Griddled tuna with olive and parsley salad

Best low calorie recipes

Our easy recipes all under 500 calories, perfect if you're on the 5:2 diet. In fact, most are under 300 calories, so you have an extra 200 calories to play with! Lighter versions of classics, healthy soups and low cal Asian dishes, there's plenty to choose from

Also known as the Fast Diet, the 5:2 diet is a popular weight loss plan that involves eating normally for five days each week, and reducing your calorie intake to 500 calories on the other two. Not sure if you could manage on such a restricted plan? Read on to discover our tastiest and most filling low calorie recipes that are full of flavour, quick and easy to whip up, and high in protein to keep you satisfied on fasting days. 


Check out our easy 5:2 diet recipes, all with under 500 calories (most come in at under 300 calories so you have 200 calories left to play with). Thai chicken noodle salad for an easy packed lunch, our Asian lettuce wraps that swap the floury wrap for crunchy, low carb lettuce, and our Paleo diet-friendly chicken piccata. Looking for a low calorie veggie option? Our vegan fajita bowl with cauli rice ticks all the boxes, switching carb-rich rice for blitzed cauliflower. 

Here are three easy ways to cut down on calories…


Reduce your oil usage

1 tbsp of oil is 110 calories! So reducing this to 1 tsp reduces this by 1/3, saving you calories from something that has little nutritional benefit. A good tip for greatly reducing your oil intake is to use water instead of oil when roasting or frying. Often when frying you are looking to soften the ingredients, which can be done just as well with water. One of the benefits of roasting with water, is that as this evaporates at the start of cooking, it softens the ingredient, and once fully evaporated can then get nice and crisp.

If you are going to use oil when roasting, try adding the ingredient to a bowl first, before pouring in a little oil and tossing well. You’ll find that a little oil goes a long way when done like this. Putting the ingredient into the tray first, then drizzling with oil often leads to an excess of oil being used.


Cut down on carbs

Keeping your carbohydrate intake down also helps as these are calorie-rich foods. Try swapping carbohydrates for something a little healthier. Most supermarkets now stock butternut squash sheets, which are great in lasagnes. Try swapping pasta and spaghetti for courgetti as it’s lower in calories, or white rice for cauliflower rice. Use more wholewheat pastas and brown rice, these have a much higher nutritional benefit, and are much better for you.


Watch your portion size

Portion sizes are also key when eating healthy. The recommended servings are much smaller than most people think, meaning that your healthy meal soon becomes less so, due to the amount you’re eating. Just 80g of cooked rice is a portion and 70g for lean meat – the size of a deck of cards. Learning these and then bulking a meal out with salad or veg can keep a meal healthy.

Here are our healthy dinner ideas and more for the 5:2 diet…

Chicken satay noodle salad

Check out our easy chicken satay noodle salad recipe with red cabbage, shredded carrots and roasted peanuts. This vibrant crunchy salad is low in calories and ready in an hour.

Satay Chicken Noodle Salad Recipe

Mango and prawn rice noodle salad

Check out our quick and easy noodle salad recipe with fresh king prawns, sweet and juicy mango and crunchy veggies. This super bright salad is low in calories and ready in 25 minutes – an easy midweek meal for the family.

Prawn Rice Noodle Salad Recipe with Mango

Pitta and bacon panzanella

Check out this easy panzanella recipe with super crispy bacon and crunchy baked pitta bread. This easy salad is packed with flavour and low in calories. Plus it’s ready in less than 30 minutes too, an easy midweek meal.

Panzanella Salad Recipe with Bacon

Open-faced omelette with garlic mushrooms and taleggio

Want an easy lunch recipe? Make this quick and simple grilled omelette with garlicky mushrooms and soft melted taleggio, ready in just 20 minutes and under 400 calories.

Easy Omelette Recipe with Mushroom and Cheese

Roast sweet potatoes with zhoug

Check out these roasted sweet potatoes topped with crumbly feta, juicy tomatoes and zhoug – a spicy herb sauce. This veggie recipe is super easy to make, packed with plenty of flavour and low in calories.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Garlic and Herb Sauce

Meatball sub melts

Check out these indulgent meaty sandwich subs with gooey mozzarella and nutty parmesan. This easy recipe serves a family of four and is ready in less than an hour. Plus, it’s low calorie, too.

