The cheapest, healthiest bites at Macca’s
What are the cheapest bites at Macca’s? It depends on what you mean by ‘bite’… Bytes are free (as in wi-fi, cue the eye-roll) which, if you think about it, you can use to check out healthy budget meals. So, free wi-fi bytes can end up being healthy for you too.
The other sorts of Macca’s bites – food-bites – might not be free, but we like ‘em because they’re cheap(er) and quick and convenient. Or put another way, I’m tipping it’s not the nutritional quality of burgers and fries you’re drawn to. A trip to Macca’s, however, doesn’t have to be an anti-nutrition mission.
I’ll say up-front that the sheer size of the McDonald’s menu means a full nutritional evaluation would be yawningly long, so we’ll stick to the highlights (and lowlights) in the spirit of ‘if you can’t beat ‘em, join ‘em’ for the occasional meal (and definitely not for three meals a day).
There are some triple-threat options – tasty, reasonably-priced, nutritionally not too bad – a few of which might surprise you.
First, if you can get past burgers, the crispy or grilled chicken salads are a great option predictably enough, but avoid the Caesar Chicken Salads and wraps as they are high in sodium and more than doubly calorific. Speaking of wraps, if you’re not too hungry the Wholemeal Snack Wrap is the best of the wrap bunch – and will set you back only $2.50.
If burgers are your Macca’s jam then my picks are the humble old Filet-o-Fish and plain Hamburger. Both are lower in total fat, saturated fat, sodium and kilojoules compared to other Macca’s burgers. If you can afford it, why not add a garden salad and call it a balanced meal?
I somewhat cautiously suggest that the best of the bigger beef burgers (‘cos let’s face it, it all started with big beef burgers) are the McFeast and McOz, mainly because they do include salad and don’tinclude bacon, which is high in sodium. But (with a capital ‘B’) both have about one quarter of your daily recommended kilojoule intake, and around half your daily suggested sodium intake, so go easy. Incidentally, it’s the sodium/bacon marriage that makes it hard to recommend most of the chicken burgers.
For brekkie, you’re probably best off nutrition-wise and budget-wise having a home-cooked meal, but if you must head to Macca’s then a toastie is the best of an average bunch. Try to resist the McCafé cakes-disguised-as-health-foods that are Banana Bread and Pineapple and Coconut Loaf.
Finally, I won’t insult your intelligence by warding you off fries, soft drinks and pretty much all the desserts, but I will give ketchup a plug as your best condiment/sauce choice. On the other hand, aioli (high in kJs) and barbeque sauce (high in sodium) are not recommended (by me, that is).
To sum it up
What do you think? If I had to reduce it all to a few basic tips, I’d suggest adding salad where you can, avoiding anything with bacon, going easy on the sauces, and resisting meal deals that lead us to eat and drink more nutritionally-empty calories than we need.
The rest of the team here would love to hear whether these tips worked for you, so feel free to get in touch via firstname.lastname@example.org.
- Aim4Me offers simple, easy advice that can help us students feel better about what we eat (and how it makes our bodies feel).
- Taste.com.au has many mouthwatering (see pictures for proof), budget recipes you’ll want to swap out for Macca’s.
Written by Liz Black, Master of Dietetics student, in collaboration with Robyn Delbridge, Dietitian (AdvAPD) and Lecturer, Master of Dietetics, Swinburne.
Did you know?
Swinburne offers on-site health services and fully confidential counselling to students at all campuses. To book a session with our Hawthorn on-campus dietitian, simply call +61 3 9214 8483 or register and make an appointment.