T Nation

Does Fast Healthy Food Exist?!?!


#1

As I stated in an earlier post, I have always enjoyed fitness but didn’t pay attention to nutrition. Now that I am going for muscle tone I really want to watch what I eat more closely. The problem is my days are extremely busy (I’m sure yours are too)…and I don’t have time to stop and cook healthy recipes that take forever!! Although stopping at the drive through is tempting I don’t and usually go without eating much. I am 5’9 and 159 pounds so I definitely don’t look like I’m starving lol. Yesterday I had a weight loss drink, yogurt, and a very small piece of meatloaf from my mom’s refrigerator (I needed something). I do eat an occasional Healthy Choice/ Smart One if I’m lucky. Could someone please tell me any favorite quick foods or advice? Thank you!!


#2

Couple of tips:

  1. Food cooked at home will almost always beat takeout or drive-through meals. With that said, if you choose wisely there certainly are some reasonable on-the-go options: a salad with grilled vegetables and shredded pork at Chipotle, for example, can be quite good if you must grab on the go.

  2. If life is really busy 5-6 days a week but you have one day off where you can spare even one hour, you might consider doing a lot of healthy meal prep on that day. Grill 6 chicken breasts, bake 6 potatoes, and package them up in your refrigerator - now you at least have the “base” for a healthy dinner every night for a week. Figure out a quick-cooking vegetable or two (you can steam broccoli in the microwave, for example) that you can make while you reheat the chicken and potato, and now you’ll have a dinner that you can grab from the refrigerator and have ready-to-eat in 5 minutes after you get home.

(I’m aware that grilled chicken and a baked potato every day would get old - just illustrating the basic idea, it really is NOT that hard to prep a bunch of decent food. Turn on oven. Turn on grill. Place potatoes in oven. Season chicken breasts with any rub of your choice. Place chicken breasts on grill. Turn chicken breasts over after 5-6 minutes. Remove chicken breasts from grill after 5-6 more minutes. Let them cool, go check on the potatoes. Once done, remove potatoes from oven - they can be slightly undercooked since you’ll have to reheat them later in the week anyway. Place one chicken breast and one potato in each of 6 microwave safe containers. Profit.)

Same idea for breakfast: if you really can’t spare even 5 minutes a day to scramble up a few eggs, then hard-boil a dozen eggs every weekend. Each morning, grab two of them and an apple (or any fruit of your choice) and at least you’re off to a good start for the day.

  1. If you can spare 15 minutes in the morning and you have a slow cooker, that is another wonderful option. Buy a large piece of meat (pork shoulder being one good choice), cover it with some sort of spice rub, place it in your slow cooker with a chopped onion, a bunch of chopped carrots, a chopped apple, and something fun to give it a little pizzaz (dried cranberries or raisins). Turn it on low. Go do your business for the day. Return home, enjoy your dinner, pack up the leftovers and have it again the next night.

Life is busy, yes, but cooking healthy food need not be a tremendous time investment, it’s really quite easy. Many people who plead out that life is too busy aren’t willing to take an extra 10 or 15 minutes (which is really all it takes) to prep some good food.


#3

I appreciate your honesty and speaking to me like I am clueless because I am about this!! Even if your answer seems like common sense to many I didn’t plan my meals out before so I didn’t think about starting now. That’s absolutely a life adjustment I’m willing to make. Thank you for your help.


#4

I can’t think of too many items that are truly “fast food” that fit the bill for “healthy”, at least in the context of someone looking to make a significant change to their body composition. Food prep is definitely the big picture, but it helps to have other options.

Here are some of my go-to options when I’m feeling lazy or just sick of cooking and cleaning all of the damn time.

Chicken Panang Curry: I get this from my local Thai kitchen and it is not a bad option at all, and it is my go-to meal when I want a delicious lunch that I don’t need to cook or clean. This is just boneless/skinless chicken, red and green peppers, carrots, white rice covered in a sauce made from spices, coconut milk and a little peanut butter. I will sometimes eat this five days in a row. I love it. It is not my favorite item on the menu, which would be Pad Thai, but it is what I almost always order because Pad Thai ain’t getting me closer to my goals.

I will also order off of the menu or put a special order quite often.

I will sometimes order the panang curry without rice and with extra veggies. Now its low carb.

The menu at the bar I work at is full of crap, but I can pick and choose items to make a special order that ends up being a pretty solid meal. You could do a lot worse with a patty of grilled ground beef topped with grilled onions, mushrooms and peppers with a side of steamed vegetables. Grilled chicken with veggies works too, and most bars will have it.

