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Fast Food – Healthy Options

May 22, 2008 · 25 comments

Hopefully the last post, Fast Food Dangers, grossed you out enough so that buying fast food is no longer a temptation, or at the least, I hope it is now a very rare occurrence in your life. But what to do for those times when you’re too busy, too tired, or too whatever to spend much time cooking? (It happens to all of us.) This post will give you ideas for simple and quick meals to help you painlessly go right on by those nasty drive-thru windows.

LUNCH SUGGESTIONS:

Before we talk about some easy and fast dinner suggestions, first we should touch on the issue of lunch. If lunchtime is the biggest area of temptation for you, then the main thing that needs to happen, if you are ready to completely avoid fast food, is to PLAN AHEAD a little.

(Click here for healthy school lunch ideas.)

  • When you’re at the grocery store, grab a variety of foods that will make you look forward to lunch and not even think about fast food. (Remember there’s lots of junk at the grocery store, too, though…avoid the middle aisles in the store whenever you can.)Cobb Salad Recipe 2
  • Even better, take leftovers in a thermos from last night’s healthy dinner.
  • Try some new salad ideas and mix it up with different ingredients. (I load my salads up and never feel deprived – if you make them right, you feel like you’re eating a big treat!)
  • Another idea is something Kent started doing a while back: he began taking healthy snack foods to munch on throughout the day while he’s at his desk, instead of having one big mid-day meal. He takes things like yogurt, all natural or raw milk cheese, crispy nuts, beef jerky from the farm (no MSG), granola, see other snack ideas.
  • Pizza on bunmy favorite cafeteria lunch growing up!  (Good for lunch or dinner.)
  • Try this — it’s one of my favorites and packs well:  Mom’s Old-Fashioned Bologna Mix Recipe.  (Remember don’t get lunch meat from the store, that stuff is scary!  Try to find it at a local farm, or get healthy meats here.)
  • I’m sure all of you have more healthy lunch ideas: please post them below in the comments!

DINNER SUGGESTIONS

We all need a good list of quick dinner ideas to get us through those moments when you might be tempted to say to yourself, “I’ve had a busy day…” or “I deserve a night off from cooking…” or whatever the excuse might be to head for fast food. The best thing when it comes to dinner is also to plan ahead (and maybe do a crock-pot meal for busy evenings), but realistically, that doesn’t always happen. So having a Family Favorite Meals List is priceless on busy days. With only a glance, I can quickly figure out what I can make fast, and which meals we have the ingredients for. So now on our crazy evenings, full of soccer practices or games, dance lessons, school or church meetings, etc., what do we eat?

Here are some ideas:bakedchicken.jpg

  • 15 Minute Dinner {Video Blog}
  • Anne’s 5 Minute Baked Chicken!
  • Grilled cheese (Healthy grilled cheese sandwiches: use 100% whole wheat bread, preferably organic and even better is a sprouted, fermented, or sourdough loaf, but for sure without trans fats or high fructose corn syrup! And use real cheese slices, NEVER Velveeta or American cheese – both are highly processed junk food! Even better: sliced raw milk cheese from a local farm.)  I also often serve it with “Ketchup Soup” – which is actually a tomato soup that you can add herbs to to make it really dreamy (and a little fancier, like a “Tomato Bisque”) if you’re kids don’t mind.
  • Sometimes when we are REALLY pressed for time and have to get out the door, I’ll grab an apple and a cheese stick out of the frig for the kids to eat in the van to hold them over as we’re driving, then we’ll eat more when we get home. (Other snack ideas.)
  • Another idea: if you know you’re going to be on the road at mealtime, try “Road Picnics“. I can quickly pack PBJ or other types of sandwiches, carrots sticks, apples & water, or whatever, and there’s just something fun about that for the kids, even if what we’re having isn’t anything new.
  • Make meals ahead of time to have in your freezer for busy nights. (Or make enough one night for leftovers the next – talk about fast and convenient!) Recently I’d had a busy morning: I helped in my kids’ classes at school, ran some errands, came home to work on my posts, and forgot all about dinner. So I was out of time to make the supper I had originally planned. (I can’t stand it when I let the afternoon get away from me like that.) Thankfully, I had an extra pan of Shepherd’s Pie that I could pull out of the freezer at 3:30, defrost for an hour in the toaster oven, then convection bake it right in there for another hour, and it was ready by 5:30 to eat when Kent got home. Veggies were inside so we just had a little fruit for a side and I was done!
  • Scrambled eggs (preferably pasture-fed) or whole grain toast/egg sandwiches.
  • Healthy hot dogs – you can boil them if they’re still in the freezer when you remember to plan dinner!  If you were able to plan ahead, you could also make homemade buns. (Also at that post read in the comment section about a new twist on the topic of nitrates.)
  • Brats from the farm can be pulled out of the freezer and boiled in beer for great flavor and fast dinner!
  • Hamburgers (best: organic, grass-fed beef from a local farm)
  • Organic Sloppy Joes or Goulash (Again, this is really fast if you already have the meat cooked ahead.)
  • Any pasta with a jar of organic (or home-canned) sauce, such as spaghetti, any pasta with a quick alfredo sauce, and here’s an easy ravioli recipe
  • Italian Pasta” – preferably organic whole wheat or rice pasta with butter, garlic and grated Parmesan cheese (my kids and day care kids love this.)
  • A couple more easy meals that kids LOVE – make ahead pizza & calzones
  • Fried Rice is fast and everyone loves it
  • Tacos – regular or shredded chicken tacos – both especially fast if you have the meat made ahead.  I always have either homemade tortillas on hand or organic spelt tortillas that we all like.
  • Mini Pizzas (Quick Compromise Version & Homemade Version) or Pizza on bun – a great way to use up extra buns
  • Burritos or these grass-fed burritos that go over better with the kids because they’re less spicy
  • 5 minute meal:  Egg Drop Soup
  • More simple, fast meal ideas using homemade tortillasfrench toast frittata
  • Blueberry pancakes are a great last minute meal!
  • Mom’s Eggs Benedict – a breakfast meal that’s also great for a fast supper!
  • One more breakfast that’s great for a fast dinner, too:  French Toast Frittata

