Top 7 Calorie-Rich Foods for the Dollar

"Now, there are ways to get around that. First of all, you can get diet soda instead, and knock of the extra 140 calories," said Ayoob. "But I don't know how many people go into [McDonald's] and order one small cheeseburger, one small fries and a diet soda."

Pricey Per Calorie: Shrimp Key West at T.G.I. Friday's

Courtesy of Center for Science in the Public Interest

Sitting down to eat at T.G.I. Friday's gives a person a bit more time to mull over the menu than standing in line for fast food. But time doesn't necessarily mean the calorie decisions are any easier.

Take the Jack Daniels rib and shrimp at T.G.I. Friday's in New York City. It cost more than $25 last year and gave you 1,910 calories per serving.

On the other hand, an item on their menu for just under $25 -- the shrimp Key West -- only had 370 calories. The fire-grilled shrimp served with broccoli florets came out to just 16 calories per dollar.

To get enough for a whole day's calorie requirements, a person would have to buy five more orders of the shrimp Key West meal.

But nutritionists point out that people often have more motivations than food-for-your-dollar pricing at restaurants.

"It's not just about the food, it's just about what you want," said Ayoob, who pointed out that many popular alcoholic drinks, like martinis, run about 16 calories per dollar.

"Is it going to be expensive to eat the salad? Yes," said Ayoob. "But is it more expensive in the long run if you need a personal trainer to lose all that weight later?"

Cheap Per Calorie: Chili Fries Appetizer at Johnny Rockets

Courtesy of Center for Science in the Public Interest

Modeled after a 1950s-era milkshake and burger shop, the Johnny Rockets restaurant chain is not necessarily marketed as healthy eating.

But the appetizers alone can take care of half a day's calorie requirement even before someone jumps into a Rocket double burger and oversized shake.

A Johnny Rockets chili fries appetizer chocks up 1,086 calories. Priced around $4, that brings the fries covered with chili, cheese and onions at 272 calories per $1.

Ayoob, who counsels families in nutrition, said at some point the buck should stop with the individual.

"I don't think it's the job of any restaurant -- not the corner diner either -- to be our mothers. That is our job as adults," said Ayoob.

"We can all become victims if we want to be, and you just have to use your own sense. It's probably just best to take the 10 minutes in the morning and brown bag it," he said.

Not only would that save people calories, Ayoob pointed out that it often saves money on the food itself, the time to drive to the restaurant and even the gas money it might take to get there.

Cheap Per Calorie: Nathan's Large Krispy Chicken Tenders Sandwich Value Meal

Courtesy of Center for Science in the Public Interest

People often view chicken as a healthier alternative to red meat, but in some cases, a chicken sandwich meal can really compact the calories.

Take, for example, the Nathan's Famous restaurant chain in New York, of the Nathan's hot dog eating contest. Nathan's offers hot dogs, of course, but also a chicken tenders sandwich. Combine that sandwich with a large soft drink and fries and you've 2,237 calories.

Not only is that meal more calories than the USDA daily calorie intake recommendation for an adult, at $7.79, the meal is calorie-cheap: 272 calories per $1.

Ayoob said the high-calorie combo meals are a common source for extra calories.

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