Food on the Run: McAlister's Deli

By , SparkPeople Blogger

In our ongoing Food on the Run series, today we look at a new sensation for fresh food and quick service. McAlister's Deli has an extensive menu with over 100 items including sandwiches, potatoes, salads and soups as well as their famous sweet tea. With all those options, is there anything healthy to select?

Cautions to Consider
  • McAlister's Deli has made box lunches and catering options a focus of their business. There is an extensive catering menu including a variety of options for most every catering need from box lunches, breakfast and break trays, to entrée salads, All-Day menus, Spud Bar, deli and dessert trays. It might be something to keep in mind for your next catering need.
  • They encourage you to get your salad, sandwich or spud just the way you like it so don't be afraid to add or subtract items when you order to maximize nutrition when possible.
  • While McAlister Sweet Tea is something they are known for, they do not include calorie content on their nutrition information. According to some former employee shared information I located, there are about 10 calories per ounce. Therefore, a 32 oz glass of Sweet Tea could contain as much as 320 calories. While it may be a signature item, it is not something we would recommend.
  • When making your own sandwich the bread you select can make a big difference. A croissant would be your highest calorie and fat choice with 360 calories and 21 grams of fat. A wheat hoagie on the other hand would be your best choice with only 195 calories and 2 grams of fat.
  • Sauces can add flavor and moisture to a sandwich but they can also add additional calories and fat very quickly. Although it can taste great, it would be best to skip the Horseradish sauce, which provides 132 calories and 12 grams of fat in a 2-tablespoon serving. Instead, consider the Fat Free Chipotle Peach Sauce with only 60 calories and no fat in a 2-tablespoon serving.
  • Giant Spuds are intended to provide two servings so plan to split one with a friend or save half for a second meal.
  • If you like soup, this is the place for you! There is an extensive soup menu including both 8 oz cup and 12 oz bowl serving sizes. Many times, we do not encourage the bread bowl but in this case, the small bread bowl option might be a nice addition to your soup to round out your meal since it only contributes an additional 140 calories, 1 gram of fat, 310 mg of sodium, 28 grams of carbohydrate and 5 grams of protein.
  • When looking for healthier options for your children, consider Mac & Cheese with a side of applesauce. The 6 oz serving provides 302 calories, 16 grams of fat, 714 mg of sodium, 25 grams of carbohydrates and 11 grams of protein with the applesauce providing an additional 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 mg of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates and 0 grams of protein in a 4 oz serving. It would be best to avoid the PB & J that provides 687 calories and 31 grams of fat.
  • Side items can make or break your health conscience meal. Your best choice when selecting a side item would be the 5 oz serving of fruit salad, which provides 81 calories, o grams of fat, 13 mg of sodium, 11 grams of carbohydrates and 1 gram of protein. Another good choice would include applesauce with 100 calories, 0 grams of fat, 0 mg of sodium, 24 grams of carbohydrates and 0 grams of protein in a 4 oz serving. It would be best to avoid the Macaroni & Cheese which provides a 6 oz serving containing a whopping 302 calories and 16 grams of fat which is too high for a side item.
  • You will find diet focused recommendations on their website for vegetarian, higher fiber, calorie smart, carbohydrate savvy, lower fat and gluten-free highlighted information to help you plan ahead.

Here are some better choices you can select to help you keep your entrée selection below 250 calories and 10 grams of fat or your complete meal below 500 calories and 15-20 grams of fat.

Soups and Chili

Cheddar Potato
Calories – 213 cup / 330 bowl
Fat – 15 grams cup / 21 grams bowl
Sodium – 773 mg cup / 1139 mg bowl
Carbohydrates – 13 grams cup / 27 grams bowl
Protein – 5 grams cup / 7 grams bowl

Chicken Chili
Calories – 150 cup /196 bowl
Fat – 3 grams cup /4 grams bowl
Sodium – 490 mg cup / 639 mg bowl
Carbohydrates – 20 grams cup / 26 grams bowl
Protein – 20 grams cup / 26 grams bowl

Golden Lentil
Calories – 213 cup / 278 bowl
Fat – 3 grams cup / 4 grams bowl
Sodium – 831 mg cup / 1083 mg bowl
Carbohydrates – 35 grams cup / 46 grams bowl
Protein – 12 grams cup / 15 grams bowl

Country Vegetable
Calories – 93 cup / 135 bowl
Fat – 1 gram cup / 2 grams bowl
Sodium – 973 mg cup / 1384 mg bowl
Carbohydrates – 17 grams cup / 27 grams bowl
Protein – 3 grams cup / 5 grams bowl

