60 Moms Discuss How to Find Healthier Fast Food Options for Your Kids

You already know: finding healthy fast food options is hard.

Busy parent on-the-go with hangry kids in the backseat? Are they pointing in the general direction of, er, less-than-healthy options as you drive by?

Now, are violent wails emanating from your backseat consisting of sounds resembling “French Fries!” and “Orange Fried Blobs!”

Maybe not that last one. And maybe your kids aren’t nightmares when they’re hungry. Count yourself lucky.

The struggle is real.

That’s why we asked 60 Moms, each Experts in their own right, to help build the ultimate resource for finding healthier fast food choices for your family.

We asked this ‘simple’ question:

You’re a busy mom with an eye on healthy eating. For reasons beyond your control, your kitchen is “out of order,” and you HAVE to eat out at a Fast Food Restaurant with your Kiddos. Give 2-3 of your preferred healthier Fast Food Meal Choices (or Ideas) you would order for your kids, and tell us briefly why you chose these options?

We wanted to know what quick options a parent could immediately turn to in a pinch.

The result: 60+ awesome bloggers contributed. Some restaurants and meal choices clearly rose to the top, while others didn’t garner massive vote tallies – but still ring in as interesting options for moms, dads & otherwise healthy-eaters across the nation.

First, the results from a birds-eye view:

Top Fast Food Restaurants With Healthy Food Options

  1. Chick Fil A – 25 votes
  2. Subway – 18 votes
  3. Chipotle – 14 votes
  4. Panera Bread – 9 votes
  5. McDonalds – 9 votes
  6. Noodles & Co – 5 votes
  7. Zoe’s Kitchen – 4 votes
  8. In-N-Out – 3 votes
  9. Costa Vida – 2 votes
  10. Baja Fresh, Blaze Pizza, Burger King, Cafe Zupas, Cracker Barrel, Del Taco, IHOP, Jason’s Deli, Jersey Mike’s, Milo’s, Moe’s, On The Border, PDQ, Publix Deli, Salad Works, Sonic, Taco Bell, Taco Cabana, Wendy’s, Whole Foods – 1 vote each

Many of this project’s contributors also chimed in with specific meal ideas, as well as general cuisines they tend to seek out.

The results:

Top Potential Healthier Meal Options & Cuisines

  1. Subs/Sandwiches/Wraps (Ideally With Fresh Veggies) – 26 votes
  2. Fruit Cups/Mixed Fruit/Apple Slices – 25 votes
  3. Grilled Chicken – 15 votes
  4. Salads – 15 votes
  5. Grilled Chicken Nuggets (Chick Fil A) – 8 votes
  6. Chicken Nuggets (McDonalds) – 7 votes
  7. Hamburger (With A Lettuce Bun) – 6 votes
  8. Yogurt – 5 votes
  9. Burritos – 3 votes
  10. Make Your Own Pizza Places – 3 votes
  11. Mexican Restaurants – 3 votes
  12. Rice Bowls – 3 votes
  13. Italian Restaurants – 2 votes
  14. Kale (Superfood) – 2 votes
  15. Mediterranean Restaurants – 2 votes
  16. Pizza & Salad Bars – 2 votes
  17. Acai Bowls – 1 vote
  18. Chicken Tacos – 1 vote
  19. Chipotle Kids Meals – 1 vote
  20. Chili (Wendy’s) – 1 vote
  21. Fresh Stir Fry – 1 vote
  22. Grilled Cheese – 1 vote
  23. Juice – 1 vote
  24. Peanut Butter & Jelly Sandwiches – 1 vote
  25. Pita Restaurants – 1 vote
  26. Plain Cheese Quesadillas – 1 vote
  27. Smoothies – 1 vote
  28. Soup – 1 vote
  29. Thai Restaurants – 1 vote
  30. Thin Crust Chicken Alfredo Pizza – 1 vote
  31. Zucchini Fries – 1 vote

Keep reading to discover each contributor’s exact thoughts, restaurant ideas & meal choices. Use the below link menu to find the specific expert you’re looking for. Or, scroll past, and buckle-in for the full slate!