Another item that is not on the menu is simple scrambled eggs from McDonalds. It has been a while since I got these, but they sell them for like a buck an egg. They are pretty crappy, but again a comparatively good option when in a pinch, when travelling, etc. Just a scrambled egg.

McDonalds will also serve you meat patties sandwiched between lettuce. I’ve never done this, but I’ve witnessed it.

Ask the wait staff. When I sit down for a meal or order carry out, I look for something that is basically meat and vegetables. If I don’t see it, I ask about it. I love steak and it almost always comes with a potato, but I will usually ask for double-veggies instead (not that potatoes are bad, per se, I’m just keeping my carbs low right now).

Remember, most restaurants still want picky people’s money. Tell them what you want. It also helps to have some “go-to” options known in advance, like my Chicken Panang Curry. That way I don’t even need to look at the menu and be tempted with Pad Thai. I just order the good stuff.


#5

Chicken nuggets wont kill you if you don’t get fries and sugary drink.


#6

Everything AG and 2Jar said so far.

Real Life Training and Eating also has some awesome practical tips.

When I’m in a legit time crunch running around and starving, my go-to is beef jerky and a diet soda from 7-11 or a gas station or a dollar store or where ever. Pretty much all protein (some lower end brands of jerky have a bunch of sugar, so take a quick look at the label) and pretty filling between the carbonation and the fact that it’s hard to inhale a bunch of jerky very quickly so it forces you to chew and eat relatively slowly.


#7

Another convenience store / gas station option sometimes available is something (I think) called P3. It’s a cellophane container of some chunks of cheese, some chunks of meat (turkey or ham) and a few almonds. Pretty good holdover until you can get a “real” meal.


#8

Subway - tuna with every single veggie and a fat line of dijon mustard.

Only thing that comes into question is their tuna salad recipe, probably has canola mayo, but this is the best response I have for such a difficult question.


#9

I love the idea of making custom request for how I want my food prepared! That’s a very helpful idea in a pinch. The food you order sounds great and flavorful… I’m going to try and find local places that can be my regular go to. Thank you so much that’s extremely helpful.


#10

Thank you… I’ll have to see if McDonalds or Wendy’s is better for an emergency stop.


#11

I am excited to look over the information you provided. Jerky is one of my favorite snacks that I rarely buy but now I will be keeping it handy. I can’t believe the sugar part so that’s really helpful! I’m not trying to be lazy about my diet but it’s good to know what I can grab so I’m not tempted to go without or something wrong. I appreciate your thoughts on this.


#12

You can also examine other options for yourself
McDonalds Nutrition
Burker King Nutrition
Wendys Nutrition (Not Official)


#13

I didn’t realize there are options like that but never looked. That’s definitely something that would stay with me for a while. Thank you for helping me.


#14

I completely forgot about tuna at Subway!!! I could add that to a salad from there. Good thinking :slight_smile:


#15

I forgot another standby.

Protein powder in a water bottle or tupperware.

I bring this with me to work almost every day and it is my afternoon snack. Also a stand-by for travel. Just add water and you’ve got a super-easy protein snack.

The key here is to not care who looks at you funny when you’re drinking pink liquid out of plastic bowl. Let them wonder.


#16

HA another great idea! I travel a lot and people look at me funny anyways so it’s all good. I can do the protein drinks but it’s the bars that taste nasty to me :stuck_out_tongue_closed_eyes:


#17

Oh. Another fantastic thing (falls more into the “snack” category but can also stand in for breakfast) is merely pouring some good-quality milk (if you tolerate dairy) or coconut milk over frozen berries (optional additions of protein powder and/or creatine). No effort required, delicious results.


#18

Milk is full of sugar. Why not just fruit and cheese?


#19

If I were on the road, I’d rather eat from bags of nuts at the gas station than the food in a fast food joint. As for the rest of the time, I can usually stir fry vegetables with sliced portabellas, almonds, or cashews, dump them over pasta, and eat it all within the time frame of a “Big Bang Theory” episode. (It’s a little embarrassing just how often I have tested that theory) I also usually have hard boiled eggs in the frig, eating six of them a day.


#20

I have never used coconut milk but would be willing to try it. I am fine with regular milk however if coconut would do something for the taste that’s an added bonus! I’ll need to do research on what protein to get as I haven’t really used it much. Can I mix it in my oatmeal too? Frozen berries and milk sounds like a refreshing breakfast to me.