University of Massachusetts Amherst

It's MORE Than A Meal

Eating Healthy When Eating Out

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Eating out can be a special treat. It can also be a chance for a healthful meal, if you know which foods to choose.

Plan ahead. If you plan to have dinner at a restaurant, choose low-fat foods for breakfast and lunch.

At the restaurant, read the menu carefully. Ask how the foods are prepared. Eat small servings of the foods.

here are some tips for healthful foods:

  Choose These Most Often Choose Less of These
Beverages Low-fat milk
100% juice
Water, plain or with lemon
Decaffeinated coffee or tea
Whole milk
Soft drinks
Drinks with alcohol
Appetizers Fresh fruit
Fresh vegetables
Seafood cocktail
Low-fat dips or cheese spreads
Foods high in butter or oil
Deep-fried vegetable
Creamy dips
Cheese spreads
Soups Vegetable or bean soup
Clear soup
Noodle soup
Egg soup
Cheese-based soup
Creamy soup
Salads Salad with a lower-fat dressing (vinegar, lemon, low-fat, or fat-free dressing) Salad with cheese or creamy dressing or mayonnaise
Fruits Fresh or cooked fruit with small amounts of sugar Fruit with cream or whipped topping
Vegetables Fresh vegetable
(steamed or baked)
Baked potato
Vegetable cooked in butter or oil, or topped with sour cream
French fries, potato chips
Fish Baked, steamed, or broiled fish with little added oil or fat Fish with added oil or fat (fried, tartar sauce, cream sauces, or butter)
Poultry Chicken, turkey, or Cornish hen (cooked without rich sauce and with skin removed) Fried or batter-dipped coating
Goose or duck
Meat Lean cuts of meat with fat trimmed (and without breaded coating), such as:
• Beef
   Round, sirloin, chuck, or loin
   Lean ground beef
• Pork
Processed meat:
    Low-fat lunch meat
Fatty cuts of meat, such as:
• Beef
   “Prime” grade beef
   Regular ground beef
• Pork
Meat with breaded coating
Processed meat:
   Regular lunch meat
   Sausage or bacon
   Hot dogs or frankfurters
Bread Whole grain bread, breadsticks, whole wheat pita pocket White bread, biscuit, croissant, butter roll, pastry, doughnut
Other Grains Boiled or steamed brown rice
Whole grain pasta, macaroni
Fried rice, white rice, pasta not made from whole grains
Fats and Oils
(use sparingly)
Low-fat salad dressing
Low-fat mayonnaise
High-fat salad dressing
Regular mayonnaise
Butter or margarine
Bacon fat or lard
Condiments Herbs, spices, vinegar
Low-sodium soy sauce
A-1 sauce, soy sauce
Worcestershire sauce
Desserts Angel food cake
Fresh fruit
Frozen fruit ice
Low-fat flavored yogurt
Low-fat frozen yogurt
Cake, pie, or pastry
Fruit cobbler or crisp
Cream or whipped topping Custard
Ice cream

Source: University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program

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Developed for the Massachusetts Department of Education Child and Adult Care Food Program by the University of Massachusetts Extension Nutrition Education Program. Permission is hereby granted by the Massachusetts Department of Education to copy any or all parts of this document for non-commercial educational purposes. The Massachusetts Department of Education, an Affirmative Action employer, is committed to ensuring that all of its programs and facilities are accessible to all members of the public. We do not discriminate on the basis of age, color, disability, national origin, race, religion, sex, or sexual orientation.