Healthy Fast Food Restaurants & Meals

Responses reported in the order in which they were received.

Erin Lane – A Parenting Production

Erin Lane

Any Family Diets: No.

We’d first try a sub place so we could squeeze in some fresh vegetables on a semi-healthy sandwich. Then we’d go for a hamburger or grilled chicken somewhere.

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Sara LaFountain – Cook With 5 Kids

Sara LaFountain

Any Family Diets: We eat healthy foods and we are careful about what products we buy.

If we had to eat out of our home, we would look for a fresh salad bar (Whole Foods has a great one) and fresh fruits. If that was not available, we would try to find a pizza and salad bar.

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Bernadette Callahan – Aimless Moments

Bernadette Callahan

Any Family Diets: Usually more low-carb & low-sugar.

Chick fil A, Panera, or maybe Subway. They usually offer a little more than just a fast food meal feel. I like the food and atmosphere.

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Alisa Sleep – Madison Moms Blog

Alisa Sleep

Any Family Diets: We try to eat balanced – but no specific diets.

Jason’s Deli, Noodles & Co and Milio’s.

Jason’s Deli & Milio’s have a drive-thru — which is a God send when you have 3 young kids! I love their menu options (for myself, too) and appreciate that they are healthier choices, but still quick and still affordable.

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Adelina Priddis – Home Maid Simple

Adelina Priddis

Any Family Diets: No.

Chick Fil-a Nuggets – chicken is better then beef.

Thin Crust Chicken Alfredo Pizza – better-for-you pizza than the red sauce and cheese-smothered thick crusts.

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Brittany Clark – The Frugal Free Gal

Brittany Clark

Any Family Diets: No

Chick Fil A, Burger King, Sonic.

We usually order the chicken from Chick Fil A and BK instead of the burgers, and order water with our meals most of the time!

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Ashley Swift – Maryland Momma’s Rambles

Ashley Swift

Any Family Diets: No.

We would probably head to Panera Bread due to their “Clean” ingredients. I like that they are committed to removing artificial preservatives, sweeteners, etc. from their food by the end of the year (2016).

Other options would be either Noodles & Co or Chipotle, depending on what type of cuisine we were craving.

I like that Chipotle uses produce from local sources, and they state their meats are free of hormones and antibiotics.

Noodles & Co is the same in that they state their meats are free of hormones and antibiotics, and I love that I can get smaller portions of their bowls, and know the calorie count!

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Monica Young – My Life is a Journey

Monica Young

Any Family Diets: Just Organic food.

Chipotle because it is organic, Chick FillA because they use fresh ingredients, and Baja Fresh because they have fresh ingredients.

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Autumn Reo – Mama Challenge

Autumn Reo

Any Family Diets: Gluten-Free.

Chick Fil A, On the Border/Taco Cabana, or Zoe’s.

Ideas are grilled chicken, steamed veggies, make your own pizza places, and chicken tacos.

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Sarah Robinson – Sidetracked Sarah

Sarah Robinson

Any Family Diets: No.

My first choice would be to choose a foot long Subway Sub, because I can split it between a few kids and can get it loaded with vegetables.

My 2nd choice would probably be a hamburger and side salad. You can usually find both on dollar menus and since I have a large family, I tend to go where we can eat cheaply, but they can still get some veggies in.

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Cecile Pryor – The Shopping Duck

Cecile Pryor

Any Family Diets: No.

Costa Vida – Great options for salads with protein such as chicken, steak and beans.

Cafe Zupas – Healthy sandwiches and soups, perfect in the Fall and Winter

Noodles and Company – many different choices with something for everyone. Lots of dishes that not only include some type of noodle (which my kids love) but veggies as well.

