The Good Kind of Fast Food: Five Tips for Preparing Quick Meals

Many equate fast food with junk food and aside from the occasional salad or grilled chicken offering on the menu, it is hard to argue the claim. Obviously, fast food has calories and the body needs calories. If you were on a desert island and had nothing to eat but fast food, you’d be fine, but we are not on a desert island so fast food is something that perhaps should be avoided. Yet, what draws people most through the drive-thru is the service delivery method. It’s well, fast. So you drive through and purchase a hot and functional calorie-laden meal that is not the healthiest choice. But there is a good kind of fast food, and that is the food you cook quickly in your own kitchen.

How do you whip something up when your family is hungry and everyone wants to eat immediately? Planning goes a long way to avoiding the gotta-have-it-now problem. If you have the right ingredients on hand, throwing something together is easy. Here are five tips you can use to help you prepare quick and healthy meals:

1. Collect healthy recipes with short cooking and preparation times and try out a new, quick recipe once a week. Make sure you purchase the ingredients ahead of time. Planning is key to success. After you master a few, you’ll have a repertoire of meals you can whip up in a flash.

2. If you don’t have a crock pot, get one. There is nothing easier than letting the slow cooker do the work. Plus, your prep time is spent in the morning or afternoon, well before the insane dinner hour.

3. If you don’t cook, learn. Part of the reason why you may be driving through is that you don’t know how to sautĂ© a chicken breast. Cooking is not rocket science. Anyone can do it! Once you learn the basics, you will be able to prepare dinner one-two-three.

4. On occasion, make salad the center of your meal. You may not want to eat salad for dinner every night, but perhaps once a week, a substantial salad will offer a reprieve from having to turn on the stove. Add chopped hard-cooked eggs, bits of ham or turkey bacon, and pieces of chicken or turkey. Use a spray bottle filled with an oil and vinegar-based dressing to just moisten the salad. The bulk of the meal of course will consist of items like lettuce, celery, tomatoes, cucumbers, onions, and spinach so you will be getting your fair share of low-calorie veggies while including protein to create one quick and easy healthy meal.

5. Stock your fridge and vegetable bin with items that can be made quickly. For example, you can “bake” your potato in the microwave in just a few minutes. A medium size potato is about 100 calories and makes a good side dish or it can be the center of a stuffed potato meal that may be thought of as a main course. To make a potato a meal, spoon leftover chili over the cooked potato, or add vegetables in a cheese sauce.

Use your imagination and plan some quick and healthy meals throughout the week. When you think of a strategy you want to implement, ask yourself two questions: Is the meal healthy? Can I prepare the meal quickly? You will find that there are many tastier and less expensive alternatives than succumbing to the fast food drive-thru trap.