If you’re a parent who’s constantly running around trying to keep to a schedule, get the kids where they need to be, and still maintain a relatively healthy lifestyle for everyone, your meal options may be limited. You just don’t have the time to devote to cooking a spread. And even if you did, that doesn’t guarantee that the picky one in the family is going to eat what you made.
After all, one of the biggest challenges on the map today is preparing a meal that is both healthy and delicious. And while the focus lately has been on both body positivity and healthy lifestyles, kids don’t usually go for logic over taste.
To help you navigate a busy day with little time for meal prep, we’re going to take a look at a few different fast food restaurants that really stand out when it comes to healthy offerings.
Noodles & Co
Noodles & Co rose quickly on the American market, having begun just back in 1995 in Colorado. They consider themselves “fast casual” instead of fast food, meaning that there is a longer wait time. But it’s definitely worth it.
Initially the company almost tanked in under a year, and the founder, Aaron Kennedy, felt the need to re-vamp to keep things going. The current concept is for the restaurant to offer international and American style noodle dishes, made to order quickly. But they aren’t just sticking to the basic grain-based noodles; Noodles & Co now has veggie noodle dishes as well.
They’ve also incorporated salads, gluten free, and vegan options alongside naturally raised pork product. It only takes a bit of browsing to find a healthy option, and they’re definitely delicious as well.
Unlike the other two franchises on our menu, Wendy’s has been around for a long time – as far back as 1969, when the founder, Dave Thomas, opened his first restaurant in Ohio.
Ohio is usually known as the state without too much going on, so it’s impressive that this company, now consisting of over 6,500 locations internationally, started there of all places.
Part of the success can be contributed to Dave’s previous experience as a KFC franchise owner, where he impressed Colonel Harland Sanders enough to earn a business partnership that set him up financially to start his own business.
What was Dave going for when he created Wendy’s? Their “fresh, never frozen” patties, which was a standard even back in 1969. Customers were impressed with the made-to-order burgers, and the menu quickly grew from there.
Today one of the most attractive items on Wendy’s menu is their salads, which people praise for being one of the healthiest choices on the market. They also offer fruit cups and baked potatoes – both great options as sides and little additional sodium, one of the biggest downfalls of the fast food industry.
Wendy’s prices have always been on the affordable side of the spectrum, and remain so today. Some of the healthiest choices are actually their Jr. Items, so take a good look at the menu before you order!
Burritos might not be at the top of your list as a healthy option when it comes to fast food, especially in light of so many “mystery meat” headlines.
But Chipotle has kept things simple with basic ingredients that are surprisingly fresh and easily identifiable.
Officially on the market as Chipotle Mexican Grill, Inc, the restaurant popped onto the scene in 1993. Surprisingly, they were backed by McDonalds, a fast food company not often synonymous with health despite their efforts.
As of 2018 there are just under 2,500 restaurants.
So what makes Chipotle a good option for a quick fix?
All of the basics – beans, meat, and veggies – are nutritionally dense. You can’t really go wrong with any order, as long as you stay away from heavy servings of sour cream and cheese. Among some of their healthiest menu items are tacos, salads, and burrito bowls. Tortillas themselves actually have a pretty high calorie count.
For kids, the menu specific to them is tempting even to adults. Portion sizes are a bit smaller and include fruit if desired.
Making the right choice
We know that life doesn’t always give you the breathing room necessary for maintaining the ideal diet. We’ve given you the tools to find healthy possibilities on the go – here are a few more tips for finding the right menu item for you.
- Skip the dressing and sauces. It’s where most of the calories, fat, and sodium are.
- Stay away from fried options. With newer inventions such as air fryers, fried food isn’t being looked at as so bad anymore. But that just isn’t the case in fast food restaurants. They’re still using the deep-frying vats that can clog up your arteries and leave you vulnerable to diabetes, heart problems, and high blood pressure.
- Pack in the veggies. At restaurants like Chipotle you can pay a little extra for more servings of veggies, and we suggest going for it! The more veggies, the better, as they’re packed with nutrients.