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The Absolute Best Way To Spend $5 At Each Of The Big Fast Food Chains

Open your banking app right and total up the money you spend on food each month. If you’re not cooking most of your meals at home, it’s probably a big chunk. Even if you’re often eating fast food — with an average meal running you about $9 (probably closer to $10 and, if you’re eating at fast-casual restaurants, more like $15 or $20) — it adds up. $9 meals seven days a week will run you $63 per week, or $252 per month.

Luckily, a few fast food spots still have great deals for under $5. And today we’re shouting them out. Unlike our $3 deal roundup, which consisted of mostly snacks, this list has a few straight-up meals that’ll leave you full, satiated, and just a little bit richer.

Here is the best way to spend $5 at all the big fast food chains.

Arby’s — Classic Roast Beef

Best Food Under 5
Arbys

Price: $4.69

Thankfully we still live in a world where you can get Arby’s flagship product for under $5. Arby’s Roast Beef sandwich is the chain’s best, so this doesn’t even really feel like a compromise. While the Beef and Cheddar is a bit more flavorful and a lot more exciting (cheese always is), the Classic Roast Beef allows you to focus on that sweet smokey and savory beef flavor that made Arby’s famous.

The meat here is tender with a zesty flavor that settles into a subtle sweetness. A true joy to eat.

The Bottom Line:

Arby’s second-best menu option (the more expensive beef and cheddar takes the top spot) and just under $5!

Find your nearest Arby’s here.

Burger King —Rodeo Burger

Best Fast Food Under 5
Burger King

Price: $1.99

Straight up, Burger King has no business being as expensive as it is. Nothing at Burger King is truly worth $5, most of their food is objectively terrible, and yet most of the burgers and all of the chicken sandwiches on the menu will cost you more than $6. So we’re begrudgingly giving the Rodeo Burger a spot on this Best Under $5 list for the simple fact that it’s the most interesting $1.99 you can spend at BK.

The Rodeo Burger consists of a dry and flavorless overcooked charbroiled meat patty (it tastes like smoke, that’s all) with some tangy and sweet BBQ sauce, as well as the only good thing in the burger, a couple of crispy crunchy onion rings. The smokey sweet BBQ and fried onion flavor is the only thing this burger has going for it, the meat is merely there to make you not feel weird about eating a BBQ fried onion sandwich.

The Bottom Line:

Skip Burger King entirely if you only want to spend $5 but if you have no other options, the Rodeo Burger and a side of fries is the best play.

Find your nearest Burger King here.

Carl’s Jr. — California Classic Double Cheeseburger

Best Fast Food Under 5
Carls Jr.

Price: $3.99

Carl’s Jr is f*cking expensive. If you want to spend a worthwhile $5 here, this is really your only option (unless you just want fries). The California Classic Double Cheeseburger features two charbroiled meat patties, American cheese, grilled onions, sauce, lettuce, and tomato on a plain white bun. The bread is just okay– it’s dry, a little sweet, but mostly flavorless. But the meat delivers, it’s that same Carl’s Jr charbroiled taste in a slightly smaller package with savory grilled onions and slightly tangy sauce providing most of the flavor.

It’s not going to blow you away but it gets the job done.

The Bottom Line:

Carl’s Jr’s famous charbroiled burger in a slightly smaller package.

Find your nearest Carl’s Jr. here.

Chick-fil-a — Chicken Sandwich

Best Under 5
Chick-fil-A

Price: $4.99

Coming in with just one cent to spare is Chick-fil-A’s flagship Chicken Sandwich. This is about as simple as a chicken sandwich can ever get — it consists of a single breast filet between two pieces of bread, topped with pickles. It sounds boringly simple, but without any distracting ingredients you’re able to focus on the flavor of Chick-fil-A’s very delicious chicken.

Chick-fil-A marinates its chicken in pickle brine, and you can taste that earthy tang in each tender bite which is further accentuated by the few thin pickles slices that top the sandwich. The filet is fried in peanut oil, giving its thinly battered exterior a lot of crunch despite the relatively light dredging. If you’re missing a sauce almost any of Chick-fil-A’s sauce options pair perfectly with this sandwich, but our top choice is definitely the Buffalo Sauce, which adds a nice spicy kick to the sandwich without actually having to order the more expensive spicy version.

