How to Eat Healthy at Fast Food Restaurants
No one likes to admit they eat fast food. For some, it’s their guilty pleasure, or something they only eat past midnight. Others avoid it for different reasons, like this genius Taco Bell employee who makes the experience of dining fast, oh so thrilling. The truth is that most folks avoid these megachains because the majority of their menu choices are simply unhealthy.
But for some of us who are busy, getting drive-thru can be one of our only options. Of course, I would much rather cook with organic ingredients from Gwyneth Paltrow’s garden, and only eat out at raw restaurants with Bono, but that’s just not realistic for my bank account (also, Bono hasn’t been returning my phone calls as of late. LONG story).
But luckily, there are some really great, healthy options on most fast food restaurant’s menus. You just need to know how to find them. And don’t worry, I’m not just talking about the salad, which can sometimes end up being worse for you. I scoured the fast food highway and came up with a list of affordable, healthy, and most importantly, yummy options you can grab when you’re on the go.
El Pollo Loco’s Taco al Carbon
These tacos are my jam. I’ve spent many hours of my life in an El Pollo Loco drive-thru line and I’m not afraid to admit it. They’re made with corn tortillas, marinated grilled chicken, onions, and cilantro. I get two or three depending on my appetite and they’re an amazingly yummy, guilt-free way to fill up on the go.
PRO TIP: They come with two tortillas per taco. I like to take one of them off for less calories.
McDonald’s Egg White McMuffin
McDonald’s breakfast has always been a staple of road trips for me. And now, it’s become a staple of my regular life too, with the addition of their Egg White McMuffin. It’s warm, it’s filling, and it’s quick. The perfect way to do breakfast when you’re running late in the morning.
PRO TIP: I always order mine without butter because it tastes the same, and why get those extra calories if you don’t have to? I also order it without ham because I don’t eat pork, but I would argue that it tastes better without it anyway.
Taco Bell’s Fresco Chicken Soft Taco
This shouldn’t come as a shock to you, but I love chicken tacos. Made right, they’re healthy, flavorful, and fast. Taco Bell’s Fresco Chicken taco fits that bill.
PRO TIP: Add a side of their black beans and rice, only 180 calories, 4g of fat, and 6g of protein. Perfect addition for a delicious, cheap meal.
Jack in the Box’s Grilled Chicken Strips (4)
I feel like these bad boys are one of fast food’s best kept secrets. These grilled chicken strips are packed with protein and they’re also super tasty. And grilled is ALWAYS the healthiest way to eat chicken. A great way to solve those hunger pains when you don’t have time to stop for a proper meal.
PRO TIP: Add some of their apple bites for an inexpensive and fast serving of fruit!
In N Out’s Hamburger
Everyone’s gotta have a burger every once and while. There’s just no way around that. And my favorite fast food burger joint is, hands-down, In N Out. They use fresh, “never frozen” produce, which is commendable in a world where most restaurants don’t.
PRO TIP: Get it with mustard and ketchup ( instead of their spread) and make it “protein style” (aka without the bun), for an even healthier option (240 calories, 10g of fat 13g of protein).
Carl’s Jr./ Hardy’s Original Grilled Chicken Salad
Alright, I know I said no salads would be on this list but this salad is actually good. Also, Carl’s/Hardy’s is one of America’s bigger chains that reaches all across the country, so I figured I had to mention at least one item on their menu.
PRO TIP: Order it with no cheese, no croutons, and low fat balsamic vinaigrette dressing.