Harrisandbaker.com – If you need to grab a quick meal on the go but don’t want to totally blow your healthy eating plan, it’s still possible to do that while you hit your favorite fast food drive-thru. “Many fast-food chains offer healthier options to meet everyone’s dietary goals,” says Amy Fischer, M.S., R.D.N., registered dietitian with the Good Housekeeping Institute Nutrition Lab. By introducing more veggie-forward meals like salads and bowls, many chain restaurants now offer plenty of options that go beyond the typical cheeseburger-and-fries fare. This is awesome for folks who are trying to make healthier choices, and provides better options for people who live in areas where fast food chains are the main affordable option.
No matter where you are chowing down, Fischer says to keep these tips in mind for healthier ordering:
Start by loading your meal with as many healthy vegetables as possible, whether that means adding extra peppers to your pizza, asking for mushrooms on (or in place of!) your burger or scooping some salsa onto your burrito bowl. Veggies offer an amazing array of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber.
It’s a smart idea to opt for whole wheat or whole grain bread or rice options to sneak in some extra fiber.
Set your sights on menu items that feature lean proteins like grilled chicken or turkey, and of course veggies.
Aim to stick to one fat source—whether that’s cheese, avocado, sour cream or cream cheese. Be one and done whenever possible.
Try ordering salad dressing or other condiments on the side so you can better control how much you use.
Some chains even have ordering hacks that can help you add more nutrition to your meal without you having to think of the tweaks yourself. For example, ask for your Taco Bell order “fresco” to nix a dressing, cheese or sour cream.
Since healthier fast food orders may still contain more sodium, fat or added sugar than a home cooked meal might, this might be a good day to skip the sugary beverage and dessert.
Below are some of the “healthiest” fast food orders you can find at McDonald’s, Taco Bell, Wendy’s, Chipotle and more. We want to stress that there is no such thing as “bad” foods in our opinion (we also think terms like “cheat day”, “guilt-free” and “treat yourself” in relation to food can be problematic). Our goal here is not to tell you how to think, eat or live — nor is it to pass judgment on how you choose to nourish your body. Good Housekeeping has been exploring how we think about weight, the way we eat and how we try to control or change our bodies in our quest to be happier and healthier. We have a whole series about these topics, which you can learn more about.
Chipotle: Salad Bowl
Chipotle makes healthful eating hearty and easy. Opt for chicken or the sofritas (tofu-based), then pile on all the veggies (fajitas, salsa), and don’t forget beans for some extra fiber and protein! Skipping the rice, cheese, and sour cream helps make this a light option that still packs plenty of flavor.
Shake Shack: Hamburger
A humble hamburger from Shake Shack is delicious (load it up with veggie toppings and spreads!), and it’ll cost you fewer calories and has less overall fat and sodium than its fancier counterparts. Knock off a few more calories by getting it wrapped in just lettuce. If you’re a plant-based eater, go for the ‘Shroom burger.
White Castle: Original Slider
You don’t have to feel bad about enjoying a couple Original Sliders from White Castle — it scores better on the “healthy” scale than even the chicken or fish sliders. But here’s a surprise: if you’re looking for a vegetarian option, go with the Veggie Slider over the Impossible Slider to consume less overall calories and fat.
Burger King: Cheeseburger
Sure, Burger King offers plenty of other options, but it just seems so fitting to order this chain’s namesake. The single cheeseburger comes in at fewer calories and overall fat than even the chicken and plant-based items, and you can pad it with extra veggies and pickles.
Quiznos: Spicy Monterey Sub
If you’re heading to Quiznos, definitely get yourself a sub—the fan-fave Spicy Monterey, to be specific. The 4″ sandwich is piled with oven roasted turkey breast, smoked ham, melted provolone, pickles, LTO, mayo, and chili sauce (don’t be afraid to ask for extra veggies, and you can also ask for 1/2 the usual amount of meat if you’re just in the mood for a taste). Not big on heat? Nix the chili sauce.
Qdoba: Paleo Chicken Salad
Good news: Guac isn’t extra, it’s included! This salad from Qdoba is bursting with taste via good stuff like grilled veggies and chicken, pico de gallo and salsa verde, and of course, that guac! It also has less sodium, saturated fat, and carbs, plus more fiber than other options.
Domino’s: Pacific Veggie Thin Crust
The thin crust option from Domino’s is lighter than the hand-tossed, but crispy enough to hold up to all the delicious toppings. This veggie-centric pie is ideal, but if want to add a bit of protein, opt for chicken. And don’t forget the veggie side—what goes better together than salad and pizza?!
Arbys: Roast Beef Gyro
This order definitely “has the meat,” but it also delivers plenty of veggie goodness, big Greek-inspired flavor, and is served in a warm pita.
Per serving: 540 calories, 29 g fat (7 g sat fat), 48 g carbs, 5 g sugar, 1300 mg sodium, 3 g fiber, 24 g protein
Au Bon Pain: Mediterranean Salad
Get your strive-for-five servings of veggies at Au Bon Pain with this vegetarian salad. It’s full of greens, peppers, kalamata olives, feta, chickpeas, and other veggies to give your body the nutrition it needs.
Per serving: 350 calories, 24 g fat (7 g sat fat), 24 g carbs, 7 g sugar, 740 mg sodium, 8 g fiber, 12 g protein
Boston Market: Rotisserie Chicken Bowl
Skip the mac and cheese at Boston Market and instead load your bowl with fresh steamed vegetables, corn, and/or garlic dill potatoes (if you’re a serious mashed taters fan, ask for a half scoop). You can even request a double portion of veggies to get a super-dose of vitamins and fiber.
Per serving: Nutrition varies by side choices.