Being the newlywed that I am, I am obsessed with the idea of my husband coming home to a home-cooked meal, lunch already prepped for the next day, and fresh coffee brewing for after dinner to sit around and talk through our hopes and dreams. However, between working 7-5, side hustle projects, and the daily grind of living a healthy life – that picture perfect idea never really transpires into reality. Don’t get me wrong; we eat at home 75% of the time. Although cooking at home takes work, it saves money, and it’s our safest bet to living a healthy and well-balanced life. Unfortunately, life gets overwhelmingly busy and eating out is sometimes your only option when you’re rushing kids to soccer practice or grinding it out on a project. But it doesn’t have to mean death to your fitness goals. Ahead I’m sharing five of my favorite places to grab a quick bite and what I usually order from the menu.

Panera

  • BBQ chicken salad, whole
  • Dressing on the side
  • No tortilla strips

Brace yourself for what I’m about to say next. You have to sub that delicious baguette for an apple. It literally pains me to say that, and I wish there were another way, but it has to be done. You’ll thank me when you’re not hiding behind winter’s layers.

Chipotle

  • Chicken bowl
  • Brown rice (1/2 scoop), black beans (1/2 scoop), grilled chicken, fajita veggies, mild/medium/hot salsa, corn salad, and a small dollop of guacamole because healthy fats rule the world/
  • Tip: you can get a full scoop of brown rice and black beans, but it’s a big enough serving to last you for two meals – so if you’ve got self-control, this is also a good option to save a dollar or two.

Chick-Fil-A

The song “For You I Will” by Monica comes to mind whenever someone mentions the grilled chicken sandwich from Chick-Fil-A. But for real, I would cross the ocean for it! My go-to meal:

  • Chargrilled chicken sandwich with one bun removed
  • Superfood side salad

I’m a little biased because I worked at Chick-Fil-A throughout high school, but I love their meal calculator and how easy it is to customize your order to fit your goals. As long as you skip the fried options, you really can’t go wrong with many items on their menu.

Jimmy John’s

Before you start to think that I’ve lost my mind, two words: they deliver.

My sandwich of choice is the turkey tom with no mayo, unwich style (wrapped in lettuce instead of bread) and of course add on the avocado spread. If you’re feeling frisky, add in Thinny Chips because you’re worth it.

Papa Murphy’s

Okay, I have a confession: I don’t like pizza, but I do love Papa Murphy’s because my husband can fill his pizza void and I can get a salad. My favorite salad of theirs is the Mediterranean salad. Just 380 calories for the entire bowl!

Remember, sometimes making a healthier choice is still a win. While I wouldn’t suggest a Jimmy John’s sub above Atlantic wild caught salmon with a side of broccoli and brown rice, I’m not too disconnected with the reality of how busy life is for each of us to understand that some days a home cooked meal just isn’t an option. It helps me to remember that healthy choices, no matter how small, add up in a big way; so, next time you’re pressed for time you can have this eating out guide in your back pocket to stay on track with your whole living lifestyle.