RachaelRachael Rachael, a mom of two daughters, is a freelance editor and writer who enjoys gardening and dreams of keeping chickens in her suburban St. Louis backyard. In her spare time, she helps to edit her husband’s science fiction books. Read more of Rachael's work at www.rachaelsjohnston.com or contact her by emailing rachael@mumblingmommy.com.

 

Photo via familyfoodies.com.

It’s 4 p.m. My husband is on his way home from work, and his stomach is growling. The kids have been crazy today. I showered but you’d have no way of telling since my hair is frizzing in every direction. I have snot on my shirt and an unknown crusty substance on my pants. And he asks the dreaded question: “What’s for dinner?”

At that very second I realize I never took dinner out. Freezer meals are awesome, except when you forget to defrost them. Ha! So I look and look. Hmm, cereal? Cold cuts? How about popcorn? That definitely qualifies as dinner, right?

Thirty minutes later, we are all packed up and heading out. As part of our budgeting and trying to get healthier, we’ve really been doing well to avoid fast food, but let’s face it: it is cheap, easy, fast and you don’t have to leave a tip. Plus, I feel much less guilty about the state of the floor when we leave versus being at a nice place like, you know, Applebee’s. (I’m just cracking myself up today, guys. I hope you are enjoying it.)

Soooo … over the last few weeks or months that we’ve been tackling this journey, we’ve discovered wonderful semi-healthy options. Most adults do not need to eat more than what is provided in a kid’s meal. It’s true. Seriously. And since we all have kids, even if YOU want to eat a larger meal, this can still be a helpful blog since your kids will need to eat healthy. (Please, please, please make sure your kids are eating healthy, even if you are failing in that department; let’s make sure the kids aren’t.)

Here are my top five health-conscious fast food kids’ meals:

1. Lion’s Choice: Side options include veggie sticks, Go-Gurt and applesauce (among others like fries, a small ice cream or cookie). Your child can choose between a lean roast beef or turkey sandwich (instead of more fattening selections like hot dogs or cheese-loaded sandwiches). You can also order the bun “un-buttered,” which in my opinion tastes exactly the same but reduces the calories by 30! Drinks like apple juice and milk are also available.

2. Dairy Queen: Sides include a banana or applesauce. Chicken is an option for an entrée but beware, they are fried strips. A small cheeseburger might be the best selection. For the kids, I actually split the cheeseburger. Big sis gets ½ and the twins split the other ½ by eating ¼ each. Dairy Queen also offers a small ice cream treat with their kids’ meals, so if your child has been especially good and eats healthy, a reward is nice. Unfortunately, milk is the only healthy option for drinks but DQ has fresh lemon. My daughter loves ice water with lemon in it so I can still avoid the sugary drinks.

3. Chipotle: If Mexican is what you are looking for, this is a good option. Fresh ingredients like beans, grilled meats, lettuce and guacamole are great choices for little ones. Chipotle also offers all organic options. Some locations even have fruit cups that can be served in place of chips and salsa.

4. Chick-fil-A: I love this option as they offer GRILLED chicken nuggets instead of fried. They are very tasty and kid friendly. Drinks include 100% apple juice or low-fat milk. And for sides, they offer a fruit cup or a Buddy Fruits applesauce to-go (so if you are eating on the run, kiddo can take it with her and not make a mess.)

5. Wendy’s: I like this option because of portion size. The cheeseburger, hamburger or chicken sandwich that arrive with the kids’ meals are more slider-size than a full sandwich like other places offer. Their nuggets are smaller and have less breading than others as well. You can get apple slices in place of fries. (Some locations still offer mandarin oranges as well, but it’s no longer listed as an option on their website.) And they offer juice or milk.

I’m not saying to put your children on diets. We normally get an order of fries and share among the five of us. We get sweet treats (like the free one DQ offers) when the kids have been well behaved, but when it comes to fast food, there is a lot of sodium, a lot of hidden calories, and a lot of cholesterol that’s not good for any of us in large doses, let alone growing kids. Be aware of this next time you are faced with one of those days and try to turn it around with good choices.

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Category: Family Finances

Tags: Chick-fil-A


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