The Bottom Line:

It’s rare that you can get a fast food chain’s flagship food for under $5 but Chick-fil-A’s simple but delicious Chicken Sandwich makes the cut with a cent to spare! What are you going to do with that extra cent? Throw it in a fountain and wish for another sandwich.

Find your nearest Chick-fil-A here.

Chipotle — Single Taco Hack

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Replying to @iiiamkaila_ here is the step by step! #chipotlehacks

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Price: $3.10

This is a repeat from our Best Fast Food Orders Under $3 list but it still stands as the best way to stretch your dollars at Chipotle. Generally, with these lists, we aren’t trying to provide you with a way to hack the menu and make the fast food employee who is serving you’s life a living hell, but this hack is just too good to pass up on.

This hack was put on our radar by TikTok user Wyaleen Ahmed and it’s pretty simple. Order a single taco and ask or a bunch of extra ingredients on the side, including beans, rice, fajitas, really anything that strikes your fancy and isn’t guacamole.

While Ahmed’s hack is pretty good, we think the better move is to order a crunchy taco loaded with your favorite meat (our choice is Barbacoa, no contest), fajitas, lettuce, and cheese with a side of rice, a side of pinto beans and a side of salsa, sour cream, and roasted corn salsa. You’re going to want to keep any wet ingredients out of this taco so that it doesn’t get soggy and start to crack. The end result will be a deliciously dippable taco with a side of rice and beans.

It might leave you wanting a little more, but there is no denying that this is a straight-up full meal.

The Bottom Line:

Order a single taco and let your creativity guide you. You’ll be surprised at just how much food you can order on the side.

Find your nearest Chipotle here.

Del Taco — Snack Tacos & Fries

Best Fast Food Under 5
Uproxx

Price: $4.76

You can get a whole feast of food at Del Taco for under $5. The taco chain has 20 different single items for under $2 but our favorite combination is the simple combo of two snack-sized tacos and an order of small fries. Throw some crinkle-cut fries into your soft taco and you’ll have a sort of ground beef potato taco hybrid. It’s meaty, salty, crunchy, and delicious.

It’s also a straight-up full meal (a slightly smaller version of Del Taco’s #1 Combo). You will come away from this order feeling full and satisfied, which isn’t always the case when you’re buying fast food on a budget.

The Bottom Line:

The best $5 you can spend at just about any fast food joint.

Find your nearest Del Taco here.

El Pollo Loco —Original Pollo Bowl

Best Fast Food Under 5
El Pollo Loco

Price: $4.99

El Pollo Loco’s Pollo Bowl is essentially a greatest hits package of El Pollo Loco’s best foods. You get slightly spicy and fluffy beans, delicious flame-grilled chicken, rice, onions, cilantro, and pico de Gallo, offering a fresh forkful of flavors. The chicken has a slight citrus flavor with a delicious char and a tender mouthfeel that pairs excellently with the well-seasoned slow-simmered beans.

The rice isn’t great, it’s almost flavorless, but it provides a nice texture to the whole dish and its blandness makes the fresh onion a bit more palatable. Drizzle some avocado salsa on this bowl and you’ll elevate the flavor with some spicy vegetal notes.

The Bottom Line:

All of El Pollo Loco’s best food in one bowl.

Find your nearest El Pollo Loco here.

In-N-Out —Double Double Cheeseburger

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Price: $3.45

In-N-Out’s Double Double is by far the best double cheeseburger you’ll ever eat for under $5. This burger is so tasty that the fact that it’s so cheap just feels wrong, you almost want to give In-N-Out more money for it. It’s salty, savory, an absolute flavor bomb of beef and perfectly melted American cheese. For a more elevated spin on the dish, definitely order it with grilled onions to up the sweet and savory notes or get it Animal Style for no extra charge for some mustard-grilled patties that add a pungent complexity to the burger that makes it even more flavorful.

The Bottom Line:

The single best order on this entire list. It’s almost criminal that a burger this good can be this affordable.

Find your nearest In N Out here.

