Nutrition and Labeling - Healthy fast food?




View Full Version : Healthy fast food?


angelmom313
03-21-2009, 08:19 PM
Ok, my family is on a tight budget right now. We normally eat "cheap" fast food or somewhere we can get "deals" so, is there any site that I can find what is the best things to eat at specific restaurants?

Thanks.


kelly315
03-21-2009, 08:27 PM
that's a tough question. Wendy's potatoes (forget all the extra cheese/bacon) and their chili is actually pretty decent for you. Forget the salads from pretty much anywhere, because if they're not terrible for you they're still expensive. Um, if you can afford the grilled chicken sandwiches at some places, those aren't too bad either.

RealCdn
03-21-2009, 09:00 PM
It could be time to work on your cooking skills. Seriously. I'm not sure that eating out is really that cheap. I bought frozen veggies this week (~$6 for 4lbs) and boneless chicken breasts on sale (for $3/lb). And you can get other cuts of chicken a lot cheaper (and it's easier to cook a whole chicken, season it and toss it in the oven. But even at that, for 2 people:

1 lb chicken - $3
1/4 bag of veg - $1.50
brown rice - ?? but pretty cheap

And you don't need 1 lb of chicken usually for two people. Although I don't do low carb, I tend to drop the starch from my evening meal, so I would be making more chicken, and no rice. Even if you don't have a lot of spices and such - you can get by on salt, pepper, and basil for the chicken. Adding a few other ingredients can get you a good meal for very little. Maybe it's the difference between Canada and the US, but I never find fast food all that cheap.

(I tend to go a little overboard, as I make my own lunch stuff now... smoking turkey when it's on sale, and eye of round roasts, etc., but we actually seem to be spending a lot less on stuff lately.)


angelmom313
03-21-2009, 09:28 PM
THANKS. I am actually cutting back on eating out because I need to eat healthier. But, honestly, eating healthy at home is not that cheap either...well chicken can be if you catch it on sale. But I made baked Salmon fillets the other night with baked sweet potatoes and veggies. I love Salmon but cannot afford it very often! :( Seriously, I would lose some serious weight if I could afford to buy all the salmon I wanted to eat! And I am sick to death of grilled chicken, so I need to check out some recipes!! THANKS FOR THE HELP!

ptcjstc84
03-21-2009, 10:32 PM
Some places ARE better than others, yes...but it's still fast food. I'm right there with ya....my life is kind of hectic right now, and I don't always feel like I have time to cook. Still, it can be worthwhile to learn how to make some quick healthy dishes. You also cut out dangerous chemicals like MSG when you cook at home. I think in the end...it's worth it. I just need to practice what I preach a little more I think...

beerab
03-21-2009, 11:23 PM
At work I have a list that is fast food meals under 500 calories. If you google "fast food meals under 500 calories" a ton comes up :)

It takes into account that you drink water with your meals.

nelie
03-22-2009, 12:05 AM
I don't eat meat and meat is pretty expensive. You can buy lots of veggies, beans, whole grains, etc for a pretty decent price.

ringmaster
03-22-2009, 12:49 AM
I was going to say the salads, I think they are ok if you are careful with what is on them and careful what/how much dressing you use, but like someone mentioned already, they are expensive.

The chicken sandwiches are ok...but they are on white bread and some place's chicken seems more processed and not a real chicken breast. Seems a little hard to eat healthy and cheap at fast food places if you eat there often.

RealCdn
03-22-2009, 10:55 AM
You can also go heavy on vegetarian meals (as Nellie said). However, as a meat eater I'd also add in lean meats, even in small amounts. The one thing to note is that I sometimes purchase cheaper meats on sale (blade roasts, pork chops, etc.) and trim them myself. I got semi-boneless blade roasts on sale in the fall at $1.79 / lb and even with cutting out the small bone that was left, and a bunch of fat, it still came in under $2.49 (by now I forget the exact price, but I remember thinking that even if the boneless was on sale for 2.49 I'd be ahead of the game). I then made soup with the leftover bones and scraps (cooled and skimmed the stock first, to remove the fat).

