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How to Make Fast Food Work For You.

Updated: Feb 20

Love to eat but hate cooking?

So, you love the food you eat but would rather have it faster than take

hours to prepare. We all know the horrors of food prep if you are an extremely busy person with a packed schedule and over the years, we

have seen even supermarkets try to fill the void by packaging ingredients that are already cut, sliced and seasoned but sometimes

even this isn’t good enough and you opt for what else? Fast food!

What exactly is fast food?

Typically, fast food is served at a restaurant or food vendor where you are expected to select, order and pay first before receiving your order that is prepared quickly from frozen, pre-heated or pre-cooked ingredients. The main feature of fast food is the fast service! You can sit to eat quickly, have it delivered, or use a take-away service.

Where did fast food originate?

Surprise! Surprise! Fast food did not originate in the United States of America!

The term ‘fast food’ first appeared in the Mirriam-Webster Dictionary in 1951 but had roots in Ancient Rome where street

food vendors sold prepared foods to persons living in apartments without kitchens.

In the Middle Ages, you could buy pies, pastries, meats, flans, waffles and pancakes. They catered to poor people, travelers and those who simply could not cook. Those who lived closer to the coastline were treated to seafood and shellfish. It eventually evolved into popinae – simple restaurants where you could buy bread soaked in wine and cooked vegetables.

By the 1800s, the British developed and loved their fish and chips! While in Germany, they invented the ‘automats’ – vending machine restaurants which then made its way to the USA before the first fast food chain opened in 1921 – White Castle, serving cheap burgers in large quantities.

What are the main features of a fast-food restaurant?

1. Fast food restaurants offer a drive-thru service.

2. Open at late hours or even 24 hours.

3. Rely heavily on marketing.

4. The menus offer deals and dollar menus.

5. You can sometimes get a meal and a playground all in one.

6. It’s global – franchises baby!

7. Its main clientele is the family.

Don’t get fast food restaurants mixed up with fast casual restaurants!

Fast casual restaurants are the older siblings to fast food restaurants and have a little more class and

maturity with the focus on the following:

1. They want you to dine in and offer Wifi with good seating options.

2. They serve alcohol.

3. They focus on the working crowd.

4. They offer healthier options.

5. They allow you to see your food being prepared.

6. You can possibly take a date to a fast casual restaurant.

Types of food served at a fast-food restaurant or street vendors:


2. Hot Dogs

3. Pizza

4. Fries

5. Tacos

6. Burritos

7. Gyros

8. Roti

9. Doubles

10. Pholourie

11. Saheena

12. Aloo Pies

13. Fried Pies

14. Pastries

15. Bake and Shark

16. Fried Chicken

17. Sandwiches

18. Mac N Cheese

19. Desserts: Ice cream, Frozen Yogurt, Cake, Donuts

Nutritional Value of Fast Food

So now that you have an idea of what fast food is and where you can find them, let’s see if you know

how much nutrition you are actually getting from some of these foods!

  • Number One Street Food in Trinidad? The breakfast of champions?

One DOUBLES contains

345 calories

11.8 grams of fat

997.9 mg of sodium

51 grams of carbs

two grams of fiber

9.6 grams of protein

Doubles has no cholesterol


  • What about one average 227g ALOO PIE?

Calories 434

Fat 11g

Sodium 0.7g

Carbs 74g

Fiber 5.1g

Protein 9.5g

  • Take a look at one of the US favorites – burgers! For those who love those BURGER KING DOUBLE WHOPPERS WITH CHEESE you are consuming the following:

Calories 1061

Fat 68g and Saturated fat 28g

Sodium 1544mg

Carbs 54g

Fiber 64g

Cholesterol 188mg

  • What about a two-piece original chicken meal from KFC?

Calories 730

Protein 45.1g

Carbs 45.3g

Fat 39.2g

  • One of the most convenient lunches we give our children is the Hot Dog! The Nutritional value for the hot dog and bun without condiments is as follows:

Calories 314

Fat 18.6g

Sodium 810mg

Carbohydrates 24.3g

Fiber 0.8g,

Sugars 4g

Protein 11.4g

I am sure you are probably regretting the many times you have eaten any of these fast-food items but

let us consider one more thing. How to make fast food work for you instead of against you!

How to make fast food work for you instead of against you

So now that we know we choose fast food for convenience and price, there may be some ways to make it work for your benefit. The good thing is fast food restaurants now offer the nutritional value of their items to educate the consumer so they can make better choices.

1. Try to choose meals below 500 calories, lower in fat and higher in protein and fiber.

2. To consume less than 1500mg of sodium in a day, eat low sodium foods prior to consuming a

fast-food meal which is high in sodium.

3. One idea is to skip the combos and miss the sides like fries and biscuits with gravy and instead

choose salads.

4. You can also choose grilled meats instead of deep-fried foods.

5. To control portion sizes, why not order from the kid’s menu? Many food chains are now catering

a healthier version of food for kids, and this can be an option for you too.

How salad can be a fast food of choice

While most fast-food restaurants offer less than healthy salads that contain high sodium ingredients

such as bacon and fried croutons with full fat dressings or sour cream, you can still make salads a fast

food of your choosing by high fiber items such as bean, chickpeas and fresh vegetables. If you want

meat, choose grilled meat instead of fried meat. Decline cheeses and noodles or taco shells. Add vinegar and/or lemon juice instead of salad dressings. Colour, colour and more colour! The more colourful you make your salad, the more nutritious it is.

Not everyone has the convenience to cook daily meals or even prep for the week so be smart when choosing fast food!

L. Prescott



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