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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: 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.

Several soups, such as tomato, lentil, and split pea, double as a serving of vegetables from the food pyramid, Neville notes. Prepare tomato soup with low-fat milk for extra calcium and vitamin D as well as a serving of dairy.

These ideas are just a few healthy alternatives to fast food. Next time you're at the supermarket, shop with an eye toward fast and nutritious and you're bound to come up with great ideas of your own.

Remember, says Neville: "In the time it takes to wait for take-out pizza or Chinese food you could put together a much healthier meal."

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Reviewed on October 1/, 009

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