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Explore nutrition tips, kids’ meal plans, kids’ activities, recipes and more from pediatric nutritionist, Melissa Halas, MA, RDN, CDE.

Faster than Fast Food

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Faster than Fast Food

Try this 15-minute, $15 dinner and dessert for a family of four!

After a long day of work, it’s easy to feel like we don’t have the time, energy, or desire to spend hours slaving away in the kitchen cooking an elaborate meal. Most people think fast food is the easiest, inexpensive and most convenient choice for a family meal. But is it really that cheap and quick?

  • The average combo meal costs $4 to $5 a person, or $16 to $20 per meal for a family of four.
  • This “convenient” meal still requires you to drive to the fast food restaurant, wait to order at the drive-thru, wait for the food to be cooked and unwrap it all when you get home, easily taking up to 15 minutes or more!

Next time you think about heading out for fast food, try this tasty, healthy dinner with dessert. It will take you 15 minutes to prepare, cost your family less than $15 and will provide a nutritious alternative to the saturated fat, sodium, and sugar-loaded fast food options.

Lean, Green Pita Machine

  • 4 whole-wheat pita pockets
  • 8 regular spoonfuls hummus or light Italian dressing.
  • 2 small or 1 large can of chicken or tuna in water, drained (vegetarians can use beans or chunks of tofu)
  • A bunch of cucumber, carrot and/or pepper slices
  • 4 handfuls of greens (spinach, shredded cabbage and/or alfalfa sprouts)
  • Optional: Dash of hot sauce

Split a pita in half and open the half to form a pocket. Evenly spread a spoonful of hummus or Italian dressing along with the inside of the pita. Layer ¼ can of the chicken, tuna, beans or tofu inside the pita pocket, followed by a layer of veggie slices. If desired, add a dash of hot sauce on top of the veggie slices. Finally, stuff half a handful of “greens” into the remaining pita space. Lightly push down on the pita to mix the ingredients together and enjoy! Repeat the process for the second half of your pita.

Apple “S’mores”

  • 4 firm, crisp apples
  • 4 tablespoons peanut butter
  • 4 handfuls of raisins

Slice an apple into 8 to 16 apple slices. Spread peanut butter on one piece of apple. Press the raisins into the peanut butter, making sure they stick. Finally, place another piece of apple on top of the raisins. Squeeze so everything squishes together like a s’more and enjoy! Repeat with the remaining apple slices, peanut butter, and raisins.

Enjoy other quick, easy recipes to make with your children with these great books:  Chinese cooking, Italian cooking, and Mexican cooking. Discover more books in our children’s book corner that will get you cooking in the kitchen with your kids.

Test Your Knowledge

1. Fast food is always faster and cheaper than homemade meals
True or False

    Answer: False


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About the Author

Picture of Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CDN, CSCS

Jason Machowsky, MS, RD, CDN, CSCS

Originally an overweight engineer and traveling IT consultant, Jason lost over thirty pounds and changed careers to pursue his passion. Through his book and blog, Death of the Diet, Jason empowers people to live the life they want by working with them to integrate healthy eating and physical activity habits into their daily routines. He is affiliated with, and enthusiastically endorses, Hospital for Special Surgery. Machowsky is a Certified Strength and Conditioning Specialist and Board Certified Sports Dietitian, having received his Masters of Science in Applied Physiology and Nutrition from Teachers College at Columbia University in New York.

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