Whether you’re busy with family life or snowed under with work, spending time preparing and cooking homemade meals every day isn’t always at the top of our to-do list. Fast food restaurants are often the solution to for a quick food fix, but it’s not the most health-conscious choice available.
However, all is not lost and all convenience food shouldn’t be written off. There are plenty of ways you can enjoy a takeaway or grab a meal-on-the-go, without it being an unhealthy choice. You just have to be smart about what you choose.
Whilst it’s fair to say that healthier options of burgers and pizza do exist, there’s no getting away from the fact that they’re carb heavy and often cheese laden with little nutritional value. In the larger cities you might find more gourmet restaurants offering homemade dishes, but as a rule the majority rely on processed junk.
So if you’re looking for a healthy takeaway, consider Chinese. I’m not talking about the deep fried starters and sugary sauces the cuisine has come to be known for in the UK, but rather the steamed vegetable sides and dumplings and nutritious noodle soups. There are loads of independent Chinese restaurants to choose from on delivery sites like hungryhouse, where you can check out reviews and scour for menus with healthier dishes. Eating with chopsticks also helps us to eat slower and refrain from ‘shovelling’, meaning there’s less chance of over eating.
The first thing you need to do is stay away from the pre-packed sandwiches and economy pasta pots. The bread and fillings used in these sandwiches are full of preservatives and the sauces that smother the pasta are usually composed of sugar, fat and chemically based flavour enhancers. Resist the temptation to add a packet of crisps to your basket and sugary fruit juices and smoothies aren’t as healthy as they look.
Express supermarkets, especially in the city centre, often have fresh salad bars inside, where you can fill your container with all kinds of healthy delights, including pasta, three bean, couscous, noodle and even quinoa based salad items. Delicatessen counters often sell freshly made sandwiches as well as roasted pieces of chicken. Combine this with fruit or a protein pot (usually consisting of a boiled egg and some spinach), grab yourself a nice bottle of water and you have yourself a perfectly healthy meal.
If you’re out and about when hunger strikes, don’t head straight for a burger or a sausage roll, check out some of the stalls that sell fresh and exciting street food. Jacket potato vendors have been around for a long time, as have pop-up sandwich stands, but the popularity of street food is at an all-time high. Time Out recently reviewed the top ten street food vendors in London, but if you live or work near any other highly populated area, then a stand selling the best Mexican, African or Asian cuisine could be just around the corner.
Convenience food doesn’t have to be an unhealthy afterthought. If you take a little time to choose what takeaway you want to order and don’t pick up the first sandwich or pasty you walk past on the supermarket shelf, then you can treat yourself to a fast, balanced, nutritious meal.