3 min read

To eat out or not to eat out, that is the question.

Juggling a busy life or living away from home for the first time, making time for home-prepared meals can be daunting. While eating out might appear to save time (makes up 35% of youth energy intake) it comes at a considerable cost. Poor nutrient quality along with high sugar, fat, and salt are all associated with ‘away from home’ foods.

So, what’s the solution? Be savvy about eating out.

Sometimes, it’s inevitable that you are going to eat away from home. Luckily, more and more there are health-forward chains appearing, and almost all chain restaurants have their nutrition information and ingredient lists available online.

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Oaxaca bowl from Freshii; Photo from Pinterest

It’s good to choose restaurants that have ‘build your own’ or customizable meals, like power bowls, burrito bowls, and wraps. This way, you can control the portions of each ingredient, and choose to include healthful ingredients, and say ‘no thanks’ to ingredients that are fried, processed, and/or high in sugar and fat. Sushi and poke bowls are also a good take-out choice because they are often customizable, and can include lots of veggies.

Things to consider when eating out:

  • Regardless of where you eat, watch your sodium intake, as sauces and toppings can quickly send sodium levels off the charts. 
  • Portion sizes at some restaurants are very large, so you may want to plan to only eat half of the meal and take the rest home to eat the next day. 
  • When eating out, it is also smart to either bring your own water or choose water for your drink. Extra sugar and calories from soda, juice, or iced tea are not healthful and may leave you feeling tired and low on energy after eating.

If you gather some recipes favourites on hand that are 30-minutes or less to make, you’ll find that you won’t need to eat out as often, which is always the best option at the end of the day. When you cook your own food you can know exactly what is going into it and can choose to omit ingredients that are unnecessary. Nutrition and cost-effectiveness can both be maximized at home!