Healthy Takeout Alternatives You Can Make at Home

There is really nothing more convenient than sitting on your couch and having food delivered to your door. And for us living in NYC, the delivery options are out of control. Sushi, Mexican, Thai, froyo, wine, and even that one specific dish you like from that restaurant that normally doesn’t deliver, but you can pay Caviar to pick it up for you and bring to your apartment. This is why Carrie Bradshaw stored sweaters in her oven.

Ordering in can easily turn into a nightly occurrence, and that's not even counting getting lunch delivered to your office. However, as we all know, nine out of ten times whatever we order is not as healthy as cooking for ourselves. It's also a ton of money. Ever try and order sushi for two under $45? Impossible.


takeout alternatives


So what we try to do is cook for ourselves Sunday through Thursday. Then Friday and Saturday nights we are either out to dinner or ordering in. That way we are eating fresh healthy foods most of week, but not completely restricting ourselves. And if we end up having work or friend dinners the first part of the week, we keep it as healthy as we can.

Cooking for ourselves also keeps us from gaining any unwanted weight, and forces us to discover new recipes. Variety is really the key to craving the healthy dishes you can make yourself! Another good tip for eating healthy and saving money is making meatless meals a few days a week. Organic meat can be one of the most expensive things on your shopping list so keeping it veggie now and then is great for your body and bank account.

Here are some super healthy, vegetarian takeout alternatives you can easily make at home!


Mexican takeout alternatives


Mexican: Cilantro-Lime Vegan Tacos

These tacos are one of our favorite takeout alternatives to make — and they're vegan! Swap wheat tortillas for brown rice or corn to make them gluten free.


  • 2 cloves of garlic, mined
  • ½ cup of chopped scallions
  • 1 can of black beans, drained and rinsed
  • 1 4 oz can of diced green chiles
  • 1½ cups of corn
  • 3 tablespoons of lime juice
  • ½ cup of chopped cilantro
  • Sea salt & pepper
  • Olive oil
  • 1 avocado, sliced
  • ¼ cup of classic hummus
  • Soft tortillas (brown rice or corn for gluten free)



  • In a large pan, add a drizzle of olive oil over medium heat.
  • Add the scallions and garlic and sauté for 3-4 minutes.
  • Add the black beans, green chiles, corn, lime juice, and a dash of sea salt and pepper, and mix through.
  • Sauté for about 5 minutes, and then mix in the cilantro and sauté for a few more minutes until everything is fully heated.
  • Warm your tortillas in a separate pan, or in the oven.
  • Spread each tortilla with hummus.
  • Place the cilantro black bean mixture onto the center of each tortilla.
  • Garnish with sliced avocado


Chinese takeout alternatives


Chinese: Cauliflower Fried Rice 

Fried rice is delicious and fairly inexpensive, but super unhealthy. Our version is made with cauliflower and filled with additional veggies to keep this dish light and nutritious!


  • 1 head of cauliflower
  • 2 organic, free-range eggs
  • 1 tablespoon of sesame oil
  • 2 cups of organic frozen mixed vegetables (ex. peas, carrots & corn)
  • 5 scallions, chopped
  • 3 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 3 tablespoons of wheat free tamari or soy sauce
  • Pepper



  • Chop cauliflower into florets.
  • Using a food processor, place cauliflower florets in about a cup at a time and pulse until broken down into “rice”. Try not to over process.
  • Spray a large frying pan with oil (I like to use coconut oil) and scramble the two eggs. Set the eggs aside.
  • In the same pan, add the tablespoon of sesame oil over medium heat.
  • Add the minced garlic and sauté for a minute.
  • Add the mixed vegetables and scallions and sauté for 2-3 minutes.
  • Add in the riced cauliflower, wheat free tamari/soy sauce, and a few dashes of pepper, and sauté for about 5-6 minutes until cauliflower is tender.
  • Lastly, mix in the scrambled egg.
  • Top with scallions and a sprinkle of pepper.


Italian takeout alternatives


Italian: Creamy Vegan Pumpkin Pasta

You won't find any Italian takeout alternatives as healthy or delicious as this vegan, gluten free pasta that uses pumpkin puree as a creamy sauce. Fall is the perfect time to whip this dish up, but honestly it hits the spot anytime of the year.


  • 1 package of quinoa or brown rice pasta
  • 1 tablespoon of Earth Balance vegan spread or olive oil
  • 2 cloves of garlic, minced
  • 1 shallot, minced
  • 1 heaping cup of organic pumpkin puree
  • ¾ cup of vegetable broth
  • ¼ teaspoon of nutmeg
  • ¼ teaspoon of chili powder
  • 2 tablespoons of unsweetened almond milk
  • Sea salt and Pepper to taste
  • 1 tablespoon of fresh rosemary



  • Cook pasta according to package directions.
  • While pasta is cooking, add the Earth Balance or olive oil to a pan over medium heat.
  • Add garlic and shallots and sauté briefly until fragrant.
  • Add the pumpkin puree, vegetable broth, nutmeg, chili powder, and a few dashes of sea salt and pepper and mix through.
  • Allow to simmer for 8-10 minutes, stirring frequently.
  • Pour sauce mixture into a blender and add the two tablespoons of almond milk. Blend until completely smooth. Taste test for additional sea salt or pepper. *If sauce is too thick for you, thin out with an additional tablespoon of almond milk.
  • Pour sauce over the cooked pasta once drained and mix through.
  • Garnish with fresh rosemary.


takeout alternatives


Deli Inspired: Eggplant Pesto Sandwich

This healthy version of the super stacked deli sandwich combines eggplant, tomato and avocado. All veggie, it is 100% vegan and can be made gluten free with your favorite gluten free bread.


  • 2 slices of gluten free bread
  • 1 tablespoon of pesto (see recipe below for vegan version)
  • ½ small eggplant, cut into rounds
  • ½ small tomato, sliced
  • ½ avocado,sliced
  • Coconut oil/ EVOO for baking sheet
  • Sea salt


  • 3 cups of loosely packed basil
  • 2 cups of loosely packed spinach
  • 2 large cloves of garlic, minced
  • 2 teaspoons of lemon juice (flavor preference)
  • ¼ to ⅓ cup of extra virgin olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons of pine nuts
  • Sea salt & Pepper (a few dashes to start, adjust to taste preference)



  • Preheat the oven to 375 degrees F.
  • Lightly grease your baking sheet with oil.
  • Place the eggplant rounds on the baking sheet and sprinkle with sea salt.
  • Bake for 10 minutes, and then flip and bake for 10 additional minutes.
  • Spread pesto onto the slices of bread.
  • Layer eggplant, tomato and avocado.


vegan caesar salad


Salad: Vegan Kale Caesar Salad

Stop ordering that fancy $14 salad for lunch and make this yummy kale salad instead. Bringing your lunch to work when you can cuts your spending on food and guarantees your midday meal will be nutritious.


  • 1 large bunch of kale
  • ¼ cup of plain hummus
  • 1 teaspoon of spicy brown mustard
  • 2 tablespoons of lemon juice
  • 2 teaspoons of capers
  • 3 teaspoons of caper brining juice
  • 3 tablespoons of fresh minced garlic (4-5 clove)
  • Dash of sea salt and pepper
  • 1 tablespoon of olive oil
  • *Nutritional yeast (optional)
  • Roasted chickpeas



  • Remove kale from the stems, rinse and pat dry with a paper towel. Set aside.
  • In a blender, add all the remaining ingredients (except for the nutritional yeast and chickpeas) and blend until smooth to make the caesar dressing.
  • Add additional sea salt, pepper or lemon juice to taste.
  • Pour a desired around of dressing over a desired amount of kale, shake a desired amount of nutritional yeast, and mix through well.
  • Top with roasted chickpeas (either store bought or make your own)


Related: How to Eat Well and Save Money on Groceries 




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Maria and Alyssa are two sisters living in NYC, working to balance healthy eating with their busy lives. They created the blog, Spinach for Breakfast, as a recipe
and lifestyle resource for anyone looking to make healthy changes. Spinach for Breakfast is based on a journey; not a set of rules. They value health and the importance of what they put into their bodies, but believe it is all about a realistic balance.

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