How To Eat Healthy In Restaurants

A simple menu can feel like a minefield when you’re trying to eat healthily. I hope these tips on how to eat healthy in restaurants help!

How To Eat Healthy In Restaurants
How To Eat Healthy In Restaurants

We’ve talked quite a bit about shopping, cooking and food storage to maintain a healthy whole foods diet.

Sometimes, though, cooking at home just isn’t feasible.

Perhaps you’re away from home for a few days, attending a business lunch or going on a date. Maybe your day really IS absolutely crazy.

It could be that you just want someone else to do the cooking. What the heck, we all deserve to be pampered sometimes!

And then there’s the possibility that your dog snatched your lunch off the kitchen counter at the very moment you’re picking up your keys to leave for work. (What are the chances, you ask? I don’t have statistics—I just know that it happened to me. Bad dog!)

Whatever the reason, here you are…wondering how to eat healthy in a restaurant. You’ve worked so hard to clean up your act at home that it can feel like a step backward to give up control of your diet to a stranger.

Fortunately, it’s entirely possible to obtain the information you need to make good choices. Let’s roll up our sleeves and get to work.

Seek The Truth. Or Maybe You Could Just Ask Your Server.

Just Ask Your Server.
Just Ask Your Server.
  • Ask that sauces be left off your dish unless the server can confirm that it’s made in-house from fresh, unprocessed ingredients.
  • Don’t be deceived by side dishes. Even something as seemingly straightforward as mashed potatoes can be loaded with preservatives if it’s brought in pre-made.
  • Let your server know what you’re trying to achieve and ask for his/her help. Ask what they have that is homemade or how a dish can be modified to accommodate you.

Bottom line? If your server can’t tell you (or can’t find out) what’s in it or if it’s made in-house, take a pass.

Be Alert! Be Aware! Proceed With Caution!

Proceed With Caution!
Proceed With Caution!

Entree Salads
“Entree” salads are often loaded with processed items such as marinated meats (soaked in bottled marinade), breaded chicken (often brought in frozen), processed crunchies (tortilla strips, croutons, etc.) and pre-made salad dressings.

If you really, really want one, ask for naked meat/seafood/poultry on top of fresh veggies with freshly mixed oil and vinegar.

Buffets are full of cheap, processed foods. Take the time to walk around and look for things that are healthier options, such as meats at the carving station and fresh vegetables from the salad bar.

Large Chain Restaurants
Keep in mind that chain restaurants are supplied by the Mother Ship from a warehouse far, far away.

It’s imperative that their customers know they can get the very same meal whether they’re in Duluth or Dallas as this sameness is what their reputation is built on.

This, of course, means that very little is left to the discretion of the kitchen staff and there is a limit on how much (if at all) they can accommodate your desire to eat healthier options. That being said, some chains are making an effort to accommodate dietary restrictions and that can be helpful.

Fine, Smarty Pants. Where And What SHOULD I Eat?

Making Smart Choices
Making Smart Choices

I’m glad you asked! Locally owned restaurants and small chains will note (and sometimes shout from the rooftops) if they have homemade items on their menu.

Keep an eye out for these blatant, prideful boasters and flock to them whenever possible.

Take a look at the menu before you go to the restaurant so you know in advance what your options are and what substitutes you would like to make.

Even if the restaurant doesn’t have a website, they may have a menu on their Facebook page. There are also websites that post menus from restaurants so it’s worth taking a look. Simply Google “Toms’ Pub Menu” and it’s likely you’ll find something.


  • Ask if the veggies are prepared from fresh product.
  • Choose naked meats, poultry and seafood that are broiled or grilled.
  • Request freshly mixed oil and vinegar for your salad.
  • Ask if the soups are made in-house with simple, unprocessed ingredients.
  • Order eggs!
  • Lose the saucy second side and double up on salad or steamed veggies.

For Health. For Life. For You.

For Health. For Life. For You.
For Health. For Life. For You.

One last thing: Eating out is not about the stress of what you’re going to eat. It’s not meant to be a torture chamber or make you run the gauntlet of endless food choices. As a matter of fact, it’s not about the food at all.

Eating out is all about GOING out. It’s about hanging with your friends, meeting new friends, being social or doing business.

It’s about treating yourself, making your life easier and more interesting.

As a matter of fact, research shows that being social is every bit as important to your health as what you eat! So get out there and rub a few elbows.

Click here if you want to read more of thoughts on eating away from home.

Have I missed anything? Do you have tips or tricks that work for you? Let me know in the comments below!

All my best,



Healthy Eating For One – What’s Your Plan?

So you’ve embarked on your healthy eating for one journey but what’s the plan, Stan? Do you actually have an actual strategy in place? How are going to achieve that goal?

