Five Healthier Food Combos for $5 and Under

Five Healthier Food Combos for $5 and Under


In the United States, adults consume an average of 11.3 percent of their total daily calorie intake from fast-food; those in the 20-39 age group tend to have the highest portion of their daily calorie intake from fast-food joints and men tend to eat more than women (source: Centers for Disease Control and Prevention). This can be a cause for concern because fast-food menus don’t exactly offer the healthiest options in the restaurant industry.


Imagine the typical fast-food menu at McDonald’s, Taco Bells, and Wendy’s: Burgers with various fillings from beef patties to bacon; French fries with generous sprinklings of salt and flavorings; and milkshakes in various flavors, among other sweet, savory, and salty choices. You will be hard-pressed on most days to find healthy food choices from among the deep-fried items on the menu. You will even be more challenged to find healthy and affordable food items that your doctor and dietitian will not post warning labels on as too fatty, too salty, and too high in empty calories.


Fortunately, the fast-food industry has recognized the consumers’ clamor for healthier food choices. Here are the best so far with a price tag of just $5, which even a student can afford.  


Taco Bell 5-dollar Box


Getting more bang for your buck becomes a reality with Taco Bell 5 Dollar Box, a package of delicious and nutritious fast-food fare. Each box comes with a Burrito Supreme, which contains seasoned beans, lettuce, and refried beans in red sauce and real cheddar cheese; Crunchy Taco, a taco made with a crunchy corn body instead of warm flour tortilla and filled with delicious haymaker; and Bacon Club Chalupa, which has crispy bacon, grilled chicken and avocado ranch sauce inside a chewy chalupa shell, with the food downed by a refreshing medium-sized drink.  


Chick-Fil-A Chicken Minis


For approximately $5, you can enjoy a 3-pack package of chicken minis for $2.29 and $2.05 for a healthy dessert of mixed fruits (i.e., fruit cup). The 3-pack chicken minis is a healthy yet satisfying choice because you will only consumer 280 calories, 11 grams of fat, 30 grams of carbohydrates, and 15 grams of protein.  You will still have room for dessert with a small fruit cup, which adds 50 calories as well as fiber and Vitamin C.  


McDonald’s Mixed Order Meal


For about $4, you can actually enjoy a relatively healthy meal at McDonald’s, a fast-food giant now making better strides in its thrust to offer a healthier menu.  Your best choices, health-wise, are a grilled chicken snack wrap but be sure to skip the cheese and dressing, a side salad, and a fruit n’ yogurt parfait for dessert.  


Your dessert will provide for more than 10 percent of daily values for calcium and Vitamin C as well as 4 grams of protein, 2 grams of fat, and 150 calories.  Your total calorie count for the entire meal will be 430 calories without the cheese and dressing, which will add more calories in case you want to have them.  


Subway 6-inch sub on 9-grain wheat


At Subway, you can make your own sandwiches, which can increase the temptation to go all out. You may still enjoy your Subway sub but stick to healthier fillings, such as a vegetable delight, a mix of ham and turkey, or just single fillings of ham or turkey.  

On the Subway menu, your choices include the Turkey Breast, Black Forest Ham, Turkey Breast and Black Forest ham, and Veggie Delite. You will spend under $5 for these sandwiches, too, but you have to avoid loading up on the cheese, bacon, and mayo, among other fat-laden options.


Wendy’s Chili and Salad


For around $4 or less, you can enjoy a $1.50 garden salad and a $2 small chili bowl – an affordable and satisfying meal that will not make your cardiologist froth at the mouth. The side garden salad provides a wide range of nutrients including protein, Vitamins A and C, iron, and potassium without adding too many calories. The small chili has the spice without the spike in calorie intake with just 170 calories, 15 grams of protein, 4 grams of fiber, and 5 grams of fat.  


Don’t limit yourself to these fast-food choices either. You just have to learn the tricks of choosing healthier options on the menu, such as:


  • Keeping your portion sizes small.
  • Choosing healthier side dishes, such as a baked potato, a fruit bowl with yogurt, and apple/orange slices.
  • Choosing an entrée vegetable, shrimp, or grilled salad with low-fat or fat-free dressing instead of the regular salad dressing.  
  • Skipping on the fattening extras, such as croutons. Cheese, and bacon bits.


Who says that eating healthy in fast-food joints is not possible? It is now!  


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