Craving the convenience of takeaway but don’t want to be unhealthy? Leading dietitian Susie Burrell may have the answer.
With an ever-growing range of meal delivery options, and more of us working longer hours, is it any wonder we find ourselves resorting to take away and home-delivered meal options more than ever?
The main issue, nutritionally, with meals we order online is they contain roughly double the calories of meals we prepare at home.
There are a number of reasons for this — more fats used in cooking, large portions of calorie-dense foods such as rice, noodles and pasta, and more carbs at the expense of low-calorie veggies are just some of the factors contributing to the higher-calorie loads of fast and takeaway foods.
So if you are in a pickle and need to order in, but really would like to keep your order as calorie-controlled and healthy as possible, what can you learn from a dietitian when it comes to their favourite orders from meal delivery services?
Of all cuisines available online, Japanese wins hands-down when it comes to the best options, nutritionally. Whilst your bill may be a lot higher, a meal mix of sushi, sashimi, vegetable salads and teriyaki meats and vegetables are all relatively low-calorie options with minimal added fats and oils.
Skip the fried tempura if you can and indulge in popular sides including seaweed salad and edamame to bulk your meal up with plenty of nutrient-rich vegetables and fibre.
Typical order = Mixed Sashimi plate with Seaweed Salad and Edamame
A surprising inclusion, the good thing about Mexican is that you can choose pretty healthy options from the menu that control both carbs and fat — naked burrito bowls, tacos and even burritos can all be relatively good choices nutritionally, especially when you go easy on the high-fat sides, including avo, cheese and sour cream.
Typical order = Naked Burrito Bowl — no rice but extra vegetables
3. Chicken and salad
There are plenty barbecue chicken options online and the biggest issue with this is the deep-fried chips that tend to accompany the order —especially when the oil used for frying is not always the best quality.
On the other hand, there are far worst options nutritionally than barbecue chook (especially if you stick with the breast meat) and a side of Greek salad or roasted vegetables.
Another bonus with buying a chicken is that any leftovers can be used for sandwiches the next day —just be sure to keep the chicken heated at home and then refrigerate any leftovers as soon as possible after consumption.
Typical order = BBQ chicken with Greek salad and Coleslaw
Thai food is often considered healthy when it comes to take away options thanks to its bright colours and veggie-rich meals, but keep in mind that a lot of the Thai menu is actually fried noodles and high-fat curry along with plenty of white rice.
If you stick with the order of a plain stir fry with lean meat or seafood and minimal rice, you could get away with a reasonably healthy order.
Typical order = Prawn and Vege Stir Fry
5. Lebanese plate
Now we’re not talking a jumbo kebab packed full of cheese and meat, but rather Lebanese cuisine offers an array of platters of meat and salads, which equate to a relatively balanced meal.
Tabouli, fattoush and picked vegetables are all great choices nutritionally and while the traditional hummus and baba ganoush dips can be high in calories, when used in controlled amounts can still add much flavour and nutrition to your order. You just need to be careful of the extra chips and Lebanese bread that can slip in when ordering Lebanese platters, and stick to the lean meats and vegetables where you can.
Typical order = Lamb or Chicken Kebabs with Fattoush Salad
Author Susie Burrell is a leading Australian dietitian and nutritionist, founder of Shape Me, and prominent media spokesperson, with regular appearances in both print and television media commenting on all areas of diet, weight loss and nutrition.
For a daily dose of 9Honey, sign up here to receive our top stories straight to your inbox