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Happy Meal

by Meghann on November 3, 2010

Growing up I ate A LOT of McDonalds Happy Meals.


Between ballet class, soccer, night classes, and having four kids, it was the easiest option for my parents at the time. It was quick, cheap, and the four of us would practically beg for it. Fortunately the older we got, the better cook my Dad became, and the less and less McDonalds we saw. But there was once a time would I would beg for chicken mcnuggets, small fry, and fun prize inside. πŸ™‚

I haven’t had a happy meal – or mcnugget – in years, but tonight’s meal took me back to those childhood memories of the red smiley face boxes and fighting over prizes with my siblings.


Let’s see you have the French Fries (or yuca fries in my case)


Chicken Nuggets (of the meatless gardien variety)


And the prize (a jalapeno corn muffin)


Ok, so it’s not exactly the same, but it still brings me back. πŸ™‚


For dessert a little Pumpkin Ice Cream in a Cake Cone.


This afternoon I had my last Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls.


I will be making these again soon. Very Soon.

What was your favorite fast food place growing up? If we are talking about places close to home, I would say Burger King, but places that were a special treat and I only got when we drove 30 minutes to the nearest mall I would say Chick Fil A all the way! πŸ˜‰

1 Evan Thomas November 3, 2010 at 9:38 pm

I used to LOVE meatball subs from D’Angelos. Yummmm.

2 Katie @ Healthy Heddleston November 3, 2010 at 9:38 pm

Honestly, the only times we had fast food was when my grammy pulled us out of school for a doctors appointment. She would ask us if we missed lunch and we’d always say yes.. I liked Wendy’s the best and if I ever eat fast food these days it’s only every wendy’s.
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3 Alyssa November 3, 2010 at 9:39 pm

Hmm, when I was really young I liked McDonalds because of the toys (Teeny Beanie Babies!). I also liked Taco Bell. When I got older (late teens), I started going to places like Panera and Brueggers Bagels, which isn’t exactly fast food πŸ™‚

4 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 7:03 am

Yes!!! I still have all of the special Tean Beanie Baby Bears boxed up in my childhood closet still in their original packaging!

5 Alyssa November 3, 2010 at 9:40 pm

But the McFlurries where definitely also a favorite πŸ˜‰

6 Laura @ Backstage Pass November 3, 2010 at 9:40 pm

My favorite was definitely McDonalds πŸ™‚ Only, my sister and I were very picky eaters, so every time we went my mother had to order “two cheeseburger Happy Meals… uhhh, no meat on the cheeseburgers…”
Too funny!
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7 Kelly November 3, 2010 at 9:42 pm

I still love McDonald’s chicken nuggets, they’re just so good, and with the honey mustard sauce!
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8 Lily's Health Pad November 3, 2010 at 9:43 pm

Oh McDonald’s…remember the Barbie figurines?? I wanted to go all the time when they were the prize!

9 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 7:05 am

I was one of those girls who hated being stereotyped as a girl (probably because of my twin brother) so I always wanted the race car!

10 Amanda (Eating Up) November 3, 2010 at 9:44 pm

Does Panera count as fast food? Because I loved that place. And it actually started in my hometown! It’s still called St. Louis Bread Co. there!
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11 RunningOnCoffee November 3, 2010 at 10:09 pm

I love Panera! It didn’t make it up to the northeast until I was in college though.
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12 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 7:05 am

I didn’t know of Panera until my teens. I’m not sure if I would classify it as your typical fast food though πŸ˜‰

13 Stephanie @cookinfanatic November 3, 2010 at 9:46 pm

I ate so much McDonalds when I was little it’s not even funny. Ugh. My Dad’s favorite story to tell EVERYONE is of me recognizing the tall McDonald’s signs from my carseat and crying for it… yea, seriously, who does that? Your healthier version looks much much better for sure!
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14 Brynn November 3, 2010 at 9:46 pm

Taco Time all the way! We rarely ate fast food but my cousin had her birthday dinner at Taco Time every year and I loved it. I usually ate the taco salad but I remember going through a bean burrito phase.

15 Cristina November 3, 2010 at 9:48 pm

I used to LOVE McDonalds. Happy Meals were the bomb! I would always get offended because they would ask if we wanted a “boy toy” or “girl toy”. I always wanted the racecars, not the Barbies! :p
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16 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 7:06 am

Me too!! I think it’s because I had a twin brother and he got the race car so I wanted one too

17 Laura November 3, 2010 at 9:48 pm

When the Happy Meal prizes were mini Beanie Babies – I was all over those! I haven’t had it in a long time, but my favorite fast food place in the last several years was definitely Chick-fil-a. I wouldn’t be a true Atlantan if I said any other place. The waffle fries, the Ice Dreams, the “my pleasure” whenever I thanked a cashier…. I loved it so much.