 I promised you hacks and tips on healthy eating for one and I’m here to deliver! These are just a few observations I’ve come across on my journey down this delicious road to the dinner table.

Do with them what you will. Here goes!

What’s In Your Basket? – The Store(y) Starts Here

One of the most difficult parts of eating as a single person is the waste that often comes with it.

Many perishables (especially produce) are sold in larger packages and it’s hard to use them up before their time is up. Here are a few suggestions:

Healthy Eating For One
What’s In Your Basket?

Shop the salad bar. Although the salad bar is not the most economical way to buy groceries, there are times it may come in handy.

Take me, for example. Although I do like the occasional salad, I’m not a salad eater for the most part. After I’ve eaten the one salad I’m going to have for the next month or so, I struggle to find a use for the rest of that lettuce and all those stinkin’ cucumber slices.

This is where the salad bar comes in handy. It’s not just for salad building, either. Browse the salad bar to acquire small amounts of fresh ingredients in any meal you’re planning. There’s no waste and no prep. Win-win.

Pasta. Yes, pasta. You can take out whatever amount you want and just pop that box right back on the shelf where it will wait patiently for next time.

My two favorite ways to serve it are with sauce or as a pasta salad but it’s incredibly versatile.

There are so many shapes and flavors, made from a variety of ingredients (including gluten-free), that the possibilities are endless!

Shelf-stable and frozen items. In the same theme as pasta, there are many healthy items in the store that can be portioned out in varying amounts.

Many things you buy on the shelf have a very long life ahead of them such as nuts, peanut butter and dried fruits.

In the freezer section, you can find vegetables, fruits and loose, unbaked rolls.

Single serving. This is a category that also might appear to be less than economical because single-serve items typically have a higher unit price (cost per ounce, pound, etc.).

But consider that if you buy a bigger unit that you’re not going to finish before it expires, then you’re not saving money at all. Think yogurt, milk, and cereal.

Weekly Meal Prep Ideas – Not So Lazy Sundays

Healthy Eating For One
Weekly Meal Prep Ideas

Portion out meat/poultry. As soon as you get home from the store, open up all those packages of meat and separate them into serving-sized portions.

Seal each portion individually in sandwich bags. Then place those bags in a larger freezer bag, label it, date it and pop it in the freezer.

The same goes for ground meats, sausages and hot dogs.

Do some advance prep. Take a look at your meal plan for the week. (You DID make one, right? Good.)  Is there anything you can do in advance to make your weekday cooking less stressful?

For example, hardy vegetables (potatoes, carrots, cauliflower, etc.) can be prepped and stored in water for up to a week, while softer vegetables can be done 3-4 days in advance.

Salad dressings and marinades can be also prepared in advance.

Cook ahead. Make a big batch of something (like this classic meatloaf) and freeze it in single-portion sizes.

Things like hearty soups or lasagna freeze well and are easy grab-and-go, one-dish lunches.

Trust me, it will make your exit out the door much smoother on Monday morning.

Think breakfast. French toast, pancakes and waffles can all be made ahead and stored in your freezer, making breakfast a piece of…um…toast! Just pop ‘em in the microwave or toaster for a sweet treat.

This Basic Overnight Oats recipe can be made in advance and stored in the fridge for up to 5 days.

Good Morning, Sunshine! – Tips For Planning Your Day

Healthy Eating For One
Tips For Planning Your Day

Don’t overdo it. Take the time to think about how much time you have (or are willing to take) to prepare/cook your meals during the week.

One of the biggest defeats in this game is planning to make a healthy, hearty, home-cooked meal on Tuesday evening (in quadruple to ensure you have extra to freeze up for later), only to realize that you’re too pooped to make it happen once you get home.

Make it easy. Choose easy dinner recipes for one so you don’t have to worry about packaging the leftovers for the freezer. This Spinach Feta Pizza comes together in just a few minutes with very little mess or cleanup!

Do as much advance prep as possible on your free days.

Simple recipes like this Strawberry Banana Yogurt Smoothie make breakfast a snap. Put it in a travel mug to sip on your way to work.

Double up. Choose recipes that specifically serve two or three like this simple Szechuan Style Shrimp. By making a meal you can eat a number of times during the week, you free up some spare time to get the laundry done, call a friend or just chill.

It’s Not Over (‘Till It’s Over)

Healthy Eating For One
It’s Not Over (‘Till It’s Over)

This is not an exhaustive list, just a few tricks I’ve picked up along the way.

I’d love to hear your thoughts on these ideas and what you’ve learned on your journey as well! I look forward to reading your comments below!


All my best,





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