Takeout is one of the modern world’s greatest inventions. You can enjoy restaurant-quality food in the comfort of your own home without having to cook, clean or shop for ingredients. It’s always been a popular choice, and now that the COVID-19 health crisis has closed down or restricted capacity at many restaurants takeout has become a way to support local business and keep our favorite go-to spots alive.
However, the drawback with takeout food? It’s not always the healthiest. Convenience can sometimes give way to food that’s saltier, heavier and overall less nutritious than something you might’ve made for yourself at home. We’re all for indulging once in a while, but when it becomes a consistent habit it can take a toll on your energy levels and overall wellbeing.
It’s all about balance, so we’re here to discuss some of our favorite healthy takeout options that enable you to not sacrifice your health for quick, easy delicious meals. We’ve gathered 10 of our favorite takeout options and highlighted menu items that are lighter and healthier. Sit back, relax and let the health and vitality get delivered to you for a small additional fee.
Mediterranean food includes healthy lean proteins such as fish, chicken, beef and lamb cooked with healthy fats like olive oil and served with rice and vegetables. Mediterranean food is a delicious healthy takeout option that’s available in most large metropolitan cities where takeout is popular.
There are less refined carbohydrates in Mediterranean food and less of an emphasis on hard liquor. The drink of choice is red wine and many foods are high in antioxidants which help stunt the activity of free radicals in the body that cause degeneration. A Mediterranean diet is also rich in fiber, slower to digest and helps you maintain steady blood sugar and a healthy weight.
Thai is generally considered a healthier alternative to sodium-filled, often-fried Chinese food and while there are more indulgent options on Thai menus, there are healthy takeout options as well. Sautéed vegetables, papaya salad and spring rolls are all healthy options that are available to order at many Thai restaurants and offer a lighter, healthier way to enjoy this country’s delicacies.
Summer rolls are steamed instead of fried, and when paired with a coconut milk-based soup or other broth-based soup you’ve got yourself a lighter meal that includes vegetables, lean proteins and enough sustenance to fill you up.
Japanese, on the whole, is healthy if you do it right. There’s fish, rice, vegetables and not a lot else so what could go wrong? As long as you’re not ordering the friend up tempura every time or covering your sushi in sugary sauce the rice and fish combo is a generally healthy takeout option all things considered.
Edamame is high in fiber, protein and very low in calories which makes a great start to the meal. Miso soup is made of fermented miso, a great addition to your diet for your digestive tract and may be great for weight loss in general.
Tuna rolls, California rolls and any rolls with real seafood where most of the calories come from the fish are good choices. Plus, avocado is a frequent addition in sushi rolls and another great source of healthy fat.
While Mexican food can be loaded with cheese, salt and saturated fats, it’s also got some light, healthy, protein-packed options you can try to enjoy the same spice without the extra calories. Options like chicken fajitas have a lot of vegetables and a lean protein option that’s hopefully not been doused with too many oils. Bean burritos are another healthy takeout option filled with fiber to fill you up and keep you satisfied for hours after the meal.
A few pro-tips — soft tacos are better for you than hard shell tacos and you can sub out sour cream for greek yogurt for a healthier, creamy alternative.
Indian food is a delicious takeout option that’s on the whole not terrible for you if you know how to order right. Healthy Indian options include the baked Tandoori chicken that gets its flavor from the delicate blend of spices and char of the oven rather than frying or heavy oil.
Turmeric is a frequently used spice in Indian cooking that’s anti-inflammatory and high in antioxidants, so look out for dishes where that’s a main ingredient. Many Indian dishes are also vegan and vegetarian friendly, relying less on meat and more on protein-rich plants like chickpeas, making this culinary style healthier than most.
While Italian food on the whole probably doesn’t come to mind when you think about healthy takeout options, there are healthy-ish options to order at an Italian restaurant that aren’t a greens salad with dressing on the side.
Minestrone soup is a rich, hearty Italian soup that’s often made with a blend of vegetables, beans, pasta and a delicious mix of spices. It’s got a ton of fiber and protein from the veggies, and all of the tomatoes make it a meal high in antioxidants. You can also ask for your pasta sauce on the side to cut back on the sugar content, or order meatballs and make your own zoodles at home to go along with them.
It goes without saying that subbing out meat for vegetables or plant-based protein here and there is not only good for you, but good for the environment as well. Don’t be fooled, however, vegetarian and plant-based meals can become high in carbs, sugar and salt despite seeming healthier than other options.
If you’re aiming to order from a vegetarian or vegan cafe, go for something with foods that are high in fiber like beans, lentils, broccoli and avocados. There’s a lot of protein in foods like tempeh, eggs, greek yogurt and chickpeas. If what you’ve order has a combo of these main ingredients, you’ve got yourself a winning meal.
Korean food on the whole contains some very healthy, well-balanced options. Bibimbap is one of the signature dishes that’s infiltrated the American food scene, which translates roughly to “mixed rice.” It’s a bowl of rice that includes a mix of vegetables topped with chili paste, fermented soybean paste and an egg. You can choose to add in sliced meats or leave it as is, making it a protein and vegetable-rich meal. The fermented paste adds a helpful digestive boost and the rice a starchy carb that’ll fill you up without being fried or filled with oil.
9. Puerto Rican
Puerto Rican food is another style of cuisine that’s relatively healthy and delicious, if you’ve got access to it. Many dishes consist of rice, chicken, tomatoes and a healthy dose of spices that add flavor. Plantains are also a starchy carb that tastes great fried, or you can swap out the fried ones for baked ones at home with a little olive oil and salt and pepper.
They also offer side dishes like Habicheulas Guisadas, beans seasoned with tomato sauce that are packed with fiber, protein and antioxidants from the tomatoes.
Ethiopian food is another fantastic healthy takeout option if you’re looking to try something new, different and delicious. Many of their dishes consist of curried stews, sautéed vegetables and a whole slew of spices that will delight and surprise your palate. Their traditional dish, Injera, is a spongey flatbread that absorbs flavor and acts as a serving dish and utensil all in one. The bread expands in your stomach, filling you up faster along with the many lentils, curried vegetables and lean meats of the meal. You use the bread and eat with your hands, a refreshing experience that’ll shake up your regular takeout routine and lighten your load of dishes afterwards.