Many of us hit up fast food joints to satisfy our cravings, not to mention enjoy a full meal without having to spend the big bucks. But let’s face it: fast food restaurants aren’t exactly known for their healthy menu options.
Or are they?
These days, popular fast food restaurants are increasingly adding cheap healthy fast food options to their menu list, all while still helping to keep more money in your pocket.
So, what types of cheap and healthy fast food can you order at your favorite pit stops to fit in with your frugal lifestyle? Read on!
When you think of fast food, McDonald’s probably comes to mind first. And while you can definitely gorge on plenty of their menu items, there are still a few that are not too bad in the healthy department and easy on the wallet. Here are just a few you might want to consider.
1) Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait – $1With only 160 calories, 2g of fat, and a decent 4g of protein, the Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait is just as delicious as it is healthy. And you can’t beat the price for only $1!
2) Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap – $1.49
The snack wrap menu is a fabulous one for those who don’t want to overload their digestive system with far too many calories while keeping fat and sodium levels as low as possible. The Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken Snack Wrap is made with 100% chicken breast, has 260 calories, 18g of protein, and about one-third of your daily allowance of sodium.
3) Ranch Chicken Snack Wrap with Crispy Chicken – $1.49
If you prefer crispy chicken instead of grilled, the Ranch Chicken Snack Wrap with Crispy Chicken is still rather light on calories at 290 calories each. It’s also rather low in sodium and fat at 590mg and 13g, respectively. And you’ve got your pick of either Creamy Ranch or Chipotle BBQ flavors.
4) Egg McMuffin – $2.79
A classic breakfast menu item, there’s a reason why the Egg McMuffin is still a very popular choice among the health conscious. It’s only 300 calories, has a whole egg to give it 18g of protein, and is fairly low in carbs at 30g.
Another staple in the fast food realm is Burger King, which is well known for its infamous “Whopper” burger. But instead of downing 630 calories and a whopping 37g of fat with this menu option, there are some healthy cheap fast food items on the menu at BK for you to choose from, all of which are still extremely affordable.
1) Veggie Burger – $3.29If you don’t mind forgoing the beef patty for a vegetarian version, then you might enjoy the BK Veggie Burger both for its ingredients and its price. If you skip the mayo, this burger comes in at a relatively low 310 calories, 7g of fat, and 990mg of sodium. It’s also pretty high in protein at 22g, despite being absent of any animal protein.
2) Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken – $5.59
Just because you’re at a fast food joint doesn’t mean you can’t get your fill of veggies, and the Caesar Salad with Grilled Chicken is a tasty and relatively cheap healthy fast food. If you use about 1/3 of the salad dressing packet, you can drastically reduce the number of calories and the amount of fat and sodium in your dish. Coming in at less than 500 calories, it’s not super low in calories, but it’s probably a lot less than you would ingest with a traditional burger.
Taco Bell has drastically expanded its menu options over the years to include a lot more than just tacos and burritos. The fast-food franchise now even offers a handful of healthier options for those who are conscious about what they eat and how much they spend. Here are a few decent options on the menu.
1) Fresco-Style Chicken Soft Taco – $1.19Anything on Taco Bell’s “Fresco-Style” menu is considered a healthier option. Just about any item on the menu can be made “Fresco style”, which basically means all the high-calorie and high-fat sauces, cheeses, and guacamole can be replaced with freshly-prepared pico de gallo instead. By swapping these ingredients with healthier options, you can effectively slash the fat by as much as 25%.
This particular soft taco contains 140 calories, 3.5g of fat, and 470 mg of sodium, so the numbers are pretty good. A regular soft taco has 220 calories, 12g of fat, and 530mg. You could realistically have two or three of them and still come in far below in calories than the average fast food menu item.
2) Fresco Style Chicken Burrito Supreme – $1.19
Again, by switching the traditional sauces on any menu item, you can create a much healthier, lower-calorie dish, and the Chicken Burrito Supreme is no exception. This menu item is 340 calories and has 19g of protein, 8g of fat, and 49g of carbs.
There’s a lot more than just chicken drumsticks and sandwiches to enjoy at Chick-fil-A. The fast-food giant now has more items added to the list, including a few that can be considered somewhat healthy.
1) Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap – $5.19
The Grilled Chicken Cool Wrap is low in calories at 350, has 14g of fat, 960mg of sodium, and 37g of protein.
2) Superfood Salad – $3.89
Salads are pretty expensive these days, but not the Superfood Salad from Chick-fil-A. This dish is loaded with all the good stuff you’d expect from a healthy salad, including kale, broccolini, dried cherries, and nuts. And it’s super low in calories at 150 and has only 9g of fat and 18g of carbs.
Wendy’s is starting to add healthier options to its menu as well, including the following…
2) Grilled Chicken Wrap — $3.79Wraps offer a great way to pack a healthy punch with their stuffings without overindulging on high-calorie buns. This particular menu item is super low in calories at 270, and only has 11g of fat and 620mg of sodium. But here’s the catch – you’ll need to forgo the ranch dressing, or else you’ll be almost double the calories and fat. Yes, dressing can be that rich!
Subway is becoming the go-to place for relatively healthy menu options.
1) 6-inch Turkey Breast Sub – $4.25There are plenty of items on the menu that can be conducive to a healthy lifestyle, and the 6-inch Turkey Breast Sub is one of them. If you hold the cheese and add avocado instead, this sandwich only has 340 calories and 9g of fat.
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While fast food restaurants might not be your first choice when it comes to getting a healthy meal, it’s definitely the type of eatery you might consider when it comes to scoring a full meal at a fraction of the price that you’d get at a sit-down restaurant. And these days, savvy fast food franchises are getting wise about catering to the needs of those who are looking to eat healthy. Because of that, you can enjoy a relatively healthy meal without having to spend the big bucks for it.