If you find yourself relying on fast food and takeout due to lack of time or energy, you’re not alone! Maybe meal prep wasn’t in the cards this week — if so, ordering out might be a quick and convenient backup plan. The good news is that takeout doesn’t have to put a damper on your health and wellness goals! There are always ways to find healthy menu items — even at those “unhealthy” restaurants! It’s all about navigating the menu, knowing what to order, and being mindful of the ingredients. Ahead, we’re sharing the healthiest menu items at popular chain restaurants so you can navigate the menu with ease!
Rolled & Steel-Cut Oatmeal with Blueberries
Made with whole-grain oatmeal, mixed nuts, and antioxidant-rich blueberries, this breakfast bowl is a healthy option that’s rich in fiber and protein yet low in sugar. Want to make it even healthier? Skip the naturally sweetened agave and stick with the natural sugar from fruit. You can even top it off with a sprinkle of cinnamon for an extra kick!
Protein Bistro Box
Packed with protein-rich foods like hard-boiled eggs, cheddar cheese, peanut butter, and chicken breast, a Protein Bistro Box from Starbucks is definitely the way to go if you’re looking for the healthiest menu option! With light or hearty options, have your pick at a grab-and-go snack or meal!
Grilled Chicken and Hummus Protein Box: Chicken breast, Red Pepper Hummus, Nann, Fresh Peas & Carrots. 300 calories, 22 grams of protein, 6 grams of sugar
Eggs & Cheddar Protein Box: Hard-boiled Eggs, Fresh Apples, and Grapes, Muesli Bread, Cheddar Cheese, Peanut Butter 470 calories, 23 grams of protein, 21 grams of sugar
Chickpea Bites & Avocado Protein Box: Chickpea bites, Avocado Dip, Dried Fruit and Nuts Mix, Fresh Carrots & Snap Peas 560 calories, 15 grams of protein, 7 grams of sugar
Quinoa & Chicken Protein Bowl with Black Beans and Greens
This healthy and hearty salad bowl contains just over 400 calories, 27 grams of filling protein, an impressive 8 grams of fiber, and a mix of clean carbs. With ingredients like black beans, quinoa, and chicken breast, stay satisfied, satiated, and energized!
Grab & Go Snacks
Looking for a quick snack that won’t derail your goals? Good news — there are plenty of healthy takeout menu items to choose from!
- That’s It Bars
- Rhythm Superfoods Kale Chips
- Squirrel Brand Classic Almonds
- Hippeas White Cheddar
- Avocado Spread
- String Cheese
- Fresh fruit
RELATED: The Healthiest Things You Can Order at Starbucks
Avocado, Egg White & Spinach Sandwich
Made on a flat bagel, this menu option has 20 fewer carbs than Panera’s traditional bagels. The best part? It’s made with sprouted grains! Therefore, it’s easier to digest and contains more bioavailable nutrients. With 21 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber, feel good indulging in this creamy avocado-filled Egg and Spinach Sandwich.
Ten Vegetable Soup
Healthy comfort food that’s delicious and nutritious. This 10 Veggie Soup at Panera is only 100 calories per 1 ½ cups making it a light and comforting choice. It’s full of fiber and loaded with nutritious veggies like tomatoes, peppers, onion, carrots, celery, and spinach. Pair it with a half sandwich for a heartier lunch option!
Half Turkey Sandwich
A classic that never disappoints. A half turkey Panera sandwich contains 18 grams of protein and less than 300 calories. Made with oven-roasted turkey, tomatoes, lettuce greens, red onions, mayo, and spicy mustard for a nourishing combo. To make it even healthier, opt for sprouted bread and swap the mayo for sliced avocado!
Green Goddess Chicken Cobb Salad
21 grams of protein, less than 300 calories, and loaded with protein and veggies. This filling and flavorful salad is made with mixed greens, avocado, chicken, hard-boiled egg, and fresh veggies like tomatoes and red onion. Swap the dressing for creamy avocado or a balsamic drizzle to save on calories without skimping on taste!
All the flavor of your favorite burrito with a fraction of the calories! This protein-packed bowl skips the tortilla, saving you both carbs and calories. It’s low in sugar, high in fiber and protein, and, of course, tasty as ever. With healthy fats, complex carbs, and lean protein, it’s a balanced and nutritious menu option!
Here’s the healthiest way to order it: chicken, one serving of black beans, one serving of fajita vegetables, lettuce, a serving of salsa, and half a serving of guac.
Good news — Chipotle has pre-designed menu items to accommodate a variety of meal plans with options for Keto, Paleo, High Protein, Whole 30, Vegetarian, and Vegan diets! Packed with nutrients and made with feel-good food, these Lifestyle Bowls are designed to fit your lifestyle and make ordering a breeze.
Keto Lifestyle Bowl: This low-carb bowl contains just 17 grams of carbs and is full of ingredients like super greens, lean chicken or steak, tomatillo-red chili salsa, freshly shredded cheese, and guac.
Paleo Lifestyle Bowl: 36 grams of protein, 100% of your daily Vitamin C needs, and whole foods. This Paleo bowl is made with fresh lettuce, chicken, fajita veggies, tomatillo-green salsa, and guac.
Whole 30 Lifestyle Bowl: Created with Melissa Urban, Whole 30 co-founder, this bowl focuses on wholesome foods like lettuce, chicken and fajita veggies, fresh tomato salsa, and guac. Have your pick at protein with options for chicken, carnitas, or Plant-Based Chorizo.
