You’re on a first name basis with the lady at the drive-thru window. When you walk up to the fast-food counter, they ask if you’d like your usual. The family car is filled with wrappers for burgers and fries. Eating out is a way of life for you and your kids. As you rush them from school, to cheer practice, to basketball games, to club meetings, grabbing food on the go seems the fastest option. But seldom is it the healthiest for you.
Convenience is a huge factor in fast-food eating. However, there are things you can do to prepare for a hectic day that will provide your family with smarter dining options. Your most important decision about eating will come before you even leave the house. Planning makes all the difference, and here’s a few tips on how to eat healthy on the go.
Grab a sandwich bag, and load it up with fruits and veggies. Baby carrots, bite-size pieces of celery and cucumber slices make great snacks. Grapes and apple slices are easy for little hands to handle. Even bananas (no prep required!) are very filling. Crackers are also a sure-fire winner in our household; we love the multi-grain variety. And don’t ignore other snacks that may have some sugar and salt, but are still healthier than drive-thru options. Nuts, dry cereal, and tortilla chips are just a few possibilities.
If bagging it up isn’t your thing, shop for the prepackaged alternatives. Hummus and baked chips or pretzels are a healthy combination, and you can shop for prepackaged hummus snack packs. Raisin packs, individual bags of Goldfish crackers, and dried fruit are also good premade options. Items like granola bars or trail mix can be stored in a backpack or purse for use in a case of emergency hunger when you’re out and about.
AN ABSOLUTE MUST: Drink plenty of water. It’s easy to neglect when you’re rushing from place to place, with the paramount concern to beat the clock. In addition to being vital for your body, water can also curb your hunger – and keep you from supersizing your order.
Maybe snacks on the road won’t quite cut it with your crew, and you need meal alternatives. Try packing a small cooler with ice and storing fresh, tossed salads. Pack up some deli ham, turkey or tuna for sandwiches on the go. Pita bread is a great sandwich option to lessen any cleanup. String cheese and yogurt are popular cold side items you can serve. You can also keep fruit chilled to serve as snacks or sides, such as strawberries, blueberries, or pineapple wedges.
If you must order fast food – and hey, who among us hasn’t been in this position – make healthy options your rule. Having your entrée grilled instead of fried, along with a side of fruit instead of fries, reduces the amount of fat and calories both you and your children consume. Just about every fast food restaurant offers low-fat, healthier meal alternatives. From salads at McDonalds to chicken wraps at Chick-fil-A, there are choices available to satisfy every palate. Even a smoothie with the proper nutritional elements can hit the spot.
Just a word of caution. If you prepare snacks for the road, you’ll want to make the extra effort to prepare for dinner at home. Plan your weekly menu. Make and store food on the weekend. Freeze prepared items for a quick defrost and home-cooked meal during the week. Dinner plans will keep you from the fast food fallback.
Lastly, an absolute must: drink plenty of water. It’s easy to neglect when you’re rushing from place to place, with the paramount concern to beat the clock. In addition to being vital for your body, water can also curb your hunger – and keep you from supersizing your order.
We all know there are times when fast food fries may appear to be the best option. But when you plan ahead and diligently prepare, you can maximize healthy eating on the go for your family.