The first McDonald’s Corporation franchise opened on April 15, 1955 in Des Plaines, IL, just around the river bend from where I grew up. Back then McDonald’s offered carry out service only, but gave busy people and many harried moms a welcome break from meal prep. My mom was a good cook, but the rare treat of a McDonald’s dinner meant a chocolate milkshake with my meal, so I was always glad to know when a trip to the golden arches was in the offing.
In its 58 years of franchising, McDonalds Corporation has probably been the leading force in promoting “drive-thru dinners” with approximately 33,000 locations around the world. When you feel like you deserve a break it’s easy to load up the family car and head for the arches. Just the thought of those glistening, crispy fries can make mouths water. But you may surprised to know how many calories and grams of fat you will feed to your family that way.
A single quarter pounder contains approximately 510 calories, many of them from its fat content. Consume a quarter pounder with cheese, medium fries, and diet soda value meal and you’ll ingest about 890 calories. Super size that combo, as many people do, and change the soda to regular. The calorie count climbs to about 1,500 for a single meal! The 42-ounce super-size soda contains about 490 calories alone.
So, while a trip through the drive thru can save time on a busy day, you may want to use that strategy sparingly. By contrast, 4 ounces of 95% lean beef contains about 200 calories. Once you add an average-size bun (120 calories) and some ketchup (20 calories) you bring the total of a homemade burger up to 340 calories. But the real savings comes with potatoes. If you eat 1/2 cup of diced potatoes baked in olive oil you’ll consume about 89 calories. Super size that to 1 full cup and increase the calorie count to 178. The total calories in this meal are now 518—just about the same as one stand-alone quarter pounder at McDonalds!
And the good news is that you can make such a meal in about 30 minutes, which is approximately how long it will take you to get to and through the drive-thru line during mealtime. Find all the recipes you need to cook healthy meals at home in our Easy Weekly Meals cookbooks, available here and you’ll feel good about making the Golden Arches a rare treat.
Image courtesy of Grant Cochrane / FreeDigitalPhotos.net