If you like homemade hamburgers, I find that mixing lean ground beef with turkey makes an almost indistinguishable burger from our regular beef-only burgers. I add an egg to ~ 1-1/2 lbs meat to hold them together (with salt, pepper, garlic) and freeze them for convenience.

Oh, and speaking of eggs, sometimes a frittata is a good way to use up leftover meats/veggies.

MiaRocks
03-22-2009, 09:24 PM
Subway all the way! I am actually losing weight on it right now!

beerab
03-23-2009, 06:07 PM
Here is that site I was talking about:

http://seosfightfat.com/nathaniajohnson/2008/02/22/158-fast-food-meals-for-500-calories-or-less/

angelmom313
03-25-2009, 12:42 AM
Thanks. I think I am gonna just try to stay away from fast food. If I go, I have gotten some good tips here and can use them. THANKS! I think if I "practice" or actually put some more effort into it, I can buy food for home that will be healthier. If not, I will just cut what I eat in half.

:) Thanks again.

cbmare
03-25-2009, 07:54 PM
Don't forget about Diet Facts.

http://www.dietfacts.com

kaebea
03-30-2009, 09:14 PM
just stick with the burgers, skip the fries, that's what i do when i fast food is the only option and i dont' want to blow my diet.

subway, that's a good one, we all know about Jared...

taco bell bean burritos have about 300 calories a piece. Tostadas are not that high in calories and a taco has under 300 calories. a regular taco that is.

I do Panera alot. they have good soups and salads. or just a bagel with cream cheese occasionally.

it's hard, if not impossible to do cheap fast food and be healthy. I wouldn't recommend it as a norm for anyone who cares about getting healthy.

what about making and freezing food ahead of time? like rice or something? soups and cooked chicken and beef strips or chunks freeze well and thaw out pretty quick in a skillet meal.
i'm kinda in the same boat as you. i've been in a rut where i just don't feel like cooking when i get off work, hence the Panera! it gets expensive though...


I guess for cheap healthy meals, you can get a bag of rice for relatively cheap, frozen veggies and look for sales on meat. or dried beans as someone mentioned. and for fresh fruit, look for whatever is seasonal and on sale. Do you have a Marc's or an Aldi's where you live? cheap grocery stores.

vixxi
03-30-2009, 09:33 PM
I go to Dunkin Donuts often because, like so many of us im on the go all the time and have a hard time eating healthy when doing so. I'd suggest the Egg White Turkey Sausage Flatbread Sandwich, i get it for breakfast or lunch and its about 280 calories, or less. All the fast food restaurants have nutrition facts on their websites so if i know im not eating at home i look up what im planning on having to be sure its within my calorie allowance for the day.

Plexi
05-12-2009, 02:14 PM
I eat at Salad Works often. I love their buffalo chicken salad. I substitute the romaine lettuce for spinach, and the cheese for a nice corn bean salsa. Add alittle light ranch (I usually carry my own if Im getting a salad) and its soooo delicious

zenor77
05-16-2009, 06:18 PM
www.dietfacts.com is a great site to use when eating out, but honestly, I don't think there really is such a thing as healthy fast food. Until restaurants start publishing all the ingredients and trade secrets (not just nutrition info) we'll never know just how healthy fast food is.

I remember seeing a news show that mentioned how fast food places spray their salads with sugar water to keep them from browning. This was several years ago, so I'm not sure if this is still the case, but it makes my point that you just don't know what's in the food.

It's hard to completely avoid fast food all together, but I make an effort to make fast food a rare occasion. Just make the best choices you can with the information you have available and try to eat at home more.

Eating healthy at home doesn't have to be pricey. Dried beans, eggs, brown rice, and frozen veggies are all cheap. If you look around, you may find cheap sources of other protein and fresh veggies too. I belong to a CSA and for a monthly fee I get lots of fresh organic veggies for less than what I spent on non-organic veg at the grocery store.