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Jennifer Bullock – MommyB Knows Best

Jennifer Bullock

Any Family Diets: DaddyB is gluten-free by choice.

Zoe’s Kitchen is awesome and yummy and overall pretty quick.

PDQ’s food is super fresh and offers great selections like grilled chicken. They also recently added zucchini fries to their menu as a healthier alternative to french fries. For the kids we love their fresh green apple slices.

We also love Jersey Mikes, they offer sandwiches without all the grease of drive-thru fast food restaurants and for my gluten-free husband they have a sub in a tub option.

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Chelsea Klassen – Me and My Handful

Chelsea Klassen

Any Family Diets: Low Carb High Fat, and clean eating.

I am always in favor of going to Subway in this situation. My kids are not big into veggies, but take them to a sandwich shop and they load up on them!

If Subway is not an option, we choice a play with fresh stir fry. I always find giving my kiddos a choice in their foods leads to amazing healthy choices!

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Heather Flett – Rookie Moms

Heather Flett

Any Family Diets: We live in Berkeley, CA so we’re just general food snobs by accident.

Eating out in a pinch means serving the lowest common denominator.

I would look for a simple meal like plain cheese quesadillas and sneak in some apple slices and baby carrots in my purse. My older two will eat many different foods but my little one is picky as they come.

For places, we often choose IN N Out because their food is made fresh on site.

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Bryanna Royal – Crazy Family Adventure

Bryanna Royal

Any Family Diets: Mom and Dad are vegetarian but kids are not.

Our number 1 choice is Chipotle. Their kids meals are very reasonably priced, come with a drink, and are healthy – beans, cheese, tortilla, and rice plus organic milk or juice. Plus they have a lot of vegetarian options for us.

Our second choice would be Noodles. The kids love the mac and cheese and we can buy 2 large bowls and split it among the 4 of them, and there is plenty. We love that it is real food that is cooked right there when you order.

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Jennifer Schreiner – Inspiring Savings

Jennifer Schreiner

Any Family Diets: Our family typically eats foods that are healthy and wholesome. We try to stay far away from processed food. Although we do occupationally splurge on a frozen pizza.

We live in a great area were many fast food restaurants are now adding in healthy options for kids.

When having a CRAZY day and we must go out to eat. I like to give my kiddos options. It makes them feel part of the process, otherwise they will not like what they are having for dinner.

They get options like four to six piece chicken nuggets with their choice of sauce, apple slices, and 1% white milk from McDonald’s, or a kids sub turkey sub sandwich on whole wheat bread, with lettuce, tomato, black olives (my kids fav) with apples slice and 1% whole milk from Subway.

There are really a lot of healthy options out there, you just have to pay careful attention to the menu options available.

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Reana Claire – Caring Is Not Only Sharing

Reana Claire

Any Family Diets: Low carb.

Preference to grills than fries. Low carb, high protein for my growing kids.

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Lisa Cameron – Adventures in Familyhood

Lisa Cameron

Any Family Diets: I consider myself a flexitarian. I eat mostly vegetarian meals, but do on occasion eat chicken and turkey. My kids do not follow this diet.

In a perfect world, there would always be enough time to cook my family a home cooked meal every night. But, life happens. Between busy schedules and kids after school activities, there does come a time when we have to eat Fast Food.

While the Fast Food options are numerous, there are only a select few restaurants that are my go-to for such an occasion. My top choice is Panera Bread. Their kids menu offers a variety of options including grilled cheese and peanut butter and jelly sandwiches prepared on whole grain bread. I also love that their meals come with an apple and low-fat milk or organic apple juice. It’s their natural ingredients that keep me coming back to Panera Bread for a quick meal.

Another go-to restaurant is Subway. Their well rounded kids meals help kids maintain a balanced diet. Each meal comes with a sandwich, apple slices or yogurt, and low-fat milk, juice or water. Sandwich choices consist of lean meats and cheeses, and have the option of being served on whole wheat bread.

