Fast Food & Take-Out Meals

Janis Hunter
Home & Garden Information Center

A comparison of fast food choices

Fast food restaurants, take-out and delivered foods provide quick, flavorful meals on the run to fit your busy lifestyle. You can make wise food selections from any menu if you think through the choices beforehand so you aren’t swayed off course and make a last-minute decision you will regret.

As you order, think about the foods you have eaten, or will eat, during the day. Make sure fast food meals fit into a well-balanced eating plan that contains the right amount of the nutrients you need, including proteins, vitamins, minerals, carbohydrates and healthy fats (liquid at room temperature).

Make healthy menu choices. For example, choose fruits, salads, low-fat milk, 100% fruit or vegetable juice, and baked potatoes topped with vegetables, lower-fat cheese or fat-free sour cream. Select sandwiches containing a lean meat, such as turkey, grilled chicken or roast beef. Use whole grain bread, rolls or pita pockets for more fiber. Skip the mayonnaise-based meat salad sandwiches, such as tuna salad, chicken salad or ham salad.

Watch portion sizes. The size of food portions at fast food restaurants has increased over the last 20 years. Bigger portions mean more calories, total fat, saturated fat and sodium (salt). Supersizing any menu option also super sizes your waistline and your food bill. Select regular-size burgers, sandwiches, burritos and tacos. Order the smallest size beverage, or even a kid size cup, especially since most fast food places offer free refills.

Limit fried foods and high-fat side dishes. Reach for lower-fat menu items such as broiled, baked and grilled meats or salads with low-fat dressings. Skip the French fries and go for a fruit bowl, steamed rice, baked potato chips or a baked potato with a variety of low-fat toppings.

Refer to HGIC 4223, Fast Food & Take-Out Meals for more information on fast food and delis.

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