If you’re anything like me, your days are filled with busy appointments/errands and you’re always running behind. When it comes to grabbing a snack or a quick lunch the last thing I want to do is stop at a traditional restaurant where I have to sit and order, then wait for my food. What’s a girl on the go to do? Hit a drive-thru of course! Now I know what you’re thinking.. drive-thru’s aren’t historically known for healthy eating options but times have changed. Fast food restaurants are making it easier than ever for the proactive healthy types who research every little thing they put in their mouths. Menus are so full of choices nowadays that it’s not uncommon to find a bacon cheeseburger sitting next to a veggie wrap or protein bowl. Love that!!
For many, the words ‘fast food’ and ‘drive-thru’ bring to mind hamburgers and french fries but I am here to tell you that almost all fast food restaurants will have 1 or 2, if not many more healthy options to help you maintain a more nutritious lifestyle.
Disclaimer: I’m not a nutritionist… simply sharing what I have discovered while grabbing a last minute bite to eat while on the road. All of these meals aren’t complete meals hitting all the nutrient points, just small foods that I find that help me when I’m on the go. There are so many times when I’m out and about and need something quick to eat along the way. I have found that like everything in life – being flexible is important, moderation is key and the word substitution matters. Think, ‘When Harry Met Sally’. ;)
I always try to keep it real on my blog and hope that you can appreciate this.. Fast food chains and drive-thru’s play an important part of my busy life. Yes, I try to eat as super healthy as I can for the most part but… life is life as they say and convenience is convenience. Doing a little research has helped me stop at my favorite drive-thru’s without feeling as guilty and ordering the healthier options has changed my entire outlook. Knowledge is king as they say. Even at fast food restaurants. ;)
Hamburger – 250 calories, 13g protein, 8 grams of fat
I have to admit… I love a tiny McDonald’s hamburger when I’m starving. If I’m craving a burger and don’t want a ton of fat and calories, this is what you’ll find me stopping for. It’s surprisingly filling and at just 8 grams of fat + 13 g of protein it keeps me feeling full. I don’t know what it is about this burger but it’s a good option for me if I’m looking for something super quick and easy. (Another favorite burger without the carbs is the – In & Out protein style burger. It’s their classic burger wrapped in lettuce. So good!)
Egg White Delight McMuffin – 280 calories, 18g protein, 10 grams of fat
Great breakfast option for on-the-go. It includes egg whites, Canadian bacon, white cheddar and butter on an english muffin. If you take off the cheese and request – no butter, this immediately becomes a healthy option! One of Jeff’s road trip go-to’s.
Egg White Grill without cheese $4.29 – 250 calories, 25g of protein, 7 grams of fat
If you’re ever hungry and looking for a quick bite to eat for breakfast I definitely recommend this Egg White Grill without cheese! Without the cheese this sandwich, made up of 2 multigrain english muffins, egg whites and grilled chicken, packs in a lot of protein and it’s only 250 calories!
Spicy Southwest Salad with Grilled Nuggets & Chili Lime Vinaigrette $8.99 – 250 calories and 39g of protein, 17 grams of fat
This salad is not only delicious, but it’s also nutritious! It technically comes with a creamy salsa salad dressing.. but if you replace this fatty dressing (31 grams of fat) with the low-cal Chili Lime Vinaigrette ( 3 grams of fat), this salad becomes quite healthy! Emma and I snag this salad quite a few times a month on those lazy days.
Grilled Chicken Sandwich $5.59 – 310 calories and 29g of protein, 6 grams of fat
Definitely think about getting this sandwich if you’re craving something with a little of everything.. It’s a low calorie option packed with protein, lettuce + tomato and a multigrain bun.
Spicy Tostada – 210 calories, 6g protein, 10 grams of fat
If you take the cheese off of this tostada, it’s by far the healthiest thing on the taco bell menu! It’s also only $1.
Veggie Power Menu Bowl – 480 calories, 14g of protein, 19 grams of fat ( see below)
This bowl seems to have a lot of calories and fat but if you hold the ‘creamy avocado ranch sauce’ and the sour cream.. it’s so much healthier! I love bowls and it’s nice to be able to get one at a drive-thru.
Spinach, Feta, & Cage-Free EggWhite Breakfast Wrap – 290 calories & 19g of protein, 10 grams of fat
This option is great for those who are already running to Starbucks in need of caffeine and want a little bite to eat. Remember this one also if you’re traveling through an airport. There is always a Starbucks in just about every terminal. ;)
6-inch Veggie Delight – 230 calories, 9g of protein, 2 grams of fat
We love the veggie delight sandwich and have for years. It’s a healthy option for those who want to eat something full of color and nutrients but low in fat. It’s also filling. Runner-up fave sandwich: the Turkey/Avocado sandwich with extra veggies and no cheese/mayo.
Modern Greek Salad with Quinoa – 520 calories and 12g protein
This is a higher calorie option but it’s full of fresh & healthy fats vs. saturated fats! Especially if you ask for the dressing on the side (I always do this!) and go light on the feta – this option is great. It’s also convenient because many Paneras are drive-thru’s now. We love many of the salads at Panera. A couple stand outs – the Fuji Apple Chicken and the Spicy Thai with chicken – make sure to go for a light dressing rather than the rich Thai. Or use it sparingly. So good!
Tips for keeping things healthy:
- Always ask for dressing or sauce on the side. If they don’t have a healthier option or one that is lower in fat, use sparingly or go without if you can. Salsa is another healthy alternative to dressing.
- HOLD the mayo. Mayo is simply too high in saturated fats.
- Don’t worry so much about the calories if it’s a healthy bulky salad full of fresh produce and proteins.
- Look out for the S’s in foods – Sugar and Sodium. Both do you a disservice in high amounts and they are often hidden in foods. While some salads seem healthy, dressings can be loaded with sugar.
- Before ordering anything, google the nutritional facts for all details
Hopefully this post will help you select a healthier option at your next grab and go meal.. While I would much rather eat at home, sometimes it just isn’t possible. Drive-thru’s save me more times than I can count. Just knowing what to pick out ahead of time makes a huge difference. :)
Do you have any favorite healthy fast food go-to’s that you love? Please share!! I’m always looking for new ideas..
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