Pizza is always a good choice for a fast meal, but it’s not always healthy. Thankfully, our family has discovered Blaze Fast-fired Pizza. What I love about this restaurant is that you control the amount and type of ingredients you put on your pizza. The portions are individualized, but are also suitable for sharing. Blaze offers a variety of toppings, including veggies, lean meats and healthy cheeses, giving kids the opportunity to create their own pizza masterpieces.

As a busy mom, it’s good to know that there are Fast Food options out there that are not just the usual greasy burgers and fries. It is possible to eat out as a family and still be healthy.

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Jenny Melrose – The Melrose Family

Jenny Melrose

Any Family Diets: No.

Some sort of wrap or chicken nuggets with a fruit cup

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Scherrie Donaldson – Thirty Mommy

Scherrie Donaldson

Any Family Diets: No.

Subway Kids Meal (sandwich with tons of veggies, apple slices, milk box & sun chips). I would get this instead of something fried plus the little ones like seeing their sandwich being made and like to request additional types of vegetables on it.

Chipotle Kids’ meal because it features yummy food with fresh ingredients.

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Gillian Fein – LaLa Lunchbox

Gillian Fein

Any Family Diets: We have a nut-free and fish-free home because of my allergies, and my youngest is dairy-free but other than that, we eat everything.

We don’t eat fast food, but if the kitchen was out of order, we’d probably head to an Italian restaurant because it has something for everyone in my brood: veggies, meats, salads, pastas. Easy to navigate allergies.

Second option would probably be Mexican – tacos for the adults, rice and beans and usually a side of some veggie for the kids. Guacamole for everyone. Easy to navigate allergies.

Third would probably be Turkish or Lebanese. Harder to navigate with the allergies but we all love Mediterranean food.

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Kristin Quinn – Misadventures in Mommyhood

Kristin Quinn

Any Family Diets: Just a healthy balance.

Chipotle Kids Meal – Black Beans, Brown Rice, Cheese Quesadilla with Guac, Orange = includes all food groups and they actually eat it! Tons of protein

McDonalds Chicken Nugget Happy Meal – Chicken Nuggets now have no preservatives and are all natural. Includes apple slices and a yogurt instead of fries, and milk. My kids love it and feel full. I do wish there was a veggie option (sometimes I bring carrots!)

Panera – Grilled Cheese add avocado on whole wheat, yogurt, and a fruit.

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Lisa O’Driscoll – Fun Money Mom

Lisa O'Driscoll

Any Family Diets: No.

We love Chik-Fil-A most. The rest of my family just loves it because it tastes so good but I do feel like it’s a healthier than your other traditional fast food chains. I also like that they have great salads.

Subway is another favorite. My girls like to add veggies on their sandwiches, an option that you don’t get at most chains unless you order adult sized meals.

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Janessa Solem – Thrifty Nifty Mommy

Janessa Solem

Any Family Diets: No.

Eating out is a treat for our kids, so although we generally try to eat healthy, I’m more willing to overlook things when we go out to eat.

My kids all love chicken nuggets, so I try to stop at fast food restaurants with higher quality nuggets. I also love it when they offer other healthy sides, like apple slices, yogurt, and/or mixed fruit.

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Kathryn Lavallee – Mommy Kat and Kids

Kathryn Lavallee

Any Family Diets: No.

1) McDonald’s Grilled Chicken Snack Wraps – Less than 300 calories, 14 grams of protein and the boys love them.

2) 6″ Subway Sandwich – usually under 500 calories, lots of different choices and the buffet style of the layout encourages the boys to load up on the veggies!

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Scarlet Paolicchi – Family Focus Blog

Scarlet Paolicchi

Any Family Diets: Healthy Eating.

When I am traveling on the interstate on road trips my top fast food restaurant is Chik-fil-A. My kids get a kids chicken nugget meal with fresh fruit and lemonade.

