With our country’s current economical condition many fast food chain restaurants have deployed hundreds of promotional offers to get your dollar. Promotions include winning prizes or money for buying food. McDonald’s currently brought back their monopoly game offer where you can collect board pieces in attempts to win food prizes and other items. Subway also has a similar scrabble promotion where you collect game pieces to form words to receive prizes. The main catch is fast food chains are competing with each other and are offering promotional aggressive campaigns to get you to buy and come back again and again. In the past year fast food chains have used strategies such as giveaways, free food offers, and of course the infamous VALUE menu. The big question is are you the consumer really getting a VALUE or are you actually putting your health at risk by eating lots of cheaper fast food?
It is very understandable that many consumers want lower priced and affordable food to help save money, but they may be putting their health at risk if they consume large amounts of fast food. Movies and books like “Fast Food Nation” and “Super Size me” have examined how eating fast food on a daily basis may affect your health and lead to serious future health issues. Recently there have been new laws that require fast food chains to post their nutritional information on their food. Now you can see what you are actually putting into your body. Nutritional information shown includes: calories, saturated fat, trans fat, sugars, protein and etc. Now that we actually have the nutritional information for certain fast food items we can see if we are really getting a value or just eating unhealthy.
Let’s start off with McDonalds and work our way through different fast food chains. McDonald’s offers its double cheeseburger for $0.99 cents which is great value money wise. However, if you look at the nutritional chart on McDonald’s website (http://nutrition.mcdonalds.com/nutritionexchange/nutrition_facts.html) health wise you are putting 440 calories into your body, half of it 210 calories are from fat, and it has 23 grams of total fat that you consume. One of the burgers I would stay away from at McDonalds would be the Double Quarter Pounder with cheese that has 740 calories. This is not a value menu item, but I would not recommend it anyways. Items that I would recommend have lower calories and still at a good price would be the hamburger at 250 calories, or a premium southwest salad at 140 calories. Remember if you add fries and a soda you will be adding about 400 + more calories to your meal which brings the fat and sugar content high and is not the best diet choice.
Kentucky fried chicken is another fast food chain that has now included nutritional information about their food including value items.
You can view their listed website nutritional information here: (http://www.kfc.com/nutrition/pdf/kfc_nutrition_sept09.pdf). Did you know a KFC snacker can range from having 270-320 calories and up to 640 mgs of sodium? That is a lot of sodium and calories for such a small bit. The snackers are also one of the popular value menu items at KCF and they usually start at $.099. KFC is well known for their special meal items and also wings. One wing along can have up to 90 calories and up to 340 mgs of sodium. If you have 4-5 wings then you will be having lots of sodium for dinner. However, there are still great menu items at KFC that are healthier and still decently priced. Some of the healthier items include the sides. For example green beans have 25 calories; seasoned rice is 140 calories, and corn on the cob 70 calories. When you purchase the Value Boxes like the “hot wings box” or the “KFC bowls” be expected to eat anywhere from 460-790 calories. You actually are better off buying one side and two or three pieces of chicken if you want to eat less calories, however, most people like the value meal because they are overall getting more food. However, if you want to eat healthier I suggest getting the vegetable side dishes and buying pieces of chicken separately.
Other fast food chains like Subway and Boston market also have special low costing menu items and offers. During the week of Halloween Boston market offers a $1 meal coupon offer that included about half a chicken, mashed potatoes, and a piece of corn bread. Subway has brought back their $5 foot long campaign and also their scrabble game where you can win free food. You may consider Boston market and Subway to be healthier fast food choices, compared to some fast food restaurants they are.
For Subway options I would stick with the 6 inch Subway fresh fit choices, and avoid the dressings. You can also ask for light mayonnaise as well if you want one that has less fat. If you do get the $5 foot long offer, I would recommend saving half for dinner that way you won’t eat as many calories. If you get the subs like meatball or steak melt expect a lot more calories because of the meat as well as the sauce. In regards to Boston Market, it does have lots of healthy side items. The protein that has less calories would be the turkey versus chicken or meat loaf.
Know that you have seen a comparison of calories versus value prices you may be able to make a healthier decision when eating fast food. Although they say making dinner can be healthier, you now at least have options when choosing fast food and you can still get a good price and eat somewhat healthier.
Sources: www.mcdonalds.com, www.subway.com, www.bostonmarket.com, www.KFC.com