Healthy takeout that won’t blow your budget

Who doesn’t love reaching for the takeaway menu for dinner after a long and tiring day? According to CHOICE, we’re ordering takeout for dinner around 2.5 times a week, but unfortunately it often also comes served with a hefty side of fat, salt and sugar. 

While a home-cooked meal is often much healthier, and cheaper, ordering takeout doesn’t have to derail your healthy-eating plan, or drain your bank account.

We’ve rounded up five common takeout cuisines that won’t break the budget, and the more nutritious menu options among them.

1. Thai

Thai cuisine can offer many healthy choices when it comes to takeaway, with many veggie packed dishes on the menu. The main diet-busting culprits here are the coconut milk based dishes, due to their exceptionally high fat content. Say no to the creamy curries and noodle dishes, and go for a tasty stir-fry made with chicken or seafood and fresh herbs.

Mozo’s top money saving tip: Since most takeaway joints offer ridiculously large portions split your meal with a friend. You’ll slash the cost and still get to indulge in delicious Thai food without the guilt of eating too much.

2. Chinese

Although delicious, this popular takeout cuisine can also be a nutrition disaster as many dishes are packed full of salt and sugar. Steer clear of anything deep-fried (yes sadly that means no spring rolls) and choose steamed or stir-fried dishes containing fish or chicken.

Mozo’s top money saving tip: Make your own brown rice at home while you’re waiting for your order to arrive. Not only is it a much more nutritious option than its white counterpart, a side of rice can be as much as $5 a serve takeaway so it’s a simple way to reduce the cost of your meal.

3. Japanese 

Japanese food is gaining popularity as a healthy and fresh meal option; generally being lower in calories and fat compared to other cuisines. Keep clear of calorific tempura, which has been battered then deep-fried. Go for sushi rolls instead, made with salmon, tuna, tofu or avocado. Sashimi, edamame and seaweed salad are also tasty and nutritious dishes when ordering Japanese.

Mozo’s top money saving tip: Keep more change in your pocket by ordering your meal online. You can save up to 30% off by placing an online order, with many takeout joints also offering special discounts off your first delivery.

4. Italian

If Italian is your takeaway of choice, the best way to reduce calories and fat is by going easy on the processed cheese and meat. Pasta is often lower in carbs than pizza but opt for a tomato-based sauce such as Bolognese or Marinara over cream or cheese-based sauces. Otherwise, a thin crust pizza topped with lots of veggies is another good option. 

Mozo’s top money saving tip: Although tempting, no one really needs to eat a whole pizza so make it last you two meals. As soon as the order arrives put half of it in the fridge for a delicious and budget-friendly lunch the next day. Plus make yourself a side salad to get your dose of greens in and fill up on this rather than the extra slices. 

5. Mexican

Not generally considered a ‘healthy’ cuisine, Mexican does offer some lighter menu options – you just have to know what to order. Shun the fried tacos and nachos and opt for a soft tortilla instead as this will drastically slash the calories and fat. Choose a dish with beans, fish or chicken and load up on salad, fresh salsa and guacamole to pack in some more nutrition. But remember to go easy on the cheese and sour cream!

Mozo’s top money saving tip: Opt for a meat-free Mexican fiesta. Vegetarian dishes are generally less expensive so you can save money by choosing beans and rice over meats like pork and chicken.

Thankfully, occasionally opting for a takeaway meal for dinner doesn’t need to spell disaster for your waistline or wallet. By simply knowing the healthier options to order, you can indulge in your favourite takeout fare without it being a splurge.