Insights & Actions for Healthy Living

Can you give me quick meal ideas to replace fast food?

It is so important that parents plan ahead when it comes to preparing meals that are nutritious for our kids and everyone in the family!

You probably have heard about the latest study from the National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey that found 34.3% of children ages 2 to 19 ate some portion of their daily food intake from fast food sources!

This is an incredible and alarming statistic when you consider the choices most kids have when eating fast foods. It has been found that the nutritional value of eating out no matter which type of restaurant meal was consumed can be less healthy than eating food prepared at home.

What is a parent to do when getting dinner on the table or breakfast on the go seems overwhelming? Planning ahead will help.

It would be helpful to write down a menu for the week with input from everyone in the family, of course. Create this meal plan before you go grocery shopping so that you are certain you will have all the food on hand. You can even give out jobs to each member of the family to prepare items ahead of time or that day so that everyone participates to ease the burden of mealtimes. For breakfast, get ready the night before even setting the table or setting up the prep area. Do as much prep beforehand as possible such as washing fruit or chopping vegetables.

Ideas for quick meals:

  • Overnight oatmeal cups are ready in the morning and delicious!
  • Lettuce tossed with chopped vegetables in jars is a salad every night of the week
  • Breakfast burritos, muffins and boiled eggs prepared in advance for grab and go breakfast
  • On the weekend after shopping, prepare meatloaf, meatballs and chili so that it is ready to heat when you return home after a busy day.
  • Cook once and serve twice, for example grill several pieces of chicken on the weekend and serve grilled chicken salad, chicken stir fry or barbecue chicken sandwiches throughout the week. You can also make a big pot of bean soup and serve it leftover one hectic week night.
  • Use your crock pot! Tossing in ingredients including frozen protein of your choice with vegetables and liquid so that when you arrive home it is almost ready for the hungry family.
  • Prepare your own frozen meals that can be heated whenever needed.

These ideas and many more like it are not difficult. They just take a little thought, planning and imagination to stock the freezer and refrigerator so that your family can have a delicious, nutritious and pleasing homemade meal any night of the week without taking more than 30 minutes for prep time.

We would love you to share your favorite meal shortcut with Ask Kathy so we can all make it fast too!

2 Responses to Can you give me quick meal ideas to replace fast food?

  1. With a busy schedule (and a long commute), shortcuts are our household’s best friend.

    Quick tricks like always having chicken/ turkey/ beef thawed and ready, having frozen & canned veg on hand, a few spice essentials (garlic, chili powder, salt, pepper), and using flavored rice/ couscous are super helpful.

    Our favorite recipes are below. We really like Mexican/ Mexican flavors but most below can be altered (and we do so often).

    CHICKEN QUESADILLAS (makes (2) 12 inch)
    – 1 large can chicken
    – 1/2 can black beans
    – 1/2 cup Greek yogurt
    – 4 tortillas
    – 1/2 cup shredded cheese
    – seasonings to taste

    Spray 1 side of all tortillas w/nonstick spray. Add tortilla, sprayed size down, to hot skillet. Evenly spread 1/2 cheese on tortilla. While this is melting, combine chicken, rinsed beans, yogurt, and spices; spread 1/2 mixture evenly on tortilla. Add other tortilla on top, sprayed side up. Flip to brown both sides. Serve w/avocado, salsa, or lettuce/ tomato.

    SPICY MEXICAN RICE (serves 4+)
    – 1 Mexican Knorr Rice packet
    – 1/2 lb chicken
    – 1/2 can corn
    – 1 1/2 can French cut green beans
    – 1 link sausage (optional)
    – Seasonings to taste

    Cook rice per directions on packet. Cook chicken with spices (same with sausage, after slicing). Combine cooked meat, corn, green beans, with rice & serve.


    – 5 whole grain chicken nuggets
    – 1/2 can black beans
    – lettuce
    – tomatoes
    – <1/3 cup cheese
    – 3 Tbsp salsa
    – 1/3 cup plain Greek yogurt

    Cook chicken nuggets per directions on package. While those are cooking, wash produce. Use hands to tear lettuce, the dice tomatoes. In a small bowl combine yogurt and salsa (this is your dressing). Once nuggets are cooked, cut into halves or quarters and lay on top of bed of lettuce along with beans and tomatoes. Drizzle yogurt dressing on top. Sprinkle with cheese.

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