The Healthiest Fast Food Under $5 at 12 Popular Chains

Whether you’re handling a hectic schedule or simply not in the state of mind to prepare, a journey through the drive-thru is most likely in your future.

But with inflation and supply chain concerns increasing the expense of your preferred salted yearnings, it’s not the very best thing for your wallet.

Keep your order basic and you’ll avoid the regret.

Thank goodness for worth menus, right?

The Healthiest Fast Food Under $5

When you consider healthy dining establishments, you’re not going to consider locations like KFC or McDonald’s — particularly after 2020, when lunch counter streamlined their menus to cut expenses throughout the pandemic.

RIP grilled chicken sandwiches.

Even when you’re attempting your finest to stay with a calorie budget plan or follow the current diet plan pattern, the neon lights of your regional fast-food joints will undoubtedly tempt you in.

We asked signed up dietitian Wendy Wesley for some techniques to keep your sees less expensive and guilt-free.

Her most significant guidance? Avoid the sweet drinks and avoid the worth meals.

“You’ll save money if you don’t get the value meal,” Wesley stated. “They benefit the restaurants, not us. Just get the sandwich.”

It’s a lot much easier to make much healthier options and a lot more difficult to remain under $5 at dining establishments like Panera Bread and Chipotle, so we’ve concentrated on our fast-food guilty enjoyments.

Side note: Any dining establishments that didn’t have pricing details offered online we sourced from sites like

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1. Taco Bell

Soft or Crunchy Taco – $1.69 


Chicken Chipotle Melt – $1.49

Taco Bell is among the simplest dining establishments to remain fairly healthy and on a spending plan, particularly if you keep it basic.

“Stay away from five-layer anything and avoid chips,” Wesley stated.

Your fundamental soft taco is just 180 calories, 9 grams of fat and 500 milligrams of salt.

Prefer crispy tacos? You’ll minimize salt. One crispy taco is 170 calories, 10 grams of fat and 300 milligrams of salt.

“Skip the supreme versions and you’ll stay under 200 calories per taco,” Wesley stated.

Fans of chicken can get a Chicken Chipotle Melt, which clocks in at 190 calories, 9 grams of fat and 530 milligrams of salt.

A hamburger is photographed with three orders of fries behind it.
Tina Russell/The Penny Hoarder

2. McDonald’s

Hamburger – $1.29 

The timeless McDonald’s hamburger is your best option at 250 calories, 9 grams of fat and 510 milligrams of salt.

Trust us and don’t get a cheeseburger. The single piece of cheese includes 60 cents, 50 calories, 4 grams of fat and 210 milligrams of salt.

If you’re truly yearning those salted french fries, simply get a kids meal. For $3.99, you can get a hamburger, kids french fries, apple pieces and 1% milk.

A burger sits on a plate with fries and other burgers around it.
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3. Burger King

Hamburger – $1.59 


4-Piece Chicken Nugget – $1.49

Having it your method might be appealing, however Burger King’s signature sandwiches can quickly consume your day-to-day calorie consumption.

A Burger King hamburger is just 259 calories, 9.9 grams of fat and 569 milligrams of salt, and you still get the flame-grilled deliciousness.

If you’re more in the state of mind for chicken, opt for the nuggets. A 4-piece is just 192 calories with 12 grams of fat and 495 milligrams of salt. Just look out for the sauces, which can include 46 to 152 calories per package, depending upon your option.

Try sticking with a package of catsup, which has 10 calories. Just enjoy just how much you utilize. Or attempt mustard, which has 3 calories.

“Be mindful of ketchup,” Wesley stated. “It’s just sugar.”

A four-piece chicken nugget meal is photographed.
Photo thanks to Wendy’s

4. Wendy’s

Entree: Jr. Hamburger – $1.19 


Chicken Nuggets – $1.29

Side: Plain Baked Potato – $1.89

Wendy’s has salads and grilled chicken, however their price take them out of the running for our list.

At 250 calories, 11 grams of fat and 420 milligrams of salt, a Jr. Hamburger wins once again.

Or you can get a 4-piece nugget for 180 calories, 12 grams of fat and 380 milligrams of salt. Try the spicy variation and you’ll include just 10 calories.

We’re picking up a style here. The familiar half-size salads and covers were eliminated when Wendy’s structured its menu throughout the pandemic.

What separates Wendy’s is the baked potato alternative. A plain baked potato has 270 calories, 0 grams of fat and 40 milligrams of salt. Just beware with your butter and sour cream add-ons, if you don’t wish to avoid them.

A Hardee's fast food store front is photographed from the outside of the establishment.
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5. Hardee’s/Carl’s Jr.

Small Hamburger – $2.79 


Red Burrito Beef Taco – $1.19

Again, easier is much better at Hardee’s. Get a little hamburger and you’ll be taking a look at 250 calories, 9 grams of fat and 570 milligrams of salt.

If you’re truly yearning french fries, you can get a hamburger kids meal for $3.99. Not a milk individual? You can get a bottle of water for an additional dollar.

If your regional dining establishment has Red Burrito, you’re much better off buying off that menu.

The tough shell beef taco is just 170 calories and has 12 grams of fat and 320 milligrams of salt.

