As dietitians, we love to encourage homemade meals and snacks as much as possible, but we’re also realistic. We know that sometimes life gets busy, meal prep gets missed and a trip to the food court is inevitable. Meals out are often higher in energy and fat than a home-cooked option, but that’s not always the case if you know what to look out for in a healthy takeaway meal! Here are our tips for choosing the best healthy food court options.
What is the healthiest food court option?
In general, you can’t go wrong if the meal contains lots of vegetables and a source of lean protein. Here are our best healthy takeaway options to guide your choices in the food court.
1. Sandwiches or wraps with at least 3 types of salad ingredients, lean protein and a whole grain bread or sourdough
2. Salads are also an easy healthy option – choose lean protein such as grilled chicken or salmon, balsamic or vinaigrette based dressings instead of creamy dressings
3. Grilled fish can be chosen from fish and chip shops with a side of salad
4. Baked potato with bean filling and salads, no sour cream
5. Poke bowls with tofu, salmon or grilled chicken
6. Burrito bowls, a half serving of brown rice with extra salads, no sour cream
7. Stir-fried dishes with lean protein, vegetables and brown rice
8. Vietnamese rice paper rolls with chicken or tofu
9. Tabbouli and bean dishes
10. Greek mezze platter with chicken and Greek salad
11. Eggs on wholegrain toast with sautéed vegetables or a vegetable omelette
12. Sushi occasionally – sushi options are often high carb but low protein and low in vegetables. Choose a sushi roll with a side of edamame and sashimi. Choose sushi fillings that are tuna, salmon or chicken rather than tempura
13. Ramen or udon dishes occasionally. While ingredients like miso may have nutritional benefit, these are often high-fat meals with little amounts of vegetables. Try to order vegetables such as edamame on the side
14. Bento box with grilled chicken or salmon, limit tempura options
What food court meals should you limit?
1. Deep-fried foods, such as hot chips
2. Kebabs and burgers
3. Noodle dishes or rice dishes such as curry that have few vegetables
4. Creamy salad dressings such as Caesar dressing
5. Yoghurts and smoothies as these are often higher sugar and higher fat than a homemade version
6. Soft drinks or juices with meals