Calorie count menus

Over the Summer, BP ran a promotion whereby if you filled your car with £50+ of fuel they would hand you a Pizza Express voucher. Collect three vouchers and you could then trade them in for a code which, when presented in Pizza Express would provide ‘payment’ for a set of garlic dough balls starter and a main course of your choice.
With me driving back to Norfolk frequently over the Summer and Dan driving 90 minutes to work each way five days a week we managed to collect several vouchers whilst the promotion was running.
We have been trying to save money lately with the upcoming wedding but still definitely deserved a date night this week so last night we used a code each and headed to the Pizza Express branch in Huntingdon for a cheap meal out.

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Both lovers of garlic, we munched down on the DoughBalls super quick, and before I could grab a photo!

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For the main course, I was tempted by the Padanna Leggera.  All of the Leggera pizzas are rings of pizza, the hole in the middle filled with rocket salad, santos tomatoes and shaved ricotta salata, finished with a light house dressing and parsley.  And they all clock in at under 500 calories.  The Padanna is topped with goat’s cheese, caramelised onions, spinach, red onions and garlic oil.  Anything containing goat’s cheese or garlic is a winner for me but there wasn’t quite enough veg involved for my tastes, so in the end I went for a Warm Vegetable & Goat’s Cheese Salad.  This had plenty more veg: ‘Chargrilled Italian vegetable salad of warm aubergine, red & yellow peppers, santos tomatoes and marinated artichoke with soft goat’s cheese, roasted tomatoes, cucumber, Italian lentils, seasonal mixed leaves, basil and mint.  Extra virgin olive oil & red wine vinegar dressing and warm dough sticks.  I do like a salad with lots of variety!  This might actually be in my top 5 meals out of all time!

After munching down our mains.  (Dan just had a regular American Hot pizza) we both decided we could do something sweet.  Dan hardly ever makes it through three courses, so I jumped at the opportunity to have a dessert.  As we were planning on sharing I let him pick from the menu and he went with the Chocolate Fudge Cake, which was super fudgy and came with icecream and a strawberry which I nabbed as soon as it arrived at the table!  Not sure I could have managed a whole one on my own, but I do like to have something sweet at the end of a main meal.

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Normally when we head out for dinner I struggle to eat a full main course, and often order two starters, or a starter and a side for my meal.  If I go out with friends I often like to share a dish.  If I am heading somewhere new I frequently look up the menu online to see which would be the most nutritionally satisfying meal for me on the day.  Pizza Express is one of the few places that seems to have the balance just about right,and they offer lots of choice in their meals without becoming ‘boring’ or offering a plain house salad as their ‘healthy option’.  My Dad is a big fan of pub meals which include as much as you can fit on one plate for as cheap a price as possible, but I hate feeling over-full after a meal.

wpid-IMAG1184.jpgFor Dad’s birthday a couple of weeks ago we went to the Wetherspoons that has opened up not far from where my parents live.  Wetherspoons has done a great job of including calorie content for all of it’s meals on it’s menu, but it always shocks me just how many calories are in certain dishes…For example, I could choose 12 BBQ chicken wings (553 calories) as a starter, have a Full rack of ribs with coleslaw, beer-battered onion rings and chips (2216 calories) for a main and follow it up with an Ice cream sundae with Belgian waffle, maple-flavour syrup and cream (846 calories) to create a total three-course meal calorie consumption of 3615 calories.  Without adding any drinks calories on top!  In one meal, in one sitting!  I’m not sure who can justify eating 2216 calories in a main course when the average suggested daily intake for a female for a whole day is 2000 calories!

It’s great having calorie count in menus, but what about all of the other content in the food that matters – carbs/protein/fat…  People can be eating the right amount of calories but their food choices to do this can be awful.

