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Build a Better Fast-Food Meal

Medically reviewed by: Kathryn Russel, MS, RDN

Many people like to go out for or bring home fast food. It is quick and easy, but it can be hard to make healthy choices.

If your family enjoys fast food, you can grab a bite in a smart way:

  • Try not to have fast food more than 1–2 times per week.
  • Aim for portions that are the same size you’d serve at home — not supersized.
  • If you can, check nutrition facts online to find foods with less salt, sugar, and fat.

To make a better fast-food meal, here’s how to choose each item:


Tip: Include a lean protein.

Choose one:

  • a salad with sliced chicken or hardboiled egg with dressing on the side
  • a grilled chicken wrap
  • a single hamburger
  • a sandwich or small hoagie or sub with lean deli meat or tuna


Tip: Pick the small size.

Choose one:

  • a side salad
  • small French fries
  • a single-serving bag of chips
  • a granola bar


Tip: Go for no or few calories.

Choose one:

  • low-fat or nonfat milk
  • water
  • iced tea (unsweetened)
  • diet soda (if kids are over 2 years old)


Tip: Limit foods with added sugar.

Choose one:

  • best choice: apple slices or applesauce
  • save for a special treat: small cookie, small milkshake, or a scoop of ice cream
Medically reviewed by: Kathryn Russel, MS, RDN
Date reviewed: July 2023