It seems every day our lives are getting more and more busy. We’re constantly running from one place to another for work or with the kids. It’s often tempting to stop at the nearest fast food place instead of waiting to get home and cook. They’re fast, inexpensive, have tons of selection, and there seems to be one on every corner. However, next time you’re tempted to stop and pick up something fast, think about how much better home-cooked meals are for your family.

Fast food chains, along with other restaurant chains, make their name by providing the same food (or close to it) at all their restaurants. You know that no matter where you are or what restaurant you go to, you’ll be able to find your favorite dish. By doing this, they keep repeat customers and you get what you want to eat.

The problem with these chains is the steps they take to provide the same product at every store. They do it by mass producing food at factories that are likely very far away from where you’re eating. To keep your food fresh and make it all look and taste the same, they fill it with preservatives, coloring, and flavoring. They then freeze it, sometimes for long periods of time.

The people who make fast food have designed it to be just that – fast. It’s also designed to taste good enough to hook you and keep you coming back. Needless to say, when these chains focus on speed and taste, the customer’s health gets pushed to the side. Fast food is usually low in fiber and high in fat, calories, sugar, and salt.

While recent lawsuits have caused fast food chains to provide more healthy options, they are generally more expensive and still not very healthy. For example, while a salad may seem like a great choice, many salads at chain restaurants use cheese, bacon, high-fat dressing, croutons, and other unhealthy ingredients.

Remember that just because you make something at home doesn’t mean it’s not “fast food”. While pre-prepared boxed or bagged meals are pretty easy, many of them have the same problems as fast food restaurants. They can contain just as many preservatives, and can be just as high in fat and calories, and just as low in nutrition.

If you’re looking for something to quickly pull out of the freezer and heat up, why not cook with the kids on the weekend and freeze pre-cooked meals for later in the week? You can also put together pre-made lunches and snacks for when that fast food urge hits. If do use pre-packed food, try to use it in moderation and always read labels (ingredients lists too, not just fat and calories) to make sure you’re making the healthiest choices.

While faster food may be convenient, taking time to make healthy home-made meals is well worth the effort.