Is fast food your guilty pleasure? Let’s take out the “guilty” part! Your favorite drive-thru doesn’t have to break the bank (or your belt buckle). Cheap, healthy fast food options are out there if you know where to look.
“Healthy” food, according to the FDA, is generally low in sodium, low in saturated fat, low in calories, and high in the nutrients your body needs. While calorie count isn’t always the best indicator that a food is healthy, it can be a helpful benchmark. Next time you pull into your favorite drive-thru, look for one of these mouthwatering, healthy fast food items for less than $5.
- Taco Bell 7-Layer Burrito
Cost: Around $3.19
It’s America’s favorite Mexican restaurant! Taco Bell remains on the healthy side compared to many other fast-food chains, no matter what you get. The 7-layer burrito is a classic menu item that’ll fill you up without emptying your bank account. Plus, the beans offer a boost of protein (16 grams) and fiber (7 grams).
- Chick-fil-A Chicken Minis
Chick-fil-A’s famous chicken minis make a scrumptious morning snack. According to Chick-fil-A’s meal calculator, a 3-pack of these “nugget bites wrapped in sweet, pillowy rolls” contains 11 grams of fat and 15 grams of sugar. Not bad for chicken rolls! Add in a fruit cup for $2.05 and get some Vitamin C, too.
- Subway 6-Inch Turkey Sub on 9-Grain Wheat
Cost: Around $4.39
Stick with the turkey and 9-grain wheat sandwich for 18 grams of protein and 15% of your daily value of iron. Avoid loading up your sub with mayo, bacon, cheese, and other fattening options to steer clear of extra calories. Mix up your meat if you must, though poultry tends to be one of the healthiest options.
- Two McDonald’s Ranch Snack Wraps, Grilled
Cost: $1.69 each
Calories: 300 each
Sure, it’s a “snack” wrap. But order two for less than $5, and you’ve got yourself a meal. Two McDonald’s ranch snack wraps with grilled chicken contain 42 grams of protein and a good dose of your daily values of iron and calcium. Hold off on the cheese to reduce your saturated fat intake and combat calories!
- Small Wendy’s Chili
With winter on its way, we don’t blame you for wanting a nice hot bowl of chili. It turns out those beans are pretty good for you! A small chili from Wendy’s gives you 15 grams of protein, a healthy dose of fiber, and 15% of your daily value of iron. Plus, you could probably pay for it with the change floating around your car.
- Hardee’s ⅓ Low-Carb ThickBurger
Calories: Around 470
Although a burger is risky business when you’re trying to be healthy, this one from Hardee’s minimizes your calorie and carb intake as much as possible. Turns out buns significantly increase the amount of fat, sodium, and sugar in your burger. Hardee’s Low-Carb ⅓-pounder comes with a lettuce wrap for -300 calories!
- KFC Drumstick with Corn or Green Beans
Calories: Around 180
Picking a healthy option at a fast-food fried chicken restaurant can feel like walking through a minefield. Go with grilled chicken instead of fried chicken and you just might be able to pull it off. KFC’s grilled drumstick boasts a low-calorie count, low sodium, and low fat. Add corn and beans for a nice side of veggies.
- Dairy Queen Mini Banana Split Blizzard
Time for dessert! Who says you can’t get a healthy fast food dessert for under $5? The Dairy Queen Mini Banana Split Blizzard gives you a boost of healthy fruit without adding too much sugar to your diet (only about 39 grams).
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*Please note that prices and calorie counts may differ in your area. Some fast-food menus have regional differences in ingredients and prices can vary. Please consult your healthcare professional for nutritional guidance and before making any dietary changes.