Calories – 220 cup / 298 bowl
Fat – 10 grams cup / 14 grams bowl
Sodium – 690 mg cup / 935 mg bowl
Carbohydrates – 24 grams cup / 33 grams bowl
Protein – 8 grams cup / 11 grams bowl

Cheesy Chicken Tortilla
Calories – 150 cup / 194 bowl
Fat – 6 grams cup / 8 grams bowl
Sodium – 1470 mg cup / 2152 mg bowl
Carbohydrates – 13 grams cup / 17 grams bowl
Protein – 10 grams cup / 13 grams bowl

Fresh Salads

Grilled Chicken Salad
Calories – 374
Fat – 19 grams
Sodium – 1322 mg
Carbohydrates – 16 grams
Protein – 35 grams

McAlister's Chef
Calories – 254
Fat – 12 grams
Sodium – 1242 mg
Carbohydrates – 14 grams
Protein – 22 grams

Sweet Chipotle Chicken Salad with dressing
Calories – 425
Fat – 11 grams
Sodium – 1242 mg
Carbohydrates – 58 grams
Protein – 22 grams

Chipotle Peach Dressing
Calories – 170
Fat – 0 grams
Sodium – 567 mg
Carbohydrates – 40 grams
Protein – 0 grams

Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinaigrette Dressing
Calories – 170
Fat – 17 grams
Sodium – 652 mg
Carbohydrates – 9 grams
Protein – 0 grams

Platters and Wraps

Chipotle Chicken Wrap
Calories – 444
Fat – 11 grams
Sodium – 1313
Carbohydrates – 57 grams
Protein >– 27 grams

Pot Roast Classic – sides would be additional
Calories – 398
Fat – 19 grams
Sodium – 1384 mg
Carbohydrates – 24 grams
Protein – 34 grams

Giant Spuds – each is intended to be 2 servings and both are represented in this information

Grilled Chicken Spud
Calories – 558
Fat – 12 grams
Sodium – 870 mg
Carbohydrates – 70 grams
Protein – 41 grams

Pot Roast Spud
Calories – 538
Fat – 11 grams
Sodium – 1048 mg
Carbohydrates – 72 grams
Protein – 40 grams

Spud Ole with Veggie Chili
Calories – 591
Fat – 18 grams
Sodium – 860 mg
Carbohydrates – 83 grams
Protein – 26 grams

Veggie Spud
Calories – 585
Fat – 19 grams
Sodium – 907 mg
Carbohydrates – 77 grams
Protein – 25 grams

Best Sandwich Choices

New Yorker – as listed on menu
Calories – 465
Fat – 13 grams
Sodium – 2427 mg
Carbohydrates – 49 grams
Protein – 42 grams

Chicken Breast on Wheat Hoagie with Havarti Cheese
Calories – 384
Fat – 11 grams
Sodium – 1316 mg
Carbohydrates – 43 grams
Protein – 33 grams

Smoked Turkey on Sliced Wheat with Cheddar Cheese
Calories - 472 cal
Fat – 10 grams
Sodium – 1800 mg
Carbohydrates – 41 grams
Protein – 32 grams

Have you tried McAlister's Deli? How do you think it compares in price, atmosphere, menu and nutrition to other fast food options?

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I've never heard of this Deli. Report
Wish we had a McAlister's Deli near us liked some of their food options. Report
There is no reason why one can't research the foods out and make them at home! Especially with fresh ingredients...oH Yeah!! Its better than fast food!! Report
McAlister's Deli just opened at the airport I work at and I'm really happy to see this article since I am always wary of eating out when you don't really know what calories fat, etc etc your getting Report
Hadn't heard of McAlister's Deli. The closest location is two states away, so I guess I won't be rushing out to try these folks any time soon. Report
I've never heard of McAlister's either, but I have heard of Jason's Deli. I'm not a big sandwich fan because I always feel like there is more bread than necessary. I can rarely taste the meat, although Jason's had a healthy quantity of meat the one time I went there, but it was way too much food all the way around. Report
McAlister's is similar to jason's with higher prices. I've eaten at McAlister's twice because I had 4 free meal coupons. Normally I don't eat out. If I do, it's not often, I drink water, not Tea or Soda. There is no reason to consume empty calories. My first visit, I ordered a chicken salad. I was not impressed. My second visit was because I spent the day with clients and we took time for lunch. I thought it we'd eaten healthy. But after seeing the breakdown of the Chipotle Chicken Wrap there's no way that is can be considered healthy. That is very high sodium!

Chipotle Chicken Wrap
Calories - 444
Fat- 11 grams
*Sodium- 1313 grams
Carbs- 57 grams
Protein- 27 grams

Next time I have to eat out, I'll stick to a simple salad with squeezed lemon juice.

