Dear Lifehacker, I work from home and buy myself a takeaway lunch once or twice a week. Unfortunately, the only options near my house are a burger shop or a bakery that sells hot pies. Neither store has any nutritional information on their menu, so I'm not sure which is worse. Am I better off grabbing the burger or the meat pie? Thanks, Too Busy To Cook
Unfortunately, most independent fast food outlets are not beholden to kilojoule display laws. For example, in NSW a takeaway business only needs to provide nutritional information on its menu if it operates 50 stores nationally. In other words, most bakeries and burger joints are exempt.
With that said, it's still possible to get a rough idea of the damage you're ingesting by doing a little research. According to MyFitnessPal, the average Aussie BBQ burger contains around 2500kJ of energy. A generic mince meat pie, meanwhile, clocks in at 2000kJ.
Of course, results can vary considerably depending on the size of the pie or burger in question and the ingredients used. Plus, kilojueles alone don't tell the whole story - you also need to factor in sodium, saturated fats, sugars and protein.
As mentioned, independent fast food merchants usually don't supply the above information, but you can make broad comparisons by looking at larger franchises. For example, a mince meat pie from Pie Face contains 2320kJ of energy, 20.7g of protein, 14.7g of saturated fat and 1.6g of sugar. A beef burger from Grill’d contains 2680kJ of energy, 32.6g of protein, 9.0g of saturated fat and 11.0g of sugar.
Personally, we think the burger is probably a (slightly) better option for your lunch. Despite having a higher kJ count on paper, it provides more nutritional value than a meat pie and will probably fill you up more, which reduces the likelihood of snacking later in the day. (Just go easy on the sauce and stick to a single beef patty and salad!)
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