Jack in the Box — Jumbo Jack Cheeseburger

Best Fast Food Under 5
Jack in the Box

Price: $4.49

Jack in the Box isn’t the ideal fast food spot to order food if all you’ve got is $5, everything here is pretty expensive with the exception of the Jumbo Jack. This single cheeseburger features a double serving of American cheese, lettuce, tomato, pickles, and thick-cut onions with a ketchup and mayo-buttered bun.

As far as burgers go, it’s just okay, the thick-cut pickles give the burger a pronounced earthy tang but most of the rest of the flavor comes from the ketchup and mayo, the meat itself is strangely flavorless and dull. Altogether, this is fine, it’s not going to blow you away but it’ll satisfy your hunger. It’s hard to believe that this costs a dollar more than In-N-Out’s delicious Double Double though.

The Bottom Line:

Not your best option for getting a lot of bang for your buck, but hey, it’s something. This is the best $5 you’ll spend at Jack in the Box.

Find your nearest Jack in the Box here.

KFC —A La Carte Chicken

Best Fast Food Under 5
KFC

Price: $3.59 (Breast)

When it comes to KFC, the best $5 you’re going to spend is going to be on a single piece of a la carte chicken. Pick whichever piece is your favorite (we went with Breast only because it’s the most expensive) but be sure to go with Original Recipe, which combines herbs like oregano, thyme, and rosemary with black pepper, garlic, and onion powder, resulting in one of the most flavorful single pieces of fried chicken you’ll ever have at a fast food joint.

If you like your chicken crispy, Original Recipe probably isn’t going to do it for you, but under no circumstances should you order the Extra Crispy style, which might provide more crunch, but seriously takes a hit on flavor.

The Bottom Line:

A single piece of chicken might leave you a little wanting but this is by far the best $5 you can spend at KFC. If you’d really like to stretch your dollar, order two drumsticks and you’ll still be just under $5.

Find your nearest KFC here.

McDonald’s — 6 Piece McChicken Happy Meal

Best Fast Food Under 5
McDonald

Price: $4.59

Hear us out, you don’t need to get the apple slices and the milk jug on the side (you can ask for more fries and soda) and while it’ll feel pretty ridiculous getting your food in a big colorful box with a toy inside, this is a full meal and one of the biggest steals on the entire McDonald’s menu. McDonald’s actual adult-sized nugget meal will only get you four more nuggets, but the price will be nearly double, this is pretty much the same thing only you’re getting slightly less and with chicken nuggets, less is more. With just six pieces of chicken, you have less time to think about the weird consistency and texture of the McNugget.

If you’ve never had McDonald’s chicken nuggets (what are you living under a rock?) they’re delightfully crispy with an airy batter that absorbs sauce nicely. Couple that with McDonald’s delicious French fries, and it’s a little hard to eat this meal without being… you know, happy.

The Bottom Line:

Yes, you will feel ridiculous when the drive-thru employee asks you “is the happy meal for a boy or a girl?” But who cares? What you get is delicious.

Find your nearest McDonald’s here.

Popeyes — 8 pc Hushpuppy Shrimp Dinner

Best Fast Food Under 5
Popeyes

Price: $5

This is subject to change as Popeyes always has a new $5 deal it’s promoting, but right now this mobile pick-up-only offer gets you eight pieces of fried hushpuppy shrimp with a biscuit and a side of cajun fries. You’re not going to get this much food from any other fast food chain for this little amount of money.

The shrimp is light and buttery with that classic crispy Popeyes breading while the cajun fries offer a blend of onion and garlic-powder-forward flavors with a buttery biscuit on the side that helps to ensure this meal is filling.

The Bottom Line:

Eight pieces of fried shrimp, fries, and a biscuit, need we really say more?

Find your nearest Popeyes here.

Raising Cane’s — Chicken Finger + Texas toast

Best Fast Food Under 5
Uproxx

Price: $1.59 (chicken) + .99¢ (Toast) + .99¢ (Toast)

This is sort of a repeat from our Best Order Under $3 roundup, but it still stands as the best way to spend $5 at Raising Cane’s considering even the Kid’s Meal at this chain will cost you more than $6. With $5 at your disposal you can get two pieces of Raising Cane’s garlicky Texas toast — which you need to order BOB-style (buttered on both sides) — giving you the perfect base to build a sandwich on. Simply shove your single chicken tender between the toast, top it with Cane’s sauce, and you’ve got one of the best chicken sandwiches in all of fast food.

