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How to break the fast food habit -- how did you do it?

post #1 of 46
Thread Starter 
This is in finances because it is not about nutrition (although it probably should be)...

I spend too much money on drive-thru food. Every month.

Pizza, McDonald's, take-out.

I know I should plan ahead and cook at home, but I'm having ~~~such~~~ a hard time breaking this habit.

Have you grappled with this?

What did you do? How did you change your habits and get out of this rut???
post #2 of 46
The biggest thing that helps me avoid convenience food is spending an hour during the weekend prepping.

I always have cooked rice or pasta and combinations of protein the fridge. It's harder to justify when there's something you could have ready in 10 minutes at home for free!!! I have rice, WW pasta, browned venison, cooked and cubed chicken breast and a casserole my fridge right now. Last night I whipped up stirfry in 10 minutes with the venison. Tonight I think we're having chicken salad or spaghetti.

Yesterday I was super hungry on the way home and ALMOST stopped for a snack. But I thought about my fridge full of cooked food and talked myself out of it.
post #3 of 46
preparation. if you are out and about, make sure to have a lunch that can be brought with you ahead of time so you won't waste the food by buying drive-thru. if it's for a busy night during the week, preparation ahead of time iwth the weekend cooking and freezing can help. but it's just a matter of willpower after that point. maybe don't carry cash? maybe just keep your cards in the trunk so you can't physically access them to hit up the drive-thru?
post #4 of 46
Set a limit for fast food - like once a month.

Buy convenience dinners at Trader Joe's for those lazy or busy nights. They have great frozen family dinners.

Always have a few granola bars and water in the car. I always bring snack-packs for the kids.... whatever we have on hand. Usually a home-made trail mix with Cereal, crackers, craisins, sesame sticks, pretzels, etc. Cheese slices too. (You might make up a few baggies on the weekend so you can grab them easily during the week.)

Make a list of dinners for each week. If you know what to cook, it is less tempting to go out. Making the decision of what to cook for dinner is often the hardest part! I don't say X on Monday, Y on Tuesday. I just post a list on the fridge of the 5 or so dinners for which we have all ingredients.

Buy 99 cent refrigerated dough from TJ's. Adding a little sauce and cheese is an easy pizza. They even have whole wheat!

Good luck mama!
post #5 of 46
Mostly because we live in a town with 1 fast food place and it's nasty. We do eat McDonald's probably once a month when we're in a bigger town though.

I meal plan. If I'm prepared, it's much easier to just go ahead and cook it. We can eat hamburgers and fries at home, all made from scratch with stuff we've grown ourselves, for much cheaper and it's much better too. Same with pizza, chicken nuggets, whatever.

I agree about the weekend prep too. I do alot of cooking on the weekends to make my work week easier. And my meals during the week are all fairly simple and quick.
post #6 of 46
While I agree about the planning, I think it depends on what the root cause of the junk food fest is.

If it's because you all are stressed and it's your reward, then you need to find a new reward your family can agree on - taking half the money and putting it towards toys or a vacation fund; going out for walks and bike rides or to local festivals as fun/reward; having a family movie night or picnic or "t.v. dinner night" (dinner in front of the tv) instead; ice cream from the freezer.

If it's because of the speed/convenience then meal planning is the way to go. If you have a BBQ, use it - it's fast and easy to throw something on the grill. Develop a menu of easy stuff. Do prep ahead. Or throw some of the money at convenience products like prewashed/chopped veggies. Do not get sucked into the idea that the choice is:

Fast food vs. lovingly prepared all-locally-source-organic-5-course-dinners.

Soup, even from a can (although pick your can) and grilled cheese on whole-grain bread is still going to be better for you than the meals you mentioned. Or make-your-own sandwiches. DO NOT GET PERFECTIONISTIC. Every time you stay away from the fast food, it's a victory. The rest will come.

If it's the taste then you have a few options.

First you can ease your family down by using some of the (gross but remember you are on a PATH, not PERFECT) stuff in the store designed to taste like fast food.

For pizza, for example, you can go from Pizza Hut to a premium frozen pizza to a deli-in-store made pizza to store-made pizza crust/dough to your own, over a year. For burgers and fries you can go from frozen patties and a whack of condiments and frozen french fries gradually to turkey burgers and roast potatoes. Take your time.

