Eating out or getting takeaway doesn’t have to be a no-no, there are many options that you can have without missing out. Even if you are looking for plant-based options or trying to find more nutritious (and less calorie dense) options there are lots of ways to make simple swaps or to be able to eat out with ease!
Here are some simple tips to make healthier choices when eating out.
Pub meals are notoriously big, so entrees or mix and match sides can sometimes be a good option if there’s lots of variety. Most pubs now days have at least one vegan option or a few vegetarian options that can be easily modified to be made vegan. I would always recommend asking a chef, or a knowledgable member of staff for your best options, they're normally super helpful!
For main meals swap the chips for a side of salad or vegies. (Check how they cook their veggies too - sometimes can be cooked in butter, cream sauces etc.) A good salad is normally present on pub menus, and you can easily take the meat off. Just be aware of the sauces or dressings – if unsure, just ask for it on the side. Try and avoid all the deep fried and dense things and swap out those creamy sauces or gravy for tomato sauce or a vinaigrette. Soups can be an option in the cooler months, salads, stir-fry and pasta are normally items that they make to order, so it is usually quite easy to modify those to suit.
There are some great takeaway options these days that don’t adhere to the deep-fried, junk food stereotype. Places like Chinese, Indian and Thai are easy to choose healthier options, just try and stay away from the deep fried items and the sauces that are high in sugar like Sweet & Sour or Barbecue Sauce.
Steamed vegetables with your choice of sauce is the best choice for mains. Ask for extra vegetables instead of oily noodles or rice if you're trying to keep your calories lower. Try a simple sauce like Soy, Hoisin or Black Bean or ask for the sauce on the side and just use a little. Tofu dishes (like garlic tofu, cashew tofu) are great options too and they should be able to substitute tofu instead of any of the meats in their other dishes. Hot and sour soup may be a good option - just check the ingredients. Other items like vegetable spring rolls, vegetable fried rice, vegetable steamed dumplings are also good plant based options at Chinese restaurants. If you're unsure of ingredients though - always remember to ask!
Thai food is usually a really healthy option and super easy to find plant-based options! A lot of Thai restaurants in Australia list the type of curry/stirfry and then you choose the type. Eg. Sir-fry with ginger - then you can choose Vegetables and Tofu, Seafood, Duck, Beef etc. This makes it super easy to adjust it to your liking but again, try and steer clear of the sugary sauces like sweet and sour or some satays.
Go with a Thai salad or a stir-fry with lots of vegetables, stir-fry, soup or anything with loads of veggies is a good option. They can normally adjust favourite dishes like Pad Thai or Pad See Ew is another good option, just remove the eggs and check if they use fish sauce. Other plant-based options on the menus are spring rolls, coconut rice, vegetable fried rice and samosas.
Some curries are good, nutritious options. Try tomato based curry with lots of vegetables or a Dhal instead. There are so many options like Mushroom Tikka Masalas, Vegetale Curries like Biryani, Potato or Chickpea based curries like Chana Masala. Ask for extra veggies to bulk up your meal and share a portion of rice between the table (most of your plate being made up from the curries) and then go easy on the naan breads and poppadums. There are plant based options like samosas, vegetable pakoras and onion bajis can all be made vegan (and they're delicious!) Just be aware they are deep fried - so these are great starters to share. Keep an eye out for words like paneer (a high fat cheese), ghee (clarified butter) and malai (cream.) Instead, opt for mango chutney for a plant based option.
General takeaway (fish & chips, food courts, takeaway shops etc)
Sometimes these places can feel like a minefield to negotiate when you’re looking for healthy options... but we promise you there are options there!
In takeaway or fish and chip shops, try a veggie burger – minus the cheese, but add in all the extra salad ingredients you want, like beetroot and pineapple.
Food courts are mostly up with the times, having places like Sumo Salad, Juice and Sandwich bars, sushi or other healthy options. Most of the bigger chain takeaway stores are now coming to the party and offering more wholesome food and more plant based options too! Places like Guzman Y Gomez, Salsa's, Hungry Jacks, Crust, Domino's, Grill'd, Hog's Breath, Lord of The Fries, Oliver's and Subway all have a crazy amount of options! But if you get stuck without these try a fruit salad, steamed vegie dumplings, sushi, rice paper rolls, a wrap or a salad sandwich.
Hope this helps make eating out or eating on the go a little bit easier! If you would like some more specific examples... drop a comment below! I would love to show you what's available at certain places!