You know how it goes: some weeks you’ve meal-prepped a week’s worth of meals. And some weeks, well, you feel accomplished for nuking yourself a TV dinner. When life gets busy and you find yourself staring into an empty fridge, being in-the-know about the healthiest fast food options available to your can save your week. Below, we rounded up 14 of the healthiest things to order from fast food chains like Chipotle, IHOP, Cheesecake Factory, and more.
Dietitians give the healthiest fast food options at America’s favorite chain restaurants
Executive chef and registered dietitian Jessica Swift, RD previously told Well+Good that the name of the game at Olive Garden is taking half of the chain’s very generous pasta portion home with you. “I would also suggest taking advantage of the vegetable side dishes, like asparagus with minced onions, instead of just focusing on the pasta,” she said.
A dietitian’s go-to pasta variety:
“Your starting point should be either a bowl or salad,” says Tracy Lockwood Beckerman, RD, host of Well+Good’s You Versus Food. After that, just add brown rice, your choice of protein, and veggies. Add some guac on top and you’re set.
California Pizza Kitchen
Order: cedar plank salmon, zucchini pasta shrimp scampi, California beggie pizza, roasted veggie salad with grilled chicken, roasted garlic chicken and seasonal vegetables
Amer tells Well+Good that Panera’s grain bowls are pretty much the best option to fulfill your lunch and dinner needs.
“The main thing to keep in mind with The Cheesecake Factory that most of the meal portions on their main menu are really big, which is fine if you’re sharing with someone, but ultimately too many calories to be healthy to eat all in one sitting,” integrative and functional dietitian Nour Zibdeh, MS, RDN, CLT, previously told Well+Good. “That said, there are some healthy picks on the menu, but the key is knowing what you’re going to order before you go. Otherwise, you could get overwhelmed in the moment and order something that isn’t exactly healthy.”
Here’s what a dietitian thinks of green juice:
While you should probably skip the chow mein at Panda Express, Melton says that there are plenty of dishes that fit the bill of a healthy meal.
Order: Guacamole greens, kale Caesar, shroomami bowl, spicy Thai bowl, curry chickpea bowl
“Overall, Denny’s does have good healthy options, although you have to be a bit clever if you’re vegan,” Jenna Gorham, RD, previously told Well+Good. “A lot of their meals are high in sodium, so that something to be aware of.”
Oh, International House of Pancakes—you are so near and dear to my heart. Zibdeh says that the chain’s pancakes aren’t as healthy for your body as they are for your soul. But luckily, there are menu options for ya.
Collins says the salads at Chopt can be ordered vegan, keto, Mediterranean, and more.
Order: kale Caesar, Mexican Caesar, kebab cobb salad with falafel, Mediterranean bowl
Don’t want to order in? This dish takes less than 6 minutes to make, and these are the healthiest things you can buy in the freezer aisle.
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