It seems as though I spoke too soon about summer and the sun being here to stay. Hopefully this week will be summer like! This past week we had a few interesting adventures. The main one was a trip out to the Quinalt reservation to set up a satellite site there. The whole journey took about 6 hours round trip. We got to see ocean, trees and wildlife- slightly different then a typical day in Seattle! One thing I noticed about our trip was the great number of fast food restaurants that populated the route we took. Here in Seattle, fast food is few and far between though concentrated in some areas. When eating on a budget, it can often seem cheaper to buy foods from fast food restaurants but what is the true cost? Is it cheaper to eat at fast food restaurants than at home? Is it possible to eat healthfully at fast food restaurants?
I did some searching about this topic on the internet. The general conclusion seemed to state that it was slightly more expensive to prepare the food at home but when taste, health and choice were taken into account, the two options were pretty similar. One of the major benefits of fast food restaurants is the convenience they provide. At home, you can choose leaner meats, whole grain breads and fresh produce. At a fast food restaurant, you don’t have a choice in the cut of meat or fat percentage, type of bread and the toppings are generally processed, i.e. ketchup and relish instead of a tomato and pickle. No one can deny the convenience of stopping and buying a burger, but the time it takes to prepare a burger at home is only a few minutes more. The taste of a homemade burger is also so much better. One blogger did do a price and nutrition comparison that put homemade ahead, you can find his write up here: http://www.thesimpledollar.com/2007/09/24/is-the-value-menu-really-a-value-comparing-the-homemade-double-cheeseburger-to-the-mcdonalds-1-version/
If you are eating out, there are a few ways to make healthful choices:
- Look at the calorie counts (if posted) and direct yourself to the smallest portion of the item you want
- Do not supersize! This may seem like a deal, but you add so many extra calories with little nutritional value for the cost.
- When choosing items like salads, ask for the dressing on the side.
- Pay attention to the way food is prepared- avoid fried, breaded, crispy and creamy. Look for grilled, poached and broiled.
- Choose side options such as carrots, small salad, apples or chili
- Ask for condiments on the side so that you can add the amount you want and limit added sugars and fats
- When ordering pizza, choose thin crust and load up on veggies- delicious!
- Order off the kid’s menu and choose sides such as an apple “fries” instead of regular fries
Eating out can be convenient and delicious. It’s important to think about the food choices you are making and look for healthy options. Cooking at home allows you to control added sugars, salts and fats in a way that you cannot when you go out to eat. It’s also less expensive in the long run. When you do go out to eat, enjoy and be sensible!