I like that the nuggets are real chicken meat and not ground up formations. I like that I can get a salad or wrap for a healthy option too.

If we have more time to spend on our road trip, I stop at Cracker Barrel for fast, consistently good food.

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Angela Sackett – Dancing With My Father

Angela Sackett

Any Family Diets: We (several of us) try to eat 80/20 clean, leaning toward Paleo, eliminating gluten as possible.

I would head to Chipotle and we would order “bowls.” I would skip the rice, and we would load up on the veggies, especially lots of fresh salsa!

Or we would head to Chik Fil A and get a salad with fruit and grilled chicken (and probably splurge on an ice dream!). We always order water with lemon when we eat out, both for nutritional preference and because we can taste the food better!

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Cher Kachelmuss – Mom and More

Cher Kachelmuss

Any Family Diets: None.

Grilled Chicken Nuggets from Chick-fil-A – grilled is better for you.

McDonalds Chicken Nuggets because of all-white chicken and satisfies a taste for crispy chicken.

Subway sub with lots of veggies piled on.

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Amy Desrosiers – Savvy Saving Couple

Amy Desrosiers

Any Family Diets: No.

Our healthier fast food choices would be Chik-Fil nuggets and Fruit Side, McDonald’s Chicken Nuggets and Apples Slices + Yogurt, and Subway Kid’s meal.

We try to chose meals that incorporate healthier sides in them, or smaller portions.

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Debra Hawkins – Housewife Eclectic

Debra Hawkins

Any Family Diets: I eat Gluten Free and my family eats mostly Gluten Free.

Chick-Fil-A because they have Gluten Free options for me and fruit cup and milk options with their kids meals.

My kids also love Costa Vida for their rice and pico de gallo.

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Angie Lee – Seven Clown Circus

Angie Lee

Any Family Diets: We try to eat as healthy as possible using organic ingredients.

Fruit instead of fries, salad instead of fries, juice instead of soda

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Kelsey Bucci – Pardon My French

Kelsey Bucci

Any Family Diets: Whole30/Paleo.

If I had no choice but to get my kids fast food, there are a few places I would stop.

I would go for the grilled nuggets from Chic-Fil-A, the kids turkey sandwich and soup from Panera Bread, or a kids roll-up with hummus and pita from Zoe’s Kitchen.

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Jennifer Burg – The Suburban Mom

Jennifer Burg

Any Family Diets: No.

My family’s top choices for fast food in a pinch are: Chick-Fil-A and Subway.

At Chick-Fil-A my kids get the nuggets, but they choose apple sauce instead of fries and lemonade to drink.

At Subway my kids eat a turkey and cheese sandwich with apples and milk. And my kids are THRILLED when Chick-fil-A or Subway are on the menu.

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Lindsay Frank – See Mom Click

Lindsay Frank

Any Family Diets: No.

My first choice for ‘healthy’ fast food is Chick-fil-A. Their food seems fresher and less greasy than some of the alternatives.

Our second choice would be Subway. I’m not a huge fan of lunch meat but it’s definitely a step up from burgers and fries, plus my kids will add some veggies to their sandwiches.

My third choice would be Wendy’s chili. That’s the healthiest option on their menu that my kids would actually eat.

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Jessica Johannsmeier – Mommy’s Gone Crazy

Jessica Johannsmeier

Any Family Diets: No particular diet.

Most fast food offers healthy options such as apples or yogurt, so we usually get these as the sides with chicken nuggets to keep it somewhat healthy.

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Amanda West – Mommity

Amanda West

Any Family Diets: We just focus on balancing our meals and choosing healthy options.

Subway is our first choice for fast food. We can choose a sandwich full of protein and vegetables, along with apples for a side.

If Subway isn’t an option, something like chicken, apples and yogurt from McDonalds would work great.

I’m all about making healthy choices and understand that sometimes life happens. If my children can choose something like apples for a side, instead of french fries, I feel like that is a “win”.

