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Easy Steps to Your Child's Nutrition

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Make and Take Meals: Fast-Food Alternatives

Good nutrition and good fast food can go hand in hand.

Healthy Fast Food: At Home continued...

Work the Weekends

Just a couple of hours spent cooking main courses one or two weekends a month works wonders for whipping up fast and healthy food on hectic weeknights. Tips to try:

  • Let your slow cooker save you time. Throw the ingredients for chili or beef stew in and turn to other activities.
  • Roast a chicken or turkey. This frees you up to concentrate on projects around the house, too.
  • Put together a pan or two of lasagna.
  • Make double batches of anything you cook, and freeze half.

Super Sandwich Suppers

Sandwiches can help you get supper on the table super fast. For tasty fast-food alternatives, try:

  • Pre-formed lean beef burger patties or veggie burgers. Serve on whole-grain buns. Pair with cooked frozen carrots and peas; fruit; and milk.
  • Barbecue pulled pork served on whole grain buns with corn and fruit on the side.
  • Tuna melts with reduced-fat cheese on whole-wheat bread, and salad.
  • Quesadillas made with low-fat cheese, fat-free refried beans, and leftover chicken served with a green salad.

Breakfast for Dinner

"Eggs are the basis of several quick and nutritious dinners," Neville says. For example, try:

  • Scrambled eggs served in whole-wheat pita pockets with salsa and low-fat grated cheese; salad; milk or 100% juice, such as orange juice fortified with calcium and vitamin D.
  • Whole-grain French toast, applesauce for dipping, and milk.
  • Omelets made with leftover cooked vegetables and served with whole-grain rolls, fruit and milk.
  • Hard cook a half dozen eggs. Toss them in salads, or use them for grab-and-go snacks or lunch.

Healthy Fast Food: Half-Way Homemade

Supermarkets can save the day when you want fast food and great nutrition. Think of these quick grab-and-go meals as half-way homemade: 

  •  (Practically) No-Cook Chicken Dinner. Pick up two cooked rotisserie chickens (the extra is for meals to come); precut broccoli florets in the produce section or frozen "steamer" vegetable combos from the freezer case, and crusty whole-grain bread from the bakery department. Serve with canned pineapple or Mandarin oranges. 
  • The Salad Bar. Let your kids loose on the supermarket salad bar for a great fast-food alternative. Be sure they include a protein source, such as tuna, beans, eggs, cottage cheese, tofu, or cheese; dark leafy greens; and fruit. Keep dressings and toppings to a minimum. Buy whole-grain rolls to serve with the salad at home. You can also pick up shrimp cocktail or sushi, too. 
  • Fast and Health Stir-Fry. Combine frozen Asian vegetable stir-fry mix, leftover rotisserie chicken, precooked chicken from meat case, tofu, or shrimp and serve over quick-cooking brown rice. 
  • 20-Minute Pizza. Neville favors whole-wheat Boboli-type crusts, spaghetti sauce or prepared pesto sauce, and part-skim mozzarella cheese and veggies from supermarket salad bars for concocting a quick pizza. You can also use whole-wheat English muffins, tortillas, or pita bread for crust, she says. 
  • Soup-er Star Main Courses. Start with lower-sodium canned soup and add frozen diced vegetables, cooked macaroni or quick-cooking brown rice, and leftover diced cooked chicken or turkey or beans. Serve with fruit or salad and low-fat milk.
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