Easy Meatball Sub Recipe

Chilli-salt salmon with chopped salad

Check out this quick and simple marinaded chilli-salt salmon. This colourful recipe is not only easy to make but it’s low in calories, too.

Chilli Salmon Recipe with Chopped Salad

One-pot paprika cod and chickpeas

Check out our punchy paprika cod one-pot with juicy tomatoes. This simple tray bake is an easy, low calorie midweek meal for when you’re short on time but still want something healthy.

Cod and Chickpea One-Pot Recipe

Chilled cucumber, dill and yogurt soup

Want a low calorie lunch? Make our creamy chilled cucumber soup. This chilled soup recipe is simple to make and ready in just 20 minutes.

Chilled Cucumber Soup Recipe with Yogurt and Dill

Chargrilled tuna with crunchy lemon bulgar salad

Looking for a low calorie fish recipe? Try our easy tuna steak with zingy lemon bulgar wheat salad. Ready in 30 minutes, this low calorie recipe is a quick midweek meal for two.

Tuna Steak Recipe with Bulgur Wheat

Spiced carrot and lentil soup

Need a warming yet low calorie dinner? Make our simple red lentil soup recipe with lightly spiced curried carrots. This veggie soup is easy to make and under 300 calories.

Spicy Carrot and Lentil Soup

Vegan quinoa and black bean chilli

Try our quick and easy vegan chilli. This quinoa and black bean chilli recipe is high in protein, low calorie and vegan – but still tastes impossibly creamy. Try our vegan one pot, or click here to see our other vegan recipes.

Easy Vegan Bean Chilli Recipe with Quinoa

Courgetti som tam salad

This quick and easy vegan som tam salad, uses courgetti for extra colour, taste and substance. If you wanted a more authentic flavour though, use fish sauce instead of tamari (gluten free sauce).

Courgetti som tam

Szechuan prawn noodles

These hot and spicy Chinese-style noodles only take 15 minutes to whip up, so they’d make a super quick and easy midweek meal if you’re stuck for time or craving some healthy, low calorie fast food. Try our other 15 minute meal ideas here.

Cheat’s chicken mole

Our recipe for cheat’s chicken mole uses a clever product to mean it’s ready in less than an hour but still filled with fresh flavour and under 300 calories – perfect for a healthy midweek treat for the 5:2 diet.

Cheat's chicken mole

Vegan fajita bowl with cauli rice

Stay on-trend while doing the 5:2 diet with this vegan fajita bowl with cauli rice. It’s quick and easy to make as well as being vegan, low calorie and 5:2-diet friendly, but still delivers on flavour. Check out our vegan recipe ideas here.

Vegan Fajita Bowl with Cauliflower Rice Recipe

Spring greens shakshuka

A fab brunch recipe under 300 calories. Shakshuka, traditionally a North African dish, is typically comprised of spices, eggs and tomatoes, but here we’ve decided to mix things up a little… make it green and healthy with asparagus tips and broad beans.

Spring Greens Shakshuka

Tuscan pork steaks

Our 5:2 diet recipe for Tuscan pork steaks ticks all the boxes. It’s low calorie, low fat, low sugar, low salt and high in protein to keep you feeling fuller for longer.

tuscan pork

Smashed broad beans on toast

Not a fan of the classic beans on toast? Try our greener, healthier version, broad beans on toast. This recipe is quick and easy to rustle up, ideal for when you’re short of time and on a diet. Here are our favourite broad beans recipes to try.

Broad Bean Toast

Moroccan veg and chickpea tagine

Our Moroccan veg and chickpea tagine is vegan, low-fat and really easy to make. This recipe makes enough for four, but the leftovers freeze well – perfect for midweek meals where you’re pressed for time but still want to keep things healthy.


Crab, chilli and herb omelette

Ready in just 20 minutes, this crab, chilli and herb omelette is low calorie, gluten free and high in protein  – perfect for a midweek meal or lighter weekend brunch when you’re on the 5:2 diet.


Courgette, pea and artichoke salad with pistachio pesto

Ideal for vegetarians on the 5:2 diet. This recipe for courgetti, pea and artichoke salad with pistachio pesto is full of green goodness as well as being vegan, low calorie, gluten free and ready in just 20 minutes.