18 Olivia November 3, 2010 at 9:48 pm

That looks like a tiny meal! Shouldn’t a happy meal for an athlete be a bit larger?

19 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 7:09 am

Photos can be deceiving. That’s half a yuca and yuca can be very filling.

20 Olivia November 4, 2010 at 8:45 am

It may be filling but its still relatively low in calories. The meatless nuggets are also very low calorie.

21 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 9:11 am

Not every meal has to be high in calories. Yes, this meal was low in calories, but I had a calorie dense breakfast and lunch and my calorie total for the day still came to around 2500 calories.

22 Charlie November 3, 2010 at 9:50 pm

Mine was definitely McDonalds! I don’t think I even went at an other fast food growing up! And the only thing I ate were McNuggets!
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23 grocery goddess jen November 3, 2010 at 9:51 pm

My family didn’t get fast food that much, and for some reason I HATED McDonalds, other than the Egg Nog shakes at Christmas. However, I loved it when we went to Pizza Hut so I could have stuffed crust pizza!
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24 Stefanie November 3, 2010 at 9:57 pm

I would have to say Taco Bell! I loved their cinnamon twists with their kids meal. That or Burger King’s crown-shaped nuggets! Brings me back. πŸ˜‰
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25 susan November 3, 2010 at 9:58 pm

what’s a cake cone? sounds yummy!

26 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 7:12 am
27 Dorry November 3, 2010 at 10:07 pm

I ate my fair share of Happy Meals, too! I’d get the hamburger, my sister would get the nuggets and we’d share. πŸ™‚
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28 Kim November 3, 2010 at 10:08 pm

Mmm for me it was Kentucky Fried Chicken… Their chips, YUM! We used to only get it on our birthdays, so was a big treat!
Those pumkin cinnamon rolls look delish!!!

29 Jess@atasteofconfidence November 3, 2010 at 10:11 pm

I liked McDonald’s growing up the best I think- I loved their fries!! Although Wendy’s frosties were good, too.
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30 RunningOnCoffee November 3, 2010 at 10:11 pm

Your ice cream cone looks good! My favorite is the sugar cone though!

Can’t say it was my favorite, but we had a Burger King closer to our house growing up, so that was the fast food of choice on the occasions we had it. I do remember the tiny beanie babies in the McDonalds meals though! I remember trying to get the new ones as soon as they came out one summer.
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31 Beth (kitchenminions) November 3, 2010 at 10:14 pm

We used to get happy meals every tuesday before we went to the open air concert at the levitt center. The best part were the muppet babies toys that summer. We tried to collect them all!
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32 Hope November 3, 2010 at 10:15 pm

We were only allowed McDonalds on very special occasions, but boy was it a treat! Now, I couldn’t think of anything worse!
I have been drooling over your pumkin cinnamon rolls for days now, I really need to make them!
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33 Jenny November 3, 2010 at 10:37 pm

My youngest sister always wanted Popeyes while I wanted Burger King. Being older and cooler I usually got my way πŸ˜‰ Funny enough, neither of us can stand fast food places now! (We don’t count Chipotle as fast food…)
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34 kate November 3, 2010 at 10:50 pm

no more happy meals in san francisco! did you read that news story today?

35 MegaNerd November 4, 2010 at 8:27 am

I think they still can have happy meals… but they have to package the toy with the healthier food they are selling and not the fries and nuggets.
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36 Samantha Angela @ Bikini Birthday November 4, 2010 at 9:19 am

Yup, that’s true.
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37 sara November 3, 2010 at 11:14 pm

ugh i ate wayy too much mcyD’s too…i hope to give my kids more of what you’re showcasing this evening πŸ™‚ living in nyc i think my kids will never touch a mcdonalds…! here’s to hoping….
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38 Rachel November 3, 2010 at 11:16 pm
39 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 7:15 am

Yes! Someone had tweeted it after I posted. Kind of funny, if I had known about it before hand i would have referenced it in the post.

40 Elisabeth November 3, 2010 at 11:32 pm

Not to be offensive, but that really doesn’t look like very much food… Sorry.

