With many Australians continuing to work longer hours and have busy schedules, a number of people find ordering takeaway meals quicker and easier than cooking food for themselves. While most takeaway foods tend to be high in fat, salt and sugar, there are some healthy alternatives for when you want to avoid the hassle of cooking.
Here are a few examples of different takeaway outlets and their healthier offerings.
Global takeaway outlets
It used to be that if you wanted to be healthy you weren’t able to set foot near a McDonald’s, but with nutrition awareness at an all-time high, McDonald’s has jumped on the bandwagon to provide a range of healthier alternatives to their standard burger and fries options. So next time your friends decide to hit Macca’s before a night out, you can join in guilt-free by choosing one of these options.
- The seared chicken tandoori wrap is tick-approved by the Australian Heart Foundation, as it meets their requirements for serving size, sodium, fibre and saturated fat. In fact, all of the Deli Choice chicken wraps are tick-approved by the Heart Foundation, so they make an excellent healthy alternative.
- If you desperately want a burger, choose an Angus burger with all of the salad and no cheese.
- If you’re making it a meal combo, opt for a side salad instead of fries and a bottle of water over a coke.
Although it has not embraced healthy options to the same extent as McDonald’s, there are still a couple of items on the KFC menu that won’t make you feel like you need to go on a diet for three weeks after eating there.
- The Original Recipe fillet burger is a reasonable serving size and only has 4.5g of saturated fat per serve, as well as less sodium than other offerings.
- Instead of chips, choose a mixture of healthier sides including coleslaw and a plain dinner roll.
Considered by many to be the McDonald’s copycat, Hungry Jacks has been dropping the ball recently with adding healthier alternatives to their menu. However, there are a couple of options to consider.
- The Whopper Junior is a small burger with some salad in it – consider ordering it without cheese to reduce your saturated fat and kilojoule intake.
- For children, the Smart Picks Kids Meal includes a hamburger, water and rice bar.
- When ordering a hamburger, we recommend you substitute those greasy potato fries with a filling side salad.
As far as takeaway outlets go, Red Rooster is better than most. With roasted chicken as the main feature and a range of healthy sides to choose over fries, you can almost always find something delicious without skyrocketing your daily calorie intake.
- The free range D’Lish burger from Red Rooster features a Low-GI sourdough bun and skinless chicken breast. It also has sweet onion relish, tomato, lettuce, and avocado for a scrumptious meal that won’t raise your calorie intake too much.
- The D’Lish range also includes skin-free chicken wraps and salads, all of which are a good choice.
- The Classic Roast is a quarter roasted chicken with sides of carrot, pumpkin, potato, peas and gravy, for the healthiest alternative, we recommend avoiding the chicken skin and not having gravy.
The biggest downside to Subway is most meals are served on bread, which isn’t great for those who are trying to limit their carbohydrate intake. However, some breads are definitely better than others, so as long as you choose the right type you shouldn’t feel too bad about eating subway for your next takeaway.
- The 6-inch honey oat bread or multigrain bread with roasted chicken is low in fat and can be an excellent choice if you avoid the calorie-loaded sauces and dressings they tend to use.
- Subway now offers an option to get everything inside the sub in a bowl, leaving out the bread entirely. This is a great option to significant reduce your carbohydrate intake.
- When buying the other low-fat 6-in subs, choose one with lean meat, more salad ingredients, and the honey oat or multigrain bread.
For those who can’t bear the thought of giving up Oporto’s chicken when choosing healthier alternatives for takeaway, we have good news! There are a few items from Oporto’s that can be considered healthy for takeaway.
- The single fillet Bondi burger is low in fat, kilojoules and sodium, and is also delicious for an on-the-run snack.
- You can also opt for the Fresco salad, which is a healthier option than most of the burgers, even with its dressing.
It’s Friday night, a few friends are coming over and it’s time to order the food. You’ve been trying hard all week to eat healthy, but you know your friends are expecting pizza - sudden panic! But don’t worry, there are some healthy options available when getting Domino’s.
- The low-fat and low-GI Penne pasta has roasted chicken, mushroom and vine-ripened tomato. It offers a standard serve of less than 1700kJ and 20.6g of protein.
- If the only thing you’re craving is a pizza, then opt for thin crust, chicken or seafood (avoid processed meats like pepperoni and bacon), and add a bunch of veggies to fill you up.
- The Good Choice range also has some delicious options that are all designed to have a lower kilojoule count.
Ethnic takeaway outlets
Japanese has become a popular cuisine in recent years, particularly for their sushi and sashimi. While on the lower end of the calorie scale compared to other takeaway options, you still have to be careful with amount of rice and sodium you are consuming.
Sushi and sashimi are both low in fat and calories, and are served in convenient small portions. Choose those with seaweed, brown rice, salmon, tuna, veggies, tofu or avocado.
