A case for the value menu: it's not as fattening

By Candice Choi

Associated Press

Published: Thursday, Aug. 1 2013 5:02 p.m. MDT

Subway, which positions itself as a fresh, healthy alternative, isn't exempt. The potato chips it sells, for example, aren't just on a rack off to the side, but also line the counter that people walk alongside to order.

The strategic placement is intended to boost the chances you'll grab a bag while you're dictating what you want on your sub. Once you get to the register, a shelf of cookies beckons as well.

The classic example of the upsell, of course, is the combo meal, which makes it easier for you to order quickly while also helping you spend and eat a little more.

For example, the Whopper meal at Burger King is 970 calories — that's assuming you opt for small french fries and a Diet Coke, which doesn't have any calories. Upgrade to large fries and you're at 1,130 calories.

By contrast, you can order a Bacon Burger and small fries from the chain's value menu and your meal would be 560 calories

After reporting its latest quarterly results, McDonald's also noted it would employ more "suggestive selling strategies" at the register to encourage people to try new products or add-ons, although it didn't provide any details on what this would entail.

To combat such tactics, check out the nutrition information on restaurant websites ahead of time to decide what you want. The value menu can be a good guide post, but there are likely even more basic, inexpensive options that are relatively lower in calories.

A plain hamburger at McDonald's, for example, is 250 calories. It's usually less than $1.

Follow Candice Choi at www.twitter.com/candicechoi

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