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cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan


Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan

In this article I am going to talk about my cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan. This is how I lost more than 80 pounds on a very tight budget! Find out how you can get back to a healthy weight without spending a ton of money and breaking the bank!

 

Tip: Pin the image above so that you can easily refer to this article on a cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan later!

 

A Simple and Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan for Weight Loss

You really can lose weight cheaply and easily! You do not have to buy expensive foods to follow a special diet plan (as several people I know have done in the past).

In fact, it is much better if you don’t, because that will make your long-term weight management more sustainable. Sticking to foods you already eat and love will make it easier to course correct in the future if you need to to lose a few pounds and get back to your ideal weight.

Another of my simple rules of thumb to help guide me in my decisions of what to eat on a 1,200 calorie diet plan is this: I try to eat no more than 300 calories for breakfast or breakfast/morning snack, 400 calories for lunch or lunch/mid-afternoon snack, and 5 00 calories for dinner or dinner.

This helps me to easily do portion control for the three meals of the day.

Find ideas for a simple and cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan for weight loss below.

 

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What to Eat on a Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan

Below is my simple (and effective; I have lost more than 80 pounds following this plan) diet plan for cheap weight loss success.

Read on for my simple ideas for foods to eat for a cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan.

I like to keep things simple, and so I no longer write down everything that I eat and how many calories each thing has (though I definitely did do that for at least the first few months when I was initially working to lose all that weight).

Instead, I simply make sure that I eat no more than 300 calories for breakfast/morning snack, 400 calories for lunch/afternoon snack, and 500 calories for dinner, as a general rule of thumb.

I am a big advocate of keeping things simple, because I really think it helps people to stick with and accomplish their goals.

Note: If you want to lose weight and do it on a budget without spending a ton of money, check out this article with 15 tips for how to lose weight on a budget!

 

Breakfast Ideas for a Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan

Simple and cheap breakfast foods you can eat on a 1,200 calorie diet plan include the following ideas.

Fresh or frozen fruit and yogurt

Many pieces of whole, medium-sized fruit are 100 calories or less. This includes various varieties of apples, bananas, peaches, nectarines, plums, oranges, and more.

One cup of fresh or frozen strawberry halves is only about 50 calories, and a cup of blueberries (which would be a lot of blueberries! I would mix that up with other fruit like strawberries or bananas, since they are cheaper :)) is about 85 calories.

A cup of mixed fruit is generally also 100 calories or less, and a cup of mixed berries (like the bags you get from Walmart, such as Great Value, or from Dole) is generally about 80 calories.

Some of these fruits you can cut up and eat directly in your yogurt, like bananas, strawberries, and other fresh or frozen berries.

I like to eat my fruit with Dannon Light and Fit yogurt, which has only 110 calories per cup.

With a cup of yogurt at about 100 calories and whole fruit or cup of cut fruit at about 100 calories or less, this leaves me 100 calories for a snack later in the morning.

For that morning snack, I usually eat another piece of whole fruit or baby carrots or something similar.

 

Oatmeal

Many of the packets of flavored instant oatmeal that you get, such as maple and brown sugar (160 calories) or apple cinnamon (130 calories), are around 150 calories. If you eat one of these packets of oatmeal and a piece of whole fruit, that keeps you within your 300 calorie breakfast allotment.

However, if you want a heartier breakfast with more oatmeal, then you can eat 2/3 cup regular oatmeal mixed with a tablespoon or two of artificial sweetener like sucralose (the Great Value kind is pretty cheap and really lasts a long time!), and just cook that in the microwave for a minute or two, instead (depending on the power of your microwave).

Another cheap and easy oatmeal option is to eat 2-ingredient banana oatmeal cookies, where you mash up banans and oatmeal and form them into balls and bake them for about 8 to 10 minutes.

And an even simpler variation of that that I eat quite regularly (even when I am not counting calories) is mashed up bananas and oatmeal, not baked. I mash up one banana with about 2/3 cup oatmeal, and it is naturally sweet and yummy!

 

Toast and jam

Another cheap option for low-calorie breakfast is to eat a couple of pieces of toast (usually 100 calories or less for a simple slice of wheat or whole wheat bread) and sugar-free jam (usually about 10 calories per tablespoon).

If you eat the bread like the one we do that is about 80 calories, then two slices is 160 calories, and two tablespoons of jam (one per slice) is another 20, so that leaves you just over 100 calories for a piece of whole fruit or cup of cut fruit later in the morning for a snack.

 

Fried eggs with toast

Again, for about 160 calories, you can have two pieces of regular wheat or whole wheat bread, and a medium egg is 70 calories. So two medium eggs is 140 calories, plus 160 calories for the toast, and that gives up our 300 calories for breakfast! 

