Sure, we all want to eat healthy and saving money would be nice too, but sometimes you end up in a food court, at 2:00pm on a Wednesday and you’re running on empty.

We’ve got some simple advice to fill up and feel good.

First of all, food courts usually follow a fast-food formula. You are likely to find some kind of “sandwich artists”, various burger joints, a carvery, a Japanese offering and maybe a juice purveyor. If you’re lucky, you might spy a window with some salad options and a barista who can brew a very strong coffee.

So, given the options, keep these tips in mind when staring at the backlit menu boards.


Skip the soft drink

Just like at the movies, the best way to save yourself empty calories is in your beverage choice. Skipping anything sugar-sweetened and opting for water could save you hundred of calories. A single can of coca-cola has more than 160 calories.

And beware the juice. House Call Doctor has written about the perils of ordering juices and smoothies previously. The best choice – and the one with no surprise calories – is water.

Beware the bread

Bread is not the enemy but some varieties are better than others. If you’re taking the carvery option, your best bet is to stick with wholemeal.

Health fund HCF wrote about simple ways to cut 20 calories and had a warning about one popular sandwich choice.

“Swap your foccacia bread for a standard white or wholemeal bread, full fat egg mayonnaise to fat free mayo, full fat double cheese to one slice of light cheese, full fat salami or deli meat to fat free/reduced fat meat, butter to light cream cheese or reduced fat margarine.”

Your mission is to halt the hunger

You might not need a full meal. If you can find enough sustenance to make it home and into your own kitchen, then it’s mission accomplished so keep that in mind.

To stay full for longer, opt for high-protein options like grilled meat, tofu or egg.

Some other healthy options include: rice paper rolls, brown rice salads, roast vegetables and grilled fish.

Keep these tips in mind:

  • If the nutritional information isn’t available, ask to see it. Keep your eye on the level of added salt and sugar
  • Just like your main meals, keep the proportion of grains to a quarter of your plate. The same goes for protein – vegetables get a half
  • If a sushi place is an option, you can opt for sashimi and up your protein intake
  • And HCF writes that you should beware those super-sized salads. “Many ‘clean eaters’ tend to make the simple mistake of making a big salad loaded with superfoods which are extremely calorie dense. Half an avocado is 125 calories, a cup of brown rice is 230 calories, an individual nut is around 7-10 calories, 2 teaspoons of chia seeds are 120 calories, oil dressings and coconut oil is around 120 calories per tablespoon.”