I remember one very hungry afternoon, after dragging our three disinterested, energetic kids through a downtown museum, guiltily suggesting to my linen napkin mother-in-law, that, “Maybe we could just drive through somewhere…” I was surprised when her response was, “Sometimes you just want to get the meal over with.” Yep.
As it turns out, 20% of all American meals are eaten in the car. One fourth of the population eats fast food every day. I suspect that the reason for this is that thinking about, planning for, and preparing meals is time consuming. It takes attention. If you are like me, you long for someone else to pick up some of the slack. And it isn’t even that it’s so hard, it’s that it’s so redundant. Add to that the ever shifting recommendations about how we “should” and “should not” eat, – and any escape seems preferable.
If we all had endless hours and dollars, dieticians with a clear understanding of which foods were best and in what amounts, and cooks that knew how to prepare them well, the considered meal would not be so difficult. But the truth is we all only have so much time and attention. We need to dole that out carefully.
One way to simplify driving through is to think color, green especially. Almost all fast food establishments now offer salad, or “wrap” options, or grilled versions of what were once only available as deep fried choices. Apples slices in pre-packed kids meals can be requested separately, and “special orders” can help move a carbohydrate and fat laden meal into something lighter in calories and higher in nutrition. Milk or water instead of soda are other healthier options for “on the go” eating.