Are you still finishing your holiday shopping list? If so, you probably plan on hitting the mall and boutiques this weekend. There’s something fun about shopping, solo or with family and friends, that can really put you in the spirit. And all that rushing around can really make you work up an appetite that leaves you ready for lunch! You’ll be out and about and likely inconveniently far from your own kitchen, plus it’s just fun to grab a weekend lunch with your girls once in a while. So we’ve made lunch plans for you, or least found a few places where you won’t wreck your diet while you’re out putting dents in your wallet.
There are plenty of great healthy options at some of the largest chain restaurants, likely those placed just near the shopping centers where you’ll be this weekend. These locations are easy to find in most cities and have some great items to help you stay on track. Let us be your menu guide!
Chipotle Mexican Grill
Chipotle is easily a very healthy option. The meats are all very fresh, grilled, and most are organic and hormone free. One could get a bowl loaded with lean meat, brown rice, fresh peppers and onions, and pico for around 400 calories and be completely satisfied. A fully loaded steak burrito with cheese, sour cream, and guacamole is more than 1200 calories! Order wise and enjoy the good deed you’re doing for you body. And at 400 calories, you can probably splurge for a little cup of guacamole, too!
See more Healthiest Menu Choices at Chipotle
If you want healthy variety, Panera’s got it. They offer so many soups, sandwiches, and salads that it’s hard to choose. To keep things lean, many meals can be ordered in half portions. Half sandwich and cup of soup is a great combo. They are one of the only national restaurants to post calorie counts of their menu. The meat they serve is of very high quality, nearly all of it is hormone and antibiotic free. While Panera scores high on health, make sure you read the fine print though. Some surprises on the menu will be found in the bakery case and in the mac and cheese. The full size macaroni has 980 calories and 61 grams of fat.
See more Healthiest Menu Choices at Panera
If you have a wide variety of palettes to please, Jason’s Deli is a great lunch spot. The menu is very vast with traditional deli sandwiches, soups, baked potatoes, pastas, and salads, and so much more. It’s healthy overall, but you still need to be mindful. While a plain baked potato can be a great low fat option, Jason’s potatoes are about four times the size of a normal potato and often loaded with chili, cheese, and sour cream. However, they offer many other favorable options. You can always substitute the chips that come with your sandwich with fresh fruit. And if you’re into customizing your dish, you can opt for the massive salad bar and build yourself a really great lunch. Jason’s salad bar is loaded with fresh and many organic veggies, several fresh bean salads, and fresh fruit. The combinations are endless and so good for you.
Try these 9 Healthier Sandwich Recipes
Au Bon Pain
One of the oldest healthy fast food chains, Au Bon Pain has always made a commitment to whole grains and hormone free meats. They even began a calorie conscience menu several years ago, offering several items all under 200 calories. Furthermore, they’ve offered calorie and nutritional information long before many others have, so you could always eat guilt free at their restaurants. Many love to dine on their low-calorie soups, like the Jamaican Black Bean or the Fire Roasted Exotic Grains and Vegetables. The menu is anything but boring, however the one word of caution to diners is to watch out for sodium as it can sneak up on you. As well, make sure their vast menu of baked goods fits in to your meal plan.
Noodles and Company
It didn’t seem possible that a restaurant that is actually found inside many shopping malls could actually be healthy, but Noodles and Company found a way. They serve fresh, made-when-you-order noodle dishes to satisfy all tastes. Unlike many noodle places, Noodles and Company only uses soybean oil in the sauteing. Also they use a variety of lean, hormone free meats. They are friendly to the vegetarian or one who eats gluten-free. Noodles and Company is another fast food chain disproving that it has to be unhealthy to be convenient. While the food is very fresh and healthy, you do need to watch the portions, just like any pasta, they pack some calories. You don’t want to be in a food coma as you try to start phase two of your shopping.