Lunch on a budget – thrifty hacks at 3 fast food places

How to have lunch on a budget when you need to grab a quick bite

In a perfect world, we would completely abstain from restaurants until we have paid off all of our debt.

Of course, if we lived and operated in a perfect world, we wouldn’t have debt in the first place.

I know that fast food is not a healthy option, and I do try to avoid it when possible,but sometimes it just really fits into our lifestyle.

When we are on our multiple-hour grocery shopping trip, we often need lunch to make sure we both emerge from each store alive. And every once in a while, we want to go somewhere and eat and chat. But we are on a VERY tight budget.

So, how do we pull it off?

Apps, my friends. Apps. And I don’t mean appetizers, although that can be a great way to dine out on a budget.

Smartphone apps.


Along with having an on point social media presence, Wendy’s also has a great app. It is currently our go-to fast food joint. Before we hopped completely onto the “live like no one else” train, we would go to Wendys and have a 4 for $4 with an extra burger to round it out. Now we both have and use the app when we can. Last week, you could get a free jr. bacon cheeseburger for free with any purchase. I got the burger with a medium drink ($1.99) and the Dude got a burger with medium fries. All fries are $1 at Wendy’s right now. So lunch cost $2.99 total because we shared the drink and the fries.

Lunch on a budget

Photo by Zac Cain on Unsplash

Unfortunately, Wendy’s was not our only meal out as we did split a Costco dog and drink earlier in the day, bringing our dining out total to $4.50 yesterday. Higher than we like, but the lesson was learned: splitting a Costco hot dog is not enough of a lunch for the 2 of us. $1.50 is a pretty cheap lesson.


I have a few Starbucks gift cards. I downloaded the Starbucks app and added the gift cards. The app is my ticket to the occasional happy hour-BOGO. Starbucks had one yesterday so we were able to celebrate the end of our weekly grocery fest with a couple of lattes.

Saving money at Starbucks

Photo by quan le on Unsplash

Dairy Queen-Lunch on a budget with a side of sweetness

A few weeks back, The Dude and I grabbed the DQ app. As a welcome, we each got a free small blizzard. We went to DQ, sat all alone in the empty restaurant, listening to empowered lady singers from the 70s, and enjoying our free blizzards. They didn’t look like this, but they felt as festive.

Free Blizzard

The Dude and I grab lunch out once a week, on shopping day. We challenge ourselves to keep the meal under $5 total for the both of us, and thanks to the apps we are able to bring the bill to around $3.

Sometimes you may want fast food. It isn’t the best choice-health or environment-wise, so if you can skip it, please do. However, if you must grad a quick meal, use the apps and a little ingenuity to have lunch on a budget.