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Let’s be real here. No matter how much you try to avoid it, fast food happens — especially when you’re a busy working mom.
Try these easy menu hacks for healthier ordering. Yes, the sodium may still be high, but at least you’ll stay under 500 calories for most of these.
Chick-fil-A’s grilled sandwich only has 320 calories. Stick with just the sandwich for a low-calorie meal, or opt for their grilled chicken nuggets (140 calories) with a side of small fries (270 calories) for a more complete meal that will satisfy your waffle-fry cravings.
1. Grilled Cheese
Ask for a bun with cheese and no chicken if you’re short on cash.
Total Cost: $0.49
Total Calories: 180
2. Superfood Side Salad with 8-count Grilled Nuggets
Kale and broccolini with dried cherries tossed in a maple vinaigrette? Yes, please! Add grilled nuggets for a filling meal that’s delicious enough to be served at an upscale restaurant.
Total Cost: $7.74
Total Calories: 280
3. Chick-fil-A Deluxe Sandwich ordered “Protein-Style”
The lettuce at Chick-fil-A is among the best served at fast-food restaurants. It’s rarely limp, and because it’s green leaf lettuce, it actually looks as good as it tastes (versus the iceberg lettuce served at other restaurants). At Chick-fil-A you can order any sandwich “Protein-Style” so your sandwich is wrapped in light lettuce instead of carb-heavy bread.
Total Cost: $3.65
Total Calories: 330
Stick with 6-inch subs over footlongs. Footlong sandwiches start at around 500 calories.
4. Gutted Sandwich
Ask your Subway Sandwich Artist to remove the fluffy bread inside the roll before piling on your chosen toppings. This will save you a few empty calories.
Total Cost: Varies
Total Calories: Varies
Stick to grilled chicken instead of fried chicken sandwiches, and never use the full dressing packet if you order a salad. Use the full packet, and you might as well order a Big Mac — there are so many calories in those dressings!
5. Poor Man’s Big Mac: a McDouble with lettuce and Big Mac sauce — hold the ketchup and mustard
A regular Big Mac has a third slice of bread, 90 more calories, and costs about $2 more than this specialized McDouble.
Total Cost: $1.69
Total Calories: 470
6. Grilled Cheese Sandwich
Pretty much just a grilled bun and cheese. For more protein, go ahead and order a regular cheeseburger — it’s only 100 calories more.
Total Cost: $0.99
Total Calories: 200
7. Add an Artisan Grilled Chicken Fillet to a Side Salad
Order a side salad with an Artisan Grilled Chicken fillet, and use only half the dressing instead of a large premium salad with dressing that’s loaded with calories. However, if you must order a bigger salad, opt for the Southwest Grilled Chicken — it’s only about 350 calories with the Cilantro Lime Glaze.
Total Cost: $4.38
Total Calories: 150 without dressing
Just say no to mayo. Oh, and stick to just the sandwich instead of ordering a full value meal.
8. Veggie Whopper
Other than the patty, the only thing separating a Veggie Whopper from the classic BK Whopper is the bun. Order the Veggie Burger on a Whopper bun at no extra charge.
Total Cost: $3.29
Total Calories: 500
9. Mustard Whopper
At Burger King, you’re looking at an extra 160 calories when there’s mayo involved. To order a Mustard Whopper, ask for mustard on your sandwich instead of mayo.
Total Cost: $4.19
Total Calories: 500
To cut 25% of the calories in regular menu items, go “Fresco Style,” which replaces the mayo-based sauces and cheeses with fresh pico de gallo.
10. The Incredible Hulk: a Five Layer Burrito ordered “Fresco Style” with guacamole instead of nacho cheese sauce and sour cream
You won’t be cutting that many calories off the original Five Layer Burrito, but you’ll be replacing bad fats with better ones found in the guacamole.
Total Cost: $1.89
Total Calories: 460
11. Grilled Bean Burrito “Fresco Style”
Taco Bell will grill any burrito upon request — for free! So if a Bean Burrito without cheese sounds boring, try it grilled for extra texture without added calories.
Total Cost: $1.29
Total Calories: 350
12. Crunchwrap Supreme “Fresco Style” with black beans instead of beef
Swap out the meat for beans in any Taco Bell menu item. Do that to a Crunchwrap, and you’ve got yourself a filling meal for under 500 calories.
Total Cost: $3.17
Total Calories: 460
Skip the cheese and sour cream. Load up on extra fillings and salsas for free instead.
13. Chicken burrito bowl with brown rice, pinto beans, fajita veggies, and pico de gallo
If you’re vegetarian, skip the sofritas or meat, and get guacamole instead for no additional charge.
Total Cost: $6.70
Total Calories: 535
14. Chicken taco kid’s meal with blueberries and organic milk
Choose two soft corn tortillas and add pinto beans, fajita veggies, lettuce, pico de gallo, or green salsa for a filling, but not too heavy, meal. Plus, you get fresh blueberries or chips and milk for less than $5!
Total Cost: $4.75
Total Calories: 480
15. Single taco
Not in the mood to devour an entire burrito bowl? You can choose to order single tacos instead of the standard three. Since you’re only getting one, feel free to add cheese and sour cream without guilt.
Total Cost: $2.25
Total Calories: around 338