Niños Saños, Familia Sana: Family Nutrition Education
Niños Saños, Familia Sana: Family Nutrition Education
Niños Saños, Familia Sana: Family Nutrition Education
University of California
Niños Saños, Familia Sana: Family Nutrition Education

Lesson 3.4: Eat-out or Take-out: Make healthy choices !


People who eat out more often, especially at fast food restaurants, are more likely to be overweight. Families can enjoy an occasional meal away from home but make healthy choices, such as vegetables, fruits, and whole grains. Making healthy choices also involves cutting back on foods and beverages that are high in calories, saturated fat, added sugar, and sodium.


MyPlate provides useful tips on eating out: 

  • Compare calories on menu and order lower calorie foods. Choose dishes with more vegetables, fruit, whole grains, lean protein, and/or low-fat dairy food. Ask for water or lower-fat milk to drink.
  • Choose smaller portions or share dishes. Order from the menu rather than the all-you-can-eat buffet; and
  • Choose steamed, grilled, or broiled dishes, rather than fried foods or dishes with creamy or cheese sauces. Ask for salad dressings on the side.  

Key Message: Make healthy choices when eating out or choosing take-out food. 

Objectives: By the end of the lesson, participants will be able to:

1) Identify the amount of calories in a serving on a food label and

2) Choose healthier options when eating out

Target Audience: Latino families with young children, ages 3 to 8 years

Teaching Tip: If the educator has information on typical food choices from recalls or other dietary tools, pictures of those foods can be included in the activity. Calorie and nutrient content of foods can be found in the US Department of Agriculture food composition database.  Calorie needs, which vary by age, gender and activity level, can be found in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans.

Materials: paper, pencils, and markers; 4-5 pairs of food labels for similar foods; pictures of typical food choices; (optional) 3-4 calculators; MyPlate poster; food and other supplies for food demonstration (suggested Chicken Chow Mein).

Handouts: recipes, food score cards

Set-up: Prepare picture cards of typical food choices with calories per portion on backside (see Table 1 Comparison of Fast Food, Take-Out Food). Prepare one set for every group of 3 participants. Put one set of cards and score cards for each group into large envelope or paper clip together for ease.

Click here to download complete lesson plan  Lesson 3.4 Eat-out or Take-out Make healthy choices (English)

Handouts and Activity Sheets

Chicken Chow Mein recipe (English Spanish)

Lesson 3.4 Food Score Card (English)

Other Resources

US Department of Agriculture. 10 Tips Eating foods away from home. (English Spanish)

US Department of Agriculture.  2017. MyPlate MyWins. Navigate the Buffet (English Spanish)

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