We all have days when we just don’t have the energy (or the time) to prepare a homemade meal for the family. Luckily, navigating takeout food options doesn't mean we have to sacrifice either our taste buds or our health. There are plenty of healthy and satisfying options from our favorite to-go spots. As a general rule, it’s best to stay away from deep fried, sauce-heavy foods from any cuisine. Sticking to vegetables, brown rice, plant-based proteins like beans and edamame, and broth-based soups ensures a healthy treat for the whole family. Remember: portion sizes tend to be large when ordering out, so share one entree between two people, or save half for lunch! Below, we've outlined some of our favorite healthy takeout options by cuisine.
Notorious for using copious amounts of salt and oils, there are healthy options on Chinese food menus if we know where to look! We know it's tempting, but let's bypass those fried dishes drenched in sauces, and go straight to the healthy or diet foods portion of the menu. As far as preparation goes, "steamed" is our best takeout friend, and the options are plentiful on Chinese food menus!
What to order: Steamed Vegetable Dumplings, Bok Choy with Garlic Sauce, and when it comes to your protein, think clean (grilled or steamed - not fried!); and while we love our sauces, let's order them on the side.
Opt for a whole wheat crust, or go for a pie that’s heavy on veggies and a little lighter on cheese. Skip the garlic bread and order a salad with dressing on the side.
What to order: Spinach Salad with light Italian dressing, Whole Wheat Veggie Pizza
A simple seaweed salad with low-sodium soy sauce is a great way to start off any Japanese meal. For lovers of raw fish, there are numerous ways to go when ordering sushi. Sashimi bowls, rice-free hand rolls and steamed edamame are all great options found on any Japanese food menu. Try to substitute white rice for fiber rich brown rice when possible. It's best to save the tempura or rolls that feature elaborate sauces, which are usually heavy on mayo, for a rare treat.
What to order: Steamed edamame, Seaweed Salad, Veggie Hand Rolls, Sashimi
With something for everyone, this spicy cuisine has a bounty of protein-packed dal (lentils) and chickpea dishes. Steer clear of paneer (cheese), ghee (clarified butter) and malai (cream), which are high in fat and oils. Tandoori and kebabs, marinated in yogurt and typically baked in clay ovens or grilled, are great alternatives to sauce-heavy dishes. Appetizers tend to be high in fat and deep-fried, so skip the samosas and pakoras, and opt for a lentil soup. Roti, Indian bread made with whole wheat, and brown rice are easy and healthy substitutions.
What to order: Lentil soup, vegetable korma with rice, chole (chickpea curry) and for animal proteins, think Tandoori!
Oh, those chips - they're so hard to resist! As an occasional treat, chips can be just fine, but we want to remember that they're usually deep fried. Hard shell tortillas often fall into the same fryer as chips, so opt for dishes that use fresh vegetables and/or are grilled or steamed. Choose burrito or salad bowls and go easy on the guacamole and the sour cream. Instead of re-fried beans and white rice, ask for regular black beans and brown rice if possible - and don't forget to load up on some fresh, delicious pico de gallo!
What to order: veggie fajitas, burrito bowls, grilled mahi-mahi, fish ceviche
If you can handle the heat, Thai cuisine has many great dishes that feature fresh vegetables and fish. Be wary of coconut-based dishes, such as the popular Tom Kha Gai and Massaman curry, which use a caloric and fatty coconut milk base. Stir fries, tropical salads and grilled fish are all great options.
What to order: Veggie Summer rolls, Green Papaya or Mango salad, and again, think grilled for your animal proteins!
So go ahead, redeem that Seamless code that's been sitting in your inbox, get out your chopsticks and take a night off from doing the dishes - just remember to rinse and recycle all those plastic to-go containers!
Bon Appetit and Happy Ordering!