 

Cereal and milk

Cereal and milk can be a pretty inexpensive and low-calorie way to go, if you get the right cereal.

For example, a cup of toasted Os (the generic version of Cheerios), which is not laden with sugar like many breakfast cereals, has about 110 calories. Add a cup of nonfat (skim) milk, and that is about 80 calories. So you can have a cup of cereal and cup of milk for less than 200 calories, and then eat a piece of whole fruit later in the morning for a snack.

 

Bagel with jam

You can get the slimmer, lower-calorie bagels that have only about 110 calories, but they are more expensive than the regular bagels.

Sara Lee blueberry bagels, for example, have about 260 calories, and with two tablespoons of sugar-free jam, that keeps us within our 300 calories allotted for breakfast.

 

Hard-boiled egg with cheese in a tortilla

This is another great option to include for a cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan. A medium-sized flour tortilla is about 100 calories (but watch this; some fatter tortillas are quite a bit more than that!), a slice of low-fat (pre-sliced) cheese is around 80 calories (depending on the type of cheese), and a large egg is about 80 calories. 

So you could eat your egg and melted slice of cheese in a flour tortilla, and then have a handful of baby carrots or cup of raw, chopped broccoli or similar thing as a mid-morning snack.

 

Lunch Ideas for a Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan

To save money and time, I like to keep lunch really simple (whether I am working to lose weight or not!).

By keeping lunch simple and cheap, I am able to save a ton of money every month by not going out to eat every day at work! And that savings helps me to max out my Roth IRA and save the amount that I want to for retirement. Learn how to literally become a millionaire by bringing inexpensive lunches from home and investing the money that you save from not going out to eat!

So here are some simple ideas for low-calorie lunches on a budget.

Again, when doing a 1,200-calorie diet, I allocate 400 calories to lunch or lunch + afternoon snack.

 

Peanut butter and jelly sandwich with a piece of whole fruit and veggies

Two pieces of regular wheat or whole wheat bread (depending on the brand) can be abourt 160 calories total, plus one tablespoon of peanut butter (which you can get by on if you spread it pretty thin) is about 90 calories, plus one tablespoon sugar-free jam is 10 calories. So that is about 260 calories.

Then if you eat a piece of medium-sized whole fruit that is generally less than 100 calories. Top that off with a handful of baby carrots or cup of your favorite vegetables or a simple salad with low-calorie dressing.

 

Luncheon meat and cheese sandwich with whole fruit and veggies

Another inexpensive option for lunch when keeping to a cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan is to eat a meat and cheese sandwich with fruit and veggies.

Calories vary depending on the type and brand of luncheon meat, but you can eat a good amount of most luncheon meats (like, three or four slices) for under 100 calories. One slice of pre-sliced cheese is generally about 80 calories (though some, like provolone, have fewer calories), and two slices of simple wheat bread is about 160 calories. A large handful of spinach or lettuce adds less than 10 calories.

So that gets you up to about 350 calories, which leaves you 60 calories for a simple green salad with low-calorie dressing, a handful of baby carrots, a cup of vegetables, or a small fruit or half of a medium fruit.

 

Meat and cheese wrap

A simple variation of a meat and cheese sandwich (described just above) is to create a wrap. This can save you 50 to 60 calories, too, if you use a single medium flour tortilla (at about 100 calories) instead of two pieces of bread.

 

Quesadilla

Another simple lunch option is a cheese quesadilla or meat and cheese quesadilla.

With a medium flour tortilla cut in half (about 100 calories) and two slices of pre-sliced cheese (about 150 to 160 calories total), the main part of your lunch is about 250 calories.

Then you can eat a piece of medium fruit with about 100 calories and a serving of vegetables for about 50 calories.

 

Tuna sandwich

There are about 80 calories in a half can of tuna, and about 70 calories in two tablespoons of light mayo. That adds up to 150 calories. Then if your piece of wheat or whole wheat bread has about 80 calories, that would be 160 for two slices. So your tuna sandwich will be just over 300 calories. That leaves you 100 calories for a medium piece of fruit and a handful of baby carrots or a cup of vegetables or a small salad with a tablespoon or two of light vinaigrette dressing (which is about 25 for two tablespoons).

 

Egg salad sandwich

If you boil two eggs to include in your egg salad sandwich, that is about 150 calories. Then, with one and a half tablespoons of light mayo, that is another 50 calories or so. That adds up to 200 calories.

Then with two pieces of wheat or whole wheat bread, that would be an additional 160 calories for two slices. So your egg salad sandwich will be just over 350 calories. (Or make it a wrap, and save about 50 or 60 calories.)