41 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 7:14 am

I know it doesn’t. πŸ™‚ I’m just saying the idea of ‘fries’ and chicken nuggets reminded me of having a Happy Meal for dinner πŸ™‚

42 Maria @ Oh Healthy Day November 3, 2010 at 11:40 pm

Chick Fil-a was always a special treat, as was Wendy’s (Frostys!). I used to think that it would be so hard to give up, but I really haven’t looked back. Except for the occasional In and Out Burger. πŸ™‚

43 emily November 3, 2010 at 11:47 pm

This sounds super lame so I feel the need to preface my answer with the fact that I’m from an island and thus my childhood experiences were a little different, but –

the burbon chicken place at the mall! I don’t even know the name but there seems to be some variety of burbon chicken stand in pretty much every food court in America. I was obsessed with it; my number one request when we visited the states!
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44 emlod10 November 3, 2010 at 11:56 pm

Whataburger! or Sonic, gosh their grilled cheese and tatertots were delicious..tough one.

45 Nicole November 4, 2010 at 12:07 am

My favorite fast food as a kid was Dairy Queen! The food was terrible, but a blizzard was the best light at the end of the tunnel.

46 Amy K. @ Onehealthypeanut November 4, 2010 at 12:19 am

My first word was actually McDonalds! Big part of my childhood too I guess πŸ˜‰ thankfully I have moved on!

47 julia November 4, 2010 at 12:32 am

growing up my mom would never ever take us to fast food, so I dont have too many fast food memories, but since we grew up in Japan, we did eat a heck of a lot of cup ramen (cup noodles, but Japanese version, which is WAY yummier) ahhhhh good old days

48 J November 4, 2010 at 12:43 am

I HATE McDonalds now and hated it as a youngster……..but I love(d)d….um, Taco Bell, Burger King, Pizza Hut, and…yeah…

oh and can someone please, please, please give it up for Long John Silver’s? Chicken planks! So golden and delcicious! They had great fries, too.

And fazoli’s breadsticks? wow. I think I’d have diarrhea for a week if I ate that crap now, Long John’s in particular, but it still has a place in my heart.

49 Marissa November 4, 2010 at 5:00 am

You meal looks sooo dinky!

50 Britney November 4, 2010 at 5:27 am

I also ate tons of McDonald’s growing up, and Mickey D’s was my favorite fast food restaurant. As a special treat, though, we always got KFC when we went to hear the Symphony for July 4th. And we rarely went to Long John Silver’s, and I loved covering my fish with vinegar.
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51 Kelley November 4, 2010 at 5:52 am
52 Lauren November 4, 2010 at 6:41 am

My mom used to pick me up from nursery school every Tues and Thurs and would take me to Wendy’s for the Super Bar. 2 times a week, it was what I lived for! πŸ™‚
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53 Matt November 4, 2010 at 6:43 am

I used to LOVE Burger King. Believe it or not Subway was one of my favorites too. I did get the footlong double everything though πŸ˜‰
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54 Emily Eats and Exercises November 4, 2010 at 6:49 am

I certainly had/have many eating vices, but fast food was never one of them. To be honest I don’t remember ever going to fast food growing up and there is something that really grosses me out about it. Your pumpkin desserts on the other hand look fabulous!

55 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 7:17 am

Fast Food was just one of those things my parents did to make it work. Luckily it wasn’t a habit that stuck and in middle school and high school my Dad started cooking at home a lot more and we stopped relying on fast food. Hopefully my kids will grow up never having fast food either, but I respect my parents for feeding us what they could and when they could. They were only 20 when my brother and I were born!

56 Emily Eats and Exercises November 4, 2010 at 7:33 am

I definitely did not mean to imply judgement! It sounds like your parents did an amazing job – and you seemed to turn out okay. πŸ˜‰
I had more than my own fair share of unhealthy habits, it was just that fast food wasn’t one of them…
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57 Michele @ Healthy Cultivations November 4, 2010 at 7:52 am

While growing up, going to Red Lobster on special occasions was a HUGE deal. A little KFC was comforting too… they have mac and cheese that’s way too good.

58 Heather November 4, 2010 at 8:05 am

tiniest dinner and dessert ever!!!! Oh Meghann, I really hope you are seeing a nutritionist because you just don’t seem to be eating healthy.

59 Hope November 4, 2010 at 8:05 am

I remember when my mom was pregnant with my little sister, after her doctor’s appointments we would always go to McDonald’s. It was my favorite. I also liked going to Chick-fil-A. I still go there occasionally. Their chicken nuggets are too good to pass up! πŸ™‚
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60 Lee November 4, 2010 at 8:07 am

I liked McDonalds because of the toy.