Comment below and add more to this list – I know I’m forgetting some good ideas!

photo by Simon Davison

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  • { 21 comments… read them below or add one }

    1 BarbaraLee August 12, 2008 at 6:34 pm

    Wow! You are really informed. I try and look for stuff about this & come to a dead end.
    I just had an EDS test done and am suppose to go on the Candida diet. Having a hard time. But I ain't giving up. I am watching how much sugar & carbs I am eating. I just can't find any recipes for this diet.
    So I am doing what I can.
    I am going to enjoy visiting your site.

    Reply

    2 Kelly the Kitchen Kop August 12, 2008 at 6:54 pm

    Hi Barbara Lee,

    I love new readers and I especially love comments, keep ‘em coming, and thanks for checking out my site!

    Kelly

    Reply

    3 Jamie January 13, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    We’re heading out on a cross-country road trip this summer, with four kids and my Aunt (who has celiacs). We’ll have limited space for coolers and such, but I would like to completely avoid eating “out” while we’re on the road. Any ideas for creative meals that are easy to prepare, won’t spoil, and don’t take much room? (Snacks and breakfast are the easy parts!) :)

    -Jamie

    Reply

    4 Kelly January 13, 2009 at 7:23 pm

    Hi Jamie,

    I’m assuming you’ll have a camper to make your food in, right? I’m not good with creative, but I’d say that if you have a camper, you could just look through your favorite recipes (or the ones on my site) and maybe tweak them all to make them more simple. It will just take some time to plan ahead, but could save you a lot of money. I wouldn’t try to be real creative, stick to the easy stuff like hamburgers & hotdogs (read this topic to the right: “Meat, healthy options”, and I’m sure they have gluten-free buns), spaghetti, and other things you know everyone likes.

    Sorry I’m not more help!
    Kelly

    Reply

    5 Sue E. January 14, 2009 at 10:09 am

    Don’t forget the refried beans spread inside of your quesedilla, too! I even add tomatoes and fresh spinach. Also, I make extra chicken, shred it, freeze it, and add it to quick dishes like chicken enchilladas (with frozen sauce that I have doubled from the time before), chicken-a-la-king, pot pie (not low carb with a biscuit top!), fajitas. I sometimes make tuna pasta salad (not low carb) which can be done quickly, and also pita pizzas under the broiler (Meijer has whole wheat ones!) In addition, I make black bean “burritoes”:
    Saute black beans, green onion, tomato
    Add cooked rice, cumin, chilli powder, salt, pepper
    Roll up in tortilla shells with cheese, sour cream, avocado
    All these things take 30 minutes or less!
    Sue E.

    Reply

    6 Sue E. January 14, 2009 at 10:15 am

    Jamie:
    What about good quality beef jerky/meat sticks from a good butcher without junk, lots of fruits, veggies, salad stuff that wouldn’t have to be refridgerated. PBJ, large chunks of cheese, crispy nuts. However, I can’t imagine how you can transport all that food for a cross-country trip. I would think you might have to have one cooler that is just for your cold stuff. Anything else that you would want to take that won’t spoil would seem to me to be overly processed. How long are you going for, and how many people are you feeding??
    Just some thoughts after I saw your comment…
    Sue E.

    Reply

    7 Kelly January 15, 2009 at 7:22 am

    Thanks for more great ideas, Sue!!

    Reply

    8 Jill January 21, 2009 at 9:20 am

    Hey Kelly!

