Eat Here, Not There: Alternatives to Fast Food on a Family Vacation

These days we're all trying to live a healthier lifestyle, both at home and away. Fast food chains are quick, relatively cheap, and everywhere, so it's so easy to fall into a fast-food rut when you're away on vacation. But with just a little planning, you can track down healthier, just-as-inexpensive options that are sure to please kids, even picky eaters, as much as their parents. When your family is on the go, put these options on your go-to list.

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Grocery Store Delis

Iowa Grocery Industry Association

Most grocery stores have delis where you can find healthy, freshly prepared fare—salads, sandwiches and even sushi—that won't cost any more than what you'd pay for a meal out at a major burger or pizza chain. Before you leave, pick up some healthy packaged snacks for the car. If there's a park nearby, you've got the makings for a picnic.

02 of 05

Food Trucks

Kent Phillips/Walt Disney Parks

No longer the bastion of greasy city street fare, food trucks are now firmly established in the healthy food universe. Cities from DC to LA now boast gourmet food trucks that offer tasty, trendy and healthy offerings. You'll even find healthy food trucks at Disney World. Kids tend to love 'em because they're fast and fun for meals on the go. Use the TruxMap app to find food trucks in the city you're visiting.

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Farmers Markets

Pike Place Market, Seattle

Farmers markets in cities and even small towns are an easy way to hop on the 'eat local' movement. With a selection that goes way beyond produce, markets offer wonderful purveyors of local cheeses, cooked meats and breads as well as prepared sandwiches, pasta dishes, salads and desserts.

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Suzanne Rowan Kelleher

With their expansive all-day menus, diners make it easy for even your pickiest eater to find something that looks appetizing. They're also wonderful for people watching and soaking up the local vibe. While diners may seem like a no-brainer for breakfast, don't rule them out as an inexpensive option for other meals, too.

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Healthier Fast Food Choices


Not all fast food is created equal. Some major fast food chains, such as Subway and Panera, have healthier menus than other chains in terms of nutrition and calories. And within every chain's menu there is a spectrum of unhealthy to healthier fast food choices. Even if you end up at the world's largest fast food chain, know that it's possible to choose a McDonald's meal for under 500 calories.

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