It’s easy to say that we won’t order any more fast food or quick takeout, but sometimes, it’s inevitable.
Whether you’re on the go, you’re with friends, or you just don’t have time to make dinner, ordering takeout is a quick solution to the rumbling in your stomach. But don’t think that you have to sabotage your diet.
There are many healthy takeout options you can take advantage of to keep yourself at the top of your game.
Healthy Takeout Options
1. Chinese: Buddha’s Delight
If you’re ordering from a Chinese restaurant and you’re looking for quick and easy healthy takeout options, it can be tricky knowing what to order. There are so many things to choose from (those menus are huge!), and often, there aren’t descriptions of the meals offered.
However, if you’re a fan of veggies, I have a solution for you: Buddha’s delight. With steamed tofu or steamed chicken and lots of veggies, you can’t go wrong—and you don’t have to feel bad about going for seconds!
2. Chinese: Wonton Soup
If you’re a soup fan like I am, wonton soup is one of the good and fast healthy takeout options.
According to the USDA, one cup contains 0.6 grams of fat, and only 0.1 of those grams are saturated fats. Plus, it’s a broth instead of a creamy soup, so it’s filling without being high in calories—and you can treat yourself to a few dumplings.
3. Japanese: Sushi
I always love when my friends choose to order from a Japanese restaurant because it just so happens that my favorite food is also one of the best healthy takeout options: sushi. However, sushi can be quite unhealthy as well. When ordering sushi, pass on the fatty rolls like Philadelphia rolls or tempura rolls. Eel rolls and spicy tuna rolls can also have other fatty dressings inside.
To be safe, keep it simple and choose tuna, yellowtail, shrimp, or salmon rolls—and feel free to add scallions, cucumbers, or avocados for some extra nutrients.
Want to make it even healthier? Skip the rice and just eat the fish. Doing that will cut back on the carbs and keep your meal focused on healthy protein and fat.
4. Italian: Thin Crust Veggie Pizza
With pizza, it’s pretty hard to make it healthy. After all, the main foundations of pizza are bread and cheese. But have no fear! Order thin crust. That way, there will be minimal bread—and besides, true Italian pizza is thin-crust anyway, so chalk it up to your appreciation for culture.
Get some healthy veggies, like peppers or spinach, as toppings. And make sure to share it with a friend. Personal pizzas are never a good idea because the serving is always way bigger than you need.
Related: Why Size Matters…For Your Salad
5. Panera: “Hidden Menu”
For anyone watching their waistlines, Panera can be intimidating. Creamy soups served in a bread bowl…that takes a lot of temptation to pass up. But have no fear, for Panera has a “hidden menu.” You’re supposed to let your server know that you’re ordering from the hidden menu, and they’ll take it from there.
Sounds mysterious, right? It’s really not—it’s a marketing gimmick. But still, it’s a healthy marketing gimmick. They have some pretty great dishes filled with nutrients, lean meats, and veggies, and low on the processed carbs.
Taco Bell is also making use of healthy marketing gimmicks with its Fresco menu. Nothing on this menu has any more than 8 grams of fat or more than 330 calories. Now, that might make these items healthier than, say, a Crunch Wrap Supreme—but remember that they’re still not “healthy.”
However, they do omit the fatty stuff like cheese, sour cream, or dressings, so the Fresco menu is a good way to go for the occasional Taco Bell run.
7. McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or Burger King: The *right* salads
When you think about healthy takeout options at places like McDonald’s, Wendy’s, or Burger King, you might automatically think of salads. However, many salads are just as bad as ordering a big ol’ burger and fries.
Avoid any salads with heavy dressing, high amounts of cheese, fatty or fried meats, or croutons. Just because you cut up a fried chicken sandwich and mix it up with some lettuce doesn’t mean it’s a salad!
Related: How to Make Healthy Food Choices
Fast food happens because life happens. However, that doesn’t mean you have to order a big burger and fries or fatty lo mein. Next time you find yourself looking at a fast-food menu, keep in mind these healthy takeout options so you don’t have to sabotage your healthy lifestyle with unhealthy takeout options.
Photo by scottjwaldron
Originally posted 2/2014 and updated 11/2014.