13 quick-fix ideas to help you drive past the drive-through.
You're starving. The kids are starving. A cheeseburger and fries would be the easy fix. But let's face it: a Happy Meal is not necessarily a healthy meal. You need nutritious food you can grab fast, whether you're on the road or have just walked into the house.
It's not an impossible dream -- at least, not with a little planning and a few essential items in your fridge or pantry, say experts who spoke with WebMD. Before you duck into the drive-through, try their lightning-fast tricks for healthy meals.
Healthy Meals on Wheels
To avoid fast-food temptations, Althea Zanecosky, MS, RD, keeps an 8x12-inch insulated cooler tucked in her car's back seat.
"It's like having a mini-kitchen in your car," says Zanecosky, a spokeswoman for the American Dietetic Association. "We pack food for every member of the family -- bottled water, 16 oz bottles of chocolate milk, juices, nuts, seeds, pretzels, yogurt, fruit, cereal, health bars.
"It saves time, money, and it saves fat and calories. It keeps us from eating mall food or hitting the drive-through for french fries."
Healthy Meals at Home
At home, you can assemble a healthy meal in about the time it takes you to scoot through the drive-through.
Convenience foods -- anything frozen, canned, pre-cut, pre-washed, and pre-bagged -- is fair game for healthy meals, says Lynn Fischer, author of Lowfat Cooking for Dummies and Quick & Healthy Cooking for Dummies. "Try any new product that comes out. Use everything to your advantage.
"Some vegetarian burgers are very good," Fischer says. "But I don't go for turkey burgers. Unless you have a butcher grind the meat especially for you, ground turkey often contains a lot of fat."
The French concept of accoutrement -- accessorizing -- is key for healthy meals, Fischer tells WebMD. "That means a main dish with lots of side dishes, like a nice salad plus four or five vegetables. Your family can get full, they're eating a lot of vegetables, and there are plenty of choices. The kid who doesn't like the corn can eat something else."
Here are a few dinner suggestions: