Reaching back as far as the early 1920’s, the fast food industry has grown exponentially to meet the needs and voracity of the American population.
Restaurants tend to pop up in largely populated areas, but you’re probably within a ten minute drive of businesses such as McDonald’s, Wendy’s, KFC, White Castle, or Chick Fil-A. With the rise of the fast food industry has come many downfalls; sources such as NBC News report that roughly 70% of Americans are obese, and the food industry hasn’t done much to turn the tide. Until recently.
More and more people have been questioning what goes into the fast food industry’s food, and the answers haven’t all been pretty. Aside from many ingredients being referred to as “mysteries,” it’s been revealed that restaurants aren’t necessarily sourcing their products from safe or sustainable sources.
The newest generations now have a concern not only for their own health, but the health of the environment, and they’re looking to new horizons when it comes to what they put in their bodies.
Unfortunately, no matter how good the intentions are, it isn’t always easy to afford healthy alternatives. And if you have kids, you’re probably familiar with the picky phases, meaning that broccoli and quinoa aren’t always on the menu.
Luckily, fast food restaurants are great for targeting what exactly kids will eat, and the recipes are usually so basic that they’re not only easy to make at home, but cheap as well!
Here are a few of our favorites, with shortened recipes included:
The Classic Burger
Think Wendy’s; and have a peek here at Wendy’s full price list to make sure you’re not missing much when it comes to what you’re spending on re-creating this classic.
What you’ll need:
- Your choice of buns (gluten free, white, potato) – I prefer kaiser rolls or brioche buns
- 1lb ground beef (or meat alternative) – season with salt and pepper if desired
- Sliced cheese (American or cheddar)
- Iceberg lettuce leaves
- 1 firm tomato
- Red onion
- Ketchup and tomato as needed
Start with the patties, as they’ll take the longest to prepare. Season them as needed with salt and pepper, and then grill (or cook on a stovetop) for about 7 to 8 minutes, until browned on both sides. While the patties are cooking, slice the tomato and onion. The classic recipe doesn’t include toasting the buns, but there’s time for that as well! In the last few seconds, place the cheese on top of the patty and let it get a bit gooey.
Layer the burger in this order: bottom bun, condiments, tomato, lettuce, patty, cheese, onion, and top bun. And there you have it – a classic burger in about fifteen minutes.
If done correctly, homemade chicken nuggets and tenders can be 10x better than the fast food options. At drive-thrus they always smell delicious, but have a soggy and strange texture on consumption. Here’s a quick recipe based on McDonald’s nuggets:
- Chicken breast cut into bite sized pieces
- Vegetable oil
- 1 cup flour
- Salt, pepper, and onion powder to taste
- 1 egg with 1tbs of water added after
Start by beating the egg and adding water. Combine the flour and seasonings. If the pieces of chicken seem a bit big after cutting them up, you can pound down. Heat enough vegetable oil to fry the chicken in a pan. Before frying, coat each pieces with the flour mixture. Fry for 8-12 minutes, until brown and crispy.
Shakes are so easy that we won’t linger too long on the recipe, but let’s consider why this is a great option for dessert, or even breakfast, at home.
A classic milkshake is made up of ice cream and milk. These days there are so many alternatives that it’s possible to make a healthy shake, resembling a Frosty only in creaminess.
For dessert shakes, we suggest sticking with ice cream and milk, although it’s your decision what the particulars are: are you a chocolate addict? More partial to cookies and cream? Or a regular old vanilla fan?
Grab some dairy-free options, such as coconut milk (for a bit of added flavor as well) or oat milk (for a creamier shake).
If you want to try shakes in the morning – and this is a great option for kids and adolescents – sticking with milk or milk alternatives and throwing in some fresh fruit (and sneaking a few veggies in as well) with a basic ice cream is a great idea.
Look for fruits and vegetables that provide a good start to the day with vitamins and minerals. Bananas for potassium, blueberries for antioxidants, strawberries for vitamin C, or even kiwis for a combination of the above plus fiber!
No matter what your secret fast food addiction, we guarantee that there is a healthy, affordable, and easy-to-make alternative out there. The best part about making these quick meals at home is that you can tailor them to your dietary needs and preferences!