Multiple restaurants close to school

Easy to get to, easy to eat. College offers multiple restaurants close to school.

There are many food options to try right outside of campus. Photo credit: Isaiah Burns

So you’re hungry, you’ve got 15 minutes until your next class starts, and you’ve got $13 to your name. We’ve all been there before. So it’s another lunch off the dollar menu at the nearest McDonald’s, and if it makes you sick, it makes you sick. 

Typically we think of fast food as being cheap, quick, but unfortunately low quality and potentially harmful when consumed in excess. It’s a trade off, convenience and flavorful deliciousness at the cost of your organs and longevity. 

But what if you want the best of both worlds? What if you want to have your cake, or in this case Taco Del Mar, and eat it too?

We here at The Clackamas Print decided to go to some of the choice fast food restaurants at the O.C. Point plaza thoroughly analyzing their menus, and then carefully selecting and testing what we determined would be the healthiest options.

Now, we understand that healthy means different things for different people, which is all fine and dandy, you make your own rules for how you eat. As a metric for this list, we decided that for an item to fall on the spectrum of healthy, it should meet two criteria: it is nutrient dense, and it contains few processed ingredients.

With that being said, here are your best options from select restaurants, in no particular order.

  1. Five Guys

For the most part, this is more of an honorable mention than anything else. I love me some Five Guys, but it’s hard to classify anything they have on their menu as healthy.

I mean, they’ve got peanuts. You could get a bunch of peanuts. Those are practically entirely unprocessed, and they’ve got plenty of healthy fats and a bit of protein.

Other than that, your best bet is the Veggie Sandwich for $5.20. It’s full of vegetables such as mushrooms, onions, lettuce, tomatoes, and green peppers. Plenty of good vitamins and micronutrients to make your body happy. The ingredients in the bun are locally sourced, so that’s another pro. Plus, I didn’t even get a headache after eating this sandwich, so there’s another win for Five!

  1. Starbucks

Starbies has a decent number of items that are full of beneficial nutrients. They’ve got some great breakfast options.

When asked on the healthiest choices, the baristas up front suggested the plant-based Impossible Breakfast Sandwich for $5.45, and the Spinach, Feta & Egg White Wrap for $4.45. Both items contain 21 and 20 grams of protein respectively, a substantial amount for getting you swol. The latter option is especially good as a low processed meal to jumpstart your day. According to Starbucks’ website, the wrap consists of “Cage-free egg whites… combined with spinach, feta cheese and sun-dried tomato cream cheese inside a whole-wheat wrap.” 

  1. MOD Pizza

I freaking love MOD. Subway but for pizza? Sign me up! Unfortunately, I couldn’t justify adding any of their pizza options to this list. All I can add are stupid salads. Specifically the Garden Salad and the Greek Salad. The Garden Salad is great if you’re vegetarian, or otherwise looking for a light meal. It’s 12 grams of healthy fats, 2 grams of protein and 14 grams of carbohydrates. Both salads are $8.27 for a medium sized portion.

If you want something higher in protein and carbs, go for the Greek Salad; it’s chock-full of delicious vegetables like olives, pretty sure that’s a vegetable, I don’t think it’s a berry, red onions, chickpeas, “mama lil’s sweet hot peppers,” and more! It’s also got feta, and tahini dressing.

  1. Panda Express

Panda markets itself as having healthy choices. That’s probably dependent on your definition of healthy, which at Panda just seems to mean low in calories. While that may be true, the two items that best meet our criteria are the Broccoli Beef and Mushroom Chicken, both for just $1.25. These may be cheap and delicious, and they do contain some vegetables, but both options are highly processed and coated with sugary sauce.

  1. Taco Del Mar

And last but not least, Taco Del Mar. This place had a few good choices depending on what you’re looking for. Are you one of those vegans? Go for the Plant Powered Bowl for a filling salad with 13 grams of protein and 75 grams of carbs, all for $8.23. Feeling prehistoric? Try the Zesty Braised Chicken Salad, their top paleo option with a whopping 43 grams of protein, 22 grams of carbs, and 17 grams. Want something low in carbs? Go for the Tender Shredded Beef Salad, with 23 grams of fat, 39 grams of protein, and 14 grams of carbs. Each of those three items cost under $9.

So there you have it. Mindful eating under a budget and time constraints is certainly possible. Check out any of the items on this list during your next break between classes or before your work shift starts!

Isaiah Burns