ValRock
05-16-2009, 06:34 PM
Eating out is so much more expensive than cooking in, no matter how you slice it!

We're on a budget too so I got a big bag of frozen chicken breasts, a few bags of dried beans, a bag of rice, a bag of potatoes, Some fruits and veg's, Some lean pork and chicken cuts, and ground turkey for the week or longer.

I spent about $50. That wouldn't go very far AT all for our family of 4 eating out.

kaplods
05-16-2009, 08:44 PM
There are alot of ways to eat healthy on a tight budget. There are some wonderful books on the subject (which can be bought cheaply on amazon.com - or better yet ordered from the library).

I do have several that I liked enough to buy for keeps (or picked up dirt cheap at thrift stores or yard sales)


Good Cheap Food by Miriam Ungerer

The Complete Tightwad Gazette by Amy Dacyczyn

The TVP Cookbook: Using the Quick-Cooking Meat Substitute by Dorothy R. Bates

The Beardstown Ladies' Stitch-In-Time Guide to Growing Your Nest Egg: Step-By-Step Planning for a Comfortable Financial Future by Robin Dellabough

Fix-It and Forget-It Cookbook: Feasting with Your Slow Cooker by Dawn J Ranck

Crockery Cookery by Mabel Hoffman

_____________

Hubby and I are on a very tight budget, with both of us being on disability. We're needing to find an apartment with more handicapped accessible features, and that means about $200 more going to rent and utilities - so we're going to have to find ways to cut $200 from our existing budget. That's going to be tricky, so I've recently been checking out a lot of frugal living cooking and living books, and trying to find more ways to trim the budget.

Books I've either checked out from the library or am on a waiting list for at the library are (there are a lot more, these are just the one's my library had and I've not read yet - there were about 10 books I checked out from the library last month, and can't remember the titles of. The Miserly Mom series are the only I remember by title):

The best of living cheap news : practical advice on saving money and living well
by Roth, Larry.

Everyday Cheapskate's greatest tips : 500 simple strategies for smart living
by Hunt, Mary

Yankee magazine's living well on a shoestring : 1,501 ingenious ways to spend less for what you need and have more for what you want


$3 meals : feed your family delicious, healthy meals for less than the cost of a gallon of milk by Brown, Ellen.

The Biggest Loser family cookbook : budget-friendly meals your whole family will love by Alexander, Devin.

Cut your spending in half without settling for less : how to pay the lowest price for everything by Rodale Press.

Eat cheap but eat well by Mattocks, Charles.


How to save money everyday by Kay, Ellie.

Shop, save and share by Kay, Ellie.

the final countdown
05-16-2009, 09:14 PM
Have you considered purchasing frozen micro-wave meals to substitute for the times you would go out for fast food? They have the convience without all the guilt, and you can purchase them for what it would cost for 2 items on the dollar menu. And they are just as quick as waiting in line at the ff counter or drive-thru. They may not be as tight nutritionaly home cooking, but they are better than ff.

ValRock
05-16-2009, 10:39 PM
Have you considered purchasing frozen micro-wave meals to substitute for the times you would go out for fast food? They have the convience without all the guilt, and you can purchase them for what it would cost for 2 items on the dollar menu. And they are just as quick as waiting in line at the ff counter or drive-thru. They may not be as tight nutritionaly home cooking, but they are better than ff.

This is a fantastic Idea. There are some pretty good quality ones on the market right now! I use them a lot when I need to grab lunch on the way out the door to work :).

Check out Amy's Organic (OMG so goooood)
http://www.amys.com/

Healthy Choice has some new all natural meals. I've been impressed by the ones I've tried!
http://www.3fatchicks.com/healthy-choice-new-natural-frozen-meals%20/

Best of luck to you :). It' hard to juggle it all sometimes!

digitalrequiem
05-16-2009, 11:47 PM
The problem with eating even the healthier options at a standard fast food place is that it can be loaded with hidden dangers like high sodium or sugar.

