Healthier Fast Food? Try In N’ Out Burger
In N Out is a burger chain on the West Coast with locations in California, Nevada, Utah, and Arizona. They’ve been around since 1948 and have long prided themselves on good, fresh food. Their menu is delectably simple – hamburger, cheeseburger, fries, and shakes. That’s it.
If you’re a conscientious food consumer, eating fast food probably isn’t even on your radar, but at In N Out fast food isn’t synonymous with bad food or huge portions. The USDA recommends consuming no more than 6 ounces of meat a day (see website), and in an age when fast food joints are routinely putting half a pound or more of meat in their burgers, In N Out hamburger patties are a refreshingly small 2 ounces.
At In N Out, a meal of a cheeseburger and french fries is only 880 calories (800 total if you omit the Thousand Island-esque spread from the burger), significantly less than the 1000+ calorie combo meals pitched by other fast food franchises. You can look at the Nutritional Information for In N Outs’ various products. And not only is the above meal short on calories, but also on price. A cheeseburger, fries, and beverage will run you just $5.
The kitchen is also completely open, there are no microwaves, heat lamps, or steam tables, just a grill and fryers. There are no freezers, only refrigerators, and the food tastes noticeably fresh. You can watch workers put a whole potato into a chopper, pull the handle down, and pop those tater pieces right into the fryer to create the freshest french fries you could want.
In N Out also has positive corporate attributes. Their burgers have always been served in simple paper wrappers, no Styrofoam or loads of packaging. And while fast food companies typically treat employees poorly, In N Out starts their employee wages at $10/hour and offers flexible work hours to accommodate school schedules, paid vacations, free meals, and 401k participation to hourly employees. Not bad for an after school job at a burger joint.
I’m in no way advocating eating this food on a regular basis, it’s not healthy, it’s still fast food. I cook for a vegetarian and gluten-free spouse, and only eat meat a handful of times per month, but I still have the occasional hankering for a good hamburger. When I do, I’d rather have a burger from In N Out than anyplace else.