That leaves you about 50 calories for a handful of baby carrots or a cup of vegetables or a small salad with a tablespoon or two of light vinaigrette dressing (which is about 25 for two tablespoons) or a half a piece of medium fruit.

 

Chicken salad sandwich

One average boneless, skinless chicken breast is about 270 calories. If you use half a chicken breast to chop it up and add two tablespoons of light mayo to make your chicken salad mixture, that is about 210 calories. 

Then add your favorite seasonings, and spread it on a slice of wheat bread. Cover with another slice of bread, and that is 370 calories for your chicken salad sandwich.

Then you would have about 30 calories left allotted for a serving of vegetables.

 

Simple green salad

You can eat a ton of green salad for not very many calories, which is why it is such a popular diet food! For example, you can eat a cup of spinach or lettuce for less than 10 calories!

So start with two or more cups of spinach, add in a cup of chopped broccoli for about 30 calories, one cup of chopped carrots for 50 calories, a cup of chopped cauliflower for 25 calories, a couple of tablespoons of low-calorie dressing, and you have a huge salad for less than 200 calories.

Then you can have a piece of medium fruit on the side (such as apple, banana, orange, or peach) for less than 100 calories, and even tear up a piece of sliced cheese (sliced cheese is just easier when you are on a diet because the calories are already calculated so easily for you) and add it for less than 100 calories. And there is your 400-calorie lunch!

 Dinner Ideas for a Cheap 1,200 Calorie Diet Plan

Again, as I mentioned above, to keep things simple, I allocate 500 calories to dinner when I am following a 1,200 calorie diet plan. The suggestions below fall within that allotted calorie count.

When I am on a low-calorie diet, I keep my dinner options really simple, to help me be successful in counting calories and therefore losing the weight that I want to.

And if we get invited to dinner at someone’s home, for example, I am not afraid to take my own simple dinner, such as a salad I make in a few minutes at home, or a simple lunch meat sandwich and fruit. This is a very simple way to keep from getting derailed from your diet. So please do this to help youself stay on track! 🙂

 

Chicken salad

As I mentioned above, an average-sized boneless, skinless chicken breast is about 270 calories. Chop that up, and it is the base of your chicken salad.

Add a couple of cups of spinach, and that is about 15 calories. Add a half a cup of chopped carrots, and that is 25 calories. A cup of chopped broccoli is another 25 or so calories. Add a chopped roma tomato to that, and you will add another 35 calories.

That brings us to 370 calories. Add two tablespoons of light vinaigrette salad dressing for another 25 calories or so (round up to 30 calories to keep the math easy :)). That brings your calorie count up to 400 calories.

Then you could have a medium piece of fruit for less than 100 calories, and that would keep you to your 500 calories.

 

Grilled chicken breast and steamed vegetables

Again, one average boneless, skinless chicken breast is about 270 calories. Grill it up on the stove or the grill, and add your favorite seasonings.

Serve with your favorite steamed vegetables. One cup of steamed vegetables is about 50 calories.

So you could eat two cups of steamed vegetables for 100 calories, which would bring your calorie count to 370 calories.

Then eat one or two servings of fresh or frozen fruit to round out your meal and get to your 500 total calories for dinner.

 

Spaghetti with green salad

Normally we make homemade spaghetti sauce, but you can keep calorie counting simple and still keep your meal economical by buying a simple spaghetti sauce in a can or a jar.

One cup of cooked spaghetti noodles is 200 calories. One cup of meatless spaghetti sauce adds another 80 or so calories. That leaves you about 200 calories for a large green salad or a small green salad and a piece of whole fruit.

 

Chicken sandwich

An average frozen chicken patty has about 200 calories. A slice of pre-sliced cheese, again, is 80 or fewer calories. A big handful of lettuce or spinach on your sandwich is less than 10 calories, and a few slices of tomato on top of that is about 20 calories. So that is 310 calories or less. Add two pieces of bread and that brings you up to 470 calories, and then add a tablespoon of barbecue sauce is about 30 calories. That totals your 500 calories for dinner.

Or, another option I do a lot when I am on a low-calorie diet is to eat my chicken sandwich as a lettuce or spinach wrap. So instead of 160 calories for two pieces of bread, you can consume just 30 calories or less by substituting with spinach or your favorite lettuce.

That way, you can have calories left over to eat a piece of fruit and another serving of vegetables.

 

Simple green salad

As I mention above, you can eat a ton of green salad for not very many calories, which is why it is such a popular diet food! For example, you can eat a cup of spinach or lettuce for less than 10 calories!

