10 Fast Foods Kids Love That Are Easy to Replicate at Home

Much to most parents’ dismay, kids still love fast food. Purchasing these quick meals on a regular basis can have a negative effect on both health and finances.  It is often difficult for parents when making their children happy seems to be in direct opposition with how to best care for them. If this is an issue in your family, there is a way to improve upon the fast food experience by replicating some favorite kids’ meals right in your own home. To bring the same sort of merriment to the experience that children receive by going out to these restaurants, consider adding a small toy from a dollar store, decorating lunch bags or other containers to hold the meals, and providing a tasty dessert.

  1. Chicken Nuggets – To make it just like the nuggets they love so much from their favorite drive-through, put your chicken breasts in a food processor and blend them into a paste.  Mix them with tasty spices like salt, pepper, onion powder, and oregano, then form the meat into balls. Dip them in flour, then egg, and then flour again.  Press to flatten the balls into nuggets and fry.  For a healthier alternative you can choose to bake them instead. Don’t forget the dipping sauces!
  2. Cheese Burgers – Kids’ burgers at fast food restaurants are often much smaller than the ones adults make at home. Be sure to make their patties thinner than you normally would to get the texture and size that they’re used to from a fast food window. Top with mustard, ketchup, and two pickle slices. For a healthier alternative, use ground turkey or chicken instead of beef.
  3. French Fries – Ever wonder why your fries don’t taste like the ones you get from fast food restaurants?  Try soaking your shoe stringed potatoes in a mixture of sugar, water, and corn syrup in the fridge for about thirty minutes before deep frying in shortening. Gross, huh? For a healthier alternative, simply season your shoestrings and bake them in the oven.
  4. Tacos – Tacos from a fast food Mexican restaurant are fairly easy to replicate.  Just cook your ground beef in a frying pan, then add taco seasoning and water.  Place on a hard or soft shell and top with lettuce, tomato, taco sauce, sour cream, and cheese. If you want to make it healthier, use ground chicken or turkey.
  5. Milkshakes – To make these creamy, delicious beverages mix up your child’s favorite ice cream with milk, add 2 teaspoons each of vanilla extract and sugar, and blend.  Top with whipped cream and a cherry. For a healthier option, omit the sugar, of course. For less fat, use skim milk and frozen yogurt.
  6. Fried Chicken – Kids love fried chicken, especially drumsticks.  If they are not as crazy about yours as the ones they get when out and about, try marinating the chicken in meat tenderizer and seasoning salt from anywhere from 4 hours to three days.  Bread in a mixture of flour and your favorite spices. After breading all the chicken pieces dip them in milk and bread them again. Finally, fry them in a deep fryer or bake if you prefer for your family to steer clear of fried foods.
  7. Crispy Chicken Sandwich – Start with half of a chicken breast pounded flat.  Season with salt, pepper, and paprika. Dip in egg and then dredge in a mixture of flour, dry milk, and dry mustard. Fry it up and place it on a hamburger bun. If you are looking for a more nutritious alternative, bake the chicken. Kids often love recipe cut up and served in a whole wheat tortilla with honey mustard and lots of veggies.
  8. French Toast Sticks – Fast food is not limited to dinner and lunch anymore. Children also enjoy it for breakfast, and French toast sticks are a favorite. Texas toast works best, for this but any bread will do. Cut the slices into thirds before dipping them into a mixture of eggs, milk sugar, and vanilla extract. They can be fried or baked. Put some syrup in a small container for dipping or skip the syrup and the sugar to keep the calories low.
  9. Pizza – Kids love to make pizza at home, so be sure to get them involved in this one. You can make your own dough or purchase a pre-made crust. There are many varieties available with different flavors and textures. Spread some tomato sauce seasoned with basil and oregano over the crust, and then sprinkle with cheese and any other toppings the kids have a taste for. This is a great way to work in some vegetables.
  10. Sub Sandwiches – Subs have entered into the fast food genre as a healthy alternative to burgers and fries. This is another time where children can enjoy creating their own meal at home. Create a spread of meats, cheeses, and toppings for them to choose from.  These can include lettuce, tomato, onions, pickles, peppers, olive oil, balsamic vinegar, mustard and more. Offer them the option to also create a side salad from the ingredients with their choice of dressing. As an alternative they can forgo the bread and wrap up their concoctions in a whole wheat tortilla.

With the right presentation, kids can learn to love eating at home just as much as in fast food establishments. Moreover, it affords the family the opportunity to bond, save money, and try healthier variations of standalone favorites.

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