Whether you call them food trucks or mobile eateries, there’s a good chance that one of these mobile kitchens (or a pod of several) isn’t far from you right now, serving up tasty, exotic dishes. For their owners, food trucks are a low-overhead way to deliver meals into the hands of customers. For eaters, food trucks are a delicious way to sample many different cuisines.
But food truck offerings often pack a lot of calories into a small, portable package. Nevertheless, it’s possible to enjoy their eclectic cuisine without having to spend the whole day in the gym working off your indulgence. Here are a few tips:
- Be strategic. Don’t just hit the first cart you come to. Research menus online if possible, or take a walk around the entire pod so you can make an informed decision.
- Keep an eye on cleanliness. Before ordering, take a moment to evaluate the cart for sanitation. Make sure the people cooking the food are wearing gloves and, if appropriate, hats or hairnets. Check for general cleanliness.
- Bring a friend or two. Part of the fun of a food truck pod is getting to try a few different things, so bring a crowd. That way, you can each hit a different truck and share your finds.
- Think small. Don’t fall for the large size of anything; it may seem like a bargain to get so much extra food for a few pennies more, but in the end, it may be a high price to pay. Choose a couple of tacos over a burrito (a flour tortilla alone has around 300 calories). Look for “slider” versions of burgers.
- Say bye-bye to fried foods. It goes without saying that avoiding carts that specialize in deep-fried foods will protect your heart and your waistline.
- You don’t have to eat the whole thing. Instead, bring the second half of your meal back to the office and pop it into the refrigerator for tomorrow’s lunch.
- Put your own stamp on it. Don’t be afraid to ask for what you need: for instance, less rice or noodles and more veggies at Asian food carts. Or ask them to go easy on the sauce or dressing, or put it on the side.
Miriam Wolf is the editor of The FruitGuys Magazine newsletter.