61 Jillian @ Reshape Your Life November 4, 2010 at 8:18 am

I used to get a happy meal (with an orange drink) every Thursday after my horseback riding lesson (until I got my license… yes that means I was 16 getting a happy meal, don’t judge)… It would be too late for my mom to cook anything and I would be HUNGRY. Coincidentally, the same lady worked every Thursday and she had the WORST smokers voice (think Ma on Ma’s Roadhouse!) and she worked the drive thru!! My mom and I would laugh everytime then fight to keep a straight face when we had to pay.
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62 Corey @ the Runner's Cookie November 4, 2010 at 8:28 am

Growing up I ate a lot of Happy Meals also – now, I avoid Mcy D’s if at all possible. But when I lived in Georgia I lovvvved the chicken sandwiches at Chick-fil-A (which you could get on a wheat bun with a side of fruit) πŸ™‚

63 Mel November 4, 2010 at 8:33 am

Hey Meghann,
Did your dinner really fill you up? I am a volume eater and would have to have a salad with that dinner or something else, b/c it just looks so small.

64 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 9:06 am

The yucca is very filling. It’s similar to pairing the chicken nuggets with a baked potato. And photos can be deceiving, this is half a yucca on my plate. πŸ™‚

65 Mel November 4, 2010 at 9:28 am

Thanks for responding. I know looks can be decieving and everyone is diffferent. I’m more of a volume girl, but most of my friends arent!! Take care

66 Kerri November 4, 2010 at 8:57 am

Based on the size of your dinner and makeup of it (not just low volume but low calories) your nutrionest MUST be evaluating your meals differently than your readers would. Could you provide us with their insite?


67 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 9:09 am

Kerri, this is just ONE meal out of my entire day. I had a high volume and calorie dense breakfast and lunch. Yes, this meal was low in calories, but it was one meal out of my entire day.

68 Kerri November 4, 2010 at 9:24 am

woah – I really wasnt trying to be snide. I am really interested to know what your RD says about your meals. I know that for me, my RD has me eat a LOT more fat than you seem to get in in an entire day’s worth of meals.

69 Meghann November 4, 2010 at 9:31 am

I’m so sorry! I guess I was on edge from the other comments. Please forgive me. πŸ™‚

I’m trying to get more fats in too, but it’s a challenge sometimes. But the yucca fries for instance were coated with olive oil before baking to add an extra bit of fat to them and the ice cream has a good amount of fat as well. My problem is right now I don’t naturally navigate towards things with fat in them, so I’m slowly learning. Adding olive oil and nuts to meals seems to be helping though. I’m still a carbaholic though – it’s such a hard habit to break! πŸ™‚

70 Clare @ Fitting It All In November 4, 2010 at 9:03 am

I was totally a McDonalds girl… but never chicken nuggets, always a cheesebuger!

And I made PARSNIP fries a la Caitlin last night…they were AWESOME!
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71 Heather @ Get Healthy With Heather November 4, 2010 at 9:11 am

I never really ate much fast food growing up but I guess McDonalds probably for the happy meal and play area.

I love how you re-created your childhood favorite in a much healthier way.
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72 Heather November 4, 2010 at 9:13 am

Hey, Meghann! (this is my first comment on your blog – I’m finally delurking! Ha)
My parents didn’t let us get Happy Meals very often, but when they did I always wanted McD’s!!
And that pumpkin ice cream looks fantastic. Yum!

73 Amanda Davis November 4, 2010 at 9:13 am

McDonalds was always a special treat for me as well, although now that I know what’s in the food I find it a little scary that I used to eat it.
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74 sonia November 4, 2010 at 9:22 am

speaking of happy meals, di dyou know that SF has banned those toys in the kids meal-to get kids to eat health?

heres an article if your interested

75 Lacey @ Lake Life November 4, 2010 at 10:19 am

As a kid Happy Meals were my favorite. But in my tween years I loved Arby’s!
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76 Elizabeth November 4, 2010 at 10:24 am

I loved McDonalds! My sister and I would beg for happy meals especially when they had the TY beanie babies inside as toys.

77 Caroline November 4, 2010 at 10:37 am

I used to love Wendy’s! I’d get a small chili and a frosty. Oh I was so sad when my lactose intolerance started to show up and I couldn’t eat the frosty anymore. Actually, I’m still sad about that.

78 Beth @ DiningAndDishing November 4, 2010 at 10:43 am

Funny you mention this on the day SF announces their ban on happy meal toys in unhealthy meals! I’m with them all the way. If healthy options are paired with toys, I think the reward will make children more likely to opt for them…
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