Meal sizes are often way too large when eating out.  No wonder Britain is struggling with an obesity epidemic at the moment.  People are led to believe portion sizes should be much bigger than they actually should be.  65% of men and 58% of women are classed as overweight or obese!  As a school teacher, it also worries me that children are being brought up to follow the same nutritional values as their parents and nearly 1/10 children in reception classes are classed as obese.  They are some incredibly scary facts.  I’ve spoken before of my annoyance at how six year olds at a friend’s daughter’s dance rehearsal were chugging back bottles of Lucozade before pottering around the hall.  Lucozade isn’t necessary for six year olds!

Something else that the Wetherspoons website has which I feel is positive towards change is the Build Your Menu page.  It has several different selectors to choose if you are looking for low fat meals, trying to get in your ‘5 a day’ of fruit and veg and just how many calories you want to consume.

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Seeing calorie content on the Wetherspoons menu made me more aware of what I was putting into my mouth, although I know this won’t have the same affect on everybody.

Do you read menus online to choose what you are going to eat before you head out?

Does seeing calorie counts on a menu affect your choice of meal?

What other restaurants include calorie counts on their menus?

9 thoughts on “Calorie count menus

  1. I love it when places publish the calories- I think it means you can make a more informed decision. And I have to say that I always have that salad when I go to pizza express- I love it! Zizzi or Ask (can’t remember which) do a similar one which is also fab. I do love that Padana pizza and have had it a few times, but since they started making the salad I prefer that.
    When I go out for a meal with Andy we might share a starter, and rarely have a dessert (I always get tempted by them but often they are expensive and also frozen things whereas I think the starters are often more freshly made).
    Maria @ runningcupcake recently posted…Gorgeous day for a ParkrunMy Profile

    1. I haven’t been to Zizzi or Ask for a while now but will check out their salads next time I visit. Really enjoyed that salad! :)
      I can always talk myself out of a dessert/other food if I don’t think it’s freshly made. I’m not fussed about biscuits/cakes if they are shop bought any more. It’s all about the baking! :)

  2. I totally agree about meal sizes being super huge when you eat out. I normally order something I know I can manage when I go out, but if ever I get it wrong I usually get a look from the waiter as if there was something wrong with the meal. Either that or I’m just gobsmacked at the amount other people in the same restaurant can put away without batting an eye lid. I think restaurants should offer an option of a smaller sized plate for less money. I think that would encourage people to eat the right amount.
    I never used to think about calories too much, but now when I finish a run I like to see what I’ve burned off and it’s amazing to think of the amount I burn off compared with the amount of calories there are in what I eat (which is way too high). I’m glad I’m running now that I’m working an office job because with the choices of what you can eat conveniently being so high in calories, I know I’d become a fatty 😀
    Erin Mason recently posted…Women’s Running 10k Race RecapMy Profile

    1. Restaurants should definitely offer smaller portions. I’ve tried to order from the children’s menu in the past only to be told that I can’t, as I’m over the age of 12. That’s just crazy! I’m not a fan of wasting food, but don’t want to feel sick and bloated after a meal out.
      I know I would be a total fatty if I didn’t run as well. Long days = lazy Mary when I get home and the couch becomes appealing! And once I’ve gotten out of the door for my run I always find some reserve energy to make it through the rest of the night without just plonking my bum down!

  3. I really can’t share food. I can share a sharing platter but nothing else really. Ben is well aware of my selfish food tendencies hehe.
    I do like seeing the calories/nutritional info on menus but sometimes it does sort of depress you. When I go out for a meal I’m not necessarilly looking for the healthiest thing – I’m looking for a meal I can enjoy, whatever the calories. I know I’m not going to eat like this every day so once in a while it really doesn’t matter to me if I eat a 1000cal meal or a 500 cal meal as I know ordinarily I eat quite healthily.
    I really like the sound of the meal you chose. I love having lots of different things in a salad. It’s all about variety 😀

    1. Haha! I’ve adjusted to sharing food now. The me ten years ago would NEVER have been able to share!
      I know what you mean about being depressing on the menu…especially if you realise how many calories are in the meal you really, really want! I like your approach of ‘I don’t eat like this every day, so why not as I’m out to enjoy myself’. Very positive! :)

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