Dietitian’s Best Fast-Food Meals

Healthy Fast-Food Options for Breakfast, Lunch & Dinner

Photo by Haseeb Jamil on Unsplash

Admittedly, fast-food isn’t typically my go-to choice for meals even when I’m on the road. My preference is to explore the local cuisine and support smaller restaurant businesses when I can. But we’ve all been on those trips where we just need to eat quickly and get to our destination.

My family road trips typically take place on the East Coast, so most of the fast-food meals suggested lean toward East Coast chain establishments. In no particular order, here are some of the fast-food meals that I prefer and recommend to clients who need some better options when eating on the road.

Breakfast

Photo by Duncan Kidd on Unsplash

McDonalds (Affordable & Quick)

  1. Egg McMuffin: The best breakfast choices contain protein to help you stay full longer and carbohydrates, for a boost of quick energy. McDonald’s Egg McMuffin has long been one of my go-to recommendations for my clients managing blood glucose levels (for the balance of protein and carbohydrates) and those managing cardiac conditions because it contains less sodium and fat than other breakfast sandwiches on the menu.

    Nutrition Facts: 310 calories, 13g Total fat, 30g carb, 17g protein, 2g fiber, 770mg sodium

  2. Fruit & Maple Oatmeal: Don’t eat eggs? Try to the fruit & maple oatmeal. This options is much lower in protein, so it might not keep you as full. But it contains much less sodium, for those individuals managing health-conditions where sodium intake matters.

    Nutrition Facts: 320 calories, 4.5g Total fat, 64g carb, 6g protein, 4g fiber, 150mg sodium.

Starbucks (Great Vegetarian & Vegan Choices)

  1. Strawberry Overnight Grains: These vegan overnight grains are made with coconut milk, oatmeal, quinoa, chia seeds, toasted coconut, strawberries and almonds. This choice is a good one for those following a plant-based meal pattern, but it is a little low in protein. In order to create a more satisfying meal, consider adding a snack packet of nuts to help keep you fuller longer.

    Nutrition Facts: 300 calories, 16g Total Fat, 35g carb, 5g protein, 4g fiber, 15 mg sodium

  2. Turkey Bacon Cheddar & Egg White Sandwich: A mix of protein and carbohydrates, this sandwich will keep you full and satisfy the need for a hot breakfast. It’s my top choice for a hot breakfast sandwich for meat-eaters because it contains less saturated fat and sodium for my clients that are managing cardiac conditions.

    Nutrition Facts: 230 calories, 5g Total Fat, 28g carb, 17g protein, 3g fiber, 550mg sodium

  3. Impossible Breakfast Sandwich: Finding plant-based breakfast sandwiches while traveling isn’t as difficult as it once was, but it can still be challenging. This sandwich uses the Impossible brand sausage, which is a great vegetarian option for those that prefer plant-based meals.

    Nutrition Facts: 420 calories, 22g Total Fat, 36g carb, 21g protein, 2g fiber, 800mg sodium

Lunch/Dinner

Photo by Oliur on Unsplash

Panera (A+ for Adding Produce to Your Plate)

  1. 2 Flat-bread Pizza Family Feast: Want to add some vegetables to your family’s meal pattern while traveling? Consider ordering the budget friendly flat-bread pizza family meal to share. The meal comes with two full size salads to share as well as two flatbread pizzas for $23.00.

Nutrition Facts: Will vary depending on the style of pizza and salads ordered.

  1. Mediterranean Bowl with Chicken: A Mediterranean bowl full of flavor, this is a great option for a balanced meal that should keep you satisfied until your next stop on the road. Consumed ‘as is’ without substitutions or modifications in terms of portions, it might be a little too high in carbohydrates for some of my clients with diabetes or too high in sodium for some of my cardiac clients, but this can be easily modified to fit anyone’s health needs or personal preferences.

    Nutrition Facts: 680 calories, 31g Total fat, 76g carb, 31g protein, 9g fiber, 1390 mg sodium

Chick-fil-A (My Favorite for Salad Choices)

  1. Market Salad: Some people go to Chick-fil-A for the chicken and fries, but I’ve long recommended it as a spot for the best fast-food salads for my clients. Not all fast-food establishments have great salads. In fact, I don’t suggest ordering them from most fast-food burger restaurants. The ingredients for the salads at Chick-fil-A are consistently fresh and the combinations are full of flavor. If you want a good salad that is affordable and fresh consider Chick-fil-A as your go-to stop.

Nutrition Facts: 540 calories, 31g Total fat, 41g carb, 28g protein, 4g fiber, 1020mg sodium

Burger King (Classic Burger Options)

  1. Double Cheeseburger: Fast-food burger speciality sandwiches can be calorically dense and full of saturated fat. Ordering so that you get your cravings met is important, but I also like to suggest options for my clients that have slightly better nutrition profiles. The double-cheeseburger is my favorite speciality sandwich to recommend on the menu not only because it is a slightly better (from a nutrition standpoint) option than the other speciality sandwiches but also because I do occasionally love a good cheeseburger.

Nutrition Facts: 388 calories, 20g Total Fat, 27g carb, 23g protein, 0g fiber, 592mg sodium

Chipotle (Customize to Your Preferences)

  1. Lifestyle Bowls: I don’t advocate following diet trends and certainly don’t prescribe trendy diets to my clients, and these lifestyle bowls are branded under specific diet trends, which I don’t prefer. I do, however, like the multitude of ways that Chipotle allows and even promotes customization of various food bowls to meet all kinds of dietary preferences and also has adequate information for those that have serious food allergies. If you want something you can personalize and love Mexican food, stopping at Chipotle for lunch or dinner might be good option.

What are your favorite fast food places and foods to order when you are traveling or need a quick meal? Drop a comment below to let us know.

Leave a comment

Share The Well