Unfortunately, it’s not as easy as saying, “Don’t eat it, duh”. We have been conditioned to believe that from scratch cooking is hard, time consuming and not for you. Clever marketing has made fast food a trillion dollar industry. And we are just trying not to starve. So here we stand, trying to figure out how to not eat fast food, while also trying to figure out how to feed our family. Well, I’ve got some tips that have served us well over the last 15 years.
How to not eat fast food
It isn’t always as simple as not eating fast food. I am a paramedic in real life and I can honestly say that I eat fast food occasionally. I ALWAYS bring my meals to work and have for the last 10 years. Simply because eating 3-4 meals out every shift would break the bank. If I spent $10-15/ meal out every meal for 12 shifts per month, I would spend about $360-$540/ month in meals.
Jared is also a paramedic and the way our schedules work, he cooks dinner one out of three nights and I cook the other two. So I follow the 70% rule. For us, we eat home cooked meals 70% of the time.
Why We Don’t Eat Fast Food…. Much
Don’t get it twisted, we still eat “fast food” but we don’t eat at the typical fast food restaurants. We only eat at 3; Chick Fil A, Zaxby’s and Arby’s. The reason is because those foods will rot. If I were to leave them out, bugs will eat them. That means it’s mostly real food. We also eat there because it’s the lesser of two evils. We’ve got to eat and I can’t whip up a meal while driving down the highway.
Also, it’s not just about the money. I feel like crap every time I eat fast food. It disrupts my gut in ways I won’t mention here. So I try to limit the amount of food I buy on shift. But sometimes you need food while you’re out and about. Or the thought of cooking a meal is going to send you over the edge. Here’s what I do to limit the fast food trips.
Ways To Limit Eating Fast Food
Plan ahead- This is probably the most important which is why it’s number 1! By planning ahead you can limit your need for grabbing a quick meal at a fast food restaurant. Every week, I put the proposed meals on our weekly board. I pull out about 3 days worth of meats and put them in a bowl in the fridge to thaw. We don’t have to have the meal that’s planned for that particular day, but having the meat out, limits the 4 o’clock, what’s for dinner questions.
Grocery shop your pantry- A well stocked pantry (or food storage room in my case) is an absolute necessity when you are trying to put meals on the table. I use Azure Standard to help keep my pantry stocked.
Double it- This is my tried and true hack for always having a home cooked meal. I make HUGE meals and we put up the left overs. We’re talking 4 boxes of spaghetti and 16 boxes of left overs. We use these containers because my kids still break EVERYTHING.
Freeze it- This goes with doubling it. There are many times were it is easier to cook a whole chicken, eat some, then shred and freeze the rest. Or I’ll double or triple a biscuit recipe then flash freeze them. Then I can just take out however many I need for the next dinner. I don’t even thaw them. I just give them a little more time and they are just as good as fresh made.
Soups- I can’t tell you how many times soup has saved the day. I use this cookbook and make a big (HUGE) pot of one of the soups. Then I can the left overs. This has literally saved my bacon more than I care to admit! Especially when we have gone out for dinner and I don’t have ANY food to take to work the next day.
Coochie boards- Yes, I know it’s charcuterie but Jaxson couldn’t say that. He called it coochie boards and it stuck. I’ve always got some sort of deli meat or salami type meats and cheeses. I can make crackers in a pinch so this has been a fall back many nights too.
Crock pot meals- Throw it in the slow cooker and forget about it. And it’s not just for roasts! Whole chicken? In the crock pot. Tacos? In the crock pot. I’m not afraid to say dinner is in the crock pot if it means that my sanity stays mostly intact.
Family Cooks- As the boys have gotten older, they have helped more and more in the kitchen. This has a two fold benefit: it takes the load off me and it teaches them to cook. Chase can make spaghetti, mac and cheese, toast tortillas, and brown ground beef. He has amazing knife skills and for the most part could feed himself. Jaxson? He’s got the attention span of a cracked out gerbil and the knife skills to match. But we’re working on it.
Make Your Own- This has been a lifesaver when I am absolutely exhausted. Everyone makes their own dinner. Whether that is a bowl of cereal or a steak, everyone makes their own food. And before you tell me that you have littles and they can’t do this? My kids have been doing this since they were about 3. Granted Jaxson wanted a “Daddy” sandwich consisted of two pieces of bread and mustard and ketchup…. No one really knows how that works because Jared doesn’t eat ketchup on his sandwiches but whatever.
Give yourself grace. This is not a change that will come about over night. Nor should it! You’re not a robot. You are human and that means that you can’t be perfect. But by pulling out enough meat for 3 dinners or doubling a meal up, you can limit your need to eat out or eat fast food.
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