 462

Monday: 20-Minute Creamy Tomato Salmon Skillet

is a good source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids, so we try to eat it every week. But we’ve been in a little rut, making the same recipes again and again. When we were in Florida, my mom made a creamy tomato pasta that our daughter loved, so I think she’ll really like this recipe, too. I’ll warm a large whole-wheat pita for each of us so we can scoop up every last bit of the luscious sauce.

Total calories (with pita bread): 534

Tuesday: The Best Veggie Enchiladas

Photographer: Jacob Fox, Food stylist: Holly Dreesman, Prop stylist: Joseph Wanek

Our daughter loves to cook and making enchiladas is one of her go-to dishes, so I’ll have her make this one (thanks, Lila!). This vegetarian version is packed with a rainbow of veggies, like zucchini, corn and orange bell pepper, all of which deliver anti-inflammatory nutrients. We’ll toss some salad greens with to serve alongside. 

Total calories (with salad): 518

Wednesday: Creamy Skillet Chicken with Spinach & Mushrooms

Marty Baldwin

It’s supposed to rain on Wednesday, so a creamy skillet dinner sounds perfect! Plus, spinach and mushrooms are always a winning combination for my family. I’ll serve it over my new favorite whole grain—. It cooks up fast and has a delightful nutty flavor and chewy texture. Plus, it’s a good source of , which most of us don’t eat enough of.

Total calories (with farro): 468

Thursday: The Best Shrimp & Grits

Photographer: Jen Causey, Food Stylist: Melissa Gray, Prop Stylist: Shell Royster

I had the best shrimp of my life in Florida, and it reminded me of how much I love this plump shellfish. This recipe is a real winner with shrimp tossed in spicy blackening seasoning, seared and served on top of smoky cheesy grits. Plus, are a good source of selenium, which supports heart, immune and thyroid health. What’s not to love? I’ll steam some broccoli to serve alongside.

Total calories (with 1 cup broccoli): 502 

Friday: Sesame Kohlrabi & Chicken Salad

Charlotte & Johnny Autry

It’s looking like it will be unseasonably warm here in Vermont for much of the week, so having a big salad for dinner sounds like a good move. If you’ve never had kohlrabi before, I highly recommend checking it out. It’s a bulbous vegetable that can have purple or green skin. The flesh is slightly sweet and very crunchy, similar to a broccoli stem (which is my favorite part of broccoli!).

Total calories: 432

I wish you all a great week, and I hope you enjoy this dinner plan. Don’t forget to add a recipe review if you try one.

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