    One of our favorite things to do is have “snacky dinner” we call it. I just start pulling stuff out of the fridge and cupboards. There is always cheese around here, ususally a variety, always organic, often raw. I also get out some organic apples or oranges, and I always keep a supply of carrot sticks cutup and ready to go (we hate “baby carrots” around here). Dip made with good mayo, kefir and sour cream is good. Crackers or toast for the carb eaters. Olives, canned sardines, dried fruit, nuts for sure – like crispy almonds or pecans. When you look at the whole pile on the counter, it’s a balanced, healthy and fun meal. The kids can pick as they please, within reason.
    This is our usual Sunday night dinner!

    Reply

    9 Kelly January 21, 2009 at 10:18 am

    Hi Jill,

    That’s a great idea! I especially love the tip about making a veggie dip with kefir. :)

    Kelly

    Reply

    10 Sally January 23, 2009 at 1:18 pm

    For the person who’s dealing with a road trip with a celiac: I also have this disease, so I understand the stress. People have suggest PB&J, but the problem is that the available gluten free bread is super crumbly (not car friendly) unless it’s toasted. So I would suggest either corn tortillas, brown rice wraps (Food for Life and Trader Joes brands are available) or just plain old rice cakes to use instead of bread. The other thing with the gluten issues is that she’ll need her own container of pb and jelly; those bread crumbs that get in there from using the same knife, etc, have actually sent me to the hospital! Best to talk to her about it.

    Reply

    11 Kelly January 23, 2009 at 5:02 pm

    Great tips, thanks Sally! :)

    Reply

    12 Rachel June 3, 2009 at 11:31 pm

    I have celiac disease too, and I really like bringing rice salads, bean salads, and tabouleh made with quinoa on road trips. They can be at room temperature for long periods of time without spoiling. Our favorite though is chicken salad scooped up with corn chips or Nut Thins, and carrot sticks and celery. Messy but good!

    Rachel

    Reply

    13 Jamie June 4, 2009 at 7:04 pm

    Thanks for all the great advice, everyone! I’m shortening the road trip and I’ve got a REALLY BIG cooler (and a rechargeable hand vacuum!). Can’t wait to try some of these ideas! :)

    Reply

    14 Shannon September 14, 2009 at 4:47 pm

    Kelly one this I do to make sure I don’t end up in the fast food or bad food lane is that I have a cooking night, once a week, typically Sunday nights. I cook and shred a whole chicken (and freeze the carcass for stock), cut up veggies like peppers, cucumbers, zucchini, etc. to be used in a quick salad or pita pocket or just to be snacked on. I always make a batch of hummus which is great for lunch, snack or dinner even. At the same time I make things for the kids lunches for the week like my healthier version of ‘nutri grain’ bars (soaked oats and whole wheat flour, unsweetened fruit preserves to name a few ingredients). I try to use leftovers of dinners as lunches as much as I can too, and always cook for 2 nights at a time, so I’m not thinking EVERY day, what am I going to make for dinner tonight?? It would drive me nuts! This means I only cook three nights a week, and the 7th night we have a fend for yourself night, or eat out. On the occasion that I do forget to plan head, eggs are pretty much what I run to for a quick meal. Fritatas and omlettes are so easy and quick and filling.

    Reply

    15 Kelly the Kitchen Kop September 14, 2009 at 7:20 pm

    Love your ideas, Shannon, thank you! :)

    Reply

    16 bailey January 19, 2011 at 5:00 pm

    Hi Kelly, Thank you for all your fantastic information…I am trying to soak it all in! You mentioned that you used a convection oven and I was curious to know what your thoughts are regarding microwaves and if they break down nutrients seeing as there is so much controversy about it. Thanks again for taking your time to share such great ideas!

    Reply

    17 KitchenKop January 19, 2011 at 5:02 pm

    I use the microwave RARELY and would be happy to get it right out of here. Someday.

    All cooking breaks down some of the nutrients, but microwaves denature food even more than conventional heat does, and I’m not convinced that it’s safe at all.

    Reply

    18 cheryl January 2, 2012 at 9:33 pm

    quick supper: grasssfed minute steaks with mashed potatoes and brocoli or green beans. Even frozen, minute steaks take about 1 minute each side in a pan to cook. Substitute baked sweet potatoe – throw in oven and 1 hour later, it’s baked. I buy minute steaks – #10 at a time from a farmer to get a better price and there is always good beef. Try enzyme rich anchovie sauce on the minute steak and brocoli for a change. I came home from WAPF conference and made anchovie sauce – a real hit!

    Reply

    19 KitchenKop January 3, 2012 at 10:17 am

    I’ve never heard of “minute” steaks???

    Reply

    20 Amy Johnson January 10, 2012 at 1:02 pm

    Minute steaks are a very thin cut of beef that cooks up very quickly.
    http://www.wisegeek.com/what-is-a-minute-steak.htm

    Love the website – am learning so much. :)

    Reply

    21 Maggie September 11, 2012 at 9:32 am

    One of my more recent favorite snacks is coconut chips (unsweetened), which can be purchased from places like Tropical Traditions. It’s not a “common” snack I see on most websites, so I thought I’d share the idea.

    Reply

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