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Health & Parenting

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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

Stock Your Cabinets With Fast, Nutritious Food

Planning helps you pull your own fast-food act together. Get out the calendar and figure out your food needs for the week ahead. Make a quick list. Now it's time to shop. Consider stocking:

  • Whole-grain breads and cereals, pasta, and prepared pizza crust.
  • Milk, reduced-fat shredded cheese, eggs, canned tuna, canned beans, peanut butter, lean ground beef patties, chicken, and meatballs.
  • Fresh, frozen, or no-added-salt canned vegetables; fresh and dried fruit; and fruit canned in juice.
  • Quick-cooking grains such as 10-minute brown rice and whole-wheat couscous.
  • Cartons of 100% orange juice, milk, applesauce, peanut butter, and yogurt in your fridge and cabinets. These work great for road trips, too.

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.

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