Cheap, Healthy Options for Drive-Thru Desperation

It happens to the best of us.  We are running late, or have an awkward window between pickups, or don’t have enough groceries to pack an adequate lunch for the day at the park.  And so, with our heads hung it shame, we take our families through the dreaded fast food drive-thru.

Okay, maybe the shame is my own issue.  I really do try to feed my kids healthy, but I am also always on the go.  I hate the idea of fast-food, but I have found a few options where I can feed my family (relatively) healthy fast food without breaking the bank.  To do this, though, you must adhere to two rules:

1) No “happy meals”.  They are never the cheapest option and they are rarely that healthy, either. 
2) No soft drinks.  Again, unnecessary calories and money, when water will do.
Both of these rules may be met with whining and crying from your children . . . but fortunately they aren’t the ones in charge here.

These are a few of the drive-thru options that we’ve been using in those moments of deperation.  They are smaller entrees, so I usually either plan on a healthy snack in a few hours (i.e. a smoothie).  Or if the drive-thru act is premeditated, I might through some apples and carrots in my bag on the way out the door, to round out the meal.

Del Taco

Del Taco has a new value bean & cheese burrito for only $49.  Their beans are slow-cooked and lard-free, and the burrito is 320 calories.  I can feed myself and the kids for under $5.


Forget the fried and processed chicken nuggets at McDonalds.  The snack wrap can be ordered with grilled chicken and is only 260 calories and $1.29.  A side of apples is available for $99.


There are a few heavenly drive-thru Starbucks near me, and their Spinach, Feta, and  Egg White Wrap is full of protein and only 280 calories.  At $3.50, it’s also cheaper than their packaged sandwiched.

Taco Bell

I love Taco Bell's Fresco menu and the fact that you can get almost anything on the whole menu "Fresco-style”, which means that it is topped with fresh salsa instead of cheese.   A chicken soft taco ordered this way is only 170 calories.  If I order two per family member, I can feed our family of 6 for $10.68. 

How about you?  Do you have issues with going through the drive-thru?  Have you found any healthy options for your family?

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