So start with two or more cups of spinach, add in a cup of chopped broccoli for about 30 calories, one cup of chopped carrots for 50 calories, a cup of chopped cauliflower for 25 calories, a couple of tablespoons of low-calorie dressing, and you have a huge salad for less than 200 calories.

Then you can have a piece of medium fruit on the side (such as apple, banana, orange, or peach) for less than 100 calories, and even tear up a piece of sliced cheese (sliced cheese is just easier when you are on a diet because the calories are already calculated so easily for you) and add it for less than 100 calories. And there is your 400-calorie lunch!

 

Chili

Chili is a pretty cheap and easy option. It is especially easy if you use canned chili, and if you add a can of chili beans or kidney beans to your can of chili, it makes the chili even cheaper, with fewer calories.

A standard cup of chili is about 280 calories (but this can vary, so make sure you check the nutrition label!). But a standard cup of canned chili beans is only 220 calories. So if you add a half cup of chili beans to your cup of chili, that brings your calorie count to a little under 400 calories (280 + 110 = 390 calories).

Then you could add a serving of fruit or a couple of servings of vegetables, or even a serving of tortilla chips. There are about 10 calories per tortilla chip, so that is easy math (but make sure to check the nutrition label to make sure that is correct for the type of tortilla chips you have).

 

Simple bean and cheese burritos

In 1/2 cup of refried beans there are about 180 calories. If you add a slice of pre-sliced cheese to that, that is another 80 or so calories, which brings you to 260 calories. A medium flour tortilla shell is about 100 calories, as I mentioned above, shich brings up to 360 calories.

That gives you 140 calories or so for a piece of whole fruit and a serving of vegetables (read items in the list above for more information on calorie counts for various fruits and vegetables).

Or if you want to go super easy, then you could even do frozen burritos. The number of calories varies dpeneding on brand and kind of burrito, of course, but a El Monterey beef and bean burrito has about 360 calories, for example.

 

 

Homemade chicken noodle soup

Of course the calories for homemade chicken soup can vary significantly depending on the recipe that you use. This chicken noodle soup recipe that I like has about 185 calories per one-cup serving.

 

 

Griled cheese sandwiches

Again, one slice of pre-sliced cheese is generally about 80 calories (though some, like provolone, have fewer calories), and two slices of simple wheat bread is about 160 calories. If you want to add vegetables to your grilled cheese sandwich (which I have done, and which is pretty good!), you can add a large handful of spinach and it adds fewer than 10 calories.

You can also add lunch meat to your grilled cheese sandwich, if you want (that is what we usually do in our family). Again, calories vary depending on the type and brand of luncheon meat, but you can eat a good amount of most luncheon meats (three or four slices or sometimes more) for under 100 calories.

So that gets you up to about 350 calories, which leaves you 160 calories for a simple green salad with low-calorie dressing, a handful of baby carrots, or a cup of vegetables and a small fruit or half of a medium fruit.

 

Quesadillas

I mentioned this meal option for lunch as well, but quesadillas are a great, simple option for dinner, as well.

 

Frozen pizza

If you want to keep dinner really easy and pretty inexpensive, you can eat half of a Totino’s triple meat frozen pizza, for example, for about 350 calories.

Then you could eat a green salad to go along with it, or some whole fruit and a cup of vegetables.

Or you could eat about 3/4 of the Totino’s pizza for about 520 calories. This goes over the 500 calorie allotment, of course, but you can solve that by eating a little less for lunch (so, shave off 20 calories at lunchtime).

 

Hot dogs

The standard-sized hot dogs (like the Bar S variety) are actually only about 100 calories. So you could eat two hot dogs for about 200 calories, put them in a slice of bread each for another 160 calories, and add a tablespoon of ketchup between the two for another 10 calories. That would total about 370 calories.

You could then eat a serving of french fries that you cook over the stove (without oil) for about 120 calories, and have another 10 calories left over for ketchup to dip the fries in. That would bring you up to your 500 calories.

 

 

 

Conclusion

This cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan for weight loss really does work to help you lose weight simply and cheaply.

When I first wanted to get serious about losing weight several years ago, I had over 80 pounds to lose. And I was able to do it by eating the simple foods listed above!

I was able to lose that weight (and have now kept it off for more than 10 years) by exercising more and counting calories on the basic, inexpensive foods that I ate. I didn’t buy any special diet foods or follow any diet plan or program.

And I feel that doing things that way really does make maintaining a healthy weight easier because you aren’t drastically changing what you normally eat and normally do.

 

Do you have a great, cheap 1,200 calorie diet plan for weight loss success? What are your favorite go-to foods  and best tips for inexpensive weight loss?  I would love to hear your ideas! Leave a comment and let me know where you are at in your weight-loss journey!

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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