- Only add little bit of soy sauce to reduce the amount of sodium you’re eating.
- For sides, order seaweed salad, steamed vegetables or edamame beans.
- And most importantly, avoid anything that contains the word tempura.
Chinese is a huge favourite with those who regularly have takeaway as it makes the perfect leftover lunch the next day. However, there are definitely some food choices that are better than others when it comes to this delicious Asian cuisine.
- A dish with steamed whole fish, steamed rice and pak choi (Chinese cabbage) is a nutritionally balanced meal.
- You can also eat steamed dumplings, wonton soup, hot and sour soup, and stir-fry meals with seasonable vegetables and beef, lemongrass chilli chicken or king prawns.
- For starters, order noodle or vegetable-based soups (e.g. chow mein, chop suey) and steamed buns or wontons.
- Try to avoid anything that has been deep-fried (e.g. spring rolls, prawn toast), and anything that has very sweet or rich sauces, as they’re likely to be high in sugar, sodium and fat.
Most Thai options are much healthier than other takeaway options, but you still have to be careful of the sauces that are being used.
- The Thai beef salad has fresh salad, lean beef and steamed noodles, which means it’s low-fat, high in fibre and tasty.
- Other healthy and tasty alternatives include jungle curries, salads, soups (e.g. Tom Yum soup, hot and sour prawn soup), and stir-fry meals with plain veggies, fresh tofu or prawn.
- Also look for dishes with cashew chicken, seafood, steamed or grilled meats, fresh veggies, lime, basil, lemongrass and chilli.
If you’re in the mood for some spices and perhaps a frozen margarita or two, Mexican is the way to go. Here’s how to make it healthy:
- The naked burrito includes the meat and salad filling but not the tortilla, making it a nutritious low-calorie meal.
- You can also buy a vegetarian burrito with no rice for less carbohydrates.
- When ordering tacos, choose soft tacos over hard tacos and add plenty of salad ingredients and/or beans.
Unfortunately the majority of foods which make Italian such a delicious cuisine are loaded with carbohydrates and rich sauces. We’re thinking of lasagne, manicotti, pizza, and spaghetti carbonara. However, by making a few smart choices you can still enjoy your love affair with Italian food.
- Whole-wheat pasta with tomato-based sauces (e.g. marinara, napolitana, bolognaise), chicken or seafood topping, and lots of vegetables are low-fat and low-GI.
- Other healthier options include minestrone soup, chicken Marsala with veggies, and vegetarian pizza (e.g. Nove, Pesto).
- When ordering pizza, get one with a thin, crispy base, tomato-based sauce, chicken, pineapple, veggie, or seafood topping.
- Don’t forget to add a side salad instead of garlic bread.
With Lebanese cuisine rising in popularity around Australia, there is an increasing number of takeaway places offering kebabs and pides popping up. Kebabs have also proven to be a particular late night favourite with those who have been out on the town, so here are some healthy choices to avoid adding more calories to your day.
- The Lebanese mixed plate offers less than 15g of fat per serve and consists of tabouli, falafel, kafta, lamb/chicken skewers and cabbage rolls.
- By adding more vegetables and salad replacing the rich meats and breads present in Lebanese food, you can reduce your fat and calorie intake fairly easily.
Primarily a curry-based cuisine, Indian dishes are packed with spices and flavours, making it a feast for the senses. However, some of these curries have hidden surprises in nutritional values, so here are the healthy options to choose when having Indian for takeout.
- The tandoori chicken pieces have a lot of protein and aren’t fried. Consider adding a side of aloo gobi vegetables for a spicy, tasty and low-calorie takeaway meal. You can also order tandoori lamb pieces.
- Other healthier options include grilled chicken tikka skewers, yogurt-based dishes, dry curries (e.g. vindaloo, madras) and vegetable/lentil dahl soup.
- Remember, choose oven-baked or grilled ingredients, plain steamed rice, and a side dish of roti bread (which is whole-wheat bread) over naan bread.
Aussie take-away meals are typically a mix of protein, carbohydrates and vegetables, and will include items like burgers, pies and fish & chips.
- Choose barbecued or grilled lean meats, skinless chicken, grilled fish rich in omega-3 (e.g. tuna, salmon and mackerel) and a side of fresh salad or steamed veggies.
- For burgers, why not order a burger without the bun for fewer carbohydrates, or opt for a steak salad sandwich over something like a chicken schnitzel.
- When ordering fish and chips, the healthiest option is grilled fish and a small fries. You can also find salads at a fish and chip shop, so consider buying a green salad with a side dressing instead of chips.
So there you have it, a range of healthier take-away meals to choose from to satisfy your cravings when you’re busy and on the go. Remember to read the menu carefully to see where any hidden calories may be tucked away, and always opt for a salad over chips.