Fast food restaurants have it made in the shade in today’s era. And it’s not even just fast food. Convenience stores, grocery stores, food trucks, and coffee shops are mega money makers into today’s society.
Why? Because no one wants to make their own breakfasts/lunches/dinners anymore. Everyone claims they don’t have time to make meals. But then we spend hours in front of a television, or online. We have time, we just don’t like making the time.
Even when we don’t eat fast food, eating out has drastic effects on our health, and significant impact on the planet. Both are pretty negative.
But let’s focus on the positive, here. Here’s what eliminating the fast food/eating out syndrome gets you, and some tips for making it work.
- You control what you are eating. Don’t depend on a Big Food company to decide what to eat. Same as with our last principle of Homemade is Better than Store-bought. I discovered what a pain in the ass it can be to ensure you’rr not getting fed crappy food at a restaurant after Chris got kidney disease. We would have to special order almost everything, asking a dozen questions and I’m sure annoying the server to no end. And if you are trying to watch your weight and eat well for the planet? It takes the server game to the next level. And I’m pretty sure your server doesn’t really want to play.
Instead, YOU get to choose what you want to eat! How fun is THAT? Do you want artichokes? Awesome, get some artichoke. Would you like garlic? Put as much or as little as you want. Want to make your sandwich without bread? Do it. You can use anything you want instead of buns- portobello mushrooms, lettuce leaves, cucumber, zucchini.
- Cut down on our plastic and paper waste. We’ll talk about this in more detail a little later on, but “Brown Bag It” is set on the idea of eating well to lessen our impact on deforestation and protect marine life. There are great ways to reduce waste from eating out. Bringing your own reusable utensils is great. Refusing a straw is fine. Remembering your canvas bags helps tremendously. But not needing reusables actually helps us also lose weight, AND saves these items from a landfill. Personally, I think that’s even better.
The paper products you will eliminate would be packaging bags, to-go containers, coffee stirrers, napkins, plates, cup sleeves, cups, place mats, table cloths, server order forms, receipts, and boxes which hold supplies for the restaurants.
Plastic products you help eliminate include: to-go containers, coffee stirrers, cups, lids, straws, bags, utensils, gloves for making food, trash bags, condiment containers, bottles for cleaning supplies, and plastic wrap for all the food.
I call this principle is “Brown Bag It”, but honestly, I don’t want you to literally brown bag it. Get a reusable tote, or a nice lunch box/cooler/container to bring your meals on the go. Also, try to go waste-free and place your individual items in a reusable container rather than plastic baggies.
- Cut MAJOR calories, bad trans fat, and simple carbs. Watching your calories, or trying to stay clear of certain ingredients? Making your own lunch is your new best friend. Comparing fast food to homemade burger, you cut nearly 200 calories and reduce your saturated fat by half. And chances are, you wouldn’t necessarily make a burger anyways for your lunch, it would likely be even healthier, like a veggie sandwich, or a salad, which could cut those calories even further.
What’s more, compared to a fast food meal, your homemade meal will have more nutrition. Give you more fuel and energy. Feel more satisfied (full/less cravings). Keep you going for a longer period of time. You not as likely to feel hungry an hour later, less likely to get the late afternoon drowsiness, and be more productive.
- You will save money. As with the last principle, you may pay more upfront for ingredients for a meal, but spread those ingredients over the week, and you actually save money. And this is with ingredients, again, YOU pick out. You also get more bang for your buck. Order a sandwich at a sandwich shop without tomatoes, pickles, and mayo, you still pay the same as everyone else. Buy ingredients for your own sandwich, you don’t pay for what you don’t want, because YOU DON’T BUY THEM.
- Save time and gas. Maybe you don’t waste a ton of gas stopping by the grocery on the way home, or popping in to a Starbucks on your way to work, but you are wasting time. Especially if you go out for lunch during your workday on a regular basis. Are you complaining you don’t have time to workout? Start bringing your own lunch from home, and it saves you time to get a quick workout on your break. And if you ARE going out of your way to stop someplace for lunch, bringing your own saves on gas as well as time.
Just as Principle 8, I could go on and on and not cover all the benefits. But I also want to spend a few moments to give you tips on Meal Prepping. Meal Prepping is a life hack which helps maintain a healthy momentum, eliminates spontaneous, unhealthy choices, and improves our impact on the environment.
I’ve spoken about Meal Prep before, but here are a couple quick tips to make it super easy.
