With many of us still working from home and staying in on weekends, clicking on a food delivery app to browse through the options has become an all-too-familiar scene before mealtimes.
We may have the time to cook more at home, but it is honestly still much more convenient to dabao meals or to get food delivered straight to your doorstep.
Foods that look great on the menu may not always be the healthiest options as they can be high in fat, salt and sugar. It is also easy to fall back on fast food when you run out of ideas on what to eat.
However, this doesn’t mean that you should only eat homecooked meals if you want to improve your diet.
Here are nine ways to make healthier choices when you order food delivery or takeaways.
1. Don’t order when you are starving, tired or stressed
Don’t reach for your phone or head out to buy food only when you hear your stomach growling. When you are famished, everything will look good and you may end up ordering more side-dishes or desserts to satisfy your hunger.
Looking at food when you are tired or stressed can also lead to you choosing comfort food that will cheer you up instead of healthier options. One tip is to plan and order your meals in advance so that you won’t be tempted to add on extra treats.
2. Watch your portionsPHOTO: Pexels
When you eat straight from the container after getting your food, it can be difficult to tell how big the portion really is and you may eat more than usual. Avoid this by transferring your food to a plate or bowl before tucking in so that you can gauge the appropriate portion size for yourself.
You can share the remaining food with your family or keep it for the next meal.
3. Choose grilled and steamed options whenever they are availablePHOTO: Pexels
While it’s deeply satisfying to have a treat like crispy Korean fried chicken once in a while, you don’t have to eat it all the time. Instead, avoid oily fried food whenever you can and select the healthier grilled or steamed options. Not only will your body will thank you, your skin will thank you too.
4. Choose your pizzas wiselyPHOTO: Pexels
Pizzas are a popular option for takeaways or deliveries, but it’s no secret that they can be high in calories and carb-heavy. Minimise the carbs by opting for pizzas with thin crusts instead of thick doughy crusts.
Meat pizzas tend to be higher in saturated fat and sodium due to the heavy usage of salami, ham and bacon, so go for seafood, chicken or vegetarian flavours.
Also, choose tomato-based sauces instead of creamy sauces as much as possible and sprinkle lesser cheese. To make your meal healthier, ditch the greasy wedges and cheesy garlic bread for a salad side to get more greens.
5. Eat Japanese foodPHOTO: Pexels
Japanese food is not only tasty, it is also a healthier takeaway option. Pick up nutritionally balanced bento sets that have a mix of carbs, proteins and good fats, or eat highly-nutritious tuna and salmon sushi or sashimi that are rich in Omega-3 fatty acids.
However, eat lesser of the deep-fried foods like chicken karaage (fried chicken), tonkatsu (fried pork cutlet) and gyoza (pan-fried dumplings) which are calorie-laden and high in salt content.
6. You can also go for Vietnamese foodPHOTO: Unsplash
Besides Japanese food, Vietnamese food is also known to be healthy and flavourful and is another great takeaway option. A good bowl of pho is both delicious and a well-balanced meal thanks to the accompanying fresh vegetables and herbs and spices like basil and coriander.
Fresh rice paper rolls, a staple Vietnamese food, are also the perfect add-on to your meal. Traditionally filled with raw vegetables, prawns, rice noodles and meat, these rolls are not only light and refreshing, they also pack a whole lot of flavour and are much healthier than deep-fried spring rolls.
7. Don’t get a meal or upsize if you order fast food
On days when you are craving for fast food, try to avoid getting a meal combo. Although it may seem more bang for your buck to get a burger with fries and a soft drink on the side, the additions mean that you will consume more calories.
If you do get a meal combo, stick to the original portion and refrain from upsizing it or you may end up busting your calorie budget!
8. Choose healthier saladsPHOTO: Unsplash
Although a salad seems like the healthiest food you can order, the wrong ingredients or salad dressings will add on unwanted fats, sugars and extra calories.
To create a healthy salad, choose dressings like olive oil, vinaigrette, or balsamic and avoid creamy Caesar or thousand island dressings which contain extra saturated fat.
Request for the dressings to be put on the side so that you can decide how much to add to your salad.
Also, make sure that your salad is balanced — a quarter of it should be chicken, meat or eggs, another quarter should be carbohydrates such as noodles, potato, bread or rice, and half of the salad should be filled with vegetables such as capsicums, mushrooms or greens.
Finally, stay away from unhealthy toppings such as croutons or have them in moderation.
9. Track your calories
Keeping track of the calories you consume can also help you to find out how much calories your favourite restaurant or hawker dishes contain. This will enable you to make better choices the next time you order your food. To start logging calories, download a meal tracker app.
This may even be the beginning of your weight loss journey!