Calories in Context – Eating Out

If we think about my 2700 calorie per day budget, and divide that up into around 600 calories for breakfast, 800 for lunch, and 300 for snacks, then that leaves me with 1000 for supper and as much as I know I should be cooking at home as often as possible, long days co-running a company, taking care of a dog and the other responsibilities in life means that I might sometimes eat out, so how can I do that wisely.

Lone Star Texas Grill

Annie and I love this restaurant and we probably go there around once every two months or so. We always get the same thing and we are never disappointed, but how much is my steak fajitas costing me in calories? I’ve never cared to know before now.

According to their nutrition guide, one steak fajita with just peppers and onions will set you back 220 calories.

I probably end up having around four of them with additional cheese, lettuce, tomatoes and sometimes rice. I’m sure I easily eat my way through over 1,000 calories in fajitas while I’m there. Add on a drink and some chips and salsa, and I roll out of Lone Star with 1,500 calories in my stomach.

If I stick to water and avoid the chips and salsa and eat one less tortilla, then maybe I can keep it to a much more manageable sub-1000 calories.

Arby’s

I typically just get two double roast beef sandwiches from them, with no cheese or other toppings. Each of those sandwiches is 510 calories, so that’s 1,020 calories for the two of them. Add in a couple of sips of my wife’s root beer or Dr. Pepper and a curly fry or two, and I’m probably at around 1,200 calories for a meal there.

If I can avoid the empty calories in the drink and avoid any of the curly fries, and downsize one of the two sandwiches to be a single sized roast beef, then I’d be under the 1,000 calories mark which would be acceptable.

McDonald’s

They have a really great way of doing a nutrition calculator that lets you build out your full meal and customize things as needed. I really appreciate that.

My typical meal at McDonald’s oscillates between a Quarter Pounder with Cheese combo. Toss in a medium fry and a medium Coke and it is 1,080 calories.

The other choice that I love is the 10 piece Chicken McNuggets meal with the same fries and drink. I would have expected it to be much more calorie reasonable than my burger, but it ends up being basically the same at 1,030 calories.

Subway

I used to go to Subway all the time when I wanted a healthy meal that could mostly fill me up. I often ordered either the Italian B.M.T. or the Steak and Cheese.

A foot-long Italian B.M.T. on Italian herbs and cheese bread, paired with some slices of cheddar, green peppers, lettuce and onions with no sauce is 960 calories. That’s only 120 calories less than my burger meal at McDonald’s and my sub doesn’t come with a drink or side.

My steak and cheese sub with the same toppings isn’t much better at 820 calories. At least it will allow me enough calories to have an iced tea or other low calorie flavoured drink with the meal.

Montana’s Cookhouse

I’ve eaten a bunch of different things from Montana’s but my recent favourite is two pot roast soups and two pieces of cornbread. I wouldn’t need to get two of the starter soups if they offered it in a larger size, but let’s see how many calories I’m using with this tasty meal.

The two pot roast soups are 90 calories each, or 180 calories total. For half a litre of soup, I don’t think I can complain about that. Each piece of cornbread is another 170, so that’s 340 for the two pieces. Add an iced tea to the mix at another 200 or so calories, and we get a total meal of around 720 calories.

Conclusion

In the end, it doesn’t seem to matter much where I go, I’ll probably spend around 1,000 calories eating at a restaurant or fast food place. Maybe sometimes a little less and other times a little more. I will definitely be trying to make wiser decisions when I go out to these places to minimize calorie usage where I can. I know there are tons of guides on how to eat healthy at different restaurants and fast food places, but in the end, I want to eat what I enjoy, not create a joyless experience at a considerable expense.

How do you do when you eat out? Have you thought about how many calories are in your favourite meals?

2 comments

Add Yours
  1. bnpositive

    I will say although your calorie count between Subway and other meals may be similar, I feel like you’re getting much more food with a foot long sub and more likely getting full compared to the other options. Would you agree? I frequently just get a foot long veggie delight, tuna, or cold-cut combo.

    • Malcolm Peralty

      For me, I’d put Subway in the middle of the pack. Here would be my order of most satisfying to least in terms of how long I stay full.

      Lone Star Fajitas > Arby’s > Subway > Montana’s > McDonald’s

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