- Set time aside on Sunday afternoon or Sunday night for Meal Prep. Take an hour, maybe two hours to bang out a batch of Quinoa Chickpea Salad, and prepare ingredients for an awesome crockpot stew. You may find you have enough time to make one of my treats from Homemade.
- Plan your meals and your snacks for the week. This is a Golden Ticket to better eating. If you plan it, you are four times more likely to stick with your diet. This increases if you plan ahead and make your meals, and prepare your snacks, rather than waiting the day of to get your food.
- Pick a favorite animal. I mean, ANYTHING- ocean dwelling, forest friend, or arctic. Doesn’t matter. Let this be your Willpower Animal. Let it help empower you to meal prep, especially when you are tempted to put it off.
If you choose manatees, for example, know when you meal prep, you are doing your part to decrease plastic waste. You are eliminating added sugar, which comes from the Big Sugar industry in Florida. Big Sugar is thought by environmentalists to be the main culprit in the blue algae bloom which is killing hundreds of Florida marine animals, including manatees. Your healthy eating habit is making a difference, by your consumer choices.
If your favorite animal is the polar bear, know by reducing deforestation, you are helping combat climate change. You are maintaining healthy polar bear habitat.
- Have a meal prep party- either make it a family time activity, or get some friends together and make a bunch of different meals. This makes the activity more fun, and you can try new things. Plus, if you get your friends in on the action, you can share dishes and have a different meal each day of the week.
Here are a few more Meal Prep recipes for you to try:
Breakfast Made Fast and Easy
Paleo Egg Breakfast Casserole 6 servings- 380 calories, Carbs: 11.3 g, Fat: 20.2 g, Protein: 30.3 g
- 8 eggs/one whole pint carton of egg whites
- 1 seasonal squash, peeled (if using a winter squash with hard skin), and chopped
- ½ onion, diced
- 1 small head of broccoli, chopped
- 4 strips of bacon, pre-cooked and chopped
- 3 sausage patties or links, pre-cooked and chopped
- 1 cup almond/coconut milk
- ½ tsp ground mustard
- 1 tsp salt
- Oregano, rosemary, thyme to taste
- Spread olive oil or coconut oil over a square baking dish (preferably glass, but metal works fine) and place all veggies in bottom. Arrange meat over veggies
- Mix eggs, milk, and seasoning in bowl. Gently pour over veggies and meat
- Place in oven and set temperature for 350 F. Bake for 30 minutes. Turn off oven and let casserole passively bake for another 10 minutes.
- Cut into servings and store leftovers. Can reheat casserole in oven or microwave
Chicken Soup 6 servings- 291 calories, Carbs: 36.2g, Fat: 2.8g, Protein: 30.8g
- 2 four oz boneless chicken breasts
- 4 cups chicken broth
- 3 medium carrots, sliced
- 3 stalks celery, sliced
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
- 1 onion, diced
- 1 bunch kale, chopped
- ¼ cup parsley
- 1 tsp each rosemary, thyme and salt
- ½ tsp black pepper
- Cut chicken into small bite-sized pieces and place in large pot. Add chicken broth and heat on stove over medium-high heat for 10 minutes
- Add veggies, spices, and seasoning and cook for another 15-20 minutes, or until vegetables are tender, adding a cup of water to broth if necessary.
Super Chill Dinner
Chili 4 servings- 340 calories, Carbs: 44.2 g, Fat: 5.9 g, Protein: 30 g
- 1 package meat crumbles (recommend Boca Burger or Smart Life)
- 1 can (16 ounces) each of tomato sauce and diced tomatoes
- 2 cans beans, kidney beans, black beans, or pinto beans, drained and rinsed
- 1 ½ C chopped onion
- ½ C green pepper, chopped
- ⅛ tsp ground cayenne pepper
- ½ tsp brown sugar
- 1 tsp each of oregano, salt
- ¼ tsp black pepper
- 2 tsp cumin
- ¼ C chili powder
- Place all ingredients in crockpot. Mix very well. Set on low and cook for 6-7 hours. Stir contents once or twice to even distribute ingredients.
Another option for chicken soup lunches at home –
Keep in the freezer: chicken stock (homemade, of course) in an ice cube tray, cooked chicken cut or shredded, mixed veggies. When it comes to for lunch, boil up a cube or two of the stock, some of the chicken, a larger amount of the veggies, and maybe some noodles or rice. Faster than getting served in a restaurant and a lot cheaper. I did this a lot when I worked from home. Ah, those were the days…
Yes, yes, and yes! Those are awesome suggestions.Great tips from the Whidbey Frugal Master, Mr. Tom Trimbath.