Why is it that those golden arches always seem to be close by, looming over you at the exact moment your stomach cries out, “FEED ME!”? Or how annoyed do you get by fast food restaurants like McDonald’s who build play spaces and playgrounds right on the premises, all the better to tempt your defenseless children sitting in their car seats as you drive by?

When I was a kids 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, Dairy Queen Blizzards, Taco Bell Chicken Tacos, Kentucky Fried Chicken biscuits and gravy, Burger King Onion Rings, McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets with gooey honey mustard dipping sauce, French fries and apple pies, Wendy’s Frosties…the list goes on. I’m not sure what it means that many of my childhood memories took place in rest area fast food joints on long road trips, at celebratory meals with buckets of KFC, and during many, many lunches junior and senior year at the row of fast food joints a few miles down the road from my high school. And any time I received money for doing my weekly chores, found loose change by lifting up couch cushions in our house, or a swiped a few quarters out of my dad’s change bowl I would take it all with me on Sunday mornings and after church head straight over to Taylor’s Drug store to load up on Oreos, potato chips, Entenmann’s danish, you name it. Suffice to say I was pretty addicted to the bad stuff.

We have never taken our kids for fast food nor do we buy junk food to keep in the house. We make a concerted effort to make sure they eat good food both in and out of the home. However, I don’t want to deprive my kids (or myself for that matter) of some of my all time favorite foods. So instead of completely axing all that crispy, crunchy, creamy (and mostly filled with crap) fare, I like to remake them in a more healthful fashion. Not only are the homemade versions much better for you, I’ve found that the taste is equally as great as the fast food variety.

To help get you started on the road away from edible junk, below are a bunch of more healthful remakes I dig. And if you have a beloved fast food or junk food favorite that you’d like to see reinvented here on weelciious, let me know what it is in the comment section below and I can try putting a healthier twist on it!

French Fries and Onion Rings are easier to make at home than you would think. Bonus: they’re far healthier and less expensive!


Instead of fast food burgers try making your own BBQ Chicken Burgers or Veggie Burgers.


These Corn Dog Muffin Bites are a family favorite and perfect for little hands to hold!


Chicken Nuggets shouldn’t be filled with hard to pronounce ingredients. These come together in just minutes and will satisfy that craving better than any fast food version.


Don’t forget the desserts! Apple PiesShakes, SmoothiesFizzy Beverages, and Chocolate Ice Cream are simple to prepare, use minimal ingredients, and make you feel great about what you are feeding your family!



About the Author

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.


  1. 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!

  2. 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!

  3. 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.

  4. 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!

  5. Hi Catherine,
    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?

  6. 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.

  7. 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!

  8. 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!

  9. 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!

  10. two of my daughters favorite sides are beans & rice and refried beans. The amount of sodium is insane though.

  11. 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!

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