Fast food is a quintessential part of society. Research has shown that children recognize a brand’s logo, such as the McDonald’s golden arches, before they recognize their own name. They know what we want: food that tastes good, can be in our mouth in less than five minutes after we order it, and is cheap. You can walk into a fast food restaurant with a $5 bill and walk out full, so here’s how to get the most out of it (in alphabetical order):
*Disclaimer: Exact prices may vary by state/city
They have the meats, so why not go with a classic bacon cheddar roast beef sandwich and curly fries?
What to get: Jr. Bacon Cheddar Melt, Curly Fries (Snack Size), and a small drink
Honestly, I could spend all $5 on Bojangles’ biscuits and be perfectly happy. But if you’re #blessed enough to have a Bojangles’ nearby, this is what you should get with that Lincoln.
What to get: 2pc Chicken Supremes Kid’s Meal (comes with a biscuit, fries, and a drink) + 1 Cinnamon Pecan Twist
Calories: 590 in Kid’s Meal, 350 in CPT
There are many ways to save at BK. They always have limited time offers, such as the 5 for $4 deal and 10 nuggets for $1.49. They also have an app that gives you coupons. So have it your way, AKA, under $5.
What to get: 5 for $4 deal (bacon cheeseburger, chicken nuggets, small fries, a chocolate chip cookie, and a small drink)
#SpoonTip: After the deal ends, you can get a bacon cheeseburger, four nuggets, and a value fry from the Value Menu for $4.07
Price: $4 (or $4.07 for Value Menu)
Calories: 5 for $4 deal – 980 excluding drink (Value Menu – 670)
Carl’s Jr. and Hardee’s are unique because they bring your food to you. Also, the shakes are made with real ice cream and are absolutely delicious. So if you want to spend a little extra, I highly recommend getting one. But in the interest of staying under $5, this is what you should get (also highly recommended by me):
What to get: Value double cheeseburger and beer battered onion rings
Calories: 938 at Carl’s Jr and 830 at Hardee’s
I love Chick-Fil-A. You could order literally anything off the menu and it will be delicious. Crispy chicken, grilled chicken, spicy chicken, salads, fries, shakes, lemonade… really, it’s my pleasure. If you want to splurge on a drink, definitely get a milkshake or a lemonade. Sauce-wise, Chick-Fil-A sauce is best with chicken and Honey Roasted BBQ sauce with fries is heaven on Earth.
What to get: Chicken Sandwich or 8pc Chicken Nuggets and Medium Fry
Calories: Sandwich and Fry – 840, Nuggets and Fry – 670
When you think of Dairy Queen, you think of Blizzards. But in the interest of getting the most out of $5, I have to recommend the $5 Buck Lunch (Note: $6 in Canada). You get crispy chicken wraps, chicken strips, or a deluxe cheeseburger, plus fries, and drink, and a sundae. And, if you happen to have $6, you can upgrade that sundae to a blizzard. Although, if your local DQ is in Texas or is ice cream only, treat yo self to that Blizzard.
What to get: $5 Buck Lunch
Calories: Cheeseburger – 1,050, Chicken Strips – 950, Chicken Wraps – 1,240
As an east-coaster, In-N-Out truly embodies the saying “you always want what you can’t have until you vacation to California and wait in a long tourist-filled line.” But when you live where you can have In-N-Out, do it right for under $5. And If you want to spend a little more for something secret, get your fries Animal-Style or sip on a Neopolitan shake.
What to get: Cheeseburger and French Fries
Like Bojangles, I could also spend all $5 on biscuits, and in fact, I have before. But the $5 Fill-Up is also a great option, and it actually fills you up. I recommend the extra crispy chicken tenders option, which comes with mashed potatoes, a biscuit, a medium drink, and a chocolate chip cookie. As they say, it’s finger lickin’ good.
What to get: Extra Crispy Chicken Tenders $5 Fill-Up
Calories: 880 excluding drink
McDonald’s is home to the famous Dollar Menu. So why not take advantage of it? You can get a full McDonald’s experience for less than $5 and you don’t even need to order a Big Mac. You can add Mac sauce to a McDouble for 30 cents, making it $1.69 instead of over $4.
What to get: McDouble with Mac Sauce, McChicken, Medium Fry
I get the same thing every time I go to Sonic, and it’s pretty darn tasty and it’s under $5, so that’s what I will recommend to you. According to the Sonic, 9 out of 10 potatoes want to become a Sonic Tot, so I think that gives you a good idea of just how crispy and delicious these tots are.
What to get: Chili Cheese Coney Combo (comes with medium tots or fries and a medium drink)
Calories: 780 excluding drink
Unfortunately, Subway is no longer the land of $5 footlongs, because they raised the price to $6. But you can still get a sub for less than $5, and a cookie too. I recommend the Spicy Italian, because it’s inexpensive, tasty, and you can pile on the veggies. But, if you have a favorite of your own, get it.
What to get: 6-inch Spicy Italian Sub and a chocolate chip cookie
One of the great things about Taco Bell is that it’s cheap, satisfying, and has Mountain Dew Baja Blast. You can get several items and still stay under $5. So make sure you get a range of tastes and textures, like a spicy Doritos taco shell, crunchy nacho strips, hot queso, and savory ground beef. Did I just make Taco Bell sound mouthwatering or what?
What to get: Fiery Doritos Locos Taco, Beefy Nacho Griller, and a Mountain Dew Baja Blast
Price: $4.57 ($4.08 during Happier Hour, 2-5 pm)
Wendy’s 4 for $4 deal is the best bargain at Wendy’s. It comes with a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger or a Crispy Chicken BLT, four chicken nuggets, fries, and a drink. You even have enough left to get a Frosty for dipping your fries. And eating, of course.
What to get: 4 for $4 deal and a small Frosty
Calories: JBC deal – 880 excluding drink, CCBLT deal – 940 excluding drink, Frosty – 340
This southern chain warms your heart and soul, and with a honey butter chicken biscuit meal coming in under $5, you’ll see why it’s been called “The Beyoncé of Whataburger items.” It comes with hashbrown sticks and your choice of coffee, a soft drink, or milk.
What to get: Honey Butter Chicken Biscuit Whatameal
Calories: 750 including coffee
White Castle = sliders, so spend those dollars on cheesy, onion-y sliders and onion rings. Since the sliders are small, I recommend getting 3 or 4, but if you’re really hungry, they sell packs of 7, 8, and 9, a Sack of 10, a Crave Case of 30, and a Crave Crate of 100.
What to get: 3 Cheese Sliders and onion rings
So next time you’re at a fast food restaurant, you’ll know how to bring real value to the value menu.