Takeout meals have a reputation for being high in calories and low in nutrition, but life is often too busy for cooking from scratch at home. The good news is that you don’t have to compromise your health for convenience. Consider these five tips to eat healthier without giving up on takeout dinners.
Make a Plan
Restaurant and takeout menus are designed to encourage impulsive decisions. Overcome their tricks by planning ahead. Most restaurants have their full menu, including calorie counts and ingredients, available online. Print it out and decide what you want to order before you drive up to the window or pick up the phone.
Choose Grilled or Baked
Most of the calories and bad fats in restaurant dishes come from the oil-soaked breading. Give your meal an instant health boost by choosing a grilled or baked dish instead. The best part is that a grilled chicken sandwich or a piece of baked fish is every bit as enjoyable as its deep-fried counterpart.
Save Half for Later
It’s no secret that restaurant portions are large. Most meals contain at least two generous portions, so put half of your food away for later as soon as you get it to remove the temptation. Saving part of your meal for later is even easier when you get takeout instead of dining in because containers and a refrigerator are close at hand.
Add a Veggie Side
Vegetables and fruits are essential parts of your diet, but most adults don’t consume nearly enough of these nutrition powerhouses. Upgrade your meal with a side of veggies instead of the usual salty or fried accompaniments. Swap rice and beans for a double portion of beans, trade fries for steamed broccoli or macaroni and cheese for cheesy cauliflower.
Although a sweet treat at the end of your meal is nice, takeout food has so many calories that dessert can easily put you over your limit for the day. Plus, the pies, cakes, brownies and ice cream typically offered on dessert menus are packed with added sugar. Consider skipping dessert in favor of a nice cup of coffee, a glass of wine or a fruit platter to round out your meal.
Although there are many ways to make takeout meals healthier, cooking at home is still the healthiest option. Try to make time in your schedule to prepare a nutritious meal a few days each week, or consider preparing and storing meals ahead of time.