Vegetarian Lifestyle Bowl: With 30 grams of plant-powered protein and 90% of your daily Vitamin C needs, this bowl is bursting with nutrients. Made with a super greens lettuce blend, pinto beans, Plant-Based Chorizo, fresh tomato salsa, fajita veggies, and cheese. Sub guac for the chorizo or keep it totally plant-based by leaving out the cheese!
Vegan Lifestyle Bowl: Made with 100% plant-powered nutrients and an impressive 31 grams of plant-based protein. This vegan bowl is filled with Plant-Based Chorizo, cilantro-lime brown rice, black beans, tomato and corn salsa, and shredded romaine. To keep it lighter, skip the corn salsa and ask for a lighter serving of rice!
High Protein Lifestyle Bowl: A whopping 71 grams of protein per bowl! Made with cilantro-lime rice, black beans, chicken and steak, tomatillo-red salsa, shredded cheese, and lettuce. While it’s full of nutrients, be mindful that this bowl packs a punch in carbs and calories, too. Modify it by skipping the cheese and swapping the white rice for brown rice. Or, enjoy half and save the rest for an easy dinner or no-fuss lunch!
The best way to keep it healthy? Build your own salad! This allows you to build a balanced meal and customize your order with ease. Ahead, our top tips on how to order the healthiest menu items. P.S. The same principles apply for building a burrito bowl, too!
Start with the greens: Start with a base of superfood lettuce greens. If you’re adding rice, opt for brown over white and ask for a lighter portion!
Focus on the veggies: Fill your plate with fajitas veggies. They’re rich in nutrients and only 20 calories per serving!
Make it protein-packed: Add a serving of lean protein such as grilled chicken or steak. If you’re plant-based, you can choose the Plant-Based Chorizo.
Go light on sides and sauces: Skip the calorie-heavy sides and sauces like sour cream, queso blanco, corn salsa, honey vinaigrette, and shredded cheese. Instead, choose lighter options like fresh tomato salsa and tomatillo-green or red salsa. Guac is a nutritious choice too, but try asking for a half-serving!
Natural Turkey Wrap
Order the Natural Turkey Sub on a whole wheat wrap. Want to make it even healthier? Simply skipping the cheese will save you an added 125 calories. As for their olive oil blend? It may sound healthy but, beware — according to their menu, it’s actually a blend of canola and olive oil. Plus, it comes with 250 calories. Swap it out for a side of avocado — you’ll avoid the refined oils and save on calories! Plus avocado is extra creamy and just as flavorful!
While not a specific menu item, all of the subs at Jersey Mike’s can be ordered as a “sub-in-a-tub” meaning they come in a bowl, bread-free. Opting for this option will save you a hefty 290 calories! This is great for Keto or Paleo dieters. And, with the amount of lettuce added to your bowl, you can think of this healthy menu item as the Jersey Mike’s version of a salad! But, beware of dressing and sides. Stick to a vinaigrette over their olive oil or cream-based dressings, and keep it light on the cheese.
California Dreamin’ Cold Sub
This yummy California blend is made with lean turkey, guacamole, and fresh veggies like lettuce, tomatoes, and onions. Swap the roll for a whole wheat wrap or opt for a “mini-sized” order on a whole wheat roll. P.S. you can order a mini-sized sub for any menu item, too! And since this tasty blend is already made with a blend of creamy guacamole, you can skip the oil blend and save 250 calories. Consider going cheese-free to keep it lighter! If you’re looking for a lower-carb meal, order this classic in the aforementioned sub-in-a-tub — without bread, it contains 22 grams of protein and just 5 net carbs!
Grilled Chicken Nuggets
Grilled to perfection with a simple seasoning of lemon, garlic, salt, and herbs, the eight-count Grilled Chicken Nuggets at Chick-fil-A boasts an impressive 25 grams of protein with less than 150 calories. It’s full of flavor, low in fat, and makes a delicious healthy lunch option! Pair it with a side salad for a balanced meal.
Grilled Market Salad
The Grilled Market Salad is full of fresh flavor and good-for-you nutrients like mixed greens, roasted nuts, and antioxidant-rich strawberries, blueberries, and apples. The best part? It’s easy to customize based on your preferences and dietary needs. Top it with grilled chicken for lean protein or skip the blue cheese and make it vegan! To save on calories, opt out of the granola topping and choose a light balsamic dressing.
Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich
Made with boneless skinless chicken breast marinated in a zesty lemon-herb dressing. Including the bun, this juicy grilled sandwich is less than 400 calories and is packed with 29 grams of protein. If you’re trying to keep it low-carb, simply skip the bun and fill up on lean protein and fresh veggies like tomatoes, lettuce, and onion!
Give Your Favorite Takeout Menu a Healthy Twist
With a little know-how, you can enjoy the occasional takeout without sacrificing your goals. As you can see, there are ways to find healthy menu items at popular food chains — even at restaurants that aren’t traditionally thought of as healthy! Remember: you can always modify ingredients or customize a menu option. The big takeaways? Be mindful of ingredients, skip sauces and condiments that are heavy in calories, fat, or sugar, call on healthy food swaps, and keep it light on the sides. If you’re unsure of what to order, refer back to this healthy takeout menu guide. Many of the options we provided can be applied to various restaurants. Don’t be afraid to ask questions! Your health is in your hands!