Tofu steak with beetroot noodles and dukkah

Once you’ve mastered the art of courgetti, branch out and try spiralising different vegetables! This quick and easy tofu steak with beetroot noodles and dukkah is a great vegetarian meal for one, ready in half an hour, and under 500 calories.

Tofu with beetroot noodles and dukkah

Paleo chicken piccata

Our recipe for paleo chicken piccata is fast, healthy and easy to freeze. Serve with a green salad or cauliflower rice to keep things paleo diet-friendly and low calorie. Try one of our top healthy chicken recipes under 500 calories, here.


Za’atar aubergine steaks with sesame dressing and pomegranate

This recipe for za’atar aubergine steaks with sesame dressing and pomegranate makes for a quick, easy and delicious veggie dinner, perfect for meat-free Monday. Plus, it’s low calorie and gluten free.


Squash toast with feta, sumac and poached egg

Try this squash toast with feta, sumac and poached egg for a healthy vegetarian brunch for one under 300 calories. Ready in less than half an hour and packed with interesting flavour, what better way to start your weekend? We are big fans of toast, here are our favourite toast toppers.

Squash toast with feta, sumac and poached egg

Crispy chickpea and kale caesar salad 

This crispy chickpea and kale caesar salad is a great healthy twist on a classic. The crispy chickpeas also make a great low calorie snack!


Smoked haddock and spinach rye toasts

One for those early risers with a savoury tooth, this quick and easy breakfast idea is full of flavour and high in protein to keep you feeling satisfied throughout the morning on a 5:2 diet.

Smoked haddock and spinach rye toasts

Tandoori lamb steaks with chilli-spiked slaw

This recipe for tandoori lamb steaks with chilli-spiked slaw ticks all the boxes as it’s low cal, low fat, low sugar, low salt and high in protein. Plus, it’s really easy to make.


Prawn and mushroom miso soup

Our super quick and easy prawn and mushroom miso soup means you can have a healthy but comforting meal on the table in just 15 minutes – perfect for a 5:2-friendly midweek supper. For fans of noodle soup, we have some great ideas here.

Prawn Noodle Soup With Miso and Mushrooms

Lentil ‘meatballs’ with fresh tomato sauce

Lentils are a great way to make a meal vegetarian. Swap these for your usual meatballs and your family will hardly notice the difference. Plus, they’re low cal and ready in just 40 minutes – perfect for during the week.

One-pot chicken with cannelloni beans and chorizo

A healthy, high protein one-pot, this chicken with cannelloni beans and chorizo is really easy to make and requires minimal hands-on time, making it a great midweek meal. Try one of our healthy one pot ideas here.

Fiery chickpea and harissa soup

On the table in 20 minutes, this fast and easy spicy soup is made with chickpeas. Our vegetarian recipe gets its heat from harissa, the hot chilli pepper paste from Morocco.

Lamb koftas with kale salad

Super easy to put together, lamb koftas make the best 5:2 diet-friendly weeknight supper. Here we’re serving them with a healthy Brussels sprouts and kale salad for a delicious low-carb dinner.

Thai chicken noodle salad

Low calorie doesn’t mean denying yourself delicious flavours. This chicken noodle salad is full of the vibrant tastes of Thailand, as well as being healthy and quick and easy to make. Click here to make one of our summery Asian salad recipes.

Asian chicken burgers with pickled red cabbage

These Asian-inspired chicken burgers make a great, healthier alternative to the usual beef. Pickled red cabbage on the side adds an extra kick. Serve on round lettuce leaves instead of buns to keep things low calorie for when you’re on the 5:2 diet.

Healthier beef bourguignon

We love classic comfort food and don’t want to deny ourselves when we’re trying to be healthy. This healthier beef bourguignon is packed full of classic flavours as well as being low calorie. You’ll forget you’re being virtuous.

Low Calorie Beef Bourguignon Recipe

Chermoula tomato and fish tagine

A simple, speedy tagine made for sharing. It’s full of flavour but doesn’t need hours in the pot. Giant couscous and harissa give it texture and heat and the preserved lemon makes it more authentic. Serve to a crowd at a party or as a dinner-party main course.

