Tips to Make Fast Food Friendlier for Kids

Updated:Feb 6,2017

Finding it hard to feed your children nutritious meals between all your daily activities? While you zoom around between soccer practice, the dance recital, the PTA meeting and picking up the dry cleaning, you’re lucky to find time to grab a meal. 

First, try to prepare when you DO have a little time by planning ahead, packing some healthy snacks and making meals over the weekend that can be reheated or eaten on the road.

But when fast food is your only option, try these tips to make it a little healthier:

  • Skip the sides. Eating a burger or sandwich by itself is often plenty filling, plus you’ll save money by skipping the “value” meal.
  • Choose fruit and vegetables over fries. Many fast food restaurants offer fruit cups or side salad as a healthy alternative to French fries.
  • If you must have fries, split the size. Your kids love fries, so what do you do? Try splitting an order between the two of you. If you have more than one child, find a size you can split among several people. That way no one gets all the fat, sodium and calories of the oversized serving. Plus, you might save a little cash.
  • Buy a baked potato instead of a burger. Some restaurants offer potatoes plain or with all the fixings. Of course, the more toppings like sour cream, cheese, bacon and butter that are added, the less healthy it becomes. Find a compromise with your kids by asking them to choose just one topping.
  • Go for the grilled. Poultry without skin is much leaner than the meats most fast-food companies use in their burgers, and it may be less processed. The chicken nuggets that are common in kids’ meals often have just as much fat and sodium as an adult-size burger. Choose a grilled skinless chicken sandwich, split it between your kids (or save half for later). You’ll also save money!
  • Ask for a wheat bun. Some places offer a wheat alternative. It never hurts to ask.
  • Skip the “kids meal.” Just get the toy. Just because a meal is marketed toward children doesn’t mean they have to eat it. Often, the toys can be purchased separately.
  • Pass on the “value-size.” When you supersize, the size of your fries and drink isn’t the only thing that gets bigger.
  • Drink water, 100 percent juice or low-fat milk. No one ever said that every fast food meal must be eaten with soda. Sodas are loaded with sugars, which have calories your kids don’t need. Nearly all fast food restaurants offer alternatives — including water!

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