Everyone has concerns when they sit down to eat at a restaurant. Most people worry about what’s going to be left in their wallet after it’s all over. Others have to study the menu from cover to cover to make sure there’s something they’ll like. Of course, many of us walk into restaurants wondering if finding something healthy to eat is even a possibility.
You deserve to enjoy your meal no matter where you’re eating. And even if the menu isn’t the most nutritionally impressive, you can still make healthy choices based on the options in front of you. With this in mind, we’ve put together a list of the healthiest meals you can order at Applebee’s. All the meals below are under 1,500 calories, and none exceed 20 grams of saturated fat or 2,500 milligrams of sodium.
1. Sirloin Stir-Fry
When selecting healthy options at restaurants, stir-fry is usually a safe bet. This stir-fry in particular is only 770 calories, offering just 6 grams of saturated fat alongside 44 grams of protein. It’s not the perfect entrée — it’s made with white rice, which isn’t nearly as nutrient-rich as brown rice. It also has 2,320 milligrams of sodium, which is 20 milligrams over the maximum recommended amount you should eat in a day. Still, looking at the other dishes in this category — especially you, 1,990-calorie New England Fish and Chips — this stir-fry is actually a great lunch or dinner choice. It’s filling, but not so much so that you’re going to feel uncomfortably full by the time you leave the restaurant.
2. Chicken Tortilla Soup and Caesar Salad lunch combo
If you’re sitting down to lunch, check out the menu’s lighter lunch options. A bowl of tortilla soup and a light Caesar salad offer just over 400 calories, 6 grams of saturated fat, and 1,120 milligrams of sodium. Any meal with over 1,000 milligrams of sodium seems like a lot, but we’re talking about Applebee’s — more than half of their menu choices offer a day’s worth of sodium or more. If you’re trying to watch your salt intake, a lunch combo featuring a soup and a salad with a light dressing is probably one of your best options. The chicken from the soup and cheese from the salad will help keep you full despite the smaller portions.
3. Clubhouse Grille
This sandwich suffers from the same downsides as many other restaurant dishes: there’s just a lot of it. However, all things considered, no ingredient here is really that bad for you, at least not in the amounts provided in a single serving. The Clubhouse Grille is a tower of ham, turkey, and bacon, two kinds of melted cheeses, lettuce, tomato, mayo, and honey-barbecue sauce, all nestled between two pieces of toasted bread. Compared to the sandwiches listed beside it, though, it’s one of the healthiest sandwiches Applebee’s has to offer.
It’s 1,100 calories, and will give you 18 grams of saturated fat, plus 2,280 milligrams of sodium. If that still sounds worrisome to you, take a look at the Chicken Fajita Rollup. That has 27 grams of saturated fat and more than 3,000 milligrams of sodium — and that doesn’t include sides.
4. Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken
Perhaps you’re in the mood for some fresh, sauce-free flavor. The Cedar Grilled Lemon Chicken is 580 calories’ worth of cedar-seasoned grilled chicken, rice, quinoa, and honey-glazed pecans with a Granny Smith apple relish. With only 4 grams of saturated fat and a total of 42 grams of protein, it’s the perfect lunch or dinner option full of healthy fats –and it’s extremely low in calories for the size. There are 2,440 milligrams of sodium in the entire dish, but again, this is on the low side compared to the other options in the chicken category. The Fiesta Lime Chicken sounds great, right? Unfortunately, its sodium count stands at 3,730 milligrams — almost double the amount of salt you’re supposed to have in a day.
5. Classic Cheeseburger
Sometimes, a simple cheeseburger is all you need to be happy. This classic option is as straightforward as it gets — a beef patty topped with lettuce, tomatoes, onions, and a pickle. You’ll get 630 calories, 12 grams of saturated fat, 1,030 milligrams of sodium, and 41 grams of protein. Adding cheese isn’t too costly, either — only 90 extra calories and 135 milligrams of additional sodium for one slice of cheddar. With a burger so low in calories, you could probably get away with a side of sweet potato fries, but it will cost you an additional 400 calories and 1,020 milligrams of salt.
6. Caprese Mozzarella Burger
If you want something a little fancier than a classic cheeseburger, but still want to enjoy something healthy, try the Caprese Mozzarella Burger. Its a beef patty with sautéed onions and garlic seared in, topped with grilled tomatoes and red onions, fresh mozzarella cheese, fresh basil, and a balsamic aioli.
The burger alone is 1,090 calories, and yields 24 grams of saturated fat — the lowest of all but one other menu item in its category. And you will also only consume 1,7oo milligrams of sodium, and score 50 grams of protein out of the deal. When it comes to Applebee’s burger selections, aside from the Classic, this is your healthiest option. Beware of your side choice, too — classic fries will add the least amount of fat and sodium to your meal.
7. Thai Shrimp Salad
Want something more than a boring garden salad? Applebee’s Thai Shrimp Salad is a medley of almonds, edamame, and shrimp pieces in a lime vinaigrette. It also includes wonton noodles, peanut sauce, and fresh cilantro (If you’re one of those people who swears cilantro tastes like soap, this salad may not be for you). The salad is only 390 calories, and comes with just 3 grams of saturated fat. The shrimp helps bring the dish’s protein up to 23 grams, and all ingredients combined provide 8 grams of dietary fiber. If you have a peanut allergy, though, stay as far away from this salad as possible.
