Updated: Nov 3
If you're a busy mom looking for healthy takeout dinner ideas, this blog post is for you! Even when the meal plan is laid out perfectly, some nights things just do not go as planned and takeout food is necessary for a quick and easy dinner. I've complied ten tips to help guide you to healthy takeout for dinner on those nights that you just can't make it to the kitchen.
I'm going to dive into the most common fast food or takeout dinner options and give you my take on how to make healthy choices at each of these places. Whether it's pizza delivery, Chinese or Thai food, Mexican food, or your fave burger or chicken drive through, I've got you covered on healthier choices for takeout dinners.
Let's dig in. Here's my top 10 tips for healthy takeout dinners when the meal plan goes up in flames.
1. Think outside the box...or the bun.
Takeout doesn’t have to be the standard that we usually think it is - Chinese/Thai food delivery or pizza delivery. With GrubHub, Ubereats, & DoorDash so much more is possible in the realm of takeout food or to-go food. What are some of your favorite places (that lean just a little healthier than General Tso’s Chicken) to eat and see if they offer delivery or to-go orders.
2. Opt for Grilled
Fried vs. Grilled Anything….in almost 90% of takeout food or fast food, you can opt for a grilled version. Even if you’re getting nuggets and fries at Chick-fil-a, you can save tons of calories and carbs by opting for the grilled chicken vs. the fried. Read here the benefits of grilling or baking versus frying your proteins.
3. Rethink the sides
Yes, french fries are freaking delicious, but there’s little to no nutritional value to them. Could you do a side salad or fruit as a side instead of the fries? Maybe you get a small order of fries with your salad. It’s all about balance.
4. Got buns, hun?
Did you get my Sir Mix a Lot reference there? Ditch half or all of the bun if you’re getting a burger or a sandwich of any kind. If you are grabbing a burger from your fave fast food spot or takeout, see if you can order the burger with all of your favorite toppings just take off half or all of the bun. Less carbs more protein = more satisfied and less of a blood sugar spike.
5. Pizza on the menu?
Order a salad, too! Most pizza places do offer salads or you can grab a pre-made salad kit from the grocery store to have with your pizza. Also, making sure you have protein with the salad or pizza will help you fill up on protein vs. just the carbs/cheese. Example- order an appetizer of meatballs, get the pizza with pepperoni or sausage or chicken, or just add chicken to your salad. Again, more protein = more satisfied.
6. Make Multiple Stops
Make 2 different stops if you kids just won’t eat from the ‘healthier’ place you want to. It may not be as time efficient, but often times I'll get food for my husband and I from one spot and then more kid-friendly food at another. Example- got the kids Chick-fil-a one night and a salad from Cava since it was in the same shopping center.
7. Chinese or Thai Food
If you are opting for Chinese or Thai food (which I love) opt for the dishes that are protein heavy vs. noodle heavy. Grilled or steamed protein > fried protein. You can also opt for the steamed rice vs. the fried rice to cut down on extra fat and unnecessary oils used in the frying process. On many menus, you can order a steamed vegetable & protein meal with the sauce on the side. You’d be surprised how little sauce you may need to make it delish. When you are in control of how much sauce you’re putting onto the dish, you are cutting out tons of unnecessary sugar and salt in these sauces.
8. Mexican Food for Dinner
Mexican food on the menu for dinner tonight? Order the fajitas and you can’t go wrong! I usually will have either no tortillas or maybe just 1 tortilla and enjoy the veggies and protein without the tortilla to cut down on the carbs. Many mexican restaurants also offer really great salads that you can add a protein to (my fave local mexican restaurant has THE BESt salmon salad and I get it every single time!! It’s so good!)
9. Keep portions in check
If you are going to get takeout or fast food, opt for the smaller size french fries or drink. Most ‘medium’ sizes are much more food/liquid than we need anyways. An alternative would be to split your entree. Opt for sharing your entree or pack half away for leftovers the next day. You can still enjoy those waffle fries if you must, but try ordering a small and see how satisfied you are without feeling overly full.
10. It's not that deep
Remember that this is just one meal. Getting takeout or fast food or delivery is just one meal - not the norm or the habit. If you do decide to indulge or not opt for the ‘healthier version’ that’s okay too! Remember this is just one meal, one day, one blip on the radar. This won’t derail your progress if you have body goals or specific health goals. Focus on the big picture. Get back to the foods that bless your body and make you feel good at the next meal. Each meal is an opportunity. The clock resets every time. You are more than what you eat.
Small Changes Add Up to Big Results
Remember that small, tiny changes over time can add up to really big results. If your goal is to lose weight, gain muscle, have more energy, or just FEEl better, consider implementing some of these tips on nights that you just can't avoid delivery or takeout for dinner. Learning the balance of meal planning, healthy food choices, and the occasional takeout for dinner is key for long, lasting lifestyle changes.
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