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While many people eat to lose weight others eat to gain weight.
Gaining weight can be beneficial for those who are underweight, recently lost weight unintentionally, or want to perform better at a sport, among other reasons.
Consistently eating more calories than your body needs is the key to gaining weight.
To do this, you must make sure you eat several high-calorie meals each day.
But you may be struggling with high-calorie meal ideas or don’t know which foods are best for weight gain.
This article provides high-calorie meal ideas, each with at least 800 calories, for breakfast, lunch, and dinner to help you boost your calorie intake and gain weight.
High-calorie breakfast ideas
Start your day off right with these high-calorie breakfast options.
Peanut butter chocolate banana shake
Smoothies and shakes are excellent vessels for calories.
They’re also easy to consume and tend to be less filling than whole food, making them a great option if you struggle with a poor appetite.
Here are the ingredients and directions to make a peanut butter chocolate banana shake:
- 2 bananas
- 1/2 cup (40 grams) of quick oats
- 2 tbsp (33 grams) of peanut butter
- 1 package of chocolate Carnation Breakfast Essentials
- 1 cup (240 mL) of whole milk
- Blend the quick oats into a fine powder. Then add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.
- Calories: 830
- Protein: 28 grams
- Carbs: 128 grams
- Fat: 29 grams
Banana blueberry oatmeal (vegan)
Like shakes and smoothies, oatmeal is a great vessel for lots of calories.
The limits are endless for what you can add to oatmeal, to not only boost the calories but make it taste good too.
This oatmeal is vegan-friendly, but you don’t have to follow a vegan or vegetarian diet to try it.
- 1 whole banana (sliced)
- 1/2 cup (70 grams) of blueberries (fresh)
- 1.5 cups (120 grams) of quick oats
- 2 tbsp (33 grams) of almond butter
- 1 tbsp (12 grams) of chia seeds
- 1 cup (240 mL) of soy milk
- Add quick oats and almond butter to a microwave-safe bowl.
- Pour in soy milk and cook on high for 1:30–2:00 minutes.
- Stir in almond butter and top with banana slices and blueberries
- Sprinkle with chia seeds.
- Calories: 929 calories
- Protein: 30 grams
- Carbs: 137 grams
- Fat: 35 grams
Almond butter and vanilla honey Greek yogurt parfait
This isn’t your normal Greek yogurt parfait.
It’s loaded with calories yet still easy to throw together.
This recipe uses specific brands, but you can choose similar alternatives.
- 1 cup (227 grams) Greek Gods Honey Greek yogurt
- 2/3 cup (63 grams) Honey Bunches of Oats French Vanilla Almond Granola
- 2 tbsp (33 grams) almond butter
- 1/2 cup (70 grams) strawberries (sliced)
- 1/2 cup (70 grams) blueberries
- Mix the Greek yogurt and almond butter in a bowl until well combined.
- Layer the Greek yogurt mixture, strawberries, blueberries, and granola in a glass cup or mason jar.
- Calories: 805
- Protein: 21 grams
- Carbs: 96 grams
- Fat: 39 grams
High-calorie lunch ideas
Whether you’re at home, school, or work, these high-calorie lunches are great choices and include plenty of high-calorie vegetables.
Chili tends to taste better during cooler weather, but it’s an excellent option all the time for adding extra calories.
This chili is also packed with protein, providing 83 grams per serving.
This recipe makes two servings.
- 2 garlic cloves, minced
- 1/2 onion, minced
- 1/2 red bell pepper, chopped
- 1 can of tomatoes, diced
- 1 can red kidney beans
- 1 cup of pinto beans
- 1 cup of black beans
- 1 pound of 80/20 ground beef
- 2 tbsp chili powder
- cilantro, chopped
- 2 tsp of lime juice
- 2 cups vegetable broth
- 1 cup water
- Heat a large stockpot over medium-high heat. Cook and stir ground beef in the hot pot until browned and crumbly, about 5–7 minutes). Drain grease.
- Add onion and garlic and cook until onion is translucent, about 3–4 minutes.
- Stir in the diced tomatoes with red bell pepper, red kidney beans, pinto beans, black beans, chili powder, lime juice, vegetable broth, and water. Bring to a boil, reduce heat, and simmer for 30 minutes.
- Calories: 1,017
- Protein: 83 grams
- Carbs: 113 grams
- Fat: 27 grams
Quick burrito bowl (vegan)
Burrito bowls are great for incorporating high-calorie foods like avocado and plant-based proteins like beans.
- 1 cup (28 ounces) of canned black beans
- 1 cup of cooked white rice
- 1 cup frozen corn
- 1 red pepper, diced
- 1 tbsp (14 grams) of olive oil
- 1/2 of an avocado
- cilantro, chopped
- 2 tbsp of Primal Kitchen Cilantro Lime Dressing (or similar)
- seasoning (1/4 tsp of paprika, 1/4 tsp chili powder, 1/4 tsp cumin, and 1/4 tsp garlic powder)
- Simmer black beans on low in a saucepan for 5 minutes with 1/4 teaspoon of salt, stirring often.
- Heat oil in a pan on medium heat. Add frozen corn and stir until cooked (about 2 minutes). Add seasonings.
- Serve black beans and corn over cooked rice with chopped cilantro, avocado, and dressing.
- Calories: 828
- Protein: 22 grams
- Carbs: 109 grams
- Fat: 37 grams
Loaded flatbread pizza
Pizza can be an excellent high-calorie meal alone, but you can boost its calories and protein by adding more toppings.