Thanks for the article. Report
I don't think this is a good choice at all. Most of the sandwiches contain enough sodium to bloat you like a Macy's balloon! But then again many people think Subway is healthy but their sodium content is like a salt lick. Report
I have never heard of them either. But the sodium content is way too high on just about everything! Some things sound ok for fat and calories, it's just the sodium that would keep me away! Report
This sounds like a good place- too bad they are not in my area. Report
I have eaten there a couple of times... I am kind of shocked by the sodium amounts. I am trying to watch my sodium intake so I guess this is out for me. Report
I have never heard of this deli. But would be willing to try it - if close to my home. Report
I ate there on vacation. They were just ok. Report
I met a former co-worker at McAllister's the first week I started on SP. I spent a lot of time going over their nutritional info online before I went and was able to make a smart, but tasty decision on what to eat and I was satisfied when I left. I guess part of the answer to eating out is to plan ahead. Report
Never heard of them Sorry We don't have it around here. Report
I like McAllister's. They have a great variety of options and the food is not the overly processed variety you find at most fast food spots. Report
McAlister's is really good but it is sooo high in fat! When I had just started using sparkpeople I had gone there and gotten a club w/potato salad and half sweet/half unsweet tea- I had no idea that the club had 1026 calories and 56 gr of fat and I ate the WHOLE thing. I didn't eat there for like a yr I was so bugged! Report
After reading "The End Of Overeating" I understand why restaurant foods are so high in fat and sodium. I'm glad that my life these days doesn't include eating out a lot! Report
I'm new to a town that has one of these restaurants - I think I'll try it this week...and I'll be sure to bring this helpful list with me. THANKS! Report
Oy, the sodium these people use! I wasn't even aware we had a McAlister's Deli here and after reading the menu, I don't think I'll be trying it. The chicken on wheat with Havarti sounds tempting as do some other items but with my blood pressure, the sodium would have my head spinning for days! Report
My poor body would be bloated with the amount of sodium in the food choices on this list. Good Lord! Thank goodness I'm not near one. Report
New Yorker as listed on menu
Calories - 465
Fat - 13 grams
Sodium - 2427 mg
Carbohydrates - 49 grams
Protein - 42 grams

How can this even be considered a healthy food choice when it completely exceeds the maximum daily allowance for sodium? Report
I love McAlister's Chef salad and my husband loves the Chicken Chili. The prices are reasonable and they have a lot of menu options, all of which can be customized as you like. Report
I used to work at McAlister's. Most of the food is just microwaved frozen. None of it is truly "fresh". You're better off making your own salad at home. Although the Chicken Club sandwich is really tasty! But I bet the honey mustard & bread & bacon makes for a lot of calories! Report
My whole family loves McAllister's. They have a great Taco Salad with more emphasis on salad than taco. Watch the salsa though, it's got some heat. Report
I go to McAlister's every so often when I visit home. I usually get the Cheese Spud and eat the whole thing, lol. But if I go now I can replace it with the Cheddar Potato Soup. Report
I am on the EastCoast too. Never heard of them either. Report
Never heard of McAlister's. Guess they're not in the Northeast. Report
GREAT INFO! I needed this last weekend as I met my gal pals for lunch there. I love having access to this type of info...I will definitely print it off and put it with my other Food on the Run articles.

Nancy Report
McAlister's have good variety of food, it cost a little more than Jason's, and have smaller portion than Jason's. I always get water with extra lemon when ever I eat out, I only go there when I need to eat in a hurry, Jason always very busy, where McAlister always can walk in and get wait on. If you do it once in awhile, it's not too bad, just have to watch what you eat; like any where else. Report
I've never heard of this restaurant chain so it is moot as they don't have them where I live, but any eatery that doesn't include a calorie count in its nutrition information isn't a place I'd trust for finding anything healthy. :) Report
I have been there and I LOVE it !! Great food and decent price. Report
I was really surprised by the sodium content-a New Yorker sandwich blows a whole day's allocation, and even the dressings are far saltier than a commercial bottled dressing. We don't have McAlister's here, but it would likely be on my no-go list. Report
I really like McAlister's, but it is a little pricey. What I get isn't one of the healthier items, but the nearest one is over 30 miles away, so I don't get there often. :) Report
I've never heard of this place. After searching, the closest place to me is either Virginia or Ohio and I live in New Hampshire. Guess I won't be going there soon. Report
I love McAlister's. I don't eat there often because it's a little out-of-the-way, but it's always really good. As far as high calories: I never get the tea, and I usually don't put any condiments on my sandwiches anyway, just load them up with vegetables. Saves calories, and tastes just as good! Report
I've never heard of McAlister's Deli. A quick web search and I found that the closest one is 50 miles away in Tampa. Most of it sounds pretty high in calories and fat. Report
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