Most fast-food chains have come a long way since the days when all they offered were limited menus of cheeseburgers, French fries, and sugary soft drinks. Today, you can hit a McDonald’s or Wendy’s and find a number of healthy and cheap food options from which to choose. It’s just a matter of being more informed about your options. We put together this list of healthy menu items for under $7 to help you make better choices the next time you pull up to the drive-thru on your lunch break.
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Often loaded with cheese and fatty dressing, a salad is not always going to be the healthiest way to go. But the Southwest Grilled Chicken Salad is a smart choice if you are looking to get your greens. Costing just $4.75, it has 350 calories, 12 grams of fat, and 37 grams of protein.
With just 150 calories and 2 grams of fat, this light treat is an acceptable choice if you need to satisfy your sweet tooth. Benefits include calcium from the low-fat yogurt and antioxidants from the berries. Oh, and it costs only $1.
Source: Taco Bell
At just $2.29, this fiber and protein-rich lunch option will give you fuel to burn for the rest of the day. Ingredients include chicken, beans, pico de gallo, lettuce, and onions. Nutritional information lists 340 calories, 8 grams of fat, 19 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fiber.
If you find yourself hitting the drive-thru late at night, the Chicken Mini Quesadilla is going to be one of your best bets. Costing just $1, it has 180 calories, 15 grams of carbs, and 12 grams of protein.
Totaling at around $5, the baked potato with broccoli and reduced-fat sour cream and small Rich and Meaty Chili will make you forget that you are eating fast food. Benefits include potassium from the potato and fiber and protein from the chili.
This is a solid lunch choice because it is high in protein, and you’ll get fiber and vitamins from the veggies. A JR. Cheeseburger has 280 calories and 16 grams while the side salad has just 35 calories without dressing – Wendy’s offers lighter dressing options. Total cost for the meal is $3.68.
Source: Burger King
If you can’t resist the Whopper at lunch, choose the Junior version. Costing just $1.49, this item is protein-rich and is served on a sesame seed bun with tomatoes, lettuce, ketchup, pickles, and onions. Without mayo, it has just 260 calories.
Source: Burger King
Made with a MorningStar Farms Garden Veggie Patty, Burger King’s Veggie Burger is a healthy meat alternative. Priced at $3.29, it is served on a toasted sesame bun with lettuce, tomatoes, and ketchup. Skip the mayo to keep the calories at 320.
At Dunkin’ Donuts, your best bet is to look for the menu items labeled DDSmart. Costing just $2.99 with 320 calories and 17 grams of protein, the Egg White Veggie Flatbread is a good way to start the day.
Priced at $3.09, this low calorie breakfast has just 170 calories, 8 grams of fat, and 10 grams of protein. If it’s not enough to get you going, pair the wrap with some fruit or plan for a mid-morning snack of almonds.
Long before the fast-food industry started taking nutrition more seriously, Subway was offering healthy items on its menu. The chain currently lists Fresh Fit Choices, which offer a variety of sandwiches. At $4.60 with 240 calories and 6 grams of fat, the 6” Subway Club is stacked with tender sliced turkey breast, lean roast beef and Black Forest Ham. Veggie load to your heart’s desire.
Priced at $4.75, the 6” Sweet Onion Chicken Teriyaki sandwich packs an impressive 25 grams of protein. Tender teriyaki glazed chicken strips are marinated in Subway’s fat-free sweet onion sauce and served hot on toasted fresh-baked bread. Add fresh veggies for additional fiber.
This fast-food Mexican grill has fueled a nation-wide burrito addiction in recent years. But it is the burritos that you want to stay away from when trying to eat healthy. Instead, choose the Chicken and Veggie Soft tacos. Priced at $6.50, three tacos have 400 calories, 10 grams of fat, and 35 grams of protein.
If you must have a burrito, order it in bowl form. Be wise when choosing your toppings though. A vegetarian bowl of brown rice, pinto beans, fajita vegetables, fresh tomato salsa, guacamole, and romaine lettuce comes in at 605 calories and 29 grams of fat (this could be lowered by asking for guacamole on the side), 21.5 grams of fiber, and 10 grams of protein. Total cost is around $6.50.
Eating fast food doesn’t always mean eating unhealthy. Today, many places have nutrition information like calories and fat clearly marked and special menus full of healthy items. Just be aware that these meals are most likely high in sodium, so compensate by drinking more water than usual. And you’ll want to skip condiments like mayonnaise and cream sauces, and order vinegar-based dressings on the side.