Takeout Hacks & Tips: How to Order Healthy, Stay Safe, and Give Back

Apr 22 2020
Question@2x Hi Hungry Girl,

I’ve been ordering more takeout so I can take fewer trips to the grocery store… and frankly, because I’m sick of cooking every meal! I could use some ordering advice to keep my daily calories in check. Also, is there anything I should know about food safety during the pandemic?

Please Don't Make Me Cook Again Right Now
Answer@2x Hey PDMMCARN,

It’s funny… Usually, I dine out or order in several times a week, but these days I’m really enjoying making food at home! That said, it’s completely possible to make smart choices when it comes to restaurant food. Here are some of my top tips, plus advice from infectious disease specialist (and my pal) Dr. Stephen C. Threlkeld, MD…

Don't Skip the Soup & Appetizers

I’ve cited this again and again, but it bears repeating… Studies have shown that starting a meal with a broth-based soup can reduce your overall calorie intake -- it helps you feel fuller faster and eat less overall! Go ahead and check your pantry for soup before you order… Then you can take the edge off your hunger while you wait for the food to arrive. Other smart starters: shrimp cocktail, a side salad, and steamed clams or mussels.

Go for Simple Protein + Veggie Combos

When I look at a menu, I basically ignore sections like Sandwiches, Pasta, and Pizza. Instead, I look for meals built around lean protein: chicken, fish… even a lean cut of steak. I’ll usually request double veggies rather than starchy sides. And I get all my sauces on the side. Watch out for terms like fried, crispy, and creamy… Go for things that are grilled, steamed, baked, or broiled.

Order Salads Selectively

Contrary to what you might think, restaurant salads are often overloaded with calories. That’s due to heavy toppings (and too many and too much of them): dressing, cheese, nuts, crunchy add-ons, and more. But the good news is that they're easy to customize. Choose a salad with lean protein -- like the kinds I mentioned above -- and plenty of fresh veggies. Get the dressing on the side and use it sparingly, or use your own. (I’ll usually skip it altogether or use salsa instead.) Then request that they leave off some of those fatty toppings… Who needs ‘em?

Wipe Down Food Containers & Wash Your Hands

On to food safety. I recently talked to Dr. Steve on the Hungry Girl podcast about how to stay safe during the coronavirus outbreak. He said the risk of contracting the virus from food is very low -- COVID-19 is not a food-borne illness -- but there are smart precautions you can take to be extra safe. Wipe down the outsides of containers with disinfectant, to get rid of any germs from the last person who handled them. Then wash your hands thoroughly, and transfer the food to your own bowl or plate. If the food is something you eat hot, you can reheat it to kill off any lingering contaminants.

Support Local Businesses

Independent restaurants are being hit hard during this period of people staying at home, so if you want to support your favorite eatery, place a delivery or carry-out order with them. I drove three towns over to get sushi from my beloved Japanese spot as soon as Dr. Steve said it was safe to do so! You can also buy a few gift cards to use when things go back to normal.

Tip Generously if Possible

While most of us are safe at home, restaurant workers and delivery folks are hard at work and braving the current environment. If your finances allow, show them some extra appreciation in the form of a larger-than-usual tip. By the way, if anyone reading this is an essential worker, I just want to say THANK YOU for doing what you do. We all really appreciate it!

Avoid Safe-at-Home Weight Gain with Help from Hungry Girl

We could all use a little extra motivation to stay healthy right now, and the latest episode of Hungry Girl: Chew the Right Thing! has it in SPADES. Lisa, Mikey, and Jamie answer top questions from fans about how to stay on track during the quarantine. Tune in for…

⭑ a never-fail formula for easy dinner recipes
⭑ how to put an end to all-day snacking
⭑ encouragement and support
… and so much more!

LISTEN NOW! And subscribe so you never miss an episode.
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Chew on this:

It’s April 22nd, National Jelly Bean Day. You can have 25 Jelly Belly beans for 100 calories -- not bad for a sweet-tooth fix!

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