A busy family lifestyle doesn’t always make it possible to cook a wholesome, homemade meal every night of the week. It’s only natural, when we are pushed for time, to reach for the phone or venture onto the internet to order a meal from the local take-away. We are often made to feel guilty for making this choice and accused of encouraging the fast food culture that is deep-set in our society. However, not all take-away options are unhealthy.

It’s perfectly possible to order in a pizza, a Chinese or an Indian meal and get a range of healthy dishes that the whole family will enjoy. You just have to be careful about what meal you go for, or more importantly, what you choose to leave out of your usual order. Here are a few healthy pointers to keep in mind when placing an order with your favourite take-away.


– Steer clear of deep pan and stuffed crust bases. Stick to classic or thin crust. Some restaurants also offer wholemeal bases.

– Avoid the meat-laden options, as these are often processed with little nutritional value, and get some vegetables onto that pizza. Even if it means creating your own.

– Carbohydrate packed side dishes, like garlic bread and potato wedges aren’t necessary. Why not try ordering a side salad or one of the sauce-less chicken options.

– Stay away from the takeaway dipping sauces composed of mainly butter, cream and sugar. Instead, purchase a good quality mayonnaise or ketchup for your cupboard. If you’re being really healthy you can even have a go at making your own!


– When you order online, read the restaurant reviews and make sure you are getting a high quality, authentic Chinese experience.

– Go for the fresh, nutritious broths like tofu and vegetable noodle soup or steamed wonton soup.

– Sauces like sweet and sour are often full of sugar, so why not try the veggie packed Kung Pao chicken instead.

– Steamed dumplings are much more nutritious than the deep fried options, like spring rolls and prawn toast.

– The prawn crackers may be free, but that doesn’t mean you have to eat all of them. If you have no willpower, ask the restaurant to skip them from you order.


– Mild curries, like korma and tikka masala are often full of butter, cream and coconut milk. Go for a slightly spicier but healthier alternative, like rogan josh, jalfrazi or a bhuna.

Indian food has some of the tastiest vegetarian dishes in the world. Try some Indian spiced greens on the side or opt for a vegetable curry instead of the meat version.

– Add a plain chapatti to your order, instead of naan bread and fried papadums.

– Order boiled basmati or brown rice, instead of egg fried or pilau.

If you are careful with what you order and stay away from the deep fried fillers and freebies, then a take-away doesn’t have to be a guilty pleasure. When eaten in moderation, they can be a fast, hassle-free and healthy treat in a balanced diet.