The INSIDER Summary:
- There are healthy options for your children to eat at fast food restaurants.
- Here is a ranking of the healthiest fast food joints, including the healthiest and unhealthiest items to get at each.
#10 Dairy Queen
Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 737 calories
Healthiest Meal: 603 calories
Chicken strips, applesauce, soda, and ice cream cone
Unhealthiest Meal: 883 calories
Cheeseburger, fries, soda, and a Dilly bar
OK, so maybe it’s not suprising that a chain known best for its ice cream has this list’s most unhealthy kids’ menu. The meals begin with a choice of chicken strips, hamburger, cheeseburger, or hot dog followed by fries or applesauce, and soft drink. Of course, a true DQ feast would not be complete without dessert, so kids have a choice of either a Dilly bar, ice cream sandwich, or cone.
Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 613 calories
Healthiest Meal: 455 calories
Ham melt sandwich, chips, and a soda
Unhealthiest Meal: 773 calories
Cheesy toasted cheese sandwich, cookie, and soda
The meal options for kids at Quizno’sinclude a combination of toasted sandwiches with cheese, ham, and turkey along with either chips or a cookie and a soft drink.
#8 Sonic Drive-In
Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 556 calories
Healthiest Meal: 410 calories
Chicken strips, apples, and juice
Unhealthiest Meal: 740 calories
Grilled cheese, French fries, and chocolate milk
When looking at a kids’ menu that boasts options like corn dogs and cheeseburgers it’s hard to believe the most gut-busting meal features grilled cheese. The real culprits here are the thick-sliced pieces of Texas toast that Sonic uses to make sandwiches. Equally surprising is that when it comes to choosing a side, an order of fries has 70 more calories than the same size order of tater tots (did you know that!).
Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 527 calories
Healthiest Meal: 380 calories
Chicken McNuggets, apple dippers, and apple juice
Unhealthiest Meal: 700 calories
Cheeseburger, French fries, and chocolate milk
McDonald’s made headlines this weekafter announcing the details of its revamped kids’ menu. The new and improved meals include either chicken nuggets, a hamburger, or a cheeseburger along with a choice of fries or apple dippers and low-fat milk, juice, or a small soft drink.
Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 502 calories
Healthiest Meal: 283 calories
Chicken nuggets, apples, and a soft drink
Unhealthiest Meal: 623 calories
Chicken sandwich, fries, and a soft drink
The options available on the Wendy’s kids’ menu are pretty standard — the main choices are nuggets, a hamburger, or a cheeseburger along with either apples or fries. The real variety comes with the drinks; kids can choose from a wide variety of soft drinks or go for milk or a classic vanilla or chocolate Frosty instead.
Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 446 calories
Healthiest Meal: 280 calories
Chicken strips, string cheese, corn, and a Capri Sun
Unhealthiest Meal: 663 calories
Popcorn chicken, string cheese, potato wedges, soda
Kids’ meals at KFC are characterized by their quantity. Without doubt, this menu offers the largest combos, but not the heaviest on average. There are also a lot of choices, beginning with either a drumstick (grilled, original recipe, or extra crispy), strips, or popcorn chicken follwed by a choice of a small side, string cheese, and a drink.
Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 441 calories
Healthiest Meal: 260 calories
Chicken strip, low-fat milk, and a fruit cup
Unhealthiest Meal: 660 calories
Chicken nuggets, low-fat chocolate milk, and fries
One of Chick-fil-A’s meal options includes a single measly chicken strip as the main component. What’s that all about? That’s a meal? That said, calorie-wise, it’s interesting to note the difference a few nuggets and a serving of fries make.
#3 Taco Bell
Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 414 calories
Healthiest Meal: 360 calories
Crunchy taco, cinnamon twists, and juice
Unhealthiest Meal: 580 calories
Bean burrito, cinnamon twists, and juice
Taco Bell’s menu is full of surprises — the bean burrito (traditionally considered a healthy choice) is the heaviest main component, and crunchy tacos have fewer calories than soft tacos. All options include a side of crunchy cinnamon twists and a juice box.
#2 Burger King
Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 390 calories
Healthiest Meal: 350 calories
Chicken tenders, apple fries, and low-fat milk
Unhealthiest Meal: 430 calories
Hamburger, apple fries, and apple juice
Burger King is not taking its healthy makeover lightly. It’s the only chain on this list that extended its initiative to its breakfast menu. In addition to the breakfast sandwich meal, options include either chicken tenders or a hamburger with apple fries and apple juice or milk. It does seem curious that the only place on Burger King’s website to get a detailed description of its kids’ meals is on their secondary Club BK site, one targeted at kids.
Sarah Schmalbruch / INSIDER
Average Kids’ Meal Calorie Count: 372 calories
Healthiest Meal: 345 calories
Veggie Delite sandwich, apples, low-fat milk
Unhealthiest Meal: 395 calories
Roast beef sandwich, apples, low-fat milk
Considering their health-conscious reputation, it’s no surprise Subway has the healthiest kids’ menu on this list. Their meals include a three-inch sandwich, apples, and milk. However, a corporate representative explained that some franchises will allow you to sub in chips or a soft drink.