Sometimes the smallest changes can make a big difference. Whether you’re on a slimming journey or simply trying to make a few healthier choices, switching a couple of basic everyday ingredients can save lots of calories.
Eating well shouldn’t have to mean giving up the food you love, and making a couple of day to day calorie-saving swaps can keep all your favourites on the menu. Unsure where to start? We’ve got the rundown on the easiest swaps you can make to save some calories without even realising.
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Low-calorie Cooking Spray
We’re starting strong with a calorie-saving swap we couldn’t live without! Instead of frying ingredients in oil or simmering them in butter, we alway use low-calorie cooking spray. This cuts out so much saturated fat, and saves bags of calories.
Where a typical tablespoon of olive oil can contain around 120 calories, 5 spritzes of low-calorie cooking spray can do the same job for just 5 calories. You’ll find this key ingredient in just about all of our recipes, including this hearty Sausage Traybake where it’s used to coat all your ingredients before you pop them into the oven to roast.
This is a hearty, warming one pot wonder that’s just what you need on a chilly evening, and it works out at only 367 calories per serving.
There are loads of low-calorie cooking sprays on the supermarket shelves, including lots of affordable own-brand options. We really like these Frylight sprays as they’re available in a wide range of flavours.
Non-dairy Milk Alternatives
Next up is a handy swap for shaving a few calories off homemade sauces – switching from milk to a non-dairy alternative can be surprisingly slimming friendly. There are so many good, non-dairy options available, from oat and almond milk to coconut milk.
Whether you use them to make your morning oats (like in this Coconut, Banana and Maple Porridge) or cook them into a sauce, they’re handy to have in the fridge.
We love how the nutty taste of coconut milk really ramps up the flavour in this Vegetable Coconut Curry, so that you don’t even need to add any coconut cream. This keeps the calories in the dish super low – it’s only 121 calories per serving.
Perfect for anyone who’s vegan or dairy free, coconut milk can be picked up in most supermarkets or found online.
Low-fat Cream Cheese
Can’t resist decadent, rich, creamy foods? Who said you have to! We love to cook (and eat!) dishes that have thick, creamy sauces and they’re all perfect for anyone following a diet plan like Weight Watchers, or counting calories.
The secret is to say goodbye to indulgent, high-calorie double cream and stock up on low-fat cream cheese. With its mild flavour and silky texture, it melts into sauces as an easy way to thicken them and turn them lovely and creamy.
You’ll find this hack used in some of our most popular recipes, like this much-loved Creamy Garlic Chicken dish. The garlicky sauce turns out so rich and moreish, you’d never know there’s no real cream in it (but it’s only 260 calories per portion).
Peanut Butter Powder
With 94 calories in each level tablespoon of peanut butter, it’s an ingredient that you might want to miss off your weekly shopping list. Despite being full of healthy nut-based fats, adding peanut butter into your cooking is a surefire way to ramp up the calorie count.
There’s no need to miss out on the savoury, nutty taste though, thanks to the jars of peanut butter powder that we often use. With a fraction of the calories and all of the flavour, this is a swap that makes so much sense! Once you try it in your recipes, it’s an ingredient that you’ll reach for time and time again.
Chocolate and peanut butter is one of those timeless flavour combinations, so these Chocolate Peanut Butter Bars make for the perfect teatime treat. Mix the powder with a little bit of water and drizzle it over the top of your crunchy rice krispie squares…yum!
This PBfit Peanut Butter Powder has 87% less fat than traditional peanut butter, and a little bit goes a long way. This jar will last you ages!
Wine Stock Pots
A glass of wine goes down a treat when you’re cooking, whether you’re drinking it or adding it into your food. Red or white wine can be used in sauces, stews and casseroles to deepen and enhance the flavours, although it will also add extra calories.
With around 211 calories in a 250ml glass of red wine, it can make your dish far more indulgent than you might think. The good news is that you can pick up wine stock pots, which add a similar flavour for far fewer calories. One red wine stock pot is the equivalent of half a glass of wine, and it’s only 8 calories. What a swap!
We’ve used them in our unmissable Beef Bourguignon recipe to add a real depth of flavour, while keeping the calories unbelievably low (just 320 calories per serving!). Did you know that you can also make this delicious, French-inspired recipe in your slow cooker or Instant Pot?
You can pick up these Oxo red wine stock cubes in any supermarket, or online from Amazon, and try them out in lots of different recipes.
There’s no need to give up meat in order to cut down on calories. Instead, try switching to a leaner cut or a low-fat version. Some of our favourite swaps include using chicken sausages, 5% fat beef mince or bacon medallions in our cooking.
Wherever possible, cut off any visible fat to trim the calorie count even further. Meat with a lower fat content can sometimes be a little less tender than other options, so it’s well worth looking up some slow cooker recipes. Cooking a lean cut of beef on a low and slow setting will help it to become velvety and melt-in-the mouth tender.
Turkey is a naturally lean meat, and useful for so many recipes. We’ve swapped out beef mince to make these Turkey Burgers super slimming friendly. They come in at just 176 calories each, and they’re seriously juicy – just remember to season them well.
As well as switching to a leaner cut of meat, you can also cut down on calories by swapping some of the meat for extra vegetables. Bulking out your meals with extra veggies will not only help to fill you up, it’ll make sure you’re getting plenty of nutritious vitamins too.
We love to throw any spare vegetables into the meals we cook as a budget-friendly way of making food go a bit further. Try adding them into dishes instead of higher-calorie ingredients like pasta – we’ve used courgettes instead of lasagne sheets to make these Lasagne Courgette Boats.
Each mince-filled ‘boat’ works out at 168 calories, thanks to all the veggies packed into the recipe. We guarantee you won’t miss the pasta when you dig into that golden cheesy topping!
If you hadn’t noticed, we love our air fryer! It’s a real game changer when it comes to making healthy, low-calorie meals. Air fryers cook by circulating hot air, giving a deep-fried finish with little-to-no oil needed.
When you fancy some crispy, crunchy comfort food without the calories, making the switch to an air fryer is just what you need. From chips and chicken nuggets to your full English breakfast, there’s not much you can’t cook in an air fryer.
Next time you’re tempted by a trip to the fast food shop, load up your air fryer with some Salt and Pepper Chicken Nuggets instead. They’ll curb your cravings with the crunchy coating and spicy seasoning!
This family-sized Tower air fryer is an affordable and practical option if you don’t already have one. The 4.3 litre capacity is perfect when you’re cooking for a crowd!
Tell us your day to day healthy swaps!
Got any calorie-saving swaps to share with us? We’d love to hear from you! Pop on over to our Facebook group and tell us your ideas. With almost 1 million members in the group, it’s the place to be for inspiration and slimming motivation!
Plus, if you’re on the lookout for even more inspiration, don’t miss our Gallery. It’s chock-a-block with photos from members of the Pinch of Nom community, so you can see what everyone else has been cooking lately.