I agree about stocking the car with some snacks too.

GL!
post #7 of 46
I work in a very small town and my lunch choices are leftovers from home, Subway, and school lunch (insert vomity guy) so it makes it pretty easy.

Honestly, just not eating fast food very often and buying grassfeed beef has for me made me lose my taste for it. The beef in that stuff taste bland and weird to me.

I think having some sort of snack in the car helps. DH and DS2 both really like sardines. So DH keeps a can of sardines and some crackers in the car. If he grabs a water bottle and a couple pieces of fruit then he a lunch. If they end up home before they are hungry they just bring the fruit back in the house. Anyway it wouldn't be everyones cup of tea, but for about $1 you can get wild caught sardines in olive oil, .25 worth of cheap saltines, and buck for an organic apple or two, and have a way better lunch for less than the drive through.
post #8 of 46
NAK, so this will be short, but we have started using e-mealz (http://e-mealz.com/index.shtml). Yes, you will be eating some processed food, but this is way better and cheaper than fast food. We are doing this now, I hate meal planning so this solves it. Use it, or something like it, just temporarily to break the habit.
post #9 of 46
Honestly, we're pretty good. Probably because the town I grew up in didn't get a McDonald's until after I went off to college. But I do have my moments. Seriously, though, watch Food, Inc. and it might give you the nudge you need to put these practices into place that the other posters are mentioning.
post #10 of 46
Are you doing it while out and about, or on the way home for dinner?

When frozen pizzas go on sale I stock up. We don't eat them very often, but when I really don't feel like cooking that is what I go to. I also make my own pizza from scratch, but sometimes even that is too much effort.
post #11 of 46
All joking aside. I got some kind of post on myspace a few years back from a co worker about the "biobic Burger" at Mcy D's. That pretty much sealed the deal for me.
post #12 of 46
Years ago, I practically lived on fast food alone. I could afford it and I was single. I actually didn't know much better/different. I grew up with some home-cooked meals, but fast food was common and considered "good". My dad still considers fast food good and he is the picture of health. (Credit his high metabolism and genetic health, I guess, but neither were passed down to me.)

The shift for me was gradual in some ways, such as educating myself on better food choices, etc. In other ways, it was much faster. The two things I recall most clearly: 1) During the 'fat is evil' phase, I imagined French fries (McDonald's specifically because I really loved those) as sticks of lard and I really couldn't stand to eat them anymore. Once I stopped eating fast food for awhile, fast food fries simply don't taste good to me anymore. I do, however, like some restaurant fries, but mostly only enjoy roasted potatoes nowadays. And 2) I imagined fast food workers spitting in my food. I don't recall why or how this came about, but it pretty much stopped me from swinging through the drive-through for years.

For awhile, I changed my driving routes to avoid fast food "alleys". I can easily get in and out of our community without ever passing fast food and it is actually the most direct straight shot. There is another route, too, that avoids fast food that leads another direction.

Last May, we had a major flood and fast food crept into my diet here and there simply because I was super busy dealing with all the contractors and insurance folks, etc. Drive-through breakfast had actually become a bit common at Jack-in-the-Box (closest to us and we didn't have use of our kitchen and I didn't have time to eat elsewhere between obligations). I vomited from their breakfast one day and haven't had any fast food since. I still feel queasy any time I think about *any* fast food. It didn't taste particularly good, anyway, but that really nailed it. Convenience just wasn't worth it.

Slowing down your life may be the ticket.
post #13 of 46
Reading Fast Food Nation and watching Food Inc. has completely turned me off of nearly all fast food. I will occasionaly pick up a sub from Subway and we do eat frozen pizzas at home but I go hungry before I eat any meat product from a chain restaurant, fast food or not.
post #14 of 46
The Omnivores Dilemma did it for me. I will go hungry before I eat fast food. The kids are easier -- we have a number of food intolerances that make fast food undigestible by a couple of our younger set. For them, I travel with allergen free granola bars.

