While many of us are paying closer attention to what is in our foods, we are still crushed for time when it comes to meal preparation. Often fast food is the choice to grab a quick bite. We know it’s easy and we have our familiar favorites. We also know there’s likely more calories and sodium than a homemade meal, but that’s the way things go sometime.

The great thing about the times we live in is that we have more access to nutrition information for the majority of fast food and quick service restaurants. A number of them have either hired or contracted the services of a registered dietitian to assist them with food selection, nutrition analysis and labeling.

When it comes to fast food, let’s take a look at how you can make some selections while enjoying the occasional (hint) experience. One way is to plan ahead and check some of the menu items out before you go.

A suggestion for meals is to shoot for around 300-500 calories per meal, and the same for sodium content (this is where it can get tricky while dining out, and quite frankly there’s a ways to go with reducing sodium at these establishments and with processed foods in general). If you do consume these meals, you can offset the sodium throughout the rest of the day or possibly the next day by consuming fresh fruits, vegetables, reduced fat dairy products, and unprocessed meats, along with drinking water.

Here are a few links for those operations that have some easy options for you to view online. The suggestions are around the 300-500 calorie range and do offer some treats for those with a sweet tooth.


Here are a few samples from their menu:

Suggestion 1
Sausage Burrito – 300 calories
1 carton 1% milk- 100 calories

Total Calories: 400

Suggestion 2
Fruit and Maple Oatmeal without Brown Sugar – 260 calories
Small Coffee Black (12 fl. Oz. cup) – 0 calories
Total calories: 260
Egg McMuffin® sandwich – 300 calories
Orange Juice (12 fl oz cup-small) – 150 calories
Total calories: 450


Suggestion 1
Hamburger – 250 calories
Small French Fries – 230 calories
Small Diet Coke® (16 fl. oz. cup)
Total Calories: 480

Suggestion 2
Chicken McNuggets® (6 piece) – 280 calories
Barbeque Sauce, 1pkg. – 50 calories
Fruit and Yogurt Parfait -150 calories
Bottled water
Total Calories: 480

Suggestion 3
Honey Mustard Snack Wrap® (Grilled ) - 330 calories
Apple Dippers - 35 calories
1 carton 1% Milk - 100 calories
Total Calories: 435

Chick Fil A

Here’s some information from the Chick Fil A website:


Suggestion 1
Chick-fil-A® Chicken Biscuit – 450 calories
100% Columbian Coffee (medium) – 5 calories
Total Calories: 455

Suggestion 2
Sunflower Multigrain Bagel – 220 calories
Yogurt Parfait with Harvest Nut Granola – 290 calories
Total Calories: 510

Suggestion 3
Chicken Breakfast Burrito – 450 calories
Diet Coke® (medium) – 0 calories
Total Calories: 450


Suggestion 4
Chick-fil-A® Chargrilled Chicken Sandwich – 300 calories
Side Salad – 70 calories
DASANI® Bottled Water – 0 calories
Total Calories: 370

Suggestion 5
Chick-fil-A® Chargrilled Chicken Garden Salad – 180 calories (without dressing)
Fat Free Italian Dressing – 15 calories
Hearty Breast of Chicken Soup (small) – 140 calories
Diet Lemonade (medium) – 20 calories
Total Calories: 355


Here’s some information from Wendy’s website:

Suggestion 1
Wendy’s Ultimate Chicken Grill - 390 calories
Garden Side Salad with Light Ranch Dressing – 75 calories
Water - 0 calories
Total Calories: 465 calories

Suggestion 2
Cheeseburger Deluxe – 300 calories
Kids Meal French Fries – 230 calories
Diet Coke – 0 calories
Total Calories: 530 calories

Suggestion 3
Small Chili – 210 calories
Small Chocolate Frosty – 250 calories
2 packs saltines – 50 calories
Total Calories: 510

Panda Express

Here are a few suggestions based on the nutrition information on the Panda Express website:

Suggestion 1
Kung Pao Chicken - 280 calories
Half portion of Steamed rice at 190 calories for 4 ounces (A full 8 ounces comes in at 380 calories)
Total calories with half portion of Steamed rice: 470

Suggestion 2
Broccoli Beef - 150 calories
Half portion of Fried rice at 265 calories for 4.5 ounces (A full 9 ounce regular serving comes in at 530 calories) for a 9 ounce serving
Fortune Cookies – 32 calories
Total calories with half portion of Fried rice: 447

Suggestion 3
Chicken Egg Roll - 200 calories
Side of Mixed Veggies - 70 calories
Hot and Sour Soup - 100 calories
Unsweetened Tea or water = 0 Calories
Total Calories: 370

For more information regarding nutrition, recipes and health, go to www.susanpiergeorge.com

Author's Bio: 

Susan M. Piergeorge, MS, RD is a registered dietitian and nutritionist. Her background includes nutritional counseling, health promotion, sales, marketing and management. She also possesses a professional culinary certificate. Her new book, Boomer Be Well is available in both print and ebook at www.susanpiergeorge.com along with Amazon, Barnes and Noble and Smashwords.