However, when I eat fast food I try and make my items a little bit healthier by modifying it to fit my food guidelines. I leave off any sour cream or cheese, because those can add massive calories depending on the type used. No bacon or creamy sauces used for toppings. Most places now offer a healthier side option in place of fries like side salads or fresh fruit. I drink water or unsweetened tea instead of soda. Also, if I can avoid it, I never eat at the resturant. I bring it home and serve it like a regular meal on a regular plate. That makes me feel like I am having a real dinner and really works for me for some reason..lol. And the big thing is that I try and eat my food slowly so I have a chance to feel full and not cave and purchase a large fry.

But if money is your issue, it is definitely more expensive to eat out. Even if you are just buying 2 value meals at about $5 each, that is $10 for just one meal. You can cook a meal for $10 that will probably leave leftovers for lunch the next day. I had to get serious about menu planning for each week when money got tight around here. I planned out every meal for each day. It usually took me about 2 hours during the week, but it was well worth it. It is amazing how much less you spend at the grocery store when you have a list and you stick to it! Our grocery bill was practically cut in half.

Misti in Seattle
05-19-2009, 01:22 AM
You can get a wonderful salad for very few $$$ at Chipotle Mexican Grill but you have to be careful what you have them put on it or it will be loaded with calories! :) But I often get one and make it into two meals, as it is big enough. Their food is all organic and very fresh. And again, there are options... I always leave off the dressing and double up on fresh pico de gallo for instance. They have several meat options but I go for the grilled chicken. Delicious!

MeganBeth
05-19-2009, 02:28 PM
You can get a wonderful salad for very few $$$ at Chipotle Mexican Grill but you have to be careful what you have them put on it or it will be loaded with calories! :) But I often get one and make it into two meals, as it is big enough. Their food is all organic and very fresh. And again, there are options... I always leave off the dressing and double up on fresh pico de gallo for instance. They have several meat options but I go for the grilled chicken. Delicious!


Yum we love chipotle here too! I often get a burrito bowl (no tortilla pretty much a salad) and have them add the fajita veggies, chicken, and leave off the sour cream and cheese. Double fresh tomato salsa and every once in a while corn salsa too.

Thighs Be Gone
05-19-2009, 02:32 PM
Do you have Albertson's where you are? I see that you like salmon. The sockeye salmon (Alaskan wild caught) goes on sale for $3.99 a pound tomorrow. That is just $1 a serving. Sockeye is the very best nutritionally.

Thighs Be Gone
05-19-2009, 02:36 PM
I don't often eat out. Other than Subway, I don't really "trust" restaurants. I mean how do you know if someone there is putting on 1 Tbs. or 3 Tbs. of mayo or ketchup? Same goes for sauces and dressings and the like. I don't really stress about it though since we don't eat out frequently but if you do dine out frequently it may be something to consider. There have been many, many reports on local news stations testing the nutrition content in these so called, "heart healthy" or "calorie wise" menus. More often than not they are grossly incorrect. :(

Misti in Seattle
05-20-2009, 12:08 AM
Hi MeganBeth... yum your burrito bowl sounds pretty much like my salad. :) And I love their fresh pico de gallo (or tomato salsa). I always get a double scoop of it too. Plus here you can get up to four free little containers -- and I usually buy four more so I have eight to take home and use all week. I just used my last one tonight. :) I wish the restaurant was closer... I always go out of my way to go there when I am on that side of town... generally on Sundays as my church is over that way. It is a wonderful treat.

ennay
05-22-2009, 02:25 PM
THANKS. I am actually cutting back on eating out because I need to eat healthier. But, honestly, eating healthy at home is not that cheap either...well chicken can be if you catch it on sale. But I made baked Salmon fillets the other night with baked sweet potatoes and veggies. I love Salmon but cannot afford it very often! :( Seriously, I would lose some serious weight if I could afford to buy all the salmon I wanted to eat! And I am sick to death of grilled chicken, so I need to check out some recipes!! THANKS FOR THE HELP!