8. Oriental Grilled Chicken Salad
Much healthier than a full-size chicken Caesar salad, an Oriental Grilled Chicken Salad is a plate packed with fried chicken, salad greens, rice noodles, and an Asian-inspired vinaigrette. You’ll get 1,290 calories, 13 grams of saturated fat, and 51 grams of protein if you choose this as your entrée. This option is similar to the option with breaded chicken, but it has fewer calories, less fat, and more protein. It does contain more sodium than the original oriental salad, though,. If that’s your deciding factor, settling for a few hundred extra calories won’t completely ruin your diet.
9. Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Chicken Cavatappi
Looking for a light and tasty pasta dish? Try the Spinach and Artichoke Grilled Chicken Cavatappi — spiral-shaped pasta with grilled chicken pieces, artichokes, grape tomatoes, and fried spinach, all topped with Parmesan cheese. This dish yields 1,040 calories and 1,800 milligrams of sodium, in addition to 12 grams of saturated fat. However, you’ll also get 8 grams of fiber and 51 grams of protein from the chicken and veggies. It helps that the chicken is grilled, and cheese is only an addition to the dish, not the main ingredient. It’s also not a pasta dish coated in a thick, salty sauce, which makes this an even healthier choice.
10. Pepper-Crusted Sirloin + Whole Grains
Found exclusively among Applebee’s Lighter Fare selections, this crusted steak features sirloin surrounded by whole grains, roasted tomatoes, sautéed spinach, and portobello mushrooms all coated in a “light broth.” This broth brings the salt content up to just under 2,000 milligrams, but that’s not so bad for a dish that’s only 380 calories with just 4 total grams of saturated fat. It also has 30 grams of protein and 6 grams of fiber, making it a filling lunch or dinner choice despite being well under 500 calories. Low-calorie meals loaded with protein and fiber are some of the healthiest you’ll find on any menu.
11. Fire Roasted Chicken Salad Wrap
When it comes to Applebee’s sandwiches, this one is the lowest-calorie option you’ll find. On its own, this wrap is 800 calories, and has 8 grams of saturated fat, 33 grams of protein, and 1,770 milligrams of sodium. However, your side is what will make or break this meal. You get a choice of either sweet potato fries or onion rings, and though they’re both fried, sweet potato fries only add on 400 extra calories and 3.5 additional grams of saturated fat. They’ll also add another 1,020 milligrams of salt to your order, but you can always eat half and save the rest for later.
12. 6 Oz. USDA Choice Top Sirloin
Even though choosing a healthy entrée is often simple, side dishes have a way of tricking you into eating more calories, fat, and salt than you intend to. As part of your “Grill Masterpiece,” you have a choice of entrée (steak, shrimp, or ribs) and two side dishes. For the healthiest plate possible, opt for a 6-ounce sirloin with a side of steamed broccoli and garlic mashed potatoes. Altogether, this comes out to 580 total calories, 10.5 grams of saturated fat, and 42 grams of protein. You can switch out broccoli for grilled vegetables or even classic french fries and still have a reasonably healthy meal, too.
13. Bone-In Pork Chop
Not in the mood for steak? A pork chop is also one of the healthier options you can get from the grill. Enjoy a Cajun-seasoned pork chop with apple chutney and maple butter along with a healthy side of vegetables for a filling meal you won’t regret. On its own, the chop, toppings included, will give you 560 calories, 11 grams of saturated fat, 1,590 milligrams of sodium, and 51 grams of protein. So as you’re choosing your sides, be mindful of their fat and sodium content. A baked potato would bring your total saturated fat over 20 even without a second side, plus 1,200 additional milligrams of sodium. Any of the vegetable side selections will keep you on track.
14. Cedar Salmon with Maple Mustard Glaze
You can almost never go wrong with fish on the grill, so it’s hardly a surprise it’s one of the best options at Applebee’s. This salmon is scented with cedar, coated in a maple-mustard glaze, and surrounded by fresh spinach. At 540 calories, 9 grams of saturated fat, and 1,730 milligrams of sodium, as per usual, your side choices are critical. Broccoli tends to pair well with salmon, and an additional side of garlic mashed potatoes will only bring your total sodium count up an extra 640 milligrams. Thankfully, fish is known for its abundance of healthy fats, so you’ll get plenty of omega-3s.
15. Bourbon Street Chicken + Shrimp
Tired of the same old meat-and-potatoes entrées? Opt for a chicken dish with a Cajun twist. At just 640 calories and 2,030 milligrams of sodium, you’ll love the flavorful Cajun-seasoned chicken with blackened shrimp, garlic, thyme, onions, and mushrooms. The fried red potatoes bump up the salt slightly, but the meal as a whole is worth it for the 51 grams of protein and 5 grams of fiber it provides. Only 9 of the 31 grams of fat are saturated, making this meal an excellent source of good-for-you fats.