Avoid Every Unhealthy Drive-Thru with 5 Easy Steps

You can’t drive more than a mile in many areas without passing a fast food restaurant. In some places, they seem to be on every corner. You’re running errands, and it’s just so easy to pull into that drive-thru. However, the menu items usually aren’t very healthy. Use these 5 easy steps to avoid every unhealthy drive-thru.

Are you trying to eat healthier? Here are 5 easy steps to help you avoid every unhealthy drive-thru.

Ironically, my family just went through the Burger King drive-thru earlier today. We were driving four hours home from the beach, and we were all starving. The snack bag was empty, and we didn’t have a chance to restock it before leaving. My husband didn’t want to hit rush hour, so we couldn’t stop at a sit-down restaurant. A drive-thru was the only option

Today was the first time my family went through a drive-thru in over a year. Despite busy nights filled with soccer practices and kids begging for Happy Meals, we managed to avoid the unhealthy drive-thrus. That includes the McDonald’s at the end of our street. We literally drive or walk past it every single day.

That wasn’t always the case. When Tony and I were first married, we ate fast food at least once a week. Burgers, fries, and milkshakes were some of our favorites. After J was born, we cut back on our fast food eating a little bit, but we still went through the unhealthy drive-thrus a few times a month.  When Miss M was born, I wanted to cut fast food from our diet completely.

How do we resist the urge to get a quick meal at McDonald’s?

We use 5 easy steps to make healthier food choices.

5 Easy Steps to Avoid Every Unhealthy Drive-Thru

#1 – Prepare Make-Ahead Meals over the Weekend

As a third grade teacher, my nights during the week are crazy. I come home exhausted, play with Miss M, run J to soccer practice, give them both baths, and do bedtime. Supper has to fit in there somewhere. It would be really easy to pull into the drive-thru on the way to the soccer field.

Instead, I spend Saturday mornings preparing our meals for the week. By noon, my refrigerator is stocked with healthy meals for the whole week. I pop one in the oven when I get home from school. Then, I play with Miss M while the food cooks for 30 minutes. We eat and are out the door for soccer practice by 5:30.

These steak, pepper, and mushroom kebabs are one of my Valentine's Day Make-Ahead Meals.

Check out some of my make-ahead meal plans.

#2 – Pack Your Lunch the Night Before

You wake up, get dressed, get the kids ready, and race out the door. There’s no time to pack a lunch. Then, lunchtime arrives, and your stomach is rumbling. You need to grab something fast before your lunch break is over, so you pull into the closest drive-thru. Two cheeseburgers, a large order of fries, and a huge soda later, you feel guilty for indulging on fast food.

Beat these lunchtime cravings by packing your lunch at night. When you finish eating supper, pack up the leftovers for lunch. If there are no leftovers, spend 5 minutes making a sandwich. Pack it with some fruit and veggies, and put it in the refrigerator. Now, you just need to grab the bag and run out the door in the morning.

#3 – Make Your Own Snack Packs

Another time we feel the urge to pull into the unhealthy drive-thru is when we need a snack. A small order of fries, snack wrap, or junior cheeseburger will hold us over until dinner. We used to do this all the time. My husband would get a large diet soda, and we’d each get a snack.

Now, I make my own healthy snacks. I wash fruit and veggies when I get home from the grocery store and divide them into individual serving-sized containers. I do the same thing with big bags of pretzels, nuts, and crackers.

My kids love choosing a snack for rides in the car. My purse always has a snack or two in it for those times I’m craving something from the drive thru.

These homemade packaged snacks are perfect to grab and go.

Check out my do-it-yourself snack packs that will save you money at the grocery store.

#4 – Choose a Healthier Place to Stop

There are times when you have no food in your house. I’m usually at that point by the end of the week. The only option is to stop and get something. Even if you don’t have much time, you can find a quick place to stop that doesn’t involve an unhealthy drive-thru.

Subway and Chipotle are two of my favorite places to grab a quick, healthy meal. Go through the line to order, load your food up with as many veggies as you can, and get it to go. I’ve found that these restaurants are sometimes faster than waiting in a line of cars at the drive-thru. Plus, there are more healthy options.

#5 – Make the Healthiest Choices Possible

I know there are times when the drive-thru can’t be completely avoided. Today was one of those days for me. When I find myself in a drive-thru, I just try to make the healthiest choice I can.

Here are some of the healthier options I’ve found on drive thru menus.

  • Grilled chicken sandwiches
  • Baked potatoes
  • Side salads
  • Fruit and yogurt parfaits
  • Chili

Unfortunately, Burger King didn’t have many healthy options. I ended up sharing an order of chicken fries with Miss M, and I made myself a salad when I got home.

These 5 steps will save your body from the unhealthy ingredients in fast food. They will also save you money. We always end up spending at least $20 at the drive-thru. Use that money to buy healthier foods at the grocery store.

What do you do to avoid unhealthy drive-thrus?

Let me know in the comments below.

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4 thoughts on “Avoid Every Unhealthy Drive-Thru with 5 Easy Steps

  1. I LOVE your ideas Tara, and you’re so right, going to the fast food places is so expensive and very unhealthy in the long run. Years ago when I was a kid, and my mom was taking us to the movie, she packed a healthy snack so we wouldn’t be eating the buttery loaded popcorn. Of course, I wanted it b/c it smelled so good. I think back to those days when she was trying to save money and encourage the eating of healthy snacks.

    1. Thank you, Florence! I haven’t been able to get away with healthy snacks at the movie theater yet. My kids want the popcorn, but we don’t go to the theater very often, so it’s a special treat. That was a great way for your mom to save money and give you something healthier, though!

  2. Well done on cutting back on unhealthy food so much! A year without mcdonalds is impressive. 🙂 I love your homemade snack packs!! I can totally see making those with my munchkin when she’s a little older… (right now she still doesn’t have teeth, hehehe.) Great ideas!

  3. We’re not big MacDonald fans but I swear KFC will be the death of me. We’ve gotten into this nasty habit of stopping for a take away there at least once a week and I can see how their chicken wings have started spreading all over my thighs. It’s nasty. I’m going to have to start practicing some of your advice Tara. Wish me luck

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