I found an online version of the nutrition charts that you can get from fast-food outlets. I looked at the Tim Horton’s coffee shop site for warm meals – various soups, baked beans, or chili. If you want to plan your meals, you can select the healthiest two or three for your purposes. I also threw in one of the new “breakfast sandwiches”–the sausage patty & bacon on a tea biscuit.
The first thing I noticed was that all of them are pretty salty. But you can see that if you want to diet, the vegetable soup is has the fewest Calories; if you want a substantial meal without too much cholesterol, the baked beans are good, but they’re also the saltiest and by far the sweetest. The broccoli soup is rich and has almost 50% saturated fat. The split pea with ham seems like a good compromise, with less fat, less sugar, and more fibre.
One thing that’s not explained is the breakdown between “carbohydrate” and sugar: sugar is a carbohydrate, so is it included in “carbohydrates” or does the chart read “carbohydrate” when it means starch? UPDATE: Sugar is included: to find starches, subtract sugar.
I like the breakfast sausage because it’s hours before I’m hungry again; and from this chart I can see why: it contains about 1/4 of the calories and over half the fat I should eat in a day.
These are the Canadian values. The nutrition levels for U.S. stores are slightly different and seem to indicate a slightly larger serving of meat. Also, the U.S. nutrition charts give the calories from fat, which is useful: no more than 20 – 30% of calories should come from fat. And here’s a warning: the charts can be as much as 20% off in their nutrition analysis, which means that the calories, fat and sugar might be higher and the fibre, protein, and so on might be lower.
The interactive nutrion guides have a selection of the more popular foods; the PDF versions have more complete charts.