This recipe allows you to make your own using a flatbread but you can also purchase a pizza and add toppings like chicken or beef crumbles to boost the calories.
- 1 Stonefire Naan flatbread (or similar)
- 1/2 cup (113 grams) Rao’s Homemade marinara sauce (or similar)
- 1/2 cup mozzarella, shredded
- 6 ounces (170 grams) precooked chicken breast, chopped
- 1/2 onion, sliced
- 1/2 tomato, diced
- 1 cup spinach, fresh
- 1/2 tbsp (7 grams) olive oil
- Preheat oven to 350ºF
- Heat a medium skillet over low-medium heat. Cook onions in olive oil until soft and translucent.
- Place the flatbread on a large baking sheet. Spread pizza sauce on flatbread, then top with shredded cheese, chicken, fresh spinach, tomatoes, and onions.
- Place in oven and cook for 5–7 minutes, or until cheese melts and the crust is browned.
- Calories: 904
- Protein: 62 grams
- Carbs: 70 grams
- Fat: 40 grams
High-calorie dinner ideas
These high-calorie dinner ideas are quick and easy to make.
Baked salmon with red potatoes and green beans
Salmon is an excellent source of anti-inflammatory omega-3 fatty acids.
Add some roasted red potatoes and sauteed green beans and you have a nutritious, high-calorie dinner.
- one salmon portion, about 3–4 ounces
- 8–10 small red potatoes
- 1 cup green beans, fresh and trimmed
- 4 tbsp (56 grams) olive oil
- black pepper
- Italian herb seasoning blend
- lemon juice
- Preheat oven to 400ºF.
- Wash and quarter the red potatoes. Spread them across a baking sheet and drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Roast for 13–15 minutes, or until just tender.
- Remove the pan from the oven. Push the potatoes to one side and add the salmon to the middle. Season the salmon with an Italian herb blend and squirts of lemon juice.
- Add the green beans to the trimmed green beans on the open side and drizzle with 2 tbsp of olive oil. Season everything with salt and pepper.
- Return to the oven and continue baking for 10 minutes, or until the potatoes are golden and fork-tender and the salmon is cooked through.
- Calories: 987
- Protein: 43 grams
- Carbs: 51 grams
- Fat: 71 grams
Quick vegan cauliflower fried rice
Some vegan meals take longer to make than others, but this vegan cauliflower fried rice is easy and quick to make.
- 8 ounces (227 grams) of tofu, firm
- 1/2 head cauliflower
- 2 tbsp (28 grams) sesame oil
- 1/2 cup green peas, thawed if frozen
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 cup carrots, chopped
- 1 ounce (28 grams) cashews
- 2 tbsp (32 grams) soy sauce
- Press and drain the tofu (wrap the tofu in paper towels and press).
- Lightly crumble the tofu in a large bowl and set aside.
- Cut the cauliflower into florets, and toss the tough inner core. Pulse the cauliflower in a food processor until it breaks down into riced-sized pieces (you can purchase cauliflower “rice” if you don’t have a food processor). You should have about 2–3 cups of cauliflower rice. Set aside.
- Heat half of the sesame oil over medium heat in a wok. Add the garlic and lightly stir fry for 30 seconds to one minute until just golden brown. Add the crumbled tofu and stir-fry for five minutes, stirring often, until the tofu turns golden and is cooked through. Remove the tofu.
- Add the remaining sesame oil then add the carrots and saute until tender, about two minutes. Stir the peas and cauliflower rice in.
- Cook, stirring often, until the cauliflower is tender, about 6 to 8 minutes. Stir in the cooked tofu, cashews, and soy sauce.
- Calories: 844
- Protein: 38 grams
- Carbs: 60 grams
- Fat: 53 grams
With typical breakfast foods like eggs and bacon as toppings, this isn’t your typical burger.
- 4-ounce (113 grams) burger patty
- 2 tbsp (33 grams) peanut butter
- 2 slices bacon
- 1 whole egg
- hamburger bun
- Preheat a large skillet over medium/high heat. Cook bacon for 4–5 minutes. Once it’s finished cooking, break the bacon in half.
- Wipe out the pan and return to the heat. Cook the burger for 7–9 minutes, flipping halfway through.
- While the burger is cooking, spread both sides of the bun with peanut butter.
- Wipe out the pan and return to the heat. Crack and fry the egg.
- Assemble the burger, starting with the patty followed by the bacon slices and fried egg.
- Calories: 841
- Protein: 46 grams
- Carbs: 47 grams
- Fat: 52 grams
Don’t forget about high-calorie snacks
Eating three high-calorie meals daily is a great way to promote weight gain but it may not be enough.
You may need to separate your high-calorie meals with 2–3 high-calorie snacks.
A good snack for weight gain should have at least 300 calories.
Here are a few high-calorie snack options you can try:
- high-calorie protein bar
- whole-fat greek yogurt and granola
- full-fat cottage cheese and almonds
- avocado-egg toast
- peanut butter and honey sandwich
Most of these snacks are high in fat, but there are plenty of high calorie, low fat foods you can eat as snacks too.
The bottom line
These high-calorie breakfast, lunch, and dinner ideas, each providing at least 800 calories, are perfect to help you gain weight.
Separating your meals with high-calorie snacks will allow you to get more calories in and reach your weight gain goals.
Need more ideas? Read our 7-day weight gain meal plan.