Looking For A Healthy Choice in Fast Food?
The next time you are on a trip and looking for a healthy fast food option for your family, consider this. The best place to find healthy fast food may not be a fast food restaurant at all, but the local grocery store.
Sure, you can find a few pretty healthy options as the traditional national chain fast food restaurant here and there, but your choices are limited at most of them. In fact, some fast food restaurants will limit you to a mere one or two truly healthy options, especially if you are trying to stick to a diet and keep your calories down but you still want to eat real food.
What Is Fast Food?
First of all, lets define what we mean by fast food. My definition of fast food is food that I can get fast. It does not mean food that I can get without leaving my car. My goal is just not to waste my time. When heading out on a road trip and going through a fast food drive through, most people will find that the total experience takes up to 10 minutes. If you are traveling and need the bathroom break as well, meaning you go inside the restaurant, you can count on 15 minutes - even more for the whole family.
Running into a grocery store for your lunch will not take you any more time than this if you follow the game plan to find your healthy options. Most grocery stores tend to have their bathroom in the front of the store as well, keeping the stop fast.
So we've established that fast food relates to time and not to method. Let's get to the game plan to get through the store quickly.
So What is the Game Plan?
Here is the deal. To keep this stop both fast and healthy you need to make a beeline for three or four places.
First, head to the produce section and pick out some fruit or vegetables. This is where you get nutrients and fiber, and it is an important part of your diet. If you're feeling like something sweet grab a banana, apple, or pear. If you prefer vegetables you can pick up some mini carrots or cut melon. If you go with the melon, you can find a plastic fork near the deli.
Second, head to the deli. The goal here is to make a quick sandwich. Pick out your deli meat of choice, deli buns or fresh bread, sliced cheese (if you like), and you've got a sandwich. You can even pick up a small clump of lettuce in the produce section to add some crunch.
Third, head to the nut aisle. This is optional but will add a little protein, fiber, and healthy fat to your meal. Pick up a can or small bag of your favorite healthy nuts like almonds, walnuts, or pistachios.
Finally, on your way to the register grab a bottled water to drink or use the drinking fountain to refill your travel water containers. Stay away from the soda aisle. There is nothing there that you need. Besides, soda is always next to chips. There is nothing that you need there either.
That's it. Head to the register and get out of there unless you plan to eat in the sitting area of the store. You've covered your healthy meal without the excessive sodium and fat you'll find at the fast food restaurant.
What Can I Really Expect?
Give this a try on your next trip. You might be surprised at not only how fast you can pick up a healthy meal, but how much better you feel 100 miles later compared to the traditional fast food fare.
Here is a real-life example of a recent trip I took with my family.
Before I tell you how it went, let me say that a trip to the popular fast food chain will cost our family up to $30, takes at least 30 minutes, and provides little nutrition. It is also a mess because things like ketchup are almost always involved, so eating on the go means something is bound to fall in the car.
On our last trip we drove right past the fast food restaurants on the exit and one block further to the grocery store. We followed the game plan, picking up some turkey, a pack of buns, some cheese, some loose lettuce, a clump of bananas, and a 6 pack of raisins. We already had water.
So what was our healthy fast food meal? Turkey sandwiches on fresh deli buns with sharp cheddar and lettuce, raisins, and a banana. It hit the spot, and we chose to get back in the car and assemble the sandwiches on the go and eat on the road since we still had hundreds of miles to cover.
Here's the cool part. The time from parking the car to driving out of the parking lot was 18 minutes. That was with everyone going to the bathroom, shopping together, checking out, and getting back to the car. For a family stop that is not bad at all. Even cooler was the cost. The total bill was less than $18. And what did we get for that $18? More food than we ate. We always bring a small cooler for leftovers which can be pulled out a few hours later for a quick snack. That's a savings of $12 on this stop.
The other benefit? The calories! This meal included plenty of fiber, lean protein, and whole wheat bread. Nothing was fried in oil. Nothing was covered in salt. Nothing was made of ice cream. The only indulgence was the cheese, and I'm feeling pretty comfortable with that.
Are You Going To Try It?
So will you give it a try?
The next time you head down the road and are looking for a fast food option but want to eat a healthy meal, consider the grocery store. Instead of one of two healthy options that you might find at a fast food restaurant, you will have a huge choice of healthy options, at a good price, that you can grab in a hurry.
This may be your new favorite healthy fast food stop.