Crunchy*VT*Mom -- I feel like I have gotten to know you a bit after hanging around these forums for the past few years and I would venture to guess that the food itself is not the issue. You have talked openly about having a difficult time with impulse purchases and imo fast food would fall into that category. It is quick, easy, and gives a rush of endorphins to the brain. But you know that the good feeling is not long lived. It is no different from overbuying cute diapers or nice yoga clothes. Nice while it lasts, but gone too quickly.

I don't want to overstep, but I do think that this is a much deeper issue with finding peace in life without needing the crutch of pleasure-inducing shopping/eating to be happy.

Sending love and peace.
post #15 of 46
If you can get into the habit of never eating out, I promise you will not want to. The other day we did not get out of baseball practice until 8:30 p.m. so I went through an Arby's drive through. It cost me $25, ten minutes in the drive through and the whole time I was eating I thought, I could make this so much better at home!
post #16 of 46
How to break the fast food habit -- how did you do it?

Watch:
Fast Food Nation
Food Inc

Read the books that go along with these movies. Also- Omnivore's Dilimama
post #17 of 46
Also, that is my answer, but we never have been in the fast food habit. Meal plan, cook ahead, visit my feed the freezer thread in meal planning I started in 2006.

Make going for this a treat. That way doing it once a month or every 6 weeks or so it is. I bet if you started eating whole fresh foods at home, your kids will be much happier.

We had a meeting the other day and I said there would be No McD's at all until maybe Sept. My older dd agreed, dd2 (age 4) was not happy. We then talked about alternatives such as eating at our favorite brick oven pizza place, DQ, and buying treats at the pool this summer. All cost about the same as going to McD's and much better. Both agreed.
post #18 of 46
Instead of drive thru I head to the deli section of my grocery store and get an already cooked rotisserie chicken, a pasta salad and some fresh french bread. Not the greatest meal but far from fast food quality. I've seen all the movies and reads all the books, but finding a viable alternative that I don't have to cook made all the difference.
post #19 of 46
Quote:
Originally Posted by GuildJenn View Post
While I agree about the planning, I think it depends on what the root cause of the junk food fest is.

If it's because you all are stressed and it's your reward, then you need to find a new reward your family can agree on - taking half the money and putting it towards toys or a vacation fund; going out for walks and bike rides or to local festivals as fun/reward; having a family movie night or picnic or "t.v. dinner night" (dinner in front of the tv) instead; ice cream from the freezer.

If it's because of the speed/convenience then meal planning is the way to go. If you have a BBQ, use it - it's fast and easy to throw something on the grill. Develop a menu of easy stuff. Do prep ahead. Or throw some of the money at convenience products like prewashed/chopped veggies. Do not get sucked into the idea that the choice is:

Fast food vs. lovingly prepared all-locally-source-organic-5-course-dinners.

Soup, even from a can (although pick your can) and grilled cheese on whole-grain bread is still going to be better for you than the meals you mentioned. Or make-your-own sandwiches. DO NOT GET PERFECTIONISTIC. Every time you stay away from the fast food, it's a victory. The rest will come.

If it's the taste then you have a few options.

First you can ease your family down by using some of the (gross but remember you are on a PATH, not PERFECT) stuff in the store designed to taste like fast food.

For pizza, for example, you can go from Pizza Hut to a premium frozen pizza to a deli-in-store made pizza to store-made pizza crust/dough to your own, over a year. For burgers and fries you can go from frozen patties and a whack of condiments and frozen french fries gradually to turkey burgers and roast potatoes. Take your time.

I agree about stocking the car with some snacks too.

GL!
Thank you for this post!

OP I have the same problem but more with just going out to eat anywhere, usually this fairly inexpensive buffet that is just as bad as fast food.

Guildjenn, you really hit the nail on the head for me and also my family! It's the reward feeling, it really is!
The food I make at home tastes better (usually, lol) and I feel better after eating it, sometimes after eating out I do not feel very good!
I never looked at it this way until I read your post and now I know what direction to go.
post #20 of 46
Fast Food Nation and Food, Inc, for sure.

We rarely eat fast food anymore. We raise alot of our own, for reasons laid out in both the movies mentioned. I do, however, use Schwans for those nights that I cannot find any reason to care if supper is made, lol. I just try to be picky about what I buy from them. Their frozen sugar snap peas, some wild caught salmon fillets, and some fire roasted veggies make a really good and quick meal.
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