Tips for Ordering Take-Out or Delivery

With everything that has been going on with COVID-19, a lot of people are taking advantage of take-out and delivery meals. 

Making healthy choices from an online menu can sometimes be challenging. However, most restaurants have nutrition facts available online that can guide you in making healthy choices. You could even use an app such as My Fitness Pal to help make better nutrition choices.

Here are a few tips to keep in mind that can help you choose a healthful meal with delivery or take-out menus:

  • Terms to be mindful of include, “crunchy,” “crispy,” “battered” and “breaded,” as well as “creamy,” “cheesy” and “Alfredo,” which can often mean they are higher in fat or calories. Limit items that are fried or served in sauces that are high in saturated fat. Items that may be healthier options might use terms like “baked,” “grilled,” “roasted,” and “steamed,” as well as “al fresco” or “marinara.”
  • Consider choosing steamed vegetables or fruit as a side option, when available.
  • Rethink your drink. Calories from sugar-sweetened beverages can add up quickly and provide little nutritional value. Choose options like water, low-fat or fat-free milk or drinks such as unsweetened coffee or tea.
  • Sauces and dressings usually come on the side when ordered to-go, but make sure to ask for sauces and dressing on the side to guarantee that you can control how much actually goes on your food.
  • Instead of eating out of the to-go containers, plate your food. This can offer a more appropriate portion size when servings are large. You can also save part of your meal for later.

Incorporate All Food Groups

MyPlate provides an easy tool for helping you include servings from each of the five food groups. Simply put, divide a plate into four sections when you eat:

  • Grains: Fill one-quarter of your plate with grains. Choose whole grains when you can, such as brown rice, whole wheat pasta or whole grain bread.
  • Protein: Make one-quarter of your plate a protein food, such as fish, chicken or a lean source of meat.
  • Fruits: Fill another quarter of your plate with fruit such as blueberries, tangerine slices or strawberries.
  • Vegetables: The last quarter is for vegetables such as spinach, broccoli or carrots.
  • And, enjoy a serving of fat-free or low-fat dairy, like milk or yogurt, with every meal.

*Nutrition needs vary from person to person, so choose the foods that fit your health needs, eating style and preferences.

Food Safety Concerns during the COVID-19 Pandemic

According to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and the U.S. Department of Agriculture, there is currently no evidence to suggest that COVID-19 can be transmitted through food or food packaging. It is believed that the virus spreads from person-to-person through close contact or respiratory droplets, for instance when a person coughs or sneezes. However, it may be possible for viruses to survive on surfaces and objects, reinforcing the need to observe proper hygiene and food safety practices.

When ordering takeout or having food delivered, practice social distancing, maintaining a distance of six feet, whenever possible. 

Follow proper food safety practices:

  • Washing hands with soap and water for at least 20 seconds 
  • Washing surfaces and utensils with hot soapy water after each use
  • Refrigerate leftovers when done
  • Reheat leftovers to an internal temperature of 165 degrees before eating 

Regular handwashing, along with routine cleaning and disinfecting, especially all frequently touched surfaces, remain the most effective ways to reduce the spread of COVID-19.

Adapted from

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