Erica is the Local Perspectives editor for TodaysMama.com. She is the mama of 2 boys and a punk dog and the wife to her best friend. Work experiences include writing, editing, teaching, project management, and designing PEZ dispensers. She likes thunderstorms, old barns, and driving at night in the summertime, and dislikes arrogance and pickles.

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Road Trip Healthy Fast Food Choices

The weekend road trip, an upcoming spring break romp, or a lengthy summer adventure — any and all of these will include a stop at an interstate “easy on, easy off” fast food restaurant. You don’t have to succumb to the large fries each time.  Here are the less-famous healthy fast food choices that will keep you around the 300-calorie mark for each meal.

Healthy Fast Food Choices for Road Trips

McDonald’s

McDonald’s has long been the pariah of the fast-food industry, but they’ve done the most to create healthy options and make all nutritional facts easily available.  Their site is the most intuitive and transparent.  It’s still up to YOU to make a healthy order while smelling those fries sizzling in grease.

McDonald's Mango Real Fruit Smoothie

Breakfast

Fruit & Maple Oatmeal: 340 calories
Fruit ‘n’ Yogurt Parfait: 150 calories
Fruit & Walnuts: 210 calories
Egg McMuffin: 210 calories (but contains 33% of your daily sodium)
Sausage Burrito: 300 calories
Hash Browns: 150 calories each
Small Orange Juice: 150 calories
 

Daytime

Premium Caesar Salad: 90 calories (add 100 for chicken)
Premium Southwest Chicken & Bacon Ranch Salads: 140 calories each
Chicken McNuggets: 190 calories
Snack Wraps: 250-270 calories, depending on sauce (add 80 calories for crispy chicken)
Hamburger: 250 calories (add 50 calories for cheese)
Small Fries: 230 calories (yes, SMALL fries)
Baked Apple Pie: 250 calories
Real Fruit Smoothies: 200-220 calories
Roast Iced Coffee: 140 calories
Iced Mocha Drinks: 280-290 calories
 

Wendy’s

The nutritional site for Wendy’s is bold, colorful, and not as easy to choose and access each food choice — though the “add to order” click delivers a handy chart to comprehensively see how the meal stacks up.  Breakfast options are not yet available on the nutritional menu.

wendys grilled chicken go wrap

Jr. Hamburger: 250 calories
6-piece Spicy Chicken Nuggets: 280 calories
4-piece Chicken Nuggets: 180 calories
Small Chocolate Frosty: 300 calories
Grilled Chicken Go Wrap: 270 calories
Value French Fries: 230 calories
Sour Cream & Chive Potato: 320 calories (get the sour cream o.t.s. and you’ll cut this down)
Apple Slices: 40 calories
 
 

Chick-fil-A

Chick-fil-A’s nutritional information is the most helpful from a lifestyle perspective.  They offer advice about planning your meal ahead of time, and also link to suggested menu options for low-cal, low-fat and low-carb eating.  Chick-fil-A Nuggets

Here are the snapshots of their low-cal suggestions.

Chick-fil-A Healthy Breakfast Menu

Chick-fil-A Healthy Dinner Menu

Arby’s

Arby’s offers both a Meal Builder and an at-a-glance nutritional chart .pdf.  Their famous Classic Roast Beef sandwich is below 400 calories, but adding sauce or bumping up to any other roast beef sandwich takes most lunch/dinner options out of the “healthy serving” range.

arbys-farmhouse-salad

Turkey Classic: 280 calories
Chopped Farmhouse Salad w/Roast Turkey: 230 calories
Side Salad: 70 calories (dressings range from 20-210 calories. Whoa.)
Jr. Roast Beef Sandwich: 210 calories
Jr. Ham & Cheddar Melt: 210 calories
Jr. Chicken Sandwich: 310 calories
Curly Fries (value size): 240 calories
Jr. Vanilla Shake: 280 calories
Apple Slices: 35 calories
 

While I don’t stress about calorie counting, I do know how I feel when I order a Quarter Pounder with Cheese, Large Fries, and Coke Vs. a Snack Wrap, Side Salad, and Water.  If you are a calorie counter, you know that these options aren’t perfect but are better than the meal deals.  Even if you don’t count calories in advance, make up your mind toward healthy fast food choices before pulling up to the drive-through window or standing at the counter and (call on your willpower!) smelling those terrible, terribly yummy french fries.

Safe and healthy travels to you!

 
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Comments (5)

  1. Amy Allen Johnson 03/05/2013 at 9:16 pm

    I must say, I’ve never been a big Arby’s fan until I tried their roasted turkey sandwich. I’m not a saucy sandwich person so I feel good about that choice. So good, that sometimes I have them add the bacon :) Kids love their applesauce option too

  2. Rachael Herrscher 03/05/2013 at 10:20 am

    We dig the fruit and maple oatmeal at McDonalds. My 4 yo eats it up!

  3. Elizabeth 03/05/2013 at 7:34 am

    I know you didn’t talk too much about children’s meals but I don’t think too many people realize that Chick-Fil-A has the option of grilled chicken nuggets for little ones in their meal along with a great fruit salad or applesauce instead of fries. Teach them young!

    • Erica Fehrman 03/05/2013 at 7:45 am

      Great point, Elizabeth! Chick-fil-A’s kids meal fruit salad is a really nice mix. At other establishments, choosing chicken nuggets or a plain hamburger, plus fruit and milk, provides a healthy kids meal.

      • Rachael Herrscher 03/05/2013 at 10:19 am

        I love the grilled nuggets as well from a gluten free perspective! I don’t know if they are certified gluten free – I’m not so sensitive that I’d have an issue if it were processed in the same kitchen etc.

        I don’t know if they still count as healthy when I dump their sauce all over them . . . ;)