With a little creativity and experimentation, you can create your own healthier versions of fast food at home that are just as tasty and satisfying as the originals!
While healthy fast food might seem like an oxymoron, it’s 100% possible to make homemade versions of some of your fast food favorites that are slightly healthier and taste just as delicious! I get it. It’s not realistic to completely cut unhealthy food out of your diet, even fast food. Every now and then you just want those crispy fries from McDonald’s or a delicious Frosty from Wendy’s. Being able to make healthier versions of these recipes at home when the craving hits is a huge win!
When I was a kid my family consumed large amounts of fast food. And I mean large amounts. We’re talkin’ Arby’s roast beef sandwiches and curly fries, Long John Silver’s hushpuppies, and Dairy Queen Blizzards. We had Taco Bell Chicken Tacos, Kentucky Fried Chicken biscuits and gravy, Burger King Onion Rings. And don’t forget McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets with honey mustard dipping sauce and hot apple pies…the list goes on.
While I do have many childhood memories eating at these fast food joints on road trips or after church on Sundays, we’ve never taken our kids out for fast food, and we try to keep junk food in the house to a minimum. However, I don’t want to deprive my kids (or myself for that matter) of some of my all time favorite foods. Instead of completely axing all that crispy, crunchy, creamy (and mostly filled with crap) fare, I’ve made it a mission to remake some of them in a more healthful fashion.
Why Make Fast Food at Home?
It’s Healthier – fast food meals are typically high in calories, fat, and sodium, and lack important nutrients. By making homemade versions of fast food recipes, you can control the ingredients and make healthier choices. You can use leaner protein sources, whole grains, and more vegetables. This can help you maintain a healthy and balanced diet, while still enjoying your favorite fast food flavors.
It’s Cheaper – Going out to dinner, even when it’s fast food, adds up. Eating at home is 9 times out of 10 going to be cheaper than eating out. Making your favorite fast food recipes at home will reduce your food expenses over time.
It’s Customizable: When you make your own homemade versions of fast food recipes, you have the flexibility to customize the meal to your liking. You can add extra vegetables, adjust the seasoning, or add more or less of a certain ingredient to suit your taste preferences.
Make These Healthier Versions of Fast Food Favorites
Love McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets? Try these:
Easy Chicken Nuggets
These are nearly identical to Chicken McNuggets and made with real chicken breasts at home. No more wondering what's in your chicken nuggets because you made them yourself!
Beef and Broccoli is another classic dish at Chinese fast food restaurants. Again, making anything at home is going to be better for you in the long run because you know exactly what you're putting in it!
If you have a beloved fast food or junk food favorite that you’d like to see reinvented here on Weelicious, let me know what it is in the comment section below and I can try putting a healthier twist on it! Or tag me on social media 🙂
Catherine is a mama of three. A Kentucky girl living in California. Here’s what I know: all kids can be great eaters and mealtime must be easy. I create simple, healthy recipes the whole family will love.
These are always helpful and thank you so much I love them all.
I love your recipes. When my kids were young I cooked at home a lot but we also ate at the fast foods. If I knew then what I know now – I would have done things a lot smarter. Now I’m a granny and I will be doing this for the grandkids. Keep the recipes coming!
I love the ideas you have but I do have a question. What sort of bread do you use for sandwiches? I mean regular as well as burgers and things? Looking at ingredients lists I feel so sad cause I don’t want my son eating all those preservatives yet I get stuck sometimes in a food rut feeding him the same things over and over again. I work full times so I don’t have times to always make my own bread but I do buy pita bread and stuff to make pizzas but he doesn’t like tortillas and I don’t like all the ingredients in the store bought breads except like bagels or english muffins or pita bread. Any suggestions would be great!
Thankyou for your fast food healthier version of fast food,I really don’t like to eat out much and preffer to know what in my food thanks to you I can do that and my 5yr old doesn’t feel deprived of it.
I totally agree that things are great in moderation! And food does play such a big role in our lives and memories! I truly believe that you can make food memories just as special, if not even more special, when you make fries together at home, pick out vegetables out of the garden to cook for dinner, or make smoothies for breakfast or a snack!
I enjoy your website, own your book and cook many of your recipes. However, I have to disagree with you about offering children junk food or McD’s. From your post, my childhood mimics yours. We ate at all of those restaurants, and McD’s after church favorite. In my childhood home, we had soda, chips, powder doughnuts, Pop Tarts, and my favorite Saturday morning treat – Pillsbury cinnamon rolls. I have never had a weight problem (my older brothers called me bird legs through my entire childhood), and at the age of 4x I don’t really crave those things.
On the opposite side of the fence, my husband had none of the above mentioned as a child and to this day he craves sweets, and only eats fruits or vegetables when I serve them for our 3 and 5 YO. I believe it’s okay to have ‘junk’ food. We have McD when we are on vacation as a special treat. At this age, I’m teaching my children to eat things in moderation. Shoot, even yesterday I bought a box of Twinkies. I hadn’t had one in 30 years; I probably won’t buy them again for several years. But like you, the memories of our childhood often involve food. Why not have a special treat every now and again to make those memories special?
Love these ideas as simple healthy alternatives. Thanks
Taylor’s Drug Store, you’re dating yourself girl. Try Ophra’s unfried French fries. Beat egg whites with Cajun seasoning, toss potatoes or onion rings and spread on a cookie sheet and bake (425 I believe), flipping once. Outstanding. She also does this with fried chicken but I haven’t tried that.
You mentioned Mickey D’s hot mustard sauce. LOVED that stuff even though I haven’t eaten there in years. Any chance you could recreate that? It’s so good!
We made lots of healthy fast food substitutes at home and your french cry recipe has been a perfect complement. Just wanted to add that slider buns are the perfect serving size for kids for homemade burgers and chicken sandwiches. The Trader Joe’s brand slider buns are delicious!
There is a great recipe for homemade refried beans that you can make in the crock pot at 100daysofrealfood.com. It is so easy and you don’t have to soak the beans overnight so it is super easy to throw together in the morning. My husband likes the recipe without the onion but I didn’t notice a difference. If we have a jalapeno in the house I will use it (with the seeds out) but if we don’t that doesn’t stop me from making these. The nice thing about this recipe is that you can freeze the leftovers in small portions for your girls and you can customize how much salt you add. I like to double the recipe and then freeze the leftovers, but there aren’t usually many left 🙂 Hope you enjoy!
two of my daughters favorite sides are beans & rice and refried beans. The amount of sodium is insane though.
Wow, Long John Silvers is certainly a memory I haven’t thought about it years!! I loved their hush puppies. I did not cook for the first year of my son’s life,; your website and cookbook have brought me back to the kitchen and reminded me how much I love to cook! And I love knowing that my son, now 2, loves all kinds of nutritious foods. Catherine, you are quite an inspiration to me in more ways than one!
Can you please reinvent Taco Bell?!! Thanks 🙂