(COLORADO SPRINGS) — If you’re feeling a little heavy from all that turkey and stuffing, but need to stop for a quick bite while out doing some holiday shopping, there are plenty of little-known lighter options at your favorite fast casual restaurants that are perfectly delicious and filling, while still saving some of those calories for indulging elsewhere. These are FOX21’s top five calorie-saving hacks for eating out.

Jimmy John’s Unwich

Any Jimmy John’s fan knows they offer a plethora of delicious sub sandwiches, from roast beef to tuna to Italian and turkey. But did you also know you can order any sandwich on their menu as a lettuce wrap?

It’s a simple swap, and you’re still getting all that delicious Jimmy John’s goodness on the inside, the only difference is cutting out the carbs in the bread. But that small substitution can make a big difference as far as calories. Some sandwiches on their menu see more than an 80% reduction in calories just by ordering as an Unwich!

Check out the difference in calories on some of their most popular sandwiches, courtesy of their Unwich Nutrition Guide:

Sandwich8″ French BreadUnwich
The Pepe (Ham and Provolone)600370
Big John (Roast Beef)500270
Vito (Salami, Capocollo, Provolone)580350
Billy Club (Roast Beef, Ham, Provolone)810460

QDOBA Salad Bowl

If you’re really craving a burrito, QDOBA’s burrito bowls are a great way to cut out the extra calories from the flour tortilla, but even the bowls can run upwards of 800-1000 calories, depending on what add-ons you choose.

You can swap the bowl for a salad instead, to drastically cut down the calorie content without sacrificing flavor. A salad has all the same ingredients as a burrito bowl, but with a healthy handful of lettuce instead of the beans and rice. If you load up on a few of their salsa options on a grilled chicken salad, with some shredded cheese added and their cilantro lime vinaigrette, that salad comes down to about 430 calories, and the leafy lettuce is plenty filling so you won’t feel unsatisfied.

Click here to view all of QDOBA’s updated nutrition information.

Noodles & Company

While their name suggests a carb-heavy meal, which usually translates to higher calories, Noodles & Company has plenty of options so you can still enjoy a delicious bowl of pasta without the guilt. They offer both zucchini and cauliflower noodles, and gluten free options as well.

The lighter options are not lacking in flavor, with a small order of zucchini orange chicken coming in at only 300 calories, and their small cauliflower rigatoni in roasted garlic cream sauce only totaling 400 calories.

No matter what your dietary restrictions are, Noodles & Company can help you figure out which dish fits your goals by offering a Nutritional Calculator, so you can determine exactly the content of protein, carbs, sodium, cholesterol, allergens, and more.

Panera Bread

Panera Bread offers a large selection of baked breakfast and dessert items, sandwiches, soups, salads, and beverages. While it may be tempting to devour that bread bowl after finishing your soup, you don’t have to skimp on your favorites just to cut back on calories.

The “You Pick Two” option at Panera is probably the best way to go in order to feel satiated without overdoing it. Pairing soup with a side salad can offer you something warm and comforting while still cutting out all that bread from a typical sandwich.

Panera’s French Onion soup and chicken noodle soup are both great options, with the chicken noodle only costing you 60 calories for a cup, and the French Onion only 190. Pair that with an Asian-sesame chicken salad at 200 calories and an apple in place of your side baguette, and your entire meal stays under 500 calories. And don’t worry if you just can’t resist that baguette, it only adds 180 calories, so splurge a little and soak up some of that soup if you feel like it.

Click here to view Panera Bread’s full nutritional guide.


You don’t have to forego some of your favorite comfort foods just because you’re trying to eat healthier. Love a good old-fashioned burger? You can still enjoy a juicy patty with all the fixings at Smashburger, but on a lettuce wrap, without a bun!

Using Smashburger’s interactive allergen and nutrition menu, you can select exactly what dietary restrictions you’re following, and it can help you build an order that fits what you want. Really craving that Classic Smashburger? Order it on a lettuce wrap to bring the calories down to 420, without changing anything else about the burger. Or you can save even more by going with a classic grilled chicken on a lettuce wrap for only 270 calories.

And if you’re feeling adventurous, you can swap out that order of fries for some crispy brussels sprouts.