Now that you’re home for the summer, it seems like all your high school friends want to do is catch up over lunch or head out for a late dinner and movie. And on your college budget, it seems like fast food is your best (aka only) option.
Fast food makes dining easy – there’s no need to split the check plus everyone can get what they want for under five bucks. Ordering healthy and under 500 calories, however, is another story. But Spoon has your back with the best healthy choices at your fave fast food joints.
You walk into Chipotle and the smell of the sizzling steak and the anticipation for a heaping spoonful of guacamole makes your mouth water. It’s easy to get carried away as you build your bowl, burrito or salad at Chipotle, but I’m here to say that it’s possible to make a creation under 500 calories.
Start with a veggie salad, and top it off with pinto beans and fajita veggies. Skip the vinaigrette, and use the tomatillo green-chili salsa as a salad dressing. Have them sprinkle on some cheese, and of course pile on the guacamole, which comes free with veggie entrees (score). This meal tops off with 490 calories, 31 grams of fat and 16 grams of protein, filling out to a fairly healthy meal.
Panera offers so many combinations that it seems almost impossible to pick the healthiest choice. Sure, the salads look great, but sometimes the calories rack up quickly from heavy dressings and wonton strips.
Though many of the options fall into the same calorie range, your best order is the You Pick Two with half low fat natural chicken noodle soup and half classic salad. The soup and salad combination comes out to only 160 calories, six grams of fat and seven grams of protein.
Want more carbs? You can order a French baguette on the side for only 180 calories more, which still keeps you under your 500 calorie cap. You can also swap out the soup or salad for the half smoked turkey breast sandwich for 220 calories, which still keeps the calorie total low. Panera FTW.
The tricky part with Subway is knowing what toppings to order. Be sure to take advantage of the unlimited veggie toppings, and be mindful of the fatty meats, cheeses and heavy sauces. There are many ways to go about creating a subway sandwich under 500 calories, but the best way is to start with a nine-grain six inch sub.
Order turkey breast, your choice of cheese, and as many fresh veggies as your heart desires. Opt for the fresh vegetables, like cucumbers, green peppers, lettuce, onions and spinach, rather than thethe salty, pickled items, and top off your sandwich with the red wine vinaigrette sauce. This combination comes out to about 340 calories, seven grams of fat and 19 grams of protein, depending on which of the vegetables you choose.
4. Five Guys Burgers and Fries
Making a hamburger come in at under 500 calories seems like a pretty impossible task, especially if skipping the fries doesn’t seem to be an option. Unfortunately, none of the whole burgers or fries are under 500, but there are still ways around it.
If a real hamburger on a bun is your necessary choice, try out the little hamburger, which rounds out to about 480 calories. Or you can order a regular bunless hamburger, which weighs in at around 440 calories.
Want fries? Split the order of little fries with a friend. All of the bunless burgers and hot dogs hit under 500, so mix and match to find your perfect burger and fry combination.
The lowest calorie dish on the Micky D’s menu is the premium bacon ranch salad with grilled chicken for 260 calories, 10 grams of fat and 34 grams of protein. You can easily pair that with a side such as small fries, fruit and yogurt parfait, or mozzarella sticks, and stay under the 500 calorie threshold.
If salads aren’t your thing, most of the chicken sandwiches are under 500 calories, with your healthiest choice being the artesian grilled chicken sandwich for 360 calories.
6. Taco Bell
Those late night runs to Taco Bell can seriously pack on the pounds if you’re not making careful choices. Surprisingly, Taco Bell offers a Fresco Menu with items under 350 calories and 10 grams of fat. If none of those work for you, ask for no heavy cheeses or sauces on regular menu items to lower the cals.
7. Noodles and Company
The trick with Noodles and Company is to always order the small portion of pasta, and add a side salad for some extra sustenance. Avoid heavy sauces and carbohydrate-packed white pastas that will leave you hungry a few hours later.
Try ordering a small Bangkok curry with a lean protein, such as grilled chicken breast, and a side salad. This meal combo keeps you full, is packed with veggies, and comes out fairly low with 420 calories, 16 grams of fat and 27 grams of protein.