I just made breakfast. It took all of three minutes. I’m still in my jammies and the car hasn’t left the garage. My morning smoothie consisted of ½ cup cranberries, ½ cup blueberries, 1 banana, ¼ cup of ground flax, one orange, 1 kiwi, and 2 cups filtered water and cost about $2.50. I could have gotten dressed, driven to the nearest drive-thru and paid $3.75 for one of their fruit concoctions. But, if you take some time to do a bit of shopping and planning, you can have real “fast food” right in the comfort of your own home. And I know exactly what went into the drink I am enjoying.
Another breakfast fast food is a bowl of oatmeal. Add some peanut butter or a few chopped walnuts. Put in some raisins for a bit of extra fiber. Eat with half a grapefruit and you have an inexpensive healthy meal that requires minimum preparation and cleanup.
My lunches always consist of leftover dinner. I have a food thermos that has a removable divider. I either take out the divider and fill the container with soup or leave it in and choose two items from dinner we ate the night before. Now that’s fast. I don’t have to stand in line at the take-out window nor do I worry about consuming the abundance of calories usually present in restaurant meals.
Need an afternoon snack for a quick burst of energy? Slice an apple and serve with a couple of teaspoons of peanut or almond butter. Okay, it’s not quite as fast as putting $2 into a candy machine. But, you’ll end up healthier and, therefore, more productive so, in the long run, it’s a better choice.
Dinner is the time when it’s really tempting to pick something up on the way home because preparation and cleanup take a lot of time and energy and, after working all day, we usually have the least amount of either. I’ve tried the once-a-month cooking thing and found that I began to dread the full day of cooking that is necessary to make so many meals in one go. However, I do take some time on the weekends to make extra amounts of food for freezing and that doesn’t add much prep time at all. And, because I’m already cooking, the amount of cleanup remains the same.
Fish is quick to cook and recipes usually involve few ingredients so it makes a good and healthy main course. Add a quick salad and some rice pilaf and you have a satisfying dinner that doesn’t take too long. Green beans are easy to throw in the steamer. Add some dill, some lemon juice and olive oil along with a chopped green onion. Remember to make enough of each course for your lunch and you’re killing two birds with one stone.
Always keep in mind what some call the French Paradox. While people in France consume a higher amount of saturated fat than their U.S. counterparts, their incidence of heart disease is somewhat lower. This alone is interesting because total consumption of fat is about the same. Many attribute the difference to the meal customs and habits. For one, the French diet is significantly lower in refined sugar. Portions in France are about 75 percent the size of those found on a typical plate in the United States. Variety and quality are valued more than speed and quantity. Meals are eaten in a relaxed atmosphere and not while multitasking, leading to greater satisfaction. And snacking is not common. Leisurely meals finished with a dessert of fruit and cheese is the norm. The French take time to chew and digest.
So, the next time you’re pondering that trip to the drive-thru to grab that bag of salt and fat laden fast food, ponder the miniscule amount of time you’re really saving as well as the adverse consequences to your health and well-being. Learn from the French. Take a bit of time to plan a few meals. Make one good trip to the grocery store and farmer’s market. Prepare some quality meals and enjoy them with your family. Chew. Converse. Digest. Enjoy. Stay healthy.