Cooking at home is typically healthier (and cheaper) than eating out. But occasionally there will be days when it’s much easier to order in than cook yourself. With a little bit of planning it’s possible to put together a healthy, balanced meal from your favorite takeout place. Here are my picks for what to order and what to avoid.


Choose: Look for dishes that are grilled or sauteed, like chicken or beef and broccoli or ginger chicken. Ask for sauce on the side and pair it with brown rice for some extra fiber, sticking to just half a cup. A fan of the fried dishes? Eat one-third of the meal and add a side of steamed vegetables.


Choose: Opt for a thin crust pizza, avoiding greasy toppings like pepperoni or sausage and extra cheese. Your best topping bets: fresh or grilled veggies. Stick to two slices and pair the pizza with a side salad to help fill you up with fiber and nutrients.


Choose: Make a meal from the small plates. Try papaya salad, a summer roll and a chicken satay skewer with a tablespoon or two of peanut satay sauce. This will provide fresh, not fried, ingredients along with fiber, protein and healthy fat.


Choose: Six rolls made with brown rice and featuring salmon and tuna, the fish with the most omega-3 fats. Skip “crunchy” or tempura rolls and rolls with mayo or creamy sauce. Pair the roll with a side of edamame or seaweed salad and miso soup. If you’re still hungry, have a few pieces of sashimi for more protein.


Choose: Opt for a main dish with lean protein and veggies, like chicken marsala or a grilled salmon. If you’re dining with a friend, split a pasta dish and a protein dish for the best of both worlds. Or build a meal from the appetizer section, such as roasted asparagus, meatballs and a garden salad. Click here for a few more tips.


Choose: Chicken or beef tikka or tandoori meats are your best bet. The meat is marinated in yogurt and spices, for a meal full of protein without too much fat. Pair it with a side of brown rice or basmati rice, which is more filling than white varieties. Skip coconut-based dishes which pack a lot more fat and calories.


Choose: Chicken or vegetable fajitas are one of the healthiest options at Mexican places, pairing lean meat with veggies and tortillas. Ask for whole wheat tortillas for extra fiber. You can also try a bean and veggie burrito, getting it with the cheese and sour cream on the side so you can control the amount. Avoid deep-fried dishes like nachos, taquitos or taco shells.

What are your fast food swaps? Share them with us in the comment section!

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