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Kristy Denney –Boys Ahoy

Kristy Denney

Any Family Diets: My husband and I try to maintain a low carb/high protein diet but the boys just eat a more normal, balanced diet. We try to encourage lots of fruits and veggies, whole grains– but they still eat their share of goldfish and mac and cheese!

Sometimes we’ll go get Acai Bowls or Smoothies and call it a meal. Load up on the fruits, some granola, a nut butter. The boys love it! My husband and I get it with a scoop of protein so it’s more of a complete meal for us!

Chick-Fil-A- We like to consider it “better for you” fast food. Their chicken is amazing, salads are so good, and they’ll make any of their sandwiches protein style. Instead of fries order the fruit cup for the kiddos!

Subway- My kids will always eat a turkey sandwich. We put it on their whole wheat bread and opt for the baked chips!

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Kaley Poag – Rogue Poags

Kaley Poag

Any Family Diets: Nothing set – just try to be healthy.

Chick Fil A nuggets for kids with fruit cup, and salad for me.
Chipotle – they love to create their own bowls!
Subway – they have whole grain breads and again, the kids love to ‘make their own’.

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Bridgette Duplantis – Experimental Mommy

Bridgette Duplantis

Any Family Diets: No.

Our “go to” fast food meal is from Chick-Fil-A. My girls love the grilled chicken nuggets, applesauce and low-fat milk.

In fact, love buying this kids meal for myself and putting the grilled nuggets in a salad for an easy and delicious adult meal.

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Samantha Feuss – Have Sippy Will Travel

Samantha Feuss

Any Family Diets: No.

I don’t stress out about “once in a while” issues like this – life happens, and there are bigger fish to fry, as it were.

Some of the healthier options for a quick meal out for us include Chipotle, Moe’s, Noodles & Company, and Salad Works.

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Toni Patton – A Daily Dose of Toni

Toni Patton

Any Family Diets: No, just whatever I can get my kids to eat.

Grilled Chicken, Salad, or Burritos. I think because these choices aren’t fried they are a great option. With the salad and burrito you can load up on veggies.

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Michelle Marine – Simplify, Live, Love

Michelle Marine

Any Family Diets: No. We eat mostly real food and try to eat as local as possible.

We love Chipolte because they source quality ingredients and have great kids’ meals. If Chipolte is out, we would try to find a pita joint for a gyros or falafel, or we’ll head to Panera and grab a sandwich and salad.

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Val Curtis – BonBon Break

Val Curtis

Any Family Diets: Gluten Free.

Sandwiches, to skip the fried foods menu, or rice bowls because they are always a hit with my kids and we usually have enough to take some home for leftovers.

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Noelle Kelly – Opera Singer in the Kitchen

Noelle Kelly

Any Family Diets: No.

Chick Fil A, Chipotle, Panera. There are so many healthy options and protein!

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Jamie Heil – Toys In The Dryer

Jamie Heil

Any Family Diets: None.

Subway has fresh and relatively healthy options to choose from for sandwiches.

Grilled Chicken Sandwich from Chick-Fil-A is a healthy option if you omit the creamy sauce, put it on a whole wheat bun, and get a fruit cup with it.

Panera Bread also has some healthier options to choose from.

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Toni-Lynn Barber – Delightful Chaos

Toni-Lynn Barber

Any Family Diets: One of my sons follows Low-Carb.

Subway – A lot of healthy options.

McDonalds – Cheeseburger, Apples, White Milk. Best choice when they really want the treat.

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Gracie Frick – All Those Things I Love

Gracie Frick

Any Family Diets: We try to minimize cards and sugar.

Well, I hate to admit this scenario happens more often then I’d like to tell you!

We try to avoid the mega-chains with their dripping, monster fare and instead go for the more healthier options.