A box is photographed containing an Arby's sandwich.
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6. Arby’s

Sliders – $2.29

Arby’s markets its Market Fresh sandwiches, however those can still run you numerous calories and they aren’t low-cost.

Your best option? Get the sliders. The roast turkey slider is 180 calories, 5 grams of fat and 660 milligrams of salt.

We understand individuals tend to consider Arby’s for its roast beef, and there’s a slider variation of that, too. The roast beef slider is just 210 calories with 9 grams of fat and 570 milligrams of salt. (For contrast, a full-size timeless roast beef has 970 milligrams of salt.)

7. In-N-Out

Hamburger (Protein-Style) – $2.10

With its signature basic menu, remaining healthy at In-N-Out may appear restricting.

This is where their Not So Secret Menu is available in. You can get every sandwich Protein-Style. They’ll switch out the bun for a lettuce wrap.

This one simply may be a bit challenging if you’re the one driving!

A Protein-Style Hamburger is just 240 calories with 17 grams of fat and 370 milligrams of salt.

A person picks up a drumstick.
Photo thanks to Church’s Chicken

8. Church’s Chicken

Entree: Leg Piece – $1.29

Side: Small Corn or Coleslaw – $1.79

According to Wesley, it’s finest to prevent foods with names like fried, crispy, honey, golden brown, breaded or sweet in the title.

This makes going to any fried chicken joint challenging.

But something they have opting for them? They serve veggies.

At Church’s Chicken, you can get a little side of corn for 190 calories, 6 grams of fat and 15 milligrams of salt. A routine coleslaw is 170 calories, 11 grams of fat and 200 milligrams of salt.

As for their meals, get a leg piece a la carte and it’ll be just 150 calories, 8 grams of fat and 400 milligrams of salt.

It won’t harm to indulge from time to time, right?

Chicken is photographed with fries and a beverage at KFC.
Photo thanks to KFC

9. KFC

Entree: A La Carte Wing – $2.49

Side: Green Beans or Corn – $2.49

We’ll be truthful. KFC is the most difficult entry on our list. Chicken rates have actually increased, so your $5 won’t get you far.

To remain under $5 and still get your side, get an a la carte wing for $2.49. It’ll run you 130 calories, 8 grams of fat and 380 milligrams of salt.

On a favorable note, the side choices are much better than a lot of. You can get a private size of green beans for 25 calories, 0 grams of fat and 300 milligrams of salt.

If green beans aren’t your thing, get a private side of corn for 70 calories, 0.5 grams of fat and 0 milligrams of salt.

A person holds bags and boxes containing Chick-fil-A food.
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10. Chick-fil-A

Entree: 5-Piece Grilled Nuggets – $3.25 


Side: Kale Crunch – $2.15

Unlike the majority of its rivals, Chick-fil-A hasn’t quit on its grilled chicken yet. You can get a 5-piece grilled nugget for just 80 calories, 2 grams of fat and 270 milligrams of salt.

Just hand down the Chick-fil-A dipping sauce, because that’s 140 calories per package. Stick to catsup or mustard.

If you’re more in the state of mind for leafy greens, get the Kale Crunch side alternative. It’s a mix of kale, cabbage and almonds for 120 calories, 9 grams of fat and 140 milligrams of salt.

Flavored drinks are photographed at Sonic.
Photo thanks to Sonic

11. Sonic

Mini Cherry Burst – $2.38 


Mini Classic Shake – $3.39

If you go to Sonic for the beverages and sweet choices, you don’t need to fret about regretting them later on.

If you’re thirsty, buy a mini Cherry Burst. As it comes, the mini size has 120 calories, 30 grams of sugar and 0 grams of fat. For a service charge, you can include various taste mix-ins (both sweet and sugar-free) or genuine fruit.

For your ice cream repair, stay with a mini Classic Shake. The mini-sized Reese’s Peanut Butter Classic Shake is 480 calories, 31 grams of sugar and 31 grams of fat. The vanilla shake is just 420 calories, 32 grams of sugar and 23 grams of fat.

A very chocolate chip cherry blizzard is photographed.
Photo thanks to Dairy Queen

12. Dairy Queen

Small Pineapple or Strawberry Sundae – $3.19 


Mini Very Cherry Chip Blizzard – $3.39

The hamburgers are fantastic, however you understand you truly go to Dairy Queen to drool over the ice cream choices.

When you’re enjoying your consumption, you can still indulge with a little fruit-based sundae. The pineapple variation is 230 calories, 7 grams of fat and 33 grams of sugar. The strawberry sundae is 240 calories, 7 grams of fat and 34 grams of sugar.

Can’t keep away from the Blizzards? That’s OK. We comprehend.

Get a mini Very Cherry Chip Blizzard. It’s 320 calories, 11 grams of fat and 41 grams of sugar.

Not a fan of cherry-flavored ice cream? The Snickers mini Blizzard is 350 calories, 12 grams of fat and 45 grams of sugar.

Contributor Jenna Limbach composes on monetary literacy and way of life subjects for The Penny Hoarder from her online in Nevada. Jamie Cattanach added to this report. 


A news media journalist always on the go, I've been published in major publications including VICE, The Atlantic, and TIME.

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