Even so if you think about what food you would be eating if you were eating out THE SAME food will be healthier and cheaper at home. Yeah salmon is expensive, but I bet you arent getting baked salmon at the cheap fast food place.

Get lean ground beef and whole grain buns and make a burger. Get a potato and make oven fries. Burger and fries. Healthier. cheaper (although you will probably not make a patty so small at home that it can barely be seen)

soft corn tortilla shells. Lean shredded chicken or ground meat. reduced fat cheese. Fill it out with canned black beans. lettuce, tomato Tacos. healthier. cheaper

etc.

Also you can stretch ground beef with black beans or lentils to make leaner, higher in fiber and cheaper.

ciecie
05-30-2009, 10:50 PM
if i have to get fast food, i go for subway! check the web sites for all the other fast food places. how about grilling pork chops?

Misti in Seattle
05-31-2009, 12:43 AM
Today I tried my hand at making falafel and it was wonderful! I did use the organic mix which made it super easy to make. Just mixed it with water and made it into little balls. Then I put them on the George Foreman grill and mashed each one down into a little patty! YUM! And no deep frying!!!

ciecie
05-31-2009, 11:33 AM
sounds yummy! i had a wonderful lunch at red lobster not too long ago. i can't remember the fish i had but i had it blackened.

slimmingsi
05-31-2009, 09:23 PM
i hardly eat out. eating in is much much cheaper. however its the initial outlay that costs. i.e a 15kg bag of rice can cost alot of money for someone on a budget but will feed a family of 5 pretty much every evening meal for month.

ciecie
05-31-2009, 09:49 PM
you're right slimmingsi. eating at home is always cheaper.

txestella
07-07-2009, 01:12 AM
Here is that site I was talking about:



This site is awesome! I actually have a print out/folder of many fast food places in our area that is kept in the car, but I like to have some established combos in mind.

abetterme
07-07-2009, 01:54 AM
Taco bell fresco style tacos and burritos don't gave that much cals compared to all the rest of the stuff they make there and it tastes good.

ciecie
07-07-2009, 07:55 AM
subway is my favorite chain! their ham sub is excellent!

Cebsme
07-07-2009, 12:20 PM
As a busy college student, wife, farmer,and what seems like endless trips to the doctors, etc..etc.. there are times I HAVE to eat on the run, if I am running late to class, have a study group, or appointments. I go to subway. For a few reasons, theres enough variety even though its sandwiches there are a number of different ways to eat them. It keeps me within my calories, especially with the addition of baked chips, and other side options. Its the healthiest place on the way to school. I pass every fast food restaurant in town on my way to school, I used to stop nightly at a different one, now I have one stop, they know me, and what I want and its done quickly so I can run.

SunshineCA
07-10-2009, 04:05 PM
Don't forget about Diet Facts.

http://www.dietfacts.com

Thanks for the website! I just bookmarked it. :)

I don't eat out as much as I used to because it was becoming too costly for my wallet and my body. Fast food always leaves a "blech" feeling afterward.

I'm on the South Beach Diet and do well most of the time. ;) I was on Phase 2 off and on but went back to Phase 1 this week. I do well with this phase but get overconfident on Phase 2 because I add a fast food meal here or there. Before I know it I'm eating more fast food than the right foods.

As long as I plan my meals in advance I'm successful. This way I leave no room for fast food. Of course there are emergencies that arise, like leaving the house without your lunch bag. ;) Having knowledge of what to eat and where makes it better. The South Beach Diet has a book with fast food allowances. There's also a sticky on the SBD threads.

Good luck to all of you on your weight loss journeys. :)

ciecie
07-10-2009, 09:15 PM
i also try to plan in advance. doesn't always work though.

starfishkitty
07-12-2009, 03:00 PM
I have as well discovered the beauty of Subway this week! Not only are they much healthier than other fast food places.... but when in doubt about calories.... check out their napkins! :D Can't ask for better! haha

ciecie
07-12-2009, 03:15 PM
amanda, did the subway you went to have the rewards cards? if they did and you didn't get one, you should get one the next time you are there. you can earn points for a free sub.