  • In ‘n’ Out Burger – single cheeseburger protein style, shared fries, + iced tea.
  • Panera – from the Pick 2 Menu – half salad and half sandwich + iced tea
  • Del Taco – Standard Tacos, Quesadillas, and Refried Beans + iced tea.

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Amy Askin – Beloved Atmosphere

Amy Askin

Any Family Diets: Vegetarian, Pescetarian, Clean, some Organic.

1. Pizza or Italian food – there are many healthy options near us

2. Greek food – we all love falafel, pitas, appetisers and Greek salads.

3. Thai food – there are a plethora of vegetarian options as well as healthy meal choices our kids and we love.

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Louise Bishop – MomStart

Louise Bishop

Any Family Diets: I’m doing Low-carb, kids eating regular.

I’m really lucky because my daughter more often than not will choose a salad even at a fast food place.

For my son, I always opt for fruit as the sides for whatever meal he picks.

I don’t usually let my kids drink soda, I prefer them to have milk.

If it was my choice, I would opt for them to eat grilled chicken when we go out, but realistically I just focus on the side options so they feel in control of their food choices.

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Wendy Wright – Plugged In Family

Wendy Wright

Any Family Diets: We are reading labels, reducing sugars, and incorporating non-GMO food.

Chick-fil-A

Consistent service and proven food choices where fresh fruit made in each store nourishes my children with the kid’s meal.

Also included is an option for milk or juice, since we do not drink soda. I like to eat the new kale superfood and love the ingredient list provided at each register for those who have food allergies.

I am on their Chick-fil-A Mom’s panel but was a fan long before I was a member of the panel.

In-N-Out Burger

With the ability to remove the hamburger bun and wrap the burger in lettuce, this is also a favorite of ours. This gives a nice shot of protein and reduces the sugar content in the meal.

If you have ever dealt with a hangry child who needs to eat but just cannot make up their mind, then you will appreciate the simplified menu.

My recommendations are limited to the above two for healthy eating at a fast food restaurant since we have eliminated almost all fast food in our diet when we made a major overhaul in our eating habits.

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Ashley Hewell – The Frugal Ginger

Ashley Hewell

Any Family Diets: No

I usually would go to a place that offers grilled options instead of only fried. My daughter usually likes grilled chicken nuggets, she doesn’t really eat cheeseburgers. Instead of fries, we always get the fruit option and milk instead of soda or juice.

I like these options because they are just so much healthier then fried greasy food. I love the fact that these options have been available since she was a baby so she doesn’t really miss the fried food. She actually prefers the healthier option and doesn’t ask for the fried nuggets or french fries.

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Wendy O’Neal – Around My Family Table

Wendy O'Neal

Any Family Diets: Mostly gluten and dairy-free.

We like to grab quick meals at Chipotle since they are very open with their ingredients and willing to make sure everything is clean for us.

We also like to stop by convenience stores for a quick meal. We can get packs of nuts, fresh fruit, drinks, and more. The key is to pick one of the newer, bigger convenience stores that has a large selection of items.

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Heather McMechan – Local Mom Scoop

Heather McMechan

Any Family Diets: No.

Chick Fil A because I can substitute a fruit cup or kale salad for french fries.

Publix Deli – I can pick up a Rotisserie chicken along with fresh salads and sides.

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Holly Duce – Mommies With Cents

Holly Duce

Any Family Diets: No.

With three kids it’s hard to find something healthy that they all like. We aren’t super strict about “junk food” because our kids are very active in sports, but we do aim to eat reasonably healthy.

Our top choice for fast food is Taco Bell bean and cheese burritos because all three kids will eat them and they are a good source of protein.

Second choice is McDonalds because they offer healthier side alternatives like yogurt and fruit.

If I could get my kids to LIKE sandwiches, a sub shop would be my first choice.

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Stacey Garska Rodriguez – The Soccer Mom Blog

Stacey Garska Rodriguez

Any Family Diets: Lactose-free, gluten-free.

