The Best & Worst Menu Items at Perkins
If you are out late and craving something sweet, look no further than your local Perkins. However, if you are searching for something diet-friendly, you are probably looking to find a meal that will not only satisfy your hunger, but also not overload you with calories or fat. In order to determine the best and worst menu options at Perkins, we meticulously sifted through each item with Patricia Bannan, MS, RDN, and LA-based nutritionist and healthy cooking expert, to discover the best and worst Perkins menu items.
Just For Starters
Worst: Chicken Strips
Chicken strips are a classic appetizer and they couldn't be any worse for you than mozzarella sticks or onion rings, right? This appetizer from the Perkins menu clocks in with a whopping 2,200 milligrams of sodium, which is almost an entire daily serving even before you hit your entree. Combine the amount of sodium with a fat content totaling 3/4 of your daily recommended amount, and you have an appetizer that will set your diet back for days.
Best: Strawberry and Cream Cheese Crispers
With cream cheese and the word "crispers" in the name, you would automatically assume that the Strawberry and Cream Cheese Crispers are not diet-friendly. Surprisingly, these are one of the best options, especially if you split the appetizer up amongst your table. "One of the lowest calorie starter options, these are also lower in saturated fat and sodium, with less than a quarter teaspoon in the full order," says Bannan. You can't beat that!
Salads and Soups
Worst: Honey Mustard Chicken Crunch Salad
When it comes to most chain restaurants, salads often hide poor nutrition behind a health-conscious image. The Honey Mustard Chicken Crunch Salad may be one of the worst offenders.
"With just about half a day's worth of calories, and as much saturated fat as 2 1/2 bacon cheeseburgers, this salad is a deceiving calorie bomb. While it does have 44 grams of protein, it also packs nearly a full teaspoon of sodium as well," says Bannan.
Best: Chicken Tortilla Soup, Cup
In an effort to help create better portion sizes, the Perkins menu offers cups and bowls of all of their soups. By selecting the cup of Chicken Tortilla Soup, the smaller serving keeps your diet on the straight and narrow. "This soup is both the lowest calorie and lowest sodium option available, and also contains no saturated fat. Each cup serving delivers a satisfying 7 grams of protein as well," says Bannan.
Worst: Patty Melt Pile On
The phrase "pile on" should be a clear indicator of how unhealthy this patty melt is. With a whopping 97 grams of fat and 1,410 calories, this burger squeezes in almost as many calories and fat as two of Perkins' Classic Burgers. Do your arteries a favor and steer clear of this one.
Best: Classic Burger
"When it comes to burgers, less is best. The Classic Burger is lowest in calories and saturated fat, but still contains over half a day's worth of saturated fat," says Bannan. "If you add cheese, you can also add on an extra 150 calories, and 8 grams of saturated fat."
Worst: Chicken Strip Melt
"Chicken may sound like a healthier option, but not when it delivers over half your daily calories, a full day's worth of saturated fat, and well over a full teaspoon of sodium in one sandwich," says Bannan.
Given how unhealthy the chicken strip appetizer was, it is not too surprising to see another chicken strip Perkins menu item make it onto the "worst" list.
Best: Big BLT
It may be hard to believe, but the Big BLT is actually the best sandwich on the menu.
"With only 420 calories, it is both the lowest calorie and sodium option available," says Bannan. "The 12 grams of protein will also help keep you more satisfied."
You can knock out even more calories by steering clear of the sides that typically come with the sandwich, or by substituting a low-calorie side salad, like their Garden Salad.
Worst: Meatloaf Dinner, Homemade
"Meatloaf is a classic comfort food, but what isn't so comforting is the fact that meal has a day's worth of saturated fat, over [one] teaspoon of sodium, and half a day's worth of calories on one plate," says Bannan. If you are looking to trim your waistline, keep this Perkins menu entree out of your sight.
Best: Grilled Salmon Dinner
When you are looking to eat healthy, it is hard to go wrong with salmon.
"Salmon is a natural source of both protein and omega-3 fats, and this dinner also only contains 4.5 grams of saturated fat, which is more than 5 times less than the meatloaf dinner," says Bannan. "It is also lowest in sodium, with a mere 120 milligrams."
By selecting the fish, you can minimize your fat intake for the day, while the high protein content keeps you satiated longer than many other items.
Duos and Trios
Worst: 1/2 Chicken Strip Melt Sandwich with Honey Mustard Chicken Crunch Salad
This combo may be the perfect storm of calories. The combination of the most unhealthy salad pairs with the most unhealthy sandwich in an effort to throw your diet off for days!
"With a half serving of both the salad and sandwich, this meal still packs half a day's worth of calories," says Bannan.
Best: The Garden Salad and Chicken Tortilla Soup, Cup
This is a winning combo if you are looking for a light meal while sticking to your diet. The Garden Salad clocks in at 110 calories and is paired off nicely with the 150 calorie cup of soup. The protein of the soup helps you stave off cravings longer than other soup options, and the salad provides vitamin B6 and some iron to keep you moving through the day. One thing to note though: "It is still a little high in sodium," says Bannan. All in all, this is a solid duo option.
Worst: Hibachi Fried Chicken Skillet
Perkins' fried chicken is back in the form of the Hibachi Fried Chicken Skillet, and with some of the highest fat and calories on the skillet menu, it is coming to knock you off your diet. Loaded with almost 4,000 grams of sodium, eating this meal is equivalent to ingesting almost two teaspoons of salt. Pair this against the high-fat content, and you are looking at a dish that is going to make you feel sluggish all day long.
Best: Hibachi Grilled Shrimp Skillet
"This meal is the lowest calorie option in this category, which also has the lowest amount of saturated fat. It is still a sodium bomb, with nearly two teaspoons worth on one plate," says Bannan.
Overall, it might be best to stick to other Perkins menu options, but if you are craving a supper skillet, this will be your best bet.
Worst: French Fries
"As you probably guessed, French fries aren't the lightest side on the menu," says Bannan. "These are the highest calorie side with 570 calories, a third of a teaspoon of sodium, and 16 times as much saturated fat as the grilled asparagus." You will do much better if you stick to fresh vegetables, or even choose to omit sides entirely.
Best: Grilled Asparagus
Asparagus is always a great choice when you go to any restaurant. They are loaded with vitamin K and folate, and getting the Grilled Asparagus on the Perkins menu is a no-brainer if you are looking for a healthy side.
"This side contains no sodium, less than a gram of saturated fat, and only 45 calories per serving," says Bannan. It is the best side if you are looking to round out your meal.
Worst: Chocolate Chipper Sundae
Even the Chocolate Chipper Sundae's name sounds ominously unhealthy. "If you sat down to the Chocolate Chipper Sundae by yourself, you can expect to be sitting down to half a day's worth of calories, over a day's worth of saturated fat, and more sugar than two cans of soda," says Bannan.
Best: Ice Cream, One Scoop
Sometimes, simplicity is best, especially during dessert.
"A scoop of ice cream is your best option, with 210 calories and four times less saturated fat as the chocolate malt," says Bannan. You are always going to ingest a high amount of sugar with most desserts, but limiting the amount is always a good way to go.