The Healthiest Kid’s Meals at Fast Food Chains
McDonald's announced they're removing cheeseburgers and chocolate milk from their Happy Meals. They're just the latest fast food restaurant offering surprisingly healthy options: Here's what to order.
Though many grew up eating Happy Meals without batting an eyelash, the rise in childhood obesity has caused parents to rethink stopping through the drive-through to pick up a kid's meal from McDonalds on the way home. Though fast food restaurants have spent the better half of the last decade pushing healthier choices in hopes that families will decide to come back as regular customers, applesauce and low-fat milk haven't really enticed mom and dad. But that all might change as McDonald's announced today that strict Happy Meal changes would be coming this summer. How many calories will be in a Happy Meal come June? Fewer than 600. All kids meals will also contain only 650 milligrams of salt. Other big changes include less-sugary chocolate milk, slimmer kids fries, and no cheeseburgers.
But though McDonald's changing Happy Meals might be today's news, they're not the only fast food restaurants with surprisingly healthy kids meals. In light of the big changes at McDonald's, we researched the healthiest kid options now on the menu at every top chain. Here, what you should order the kids when the fast food counter is your best option to eat:
Healthiest Kid's Meal at Subway
In a 2016 The Daily Meal ranking of all the fast food kid's meals on the market, Subway took the top spot with the overall healthiest meal: a Veggie Delite sandwich with a side of apples and low-fat milk. Though the veggie-based sandwich is the most healthful option, the turkey breast sandwich is also a good option for those looking to add protein.
Healthiest Kid's Meal at Burger King
CNN reports that a Chicken Nuggets King Jr. meal (4 pieces) with ketchup, applesauce, and fat-free milk offers the lowest option in calories, saturated fat, and sugar.
Healthiest Kid's Meal at Wendy's
With 20 grams of protein, 10 grams of fat, and only 270 calories, the Grilled Chicken Wrap is the healthiest entrée on Wendy's kids' menu. Pair it with apple slices and a bottle of water, and your child will be eating a pretty well-rounded meal that just happens to be fast food. Just try to say no to a Frosty (and if you can't, just make sure it's a junior!)
Healthiest Kid's Meal at Dairy Queen
According to a 2013 study from the University of Connecticut's Rudd Center for Food Policy and Obesity, Dairy Queen had the fewest amount of options for healthy kids meals that meet expert recommendations for elementary school students. However, they've since cleaned up their act with a kids Livewell option (which meets nutrition standards as set by the National Restaurant Association) that features a kid's grilled chicken wrap, a banana, and a bottle of water.
Healthiest Meal at Taco Bell
After ditching kids' meals entirely in 2013, parents have had to decipher the regular menu for healthy options for their little ones. According to a 2018 article by Shape, nutritionists recommend ordering off the "power menu," for high-protein options—just make sure you skip the rice. A mini quesadilla with chicken or beef aren't too bad, either, if the kids are being picky.