Fast food may be cheap, but it almost always comes at a hefty dietary price.
On those days when it just doesn't seem like there's time to cook, it's easy to turn to take-out. But these options usually are a recipe for lots of calories and fat. And you'll still probably need to spend $15 or $20 to feed a family of four.
Before you pick up the phone or pull up to the drive-thru, check out some better options.
Supermarkets are filled with pre-washed, precut and precooked products that, though a bit more expensive than some unprepared foods, can be the basis for healthy alternatives that are still reasonably priced.
Pre-washed mixed greens, a shredded rotisserie chicken (discard the fatty skin) and bottled low-fat dressing can be thrown together in minutes to make a light but satisfying dinner salad. Add a crusty whole-grain baguette to complete the meal.
Combine slivered deli turkey with Chinese hoisin sauce, rice vinegar, pre-shredded carrots, sprouts and scallions. Roll the entire mixture up in a whole-wheat tortilla to make an Asian-style wrap in about 5 minutes.
Keep canned beans, tuna and salmon on hand to provide healthy proteins for building quick meals. Also, stock up on lots of condiments and vinegars to add vibrant flavors to foods without adding fat.
This Mediterranean-style salmon, red potato and green bean salad takes advantage of healthy and convenient canned salmon, as well as precooked, diced red-skinned potatoes, which can be found with other precut vegetables in the produce section of your market.
If you like, serve the salad on top of a pile of mesclun greens or baby lettuces. Add a crusty whole-grain roll or some breadsticks to complete the meal.
How to make it
Start to finish: 10 minutes
3 tablespoons red wine vinegar
3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
9-ounce package frozen Italian green beans
1 pound pre-cooked diced red potatoes
1 medium red bell pepper, cored and cut into thin strips
1/4 cup coarsely chopped pitted black olives
6-ounce can salmon, squeezed dry and coarsely flaked
In a small bowl, whisk together the vinegar, olive oil, mustard, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Using a microwave, thaw but don't cook the green beans. Alternatively, the beans can be thawed under cold running water. Squeeze gently to remove excess moisture.
In a large bowl, combine the green beans, potatoes, bell pepper, olives and salmon. Add the dressing and toss gently to combine. Serve immediately, or cover and refrigerate until serving time.
Nutrition information per serving (values are rounded to the nearest whole number): 298 calories; 150 calories from fat; 17 grams fat (2 g saturated; 0 g trans fats); 27 milligrams cholesterol; 25 g carbohydrate; 11 g protein; 4 g fiber; 632 mg sodium.