Takeout can be a total lifesaver on those nights when you’ve stumbled in from work way past dinnertime or have zero food in the house. But while dipping into that drawer full of delivery menus (we all have one) should ideally be an occasional convenience, it can easily become a habit and end up making a serious dent in your wallet and health.
If you’ve noticed that your dinner (or lunch or breakfast) has been coming out of plastic containers more often than your own kitchen lately, it might be time to take a pause before calling in your next meal. But that doesn’t mean saying good-bye to your favorite delivery dishes! Craving Chinese noodles? Can’t go a week without Indian curry? These 23 recipes from around the world are fresher, healthier, and surprisingly simple ways to replicate that take-out taste at home—without the side of grease.
It clocks in at a total of 15 minutes from start to finish, encourages you to throw in any vegetables you have in the fridge, and requires no fancy sauces. This is the most lo “mein”-tenance bowl of noodles you’ll ever make.
Beef and broccoli isn’t the most traditional Chinese dish, but it’s such a staple on take-out menus. It’s also usually drenched in salt and oil, so next time your craving strikes, try this version. It uses coconut sugar and low-sodium soy sauce to achieve that same savory-sweet sauce, and it's served over brown rice for extra fiber.
Chicken goes from deep fried to sautéed, the amount of oil goes from a cupful to a tablespoon, and the sugar and sodium are slashed just as dramatically in this legitimately lighter version of a dish that’s usually a healthy eater’s take-out nightmare. There’s even some broccoli thrown in to give this dish a bit more color.
This recipe takes the pineapple flavor to another level by baking the rice, egg, and veggie mixture right inside the shell of the fruit. The sweet juices soak into the spicy and salty filling, and the result is crazy addictive. Add some chicken or shrimp for more protein.
Just a few tweaks here and there make this pad Thai a whole lot healthier. Gluten-free brown rice noodles add more fiber, and there are more veggies than what you might find in your regular take-out meal. But you’ll still get the crunch of the peanuts, the fresh herbs, the sweet and savory sauce, and the cooked egg stirred in at the end.
Coconut milk has many health benefits, but its high fat content can add up when you’re ladling cupfuls of it into your Thai curry. Enter this light version: Just one simple swap can transform your meal from a once-in-a-while indulgence to a dish you can include in your weekly dinner rotation.
Hardly any exotic spices are needed to turn the veggie into a curry that tastes kind of like an Indian version of caponata. You’ll be amazed at how easily something so rich in flavor can come together.
Thought that chickpeas didn’t have much scope beyond hummus and salads? You’ve gotta try this. With a few fragrant spices and some tangy tomato action, they go from bland-ish beans to seriously lip-smacking legumes. To make the recipe even easier, use canned garbanzos instead of dried ones.
Yep, it’s possible to make even a dish titled “butter” chicken healthier. How? Omit the butter! While the restaurant version comes soaked in it (plus cream), this one uses just a cup of coconut milk to get the same velvety gravy without any of that heavy dairy. Serve it on top of cauliflower rice to lighten the meal up even further.
With three main ingredients—one of them being store-bought coleslaw mix—this burrito isn’t just healthier than anything you’d get at your local Mexican joint, it’s also way faster than waiting for your order. Dollop on your favorite toppings like guacamole, salsa, and cheese; another bonus of homemade burrito bowls is that the amount of extras is totally under your control.
Why buy the taquitos sitting in the frozen foods aisle when this recipe is so simple to make at home? It uses lean ground turkey and a Greek yogurt swap for sour cream, and bakes the assembled tortillas instead of frying. You’ll get 10 taquitos here—perfect for make-ahead meals or sharing with your friends.
This vegetarian spin on the Taco Bell crunch wrap keeps pretty much all the standard ingredients of the original, but goes easier on the heavy items like cheese and sour cream. To make it a bit higher in fiber, go for whole-wheat wraps. It’s the definition of moderation, wrapped in a tortilla.
Even if zoodles never show up as a pasta alternative on take-out menus, we now know there’s this homemade recipe to make low-carb lasagna a cinch. Between the garlicky turkey and tomato sauce, the layers of ricotta and mozzarella, and all those unmistakable Italian spices, you may not even realize that the sheets of pasta in here are actually slices of zucchini.
Despite its plant-based title, eggplant Parmesan can be one of the heaviest items available at Italian restaurants, given the fried, breaded eggplant and all that cheese. This blogger’s simple solution to make it more nutritious? Use whole-wheat breadcrumbs, go for part-skim ricotta, and bake the whole thing for a dish that actually lives up to its healthy-sounding name.
Using soaked barley instead of Arborio rice cuts the stirring time for this risotto in half, keeps that signature chewy bite, and adds fiber. Lots of lemon and asparagus lighten up the usually heavy dish, while lots of cheese makes sure it’s still super creamy.
There are so many variations on lighter Alfredos out there, from cauliflower creams to cashew-based sauces. This one keeps things super straightforward, using low-fat milk and just a tablespoon of butter in the entire six-serving recipe, but choosing to be generous with the cheese (it is Alfredo, after all!). Stir it into pasta, sprinkle on some fresh parsley, and this simple bowl of comfort will hit the spot.
Somewhere between bibimbap and a burrito bowl lies this insanely flavorful beef and rice bowl. The meat simmers in a slightly sweet soy sauce, soaking up all those juices, and then is spooned onto heaps of fluffy white rice. And please don’t forget the fried egg on top.
Ramen has totally taken off around the world as a favorite option for late-night eats, but this recipe might just turn your own kitchen into the best noodle joint in town. The ramen gets dunked in a rich stock that’s flavored with ginger and soy, bulked up with chicken slices, and topped with a soft boiled egg. Slurp away.
One of the most popular foods in Japan, this version of okonomiyaki might bring you as close as you’ll get to the authentic savory pancake short of actually flying to Tokyo. If pork belly is a bit much for you, substitute slices of beef or simply leave out the meat altogether—the beauty of the dish is that it’s meant to be made just as you like it.
Yakisoba is known for its subtly sweet, spicy, and savory sauce. This recipe gets pretty close to the real deal by using a unique combination of Worcestershire sauce, soy, Sriracha, and a touch of sugar. Toss it into the lightly sautéed noodles and veggies, and this Japanese dinnertime staple can be on your table in less than 30 minutes.
Two American traditions—barbecue and burgers—meet in this mouthwatering but still impressively nutrient-packed meal. Simple ground chicken patties are jazzed up with gooey caramelized onions, topped with avocado slices, and drizzled with just enough BBQ sauce without going into sugar overload. Even the buns are whole wheat—it really is a better burger.
Sure, you can get a meatball sub at pretty much any deli, but we’re pretty sure you won’t come across many that use quinoa instead of breadcrumbs or whole-wheat buns, like this recipe does. It’s the perfect way to satisfy your sandwich craving and stick to your healthy eating goals at the same time.
Carnivals aren’t the only places to get your corn dog fix. These baked, make-at-home skewers are so much fun to put together, and they also use whole-wheat flour, skim milk, and lean beef to make them better for you. Dunk into your favorite condiments and relish the fact that you didn’t need to wait in any lines for these street-fair favorites.