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Dine In or Out Smarter

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Dine In or Out Smarter

You have more control over the food you prepare at home than the ready-to-eat foods in stores or restaurants. Why? Because restaurants, grocery stores, convenience stores, and other food retailers decide which ingredients are added to the food on their menus.

Even foods that don’t taste extra creamy, sweet, or salty can be full of calories, saturated fat, added sugars, and salt. Today, we’re talking about ways you can dine out smarter, and we’ve got restaurant-worthy meals that you can cook at home for even more control! 


Five tips for dining out smarter.

Follow these tips when you dine out to have more control over the ingredients added to your food by restaurants.

  1. Tell your server how you want your food prepared. Ask for your dish to be prepared without extra salt, sugar, or saturated fat. Next time you order a pizza, burger or sandwich, swap one of the meaty or cheesy toppings for with your favorite fruit or veggie.

  2. Taste your food before adding salt. If you think it needs a boost of flavor, add freshly ground black pepper or a squeeze of fresh lemon and test it again. Lemon and pepper are especially good on fish, chicken and vegetables.

  3. Pick powerful portions. Usually, the bigger the portion, the more the calories, salt, sugar and fat. Cut monster portions in half and save it for later, or split with a friend.  On your next restaurant visit, ask for a to-go box when you order your meal, and pack half of your meal in the box before you even start eating.

  4. Watch for these 10 words on the menu. Foods described as pickled, brined, crispy, barbecued, cured, fried, smoked, broth, au jus, soy sauce, miso or teriyaki sauce tend to be high in sodium or saturated fat. Foods that are steamed, baked, grilled, poached or roasted may have less sodium and saturated fat.

  5. Ask for information about the sodium in menu items. A new law, effective in May 2018, requires chain restaurants and other prepared food retailers with 20 or more locations to provide calorie counts on the menu board and offer additional nutrition information upon request. So, not only will you have more information about the calories, but you can find out how much sodium, saturated fat, and sugar is in the dish.[1]

How can you make a difference?

Soon, you will have more information when you dine out! Many restaurants are already putting calorie information on their menus. This gives you more of the information you need to make healthy decisions at a restaurant!

Take action today.

Parts of the menu labeling law are in danger.

Tell your lawmaker to keep menu labeling on the table. Post a picture of the menu label you see and tag with #MenuLabeling and #DineOutSmarter!

Restaurant-worthy recipes.

Want the most control over your food? Try cooking at home. These five restaurant-worthy recipes will make you want to stay home instead of dine out.

Creamy spinach feta dip. Everyone loves a creamy appetizer. Well, this recipe gives you just that, with the control you need over the salt and saturated fat added.


Avocado and shrimp spring rolls. Get fancy without the added time by rolling fresh herbs into these spring rolls. You won’t need to order takeout!


Turkey sliders with avocado, mushrooms, and swiss cheese. Craving a burger? These sliders pack a flavorful punch without the extra ingredients you don’t want. And, they include wonderful toppings like avocado and mushrooms for a restaurant-style finesse.


Teriyaki salmon with cauliflower rice. Our version of salmon and rice will give you an excuse to try the cauliflower rice trend. With these flavors and textures, you will appreciate the extra serving of veggies and won’t even miss the rice.


Jerk chicken with grilled hasselback zucchini and avocado dipping sauce. The Caribbean spices – allspice, cinnamon, and ginger – pair so well with the jalapenos in this dish. And, the coolness of the avocado dipping sauce tames the heat of the jerk chicken.


How will you tell your lawmaker to keep menu labeling on the table?



Overview of FDA Labeling Requirements for Restaurants, Similar Retail Food Establishments and Vending Machines: