A recent report on what’s really in a chicken nugget makes you wonder why they’re called “chicken”. Trust me. If you didn’t see the report, you don’t want to know. Here are a few really good alternatives to fast “food”.



Hot Food Section

Many grocery store chains have a hot food sections that feature ready to eat meals, salads, sandwiches and soups. I know Coborn’s, Super Target and Byerly’s all have readymade meals for purchase as well as cold salads, a salad bar and soup selections. Many times you’ll find grocery stores in the same vicinity as fast food joints so skip the drive thru and hit the express lane instead.



Casual Dining

Now that the phrase “fast food” is kind of taboo, many places are popping up as “fast casual dining”. Noodles and Company, Chipotle and Panera Bread all offer healthy alternatives to greasy cheeseburgers and fried foods. The food is prepared in house from healthy recipes with fresh ingredients. To make sure you’re getting the healthiest bang for your buck, it’s a good idea to check out nutrition facts online. Noodles and Company’s Bangkok Curry has tons of flavor and the regular size is 510 calories. A Chipotle burrito bowl with barbacoa, romaine lettuce, brown rice, black beans, fajita vegetables, salsa and cheese has 590 calories. Take away the cheese and you’re under 500 calories. You don’t need a cheeseburger and fries with a soda for lunch when there are places like this for lunch.



Batch Cooking

My cousin has a very busy family. Both her and her husband work full time. They have a preschooler and a toddler. There are lessons and activities plus any extracurricular fun that they both want to have like sporting events or movies. On Sundays, she does batch cooking. She makes three or four meals that everyone likes and then splits them up into single servings so it’s really easy to just grab a healthy lunch and go. When they come home from work, she can just heat and eat dinner for the family instead of having to try and make dinner while corralling two young kids, or swinging into the drive thru. Soups, stews, chili and lasagna are all crowd pleasers and they’re easy.



Whip It Good

I’m a big fan of smoothies, but not the processed kind that are packed with sugar. These are great if you’re rushed in the morning or for a quick lunch. Start with fruit and throw in a handful of leafy greens like spinach or kale. Toss in skim milk or almond milk if you’re dairy sensitive and a scoop of protein powder. Blend it until smooth and pop it in the freezer. It’s easy to make a few of these and then take them out at night so they’re thawed in the morning. Or you can take them out in the morning and let them thaw in the fridge at work so it’s ready for you to drink by lunch time. It’s better than hitting the drive thru and getting a God knows what on a bun.