Tackling Takeout

By Shani Petroff

I mean to cook, but I wind up doing a lot of takeout or delivery. It’s convenient, it’s fast, and it doesn’t take much effort. The problem is I tend to go over my SmartPoints® budget when I eat this way, but I’ve come to realize, takeout doesn’t have to ruin my plan for the week. I just have to be smart and plan carefully.

Make Better Choices: Two cups of Chicken Lo Mein is 21 SmartPoints value. I always think I’ll eat one cup, but I always wind up finishing the whole thing, and sometimes it’s even bigger than I anticipated. Things like General Tso’s Chicken, with the fried chicken chunks and heavy sauces, aren’t much better. It doesn’t mean I have to give up Chinese food; I just either have to watch my intake or pick something lower in SmartPoints value. To help with that, a lot of restaurants even have a portion of the menu that shows their healthier options — dishes with more vegetables, less sugar, less oil, etc. So I try to choose from there.

Pick the Right Place: If I’m struggling with my willpower, certain types of restaurants are easier for me to stay on track than others. The salad place by me doesn’t even offer desserts or other temptations like French fries or a big bowl of pasta — it only has salad. There’s still the potential to go overboard, but personally, I’m less inclined to waste my SmartPoints budget on salad toppings than I am on other things, so it’s usually a fairly safe bet for me. I also like ordering sushi for this same reason.

Sideline It: A big problem with takeout is that I don’t know exactly how much of everything is in the food I’m eating, so it’s harder to track. One thing that helps is asking for things on the side. When I get a salad I don’t have them mix in the dressing, so I can keep track of how much I’m using. And if I order chicken with broccoli from my favorite Chinese restaurant, I ask for the sauce on the side there too. It gives a little of the control back to me.

Make the Switch: A restaurant I order from has a great chicken avocado wrap, but it comes with fries — and not just a few fries, but enough for the whole meal to put me over my SmartPoints Target for the day. At first, I thought I could eat a couple and be done. But for me, that didn’t work. I wound up eating the fries and forgetting about the wrap. So now, I ask for a substitution. Instead of those fries I get a salad or baked potato instead. It’s a simple switch and helps keep me where I want to be.

Don’t Overdo It: When I’m hungry, everything on the menu looks good. I sometimes want to order way more than I need. So now I track before I order, so I know how much it will cost me, and if I have the SmartPoints value to spend. Seeing those numbers tick up on my tracker really makes me think twice about ordering that extra item.

What are your takeout tricks? You can find me on Connect @shani!

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