Chermoula Fish Tagine Recipe

Roasted tomatoes and avocado on toast

Our delicious and healthy breakfast or lunch couldn’t be easier to put together. Ripe tomatoes, avocado and salad leaves on toast are a great vegetarian combination, with the cayenne pepper adding a slight kick. We have plenty more avocado on toast recipes here, try one out.

Lemon and black pepper prawns

This easy recipe pairs prawns with orzo pasta and rocket to create a healthy and tasty dish. It’s ready in just 20 minutes too, which makes it ideal for during the week.

Courgette, chilli and mint pizza

A way to enjoy pizza on the 5:2 diet! Our easy pizza is made with bought flatbreads, which are topped with mozzarella and ribbons of courgette for the perfect, quick assembly midweek meal.

Courgette, chilli and mint pizzas

Ginger lemon sole with Chinese greens

Our ginger lemon sole with greens is a quick and easy Chinese recipe full of nutrients. In China, fish celebrates prosperity and greens symbolise longevity.

Miami-style blackened fish sandwich with smoked paprika mayo

A quick and healthy way to serve fish on the barbecue (weather permitting – alternatively you can use a griddle pan). Coat in spices and grill before stuffing into buns and serving with smoky paprika and lime mayo.

Chicken with agrodolce sauce

Agrodolce means sweet and sour in Italian. This dish cooks thin escalopes of chicken in a tomato, onion and red wine vinegar sauce for a punchy super low cal and low fat dish.

Chicken with agrodolce sauce

Butternut and sage risotto

This butternut and sage risotto feels indulgent, but is easy enough for weeknights and low in calories. Ready in just half an hour, it definitely hits the spot when you need Italian comfort food!

Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto Recipe

Thai coconut fish parcels

The Asian-inspired flavours of these Thai coconut fish parcels ensure that you can eat inspiring food even when you’re short of time or watching your weight. They’re ready in under 30 minutes, too. Looking for healthy fish under 300 calories? Try our ideas here.

15-minute mushroom and tarragon stroganoff

Our simple and speedy mushroom and tarragon stroganoff makes for a great, healthy midweek meal, ready in just 15 minutes and low in calories as well as being vegetarian.

Easy Stroganoff Recipe with Mushroom and Tarragon

Griddled tuna with olive and parsley salad

This quick recipe for tuna makes for an easy and healthy midweek meal, with oily fish packed with vitamins and omega 3. Serve with a green olive salad and new potatoes on the side.

Griddled tuna with olive and parsley salad

Aubergine and sesame stir fry

A fast, easy and healthy vegetarian stir-fry. Baby aubergines cook in minutes and soak up the flavour of mirin to make a fast and filling midweek meal.

Aubergine Stir Fry With Sesame

Broccoli and roasted red pepper frittata 

This broccoli and roasted red pepper frittata makes for a quick, healthy and delicious midweek meal. It’s on the table in just 20 minutes, plus it’s low cal and 5:2 diet-friendly. We’ve got many more omelette and frittata recipes to try here.

Broccoli and roasted red pepper frittata

Grilled cod with salsa rossa

Simple but packed with flavour from the garlic, chilli and cinnamon, this colourful recipe for grilled cod with salsa rossa is quick and easy to make as well as being low in calories.

Duck stir-fry with ginger and greens

Go Asian-style on your 5:2 diet. Duck is easy to get right in this Asian stir fry with punchy ginger and pak choi. It’s easy to make and super healthy – and only takes 15 minutes to rustle up!

Duck stir-fry with ginger and greens

Chicken madras

Our recipe for chicken madras is a really easy way to feed the family. Lower in calories and fat than creamy alternatives, this classic chicken curry packs a flavour punch and is full of satisfying protein. Looking for a healthy curry recipe? Here are a few ideas.

Chicken Madras Curry Recipe

Miso-glazed sea bass with ginger greens

Eating healthily doesn’t have to mean compromising on good food and flavours. This miso-glazed sea bass with ginger greens is quick and easy to make as well as being low cal.

Pork fillet with pepper stew

Our recipe for pork fillet with pepper stew feeds 4 in less than an hour and comes in at under 200 calories – perfect for the 5:2 diet. Plus, you can freeze any extra – why not make extra at the weekend for easy midweek lunches and dinners?

Pork Stew Recipe with Peppers

Need more healthy inspiration? Take a look at our favourite courgetti recipes now

courgetti pea and artichoke


Compiled by Rachel Dinsdale