Yes, seriously. It’s not the most filling sandwich, but the way the tender melt-in-your-mouth chicken combines with the garlic butter notes of the toast rivals even Popeyes chicken sandwich. You’d think with this bread and chicken at their disposal, Raising Cane’s would have the best chicken sandwich in the game but instead, this is an off-menu item. The actual Raising Cane’s sandwich is nothing but disappointment.

The Bottom Line:

One of the best chicken sandwiches in all of fast food, despite its tiny size.

Find your nearest Raising Cane’s here.

Starbucks — Bacon, Gouda, & Egg Sandwich

Best Fast Food Under 5
Starbucks

Price: $4.75

Your instincts might lead you to sausage, cheddar and egg sandwich because it looks like an Egg McMuffin but don’t make that mistake, it’s surprisingly not nearly as good as McDonald’s. Instead grab the Bacon, Gouda, and Egg Sandwich, Starbucks best breakfast treat. This sandwich features a few crispy strips of bacon over egg frittata with melted gouda cheese on an artisan roll. While the bacon is a bit too thin for our liking, it’s nice and crispy and tastes great alongside the rich flavors of gouda. You get a hint of parmesan nuttiness in the egg which makes this sandwich taste a bit more elevated than what you’ve come to expect from drive-thru breakfast.

Starbucks has some pretty good lunch options as well, but they’ll all cost you well over $5 unfortunately!

The Bottom Line:

A slightly elevated drive-thru breakfast sandwich.

Find your nearest Starbucks here.

Taco Bell — Classic Combo

Best Fast Food Under 5
Taco Bell

Price: $5

Taco Bell has all sorts of menu options that’ll cost you less than $5 but our favorite combination is the Classic Combo, which consists of a Beefy 5-Layer Burrito, a crunchy taco, an order of cinnamon twists, and a drink. It’s like a sampler of all of Taco Bell’s best foods compiled for your eating convenience.

The Beefy 5-Layer comes with seasoned beef, beans, cheese, nacho cheese sauce, and sour cream, offering a savory and salty experience that is strangely satisfying, even though each of the individual ingredients isn’t particularly delicious. When they come together, they just work though, especially if you’re stoned or under the influence.

While the crunchy taco isn’t as exciting, it’s got that classic Taco Bell flavor that you probably have a ton of nostalgia for. There are a few combo meals on this list that’ll get you a grip of food for $5, but none come with a dessert, making the Classic Combo truly stand out, even if the cinnamon twists are one of the weirdest snacks we’ve ever enjoyed.

The Bottom Line:

It’s a sampler of Taco Bell flavors that’ll leave both your stomach and bank account satisfied.

Find your nearest Taco Bell here.

Wendy’s —Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger Biggie Bag

Best Fast Food Under 5
Wendys

Price: $5

Taco Bell might give you a dessert with its $5 combo, but there isn’t a single meal on here that beats Wendy’s Biggie Bag, which combines two Wendy’s classics, The Jr. Bacon cheeseburger and spicy nuggets, with fries and a drink offering you a full meal with absolutely no compromises. The Jr. Bacon isn’t quite as decadent as the Baconator, but you still get Wendy’s juicy and savory beef patty and smokey bacon, which when combined with a side order of nuggets is more than enough to leave you full no matter how big your appetite us.

And that’s without mentioning the fries and drink! For a really satisfying combination of flavors, arrange your nuggets into the burger, cover it with a layer of fries, and now you have a crazy beef, bacon, French fry, fried chicken hybrid that’ll deliver a ton of satisfyingly savory meaty flavors with a kick of spice on the tail end.

The Bottom Line:

Wendy’s Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger Biggie Bag is hands down the best $5 you’ll ever spend on fast food. This meal makes no compromises for its value, offering you a full meal of some of Wendy’s greatest flavors.

Find your nearest Wendy’s here.

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