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  • Writer's pictureMichael Glab MS, RD, LDN

Takeout Life to Make It Life

Updated: Oct 10, 2022

We all have busy schedules and is not always feasible to prepare a three course dinner that is both nutritious and delicious. Occasionally you do have the time and the payoff is a delicious meal. Our lives are usually very busy and we have little time to spare. However, we also don’t want to succumb to the temptation of ordering out on a nightly basis. Not only can this be detrimental to our health, but also to our monthly budget.

For those who rely on takeout or restaurant food multiple times per week, consider this food for thought: According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, the average American household spends around $3,000 on dining out annually. Wow! That really puts things into perspective. $3,000 can be used for a very nice vacation or a down payment on a car. According to, a $13 takeout or restaurant meal has a 325% mark-up of making it at home. This may make us think twice about ordering out more than once per week as it is definitely not to our long-term financial benefit to do so very often.

Ok, so if we’re trying to transition from takeout life to make-it life, what types of nutritious food staples should we keep on hand to be able to whip together a quick, easy and delicious meal at anytime? Here’s what Registered Dietitian Michael Glab keeps on hand for daily use.

(Please note: you don’t need to purchase all of these items, this is just an example to help guide you!)


Chicken thighs - fresh or frozen; they cook well and rarely dry out when baked at 350 degrees for 20-25 mins

Rotisserie Chicken - just pull apart and add to salads, sandwiches or tacos.

Eggs - probably the most versatile and least time-intensive protein to cook up

Tuna - canned, packaged or fresh

Sardines - definitely an acquired taste, but a low-key superfood

Cottage cheese - I like Daisy or Good Culture as it has a few ingredients and no gums or preservatives

Deli Turkey Slices - I choose the nitrate free or version that uses nitrates from celery juice

Natural peanut butter - ingredients should be peanuts and salt, that’s it

Black beans - canned, low sodium if possible

Tofu - I slice a block, marinate overnight in soy sauce + smoke flavor and bake at 375 for 40 mins the next day


Sliced or shredded cheese - choose low-fat options for weight loss

Plain Greek Yogurt - great addition to smoothies

Milk - I use unsweetened soy milk, but if you like regular milk, keep it going! Skim, 1% or 2% are all good choices!


100% whole wheat bread - Makes your sandwich more filling

Corn Tortillas - El Milagro brand are inexpensive and only contain 3 ingredients

Cheerios - plain, for when I’m craving a crunch

Brown Rice - great for meal prep

Oatmeal - overnight oats recipes to make a grab-n-go breakfast the night before

Popcorn kernels - freshly popped at home is the best and is part of a healthy diet

Pasta - I personally like angel hair or rigatoni. Use whole grain if eating more than once per week.


Fresh fruits

Bananas - I also slice and freeze these for smoothies


Pears - in season - fall

Berries - in season - summer

Frozen fruits


Berries - when not in season


Fresh Veggies


Peppers (mini peppers or regular bell peppers)


Baby carrots

Frozen Veggies

Broccoli (microwaves well when frozen)

Green beans - unless in season in the summer

Healthy Fats


Extra virgin olive oil

Avocado oil

Almonds or Cashews - raw or roasted/salted, preferably not cooked in oil

Natural Peanut butter - also under protein; just peanuts and salt



Ketchup - no high fructose corn syrup


Strawberry jelly - no sugar added - Polaner brand is an example

Mayonnaise - I prefer olive or avocado oil based if possible

Balsamic vinegar - for salad dressing


Low sodium soy sauce

Liquid smoke flavor

Spices: cinnamon, chili powder, season salt, cumin, basil, oregano

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