When we eat out, we look for high-protein options and add in a side of fruit or veggies.

We try to teach our girls that you don’t have to eat perfect all the time – if you focus on eating foods with nutritional value, your body can balance out the occasional treat.

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Holly Homer – Kids Activities Blog

Holly Homer

Any Family Diets: No.

Chipotle – the build your own tacos are awesome.

Chick Fil A – almost anything.

IHOP is a favorite because kids eat free on weeknights

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Amy Roskelley – Super Healthy Kids

Amy Roskelley

Any Family Diets: Plant based.

Choice #1 is grilled chicken tenders! These are a great source of protein, and as long as they don’t say “nuggets”, I feel pretty confident that the majority of what’s inside is actually chicken!

Choice #2 A Veggie wrap! Many fast food restaurants now have wraps, which is great if you fill them with veggies, and depending on the sauce that comes inside, maybe leave that out too and grab a mustard packet!

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Janel Hutton – NellieBellie

Janel Hutton

Any Family Diets: No. We just eat the rainbow in reasonable amounts.

We prefer to eat out at places like Chipotle or Panera so there are a bit more veggie-full options.

But, on the days when the true old-school fast-food is what’s on the menu we let the kids have burgers and fries. But, no large portions, no refills, and no double cheese/meat happenings.

It’s okay to have those items sometimes, but not often, and we want our kids to be conscious that a large reason fast food places are so dangerous is because of their out of control portion sizes.

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Kristin Lesney – Our Ordinary Life

Kristin Lesney

Any Family Diets: I am a vegetarian, and my husband likes to use fresh fruits and vegetables for meals.

We like Mexican Food and have a few great Fast Mexican Food pptions.

Our kids like rice and simple tacos which are filling and not cooked in fats. Kids also like Flame Grilled Chicken and I like how it’s lower in fat and white meat.

We are also fans of sandwich shops and like that it’s a great way to load up on veggies.

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Sarah Roberts – Frankly Entertaining

Sarah Roberts

Any Family Diets: We try to eat mostly homemade.

  1. Nuggets with fruit: I like this because it’s easy for little fingers to eat, and it’s a treat that my kids don’t usually get at home.
  2. Breakfast for dinner: love that Mcdonalds is serving all day breakfast. The egg mcmuffin isn’t a bad choice, and it’s fun to switch up meal times.
  3. Chicken burrito: This isn’t that healthy, but it’s easy to eat, and you can get a lot of food groups into a burrito if you work at it!

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PHEW!

A huge shout-out to everyone involved with this huge post. Your contributions will help busy moms & dads in the days, months, and years to come.

Once again, here’s that list of the top recommended healthier fast food restaurant options (as voted by our 60+ contributors):

Top Fast Food Restaurants With Healthy Food Options

  1. Chick Fil A – 25 votes
  2. Subway – 18 votes
  3. Chipotle – 14 votes
  4. Panera Bread – 9 votes
  5. McDonalds – 9 votes
  6. Noodles & Co – 5 votes
  7. Zoe’s Kitchen – 4 votes
  8. In-N-Out – 3 votes
  9. Costa Vida – 2 votes
  10. Baja Fresh, Blaze Pizza, Burger King, Cafe Zupas, Cracker Barrel, Del Taco, IHOP, Jason’s Deli, Jersey Mike’s, Milo’s, Moe’s, On The Border, PDQ, Publix Deli, Salad Works, Sonic, Taco Bell, Taco Cabana, Wendy’s, Whole Foods – 1 vote each

Please share if you believe this post would be useful to the busy parents you know. 🙂

Also, what fast food restaurants offering healthy food and meal options would you recommend? Continue the discussion in the comments section below!

4 comments

  1. Bryanna 24 September, 2016 at 02:30 Reply

    So many great recommendations for families looking to eat healthy while on the go! Thanks for putting together a great list with lots of great suggestions and ideas!

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