Obesity epidemic: the cost of eating out

As of 2015, Americans are spending more money eating out than on groceries!  

The average American eats out between four and five meals each week.

The problem is, that restaurant and fast food meal options are more likely to be energy-dense and nutrient-poor compared to more expensive food choices.  

When you’re eating out 4-5 meals each week, those calories add up fast. 

Josh Barro at The New York times ran an article called, “What 2000 Calories Look Like” back in 2014, you’ll probably recognize most of these restaurants, I think you might be shocked at some of the items on this list, I know I was. 

In the article, Josh put some unlikely combinations together to make 2000 calories, I modified the list and provided a list of what I think are possible, realistic orders for a single person and split the list into 2000 / 1500 calorie meals list (still making one meal the equivalent of your daily caloric intake.

2000 Calorie options

Fast Food

  • IHOP – Classic Skillet with sausage (1880)  and orange juice (110) Total 1990  calories
  • Sonic – Peanut butter Caramel Pie shake – 2090 calories
  • Burger King – Double Whopper (1070), onion rings (410), and a vanilla milkshake (550) Total 2150 calories
  • McDonalds Crispy Chicken Sandwich (750), fries (340), coke (240), and a McFlurry with oreos (690) total 2020 calories
  • Chipote – Carnitas burrito (945) Chips and Guacamole (770) and a Coke (276) Total 1991 calories


  • Cheesecake Factory – Louisiana Chicken Pasta – 2370 total calories
  • Olive Garden – Salad (150), Bread stick (140), Tour of Italy sampler (1500), quartino of wine (230) Total 2020 calories
  • Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse – Cowboy Ribeye Steak (1690), martini (230)

1500 Calorie options

Fast Food

  • Wendy’s – Baconator with cheese (940), Caesar salad (250), Coke (320) Total 1510 calories
  • Subway – Cold cut combo with mayo(575), chips (230), chicken noodle soup (155), cookie (220), coke (220) Total 1400 Calories
  • Pizza Hut – Meat Lovers Stuffed Crust Pizza (880), Mountain Dew (240), baked wings with blue cheese (340) Total 1460 calories
  • Starbucks – Java Chip Frappuchino (460), Grilled cheese (580), Orange mango smoothie (270) Total 1300 calories
  • Five Guys – Cheeseburger (840), coke (240),  and fries (340) Total 1420 calories


  • P.F. Chang’s – Spinach dumplings (195), orange beef (585), caramel cake (430), glass of wine (125)
  • Macaroni Grill – Chicken Milanes total 1590 calories
  • TGI Fridays – Jack Daniels Ribs Total 1530 calories
  • Buffalo Wild Wings – Traditional Wing Snack Size (880) order with 2 cups  blue cheese (560)

Even if you don’t get close to this amount of food when you eat out, you can see very clearly how the calories add up. 

Up for next week: I’ll provide a list of some things to consider when eating out  that will help lead you towards your health goals instead of away from your health goals.

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