Whether you’re in high school working a minimum wage job, a college student with mounds of debt, or just someone on a tight budget, we all know what it is like to rely on fast food. It’s quick, it’s convenient, and most importantly: it’s extremely cheap! But too often this leads to eating the same “money-saving” options over and over and over.

Now there’s nothing wrong with choosing from those options every once in a while, but there’s a whole world of fast-casual, quick eats just waiting to be explored with  Restaurant.com’s new $5 gift certificate, available for just $2! With this certificate in your pocket you can eat affordably and enjoy higher quality, healthier, and more unique meals! Let’s take a closer look at some of our options!

More Unique Meals: When you move beyond the typical drive-thru options, you have
more opportunities to try different flavors and variations of dishes. Instead of the usual double cheeseburger, why not try a teriyaki marinated turkey burger with grilled pineapple? Forget the ham and turkey sandwich, and devour a smoked salmon sandwich with cottage cheese and herbs!  Ditch the garden salad routine, and savor a seared tuna salad with a spicy vinaigrette. You can even jump completely into different cuisines with chicken tikka masala on naan, pad thai with tofu, or my personal favorite: a torta with beef short ribs and chihuahua cheese .

Higher Quality: As you explore more adventurous options, you’re likely to see an increase in the quality of your food, as well its preparation. Rather than warming under a light in its wrapper, your food will be prepared with fresh ingredients. This may take a bit longer than the drive-in stand-bys, but the difference in taste is more than worth it. Many of these restaurants have placed special attention on the meats they offer, like certified angus beef and naturally raised pork and chicken, that are commonly fed a diet of grass and grains. Some of these establishments will even go as far as offering locally grown and produced ingredients.


Healthier: A final major advantage of passing on the “value meals” is the increase in healthier choices. Whether it’s a flavorful salad, grilled chicken, lean beef, or a tofu vegetarian creation, fast-casual restaurants across the