For the conscientious dieter, lunch is the enemy. If you find yourself running late in the morning, packing up those carrots and peanut butter for your desk lunch later that day means subjecting yourself to the local options. Most of the time, that means fast food, and while it's convenient, quick and cheap, it isn't always the best food to help you stay slim.
We've put together a list of five local eateries that offer options so that, even if you forget to pack away some morning veggies you won't be forced to pack in a few thousand calories.
Where better to eat healthy than on the campus of the UCLA medical center? Students on the go can grab a lunch here that's both healthy and quick as well as affordable.
Patch's Under 500 Pick: Chicken breast (120 calories per four ounces), served with a hardboiled egg (78 calories), tomato (25 calories) and cottage cheese (90 calories in a half cup).
Total: 313 protein packed calories
The best thing about this salad and wrap chain is that you can find out the exact nutritional information for what you're eating as you order it. Customers who build their custom meals online can watch their calorie and nutrition values update in real time as they tick off boxes next to what they want in each meal.
Patch's Under 500 Pick: We built an Asian inspired Albacore tuna salad. We used the Freshii mix of greens as a base, added green apple, mandarin oranges and fried wontons just to splurge a bit, as well as Albacore tuna and an Asian sesame dressing.
Total: 358.36 calories
It's unavoidable. You'll be coasting along doing just fine on the diet, making all the right choices, and then you'll be dragged out to lunch by coworkers or friends. You want to feel like part of the gang and join in on the treat rather than the one pecking at a salad.
Patch's Under 500 Pick: Believe it or not, one slice of deep dish pepperoni and sausage pizza sneaks in under the wire at 415 calories. Just eat slowly and try to keep it to that one piece.
Total: 415 calories
Sometimes the office heads out somewhere a little nicer to celebrate a coworkers birthday or say goodbye when they move on to a new job. When the group chooses Italian, it can be tough to keep the calories under control. Thankfully, there are some useful strategies here to keep you from blowing your limit on the fried and breaded mozzerella sticks covered in marinara sauce.
Patch's Under 500 Pick: A bowl of minestrone soup comes in at just about 160 calories, and is a great choice for it's generally low fat content. If it's not to be, and an entree is calling your name, an average serving of cappelini primavera is around 690 calories. Not too bad, especially if you only eat half your lunch entree in one seating and save the rest for later.
Total: Minestrone soup, 160 calories, or half a serving of cappelini primavera at 345 calories.
When you're treating yourself, you can't go wrong at SmithHouse. From the sizable burgers to the generous portions of meaty entrees with sides like mashed potatoes and crab mac & cheese, not to mention the , the place is full of temptation. Luckily, there are some pretty good options here for those trying to keep their cool.
Patch's Under 500 Pick: You may not think it, but you can just about get away with the Shrimp Po Boy here. Between the beer battered shrimp, remoulade sauce, bun and ice berg lettuce, the sandwich finishes just barely over the line at 516 calories. Half of those calories are from fat, but try not to think about it: you've been good this week, and we won't tell anyone about those 16 etra calories if you won't.