5 Healthy Fast Food Meals for Under $5
Many people consider fast food to be a guilty pleasure, while some only resort to drive-thru menus when they’re in a hurry. Whatever the reason, most of us visit these establishments at least every once in a while. According to data published by the Centers for Disease Control, “during 2007–2010, adults consumed, on average, 11.3% of their total daily calories from fast food.” Those between the ages of 20 and 39 tend to consume the highest portion of their calories in the form of fast food; men also tend to eat more fast food than women.
One of the major criticisms that fast food menus receive is that they don’t offer the healthiest choices. Burgers, milkshakes, fries, and other battered and fried foods cover these menus, making it truly difficult to find anything decent yet affordable to eat at these restaurants when you’re on the go. And with around one in five people saying they eat fast food at least several times a week, finding fast food meals that are healthy and budget-friendly is essential.
We’ve created a list of health-conscious meal options you can buy at your favorite fast food joints for under the $5 price point. Read on to check out these meal options.
1. Taco Bell 7-layer burrito
Cost: around $2.50
Taco Bell’s 7-layer burrito is a classic menu item that will fill you up for only a few bucks, without breaking your calorie bank (or your actual bank). It’s loaded with 16 grams of protein and 7 grams of fiber.
This burrito has 430 calories, 16 grams of fat, 6 grams of saturated fat, and 150 calories from fat. To reduce some of the saturated fat, you can hold the cheese blend.
2. McDonald’s side salad, grilled chicken snack wrap with no cheese and no dressing, and a fruit n’ yogurt parfait
Cost: around $4 ($1 for salad, $1 for parfait, and $1.99 for wrap)
A fruit n’ yogurt parfait is going to cost you around a buck, and in terms of nutrition, it’ll cost you 150 calories and 2 grams of fat. The parfait also contains 4 grams of protein, and over 10% of your daily values of both Vitamin C and calcium.
Most people already know that a salad is healthy for them, as long as you don’t load it up with a ton of dressing, but what about the grilled chicken snack wrap? The honey mustard wrap (with the cheese and dressing) contains 260 calories, 80 calories from fat, and 9 grams of fat. It has 3.5 grams of saturated fat, which you can reduce a bit by holding the cheese. Although it’ll cost you a few calories, the wrap does contain 16 grams of protein and 10% of your daily values of both calcium and iron.
In total, this wrap/yogurt/salad meal contains only 430 calories, which isn’t too bad for a drive-thru meal under $5.
3. Chick-Fil-A chicken minis and small fruit cup
Cost: around $5 ($2.29 for a 3-piece chicken minis, and $2.05 for a small fruit cup)
A 3-pack of chicken minis may seem like it’d be a bad choice, but it’s really not that bad at all. According to the Chick-Fil-A meal calculator, the 3-pack of chicken minis contains the following:
- 280 calories
- 11 grams of fat
- 3 grams of saturated fat
- 0 grams of trans fat
- 40 milligrams of cholesterol
- 680 milligrams of sodium
- 30 grams of carbohydrates
- 1 gram of fiber
- 6 grams of sugar
- 15 grams of protein
Then, when you add in a fruit cup, the calories count increases to around 330, but you also receive additional fiber and Vitamin C.
4. Subway 6-inch sub on 9-grain wheat (ham, turkey, ham and turkey, or veggie delight)
Cost: $4.25 for a 6-inch turkey breast sub
For less than $5, Subway offers several healthy options. That is, if you refrain from loading your sub up with bacon, cheese, mayo, and other fattening options.
|6″ Black Forest Ham||6″ Turkey Breast||6″ Turkey Breast & Black Forest Ham||6″ Veggie Delite®|
|Serving Size (grams)||219||219||219||162|
|Cal. From Fat||40||30||35||20|
|Total Fat (grams)||4.5||3.5||4||2.5|
|Sat. Fat (grams)||1||1||1||0.5|
|Trans Fat (grams)*||0||0||0||0|
|Dietary Fiber (grams)||5||5||5||5|
|Vitamin A % Daily Value||8||8||8||8|
|Vitamin C % Daily Value||20||20||20||20|
|Calcium % Daily Value||30||30||30||30|
5. Wendy’s small chili and side salad
Cost: around $3.60 ($1.49 for garden salad, and $2.09 for small chili)
Last, but certainly not least, Wendy’s chili is a great choice for someone looking to eat healthy without breaking the bank. A small chili contains only 170 calories, 5 grams of fat, and 45 calories from fat. It also has 4 grams of fiber, 15 grams of protein, and 15% of your daily value of iron. Once you add in a side garden salad, which provides you with additional protein, iron, potassium, Vitamin A, and Vitamin C, without adding too many calories, this makes for an all-around healthy meal. Plus, you can probably find enough change in your car to buy it.
All pricing data courtesy of: Fast Food Menu Prices