3 Ways to Make Low-Calorie Meals

1. Change Your Cooking Style

The good thing about cooking at home is that you have complete control over ingredients and preparation styles. For instance, while many restaurants fry food in oil and saute in butter to save time, you can opt to broil, bake or use a slow-cooker with oil and butter alternatives.

Rather than frying chicken, place frozen chicken breasts in a slow cooker with a can or two of your favorite soup and cook on low for eight hours or on high for four hours. Many people like to prepare food in a slow cooker in the morning, turn it on, and come home from work to an aromatic, rich-tasting meal.

Another low-fat, low-calorie cooking method is to saute vegetables and thin strips of meat not in oil, but in white wine or a half-and-half mixture of wine and oil. This cuts the calories by more than a third and can add flavor to the meal.

2. Serve Healthy Appetizers

One of the reasons people tend to overeat is because they wait too long in between meals and approach the table ravenous. This results in eating too quickly and too much. One way to avoid this and to dramatically cut the calories and portion sizes of any meal is to place a tray of healthy snacks on the table 20 to 30 minutes before the meal. This can include cut-up celery, carrot sticks and low-fat cream cheese, or baked corn chips and salsa. Your meals will appear more “fancy,” and diners will feel more satisfied.

3. Turn It Into a Salad!

Many meals have a “base” of starchy carbohydrates, such as rice, potatoes or pasta, that is filled out with protein and one or two vegetables. By replacing a starchy main part of a meal with a vegetable, you can reduce calories and increase nutrient content. For instance, rather than chicken stir-fry over rice, you can saute chicken in wine and garlic and serve over a large bowl of leafy greens, along with almond slivers and mandarin oranges, for a filling Chinese Chicken Salad.

Another option is to make lettuce “wraps” rather than sandwiches by wrapping your sandwich fillings in red leaf lettuce and dipping your wraps in a soy sauce and honey mixture. Putting a little thought into nutritious meal replacements (like fruit and frozen yogurt for dessert, rather than ice cream), can tip the nutrient balance of your food intake and can also tip the scales in the right direction.