6 Healthy Alternatives to Fast Food Favorites

While we may never be able to match the speed of a drive thru meal, there are many ways we can find alternatives to our fast food favorites that are just as cheap and appetizing.


6 Healthy Alternatives to Fast Food Favorites

Let’s face it. We all know fast food isn’t the best option for a meal but we go because it’s convenient, cheap, and delicious. Wherever you are in town, you can almost guarantee the nearest drive thru is right around the corner for dinner, saving you time from having to cook at home. From burgers and fries to tacos and orange chicken, this day and age, fast food offers a wide array of cuisines that can satisfy that craving. Unfortunately, most items on the menu, including some salads, are loaded with sugar, fry oil, and carbohydrates that we can feel sitting in our stomachs like a brick after indulging. We know we shouldn’t hit that drive thru but sometimes there never seems to be a better alternative that’s just as quick, low cost, and just as tasty. While we may never be able to match the speed of a drive thru meal, there are many ways we can find alternatives to our fast food favorites that are just as cheap and appetizing.


Air fryers have become growing in popularity the last few years as a common kitchen gadget across the country. Unlike having to soak a foodstuff in oil, the air fryer significantly reduces the oil needed, but still provides the delicious flavor and crispiness that you’re looking for. Most items simply need to be lightly sprayed with cooking oil to achieve the best results. Common drive thru cravings such as sweet potato fries, regular fries, and even onion rings can be made with little to no oil just in a few minutes, still coming out crispy and satisfying like your favorite fast food fries. Along with substituting for fast food items, an air fryer is useful in various other ways, such as roasting vegetables, reheating food, and perfectly cooking frozen food items. From individual portions to family size, the air fryer can perfectly provide you and your family with guilt-free fast food favorites.

Air fryers come in all shapes and sizes and can be sold as low as $60. Below are two options at different price points for an air fryer:

Fried chicken is a popular staple for fast food joints, from chicken tenders to KFC’s fried buckets of chicken. It’s undeniably delicious but how can we make something just as good without the guilt? Use the oven!

Like the air fryer, the oven significantly reduces the need for oil to create a crispy texture that fried food provides. This guilt free option needs only a few common kitchen ingredients: flour, egg, breadcrumbs, chicken (legs, thighs, or breasts) and spices of your choosing. Use your oven fried chicken to make your own homemade McDonald’s crispy chicken sandwich, chicken tenders your kids will love, or a KFC-like bucket meal for the family.  Here is a good recipe to follow for some oven fried chicken from Wholesome Recipe Box.

 Photo Credit: https://www.wholesomerecipebox.com/low-carb-oven-fried-chicken/
Photo Credit: Dr. Oz (https://www.doctoroz.com/recipe/sweet-potato-toast-avocado)

Rather than indulging in bread, switch to sweet potato! While both are complex carbohydrates, sweet potato is a much preferred source when compared to bread or buns. This root is rich in vitamins and minerals such as: B vitamins, Vitamin C, Vitamin D, Calcium, Iron, Magnesium, Phosphorus, Potassium, Thiamin, and Zinc and even includes antioxidants that protect your cells from day-to-day damage. When put against bread, sweet potato is incomparable in its health benefits and nutrient content. When making a sandwich, simply cut two thin pieces of sweet potato lengthwise and throw them in your toaster or toaster oven until cooked though. You can even use this as a substitute for toast in the morning as well. Simply spread avocado, hummus, or peanut butter on top, and you’ve got yourself a great energy dense breakfast or snack.

One of the most common fast food cravings we may all think of when the drive thru comes to mind: burgers, America’s staple. We’ve all grown up with the classic burger in our lives, but lately, veggie burger popularity has grown across the country. As the idea of a plant-based diet has developed, restaurants have followed suit by adding a plant-based burger option to their menus. As the consumption of red meat should be limited, veggie burgers still offer that delicious flavor profile of a beef burger while still satisfying your craving. In recent years, innovative companies such as Beyond Burger and Impossible burger have introduced plant based burgers to the public that look and taste like real meat. These products are available nationwide in your local grocery store for a homemade veggie burger along with other products such as “sausage” and “ground beef”. For a quicker option, Burger King is one of the only fast food chains to offer a veggie burger, with its option for the Impossible Whopper.

Photo Credit: https://www.inspiredtaste.net/36554/veggie-burger-recipe/

As a low calorie substitute for chicken, try using cauliflower from time to time. By creating a batter using flour, spices, and milk (or non-dairy milk), you can dip your cauliflower florets into the batter, bake them in the oven, and then coat in a sauce of your choosing. This overall outcome creates a satisfying substitute for fast food chicken wings or popcorn chicken, but provides much less regret afterwards. With cauliflower being a low calorie vegetable high in fiber, antioxidants, and B-vitamins, you can enjoy a delicious chicken wing style appetizer that is still to impress your tastebuds. 

Photo Credit: https://www.inspiredtaste.net/38282/buffalo-cauliflower-recipe/
 Photo Credit: https://www.myrecipes.com/recipe/almond-coconut-vanilla-halo-top-milkshake

Looking past the fried food and burgers, fast food chains also offer a wide array of delicious desserts, typically milkshakes. Often times, fast food milkshakes include fillers such as cookies and candy which add to the taste, but also add to that brick in your stomach you’ll end up feeling later. Rather than a sugar filled milkshake from your nearby drive thru, visit your nearest grocery store and purchase a flavor of Halo Top.

Halo top is a low calorie ice cream brand that offers a wide array of flavors, with the best part being that every pint is under 400 calories. Recently, the company has even begun producing pints specific to vegan and keto diets as well. For a homemade healthy alternative, include Halo Top ice cream with a bit of milk (or non-dairy milk) for a low calorie yet creamy and delicious milkshake, exempt from all the added sugars. There are just 6 healthier alternatives to fast food! The possibilities are endless when you explore all the different choices that are made available to us that aren’t highly popularized. Let us know if you tried any of these recipe or if you have some favorites of your own!

Author: M. Robeson References: 1) https://www.webmd.com/food-recipes/benefits-sweet-potatoes#1 2)https://halotop.com/ 3) Photo Credit Nathan Cowley (https://www.pexels.com/photo/adult-cutting-daylight-facial-expression-1153369/) *We are not sponsored by any of the companies or websites that are mentioned in this article.