Eating Out in the US

Hi all,
I'm going to be traveling to the US for 5 weeks from Australia starting next week... I'm excited, but a little apprehensive about continuing my new healthy lifestyle whilst on the road for so long! I've managed to drop 25kg so far (with more to go) and don't want to destroy the work I've done.

I'm going to be traveling through the following areas: Chicago, Vermont, New York, extended stay in Tucson AZ, then southern California. I do intend to enjoy myself - I love food (which is why I need to lose weight in the first place!) - particularly Mexican food and ribs, but given I'll be eating out every single meal, I'll need to smart about it. My general plan is healthy breakfast and lunch, then something 'naughty' for dinner, but keeping portions under control. This method has served me well when traveling within Australia.

My questions for those in the know:
  • Any particular foods, cuisines or restaurants I should checkout in the above places? Particularly in Tucson, where I'll be for 2 weeks.
  • I don't know much about the 'average' calories in a standard burrito/taco/plate of ribs etc. Is there an online menu for one of the chain restaurants that you trust, that is indicative of average values, to give me a bit of an idea?
  • I'm sure this is a silly question, but canned pumpkin - is this literally just canned mashed pumpkin - does it have added sugar etc? I have an overnight oats recipe that I love to eat of a morning that involves mashed pumpkin, and am considering shortcuts for my trip.
  • PB2 - I'm in love with this stuff... I'm currently buying it online for about $9.50 USD per 16oz jar (inc shipping) - what kind of cost is it to buy in the US? Best place to find it?

Thanks all :)


  • dougpconnell219
    dougpconnell219 Posts: 566 Member
    Chicago - Chicago style pizza
    I would imagine Tuscon has great Mexican food.

    I've never been to Australia, but I would venture to guess that restaurant portions over here are going to be larger here. Maybe I'm wrong.

    And I would brush up on my imperial measurements, as nobody here has a clue what a gram is.
  • Cortelli
    Cortelli Posts: 1,369 Member
    edited January 2015
    Hmmm - can't help you with several of your questions. I'll say this:

    * Portion sizes when eating out in the US can be very, very large
    * Canned pumpkin is basically canned, mashed pumpkin. Might have a little sugar and other stuff added, but basically, yes.
    * You might check out Chipotle as a chain for Mexican food -- it is not exactly a traditional taqueria and it probably undercounts cals compared to most Mexican joints, but it can give you some idea about how calorie-dense some Mexican meals can be (as unbelievably tasty as they can be). There is also El Torrito, Chevy's, and I am sure others -- in my experience in California, you're a lot more likely to find independent or non-chain or "3 locations" sorts of places that won't have nutrition info available. I wouldn't let this stop you -- I lived in Asia for a while (not AUS) and completely missed real Mexican fare more than anything else. You should be able to get outstanding Mexican in both Tuscon and Southern California, and for all I know, in Chicago, Vermont, and NY.
  • misskris78
    misskris78 Posts: 136 Member
    If you will be in Vermont, hopefully you will be checking out Burlington. It's a health conscious city with some amazing restaurants that use fresh, local ingredients-although the growing is tough right now in these parts ;) If you're in NYC, finding good quality food should be no problem. If you're driving "upstate" to go to Vermont, the downtown areas of every small City along the way has great local eateries that will surely help you stay on task. Chains are fine, and I definitely love me some Olive Garden, but watch the portions. They can be huge. Many cities require calories be posted on chain restaurant menus. I have no idea where you'd find PB2. Maybe Healthy Living or Whole Foods????
  • jyogit
    jyogit Posts: 280 Member
    i love New York but the food is just immense .. huge portions of everything..especially the salads, but on the plus side there are loads of delis on every street where u can get decent food without eating out all the time.. try n find somewhere with a salad bar, thats what i ended up doing.. olive garden on times square is good if youre not a yank.. lol
  • obscuremusicreference
    obscuremusicreference Posts: 1,320 Member
    You can get canned pumpkin without added sugar, but make sure you're not buying pumpkin pie filling! This is somewhat confusing, as the canned pumpkin is shelved next to the pumpkin pie filling in the baking aisle in most (all?) stores.

    I don't eat PB2 but I know you can get it at GNC and those stores with "Vitamin" in their names. I'm sure someone knows the best price, etc
  • I'm an Aussie who travels to the U.S. quite a bit and food is definitely a big part of the fun. One of the things I like about the U.S. is that nobody blinks an eye about asking to have the leftovers packed up for takeaway. In fact, they usually ask first! I sometimes end up getting 3 meals out of a main.

    I remember driving down the ocean highway from San Francisco to LA, and buying a burrito wrap thingy from a little place in Big Sur. I have never ever seen such a mega burrito! I managed to finish it because it was messy and delicious but I couldn't eat for several hours afterwards.

    You will have a ball OP!
  • buzz3d269
    buzz3d269 Posts: 87 Member
    Oh fantastic, thanks for all of the replies, I'm really looking forward to the trip! I only booked my tickets a couple of days ago, and leave in about a week, so am racing around trying to get organised! I've been to the US a few times, most recently was in Jan/Feb last year, to Tucson and California. I just love the Mexican food, and remember the massive portions fondly - until I remember that I'm supposed to be doing this healthy eating thing lol! Last time I went was before I started watching what I eat.

    This trip is also the first time I will go north, and certainly the first time I will experience such cold weather. Great tip on the imperial measurements - I'm useless, so will go over that a bit before I go. And yes, I do remember portions being huge. For my stay in Tucson, we will have a full size fridge, so may do dinner every second night or so, and do left-overs in between.

    Great tip about pumpkin pie filling vs canned pumpkin - we don't have either here, so it's a bit of a novelty (I have to steam and mash fresh pumpkin - oh the horror!).
  • dale530
    dale530 Posts: 78
    Generally you can get this at Walmart for under $5.00 for the 16oz jar. Almost half :smile:

    [*]PB2 - I'm in love with this stuff... I'm currently buying it online for about $9.50 USD per 16oz jar (inc shipping) - what kind of cost is it to buy in the US? Best place to find it?[/list]

  • autumnblade75
    autumnblade75 Posts: 1,660 Member
    I hope it warms up a bit in Chicago for you. I think we're having one of those "Polar Vortex" things right now. You've been recommended the pizza here, and let me add that you might want to try Portillo's for some hot dogs. In Vermont, I'd be looking for pizza, too - you'll find it's a whole different experience. I lived in Massachusetts growing up, and one of the things I miss most is the pizza from those little, corner-store, mom-n-pop Greek pizza and subs shops. It's close enough, regionally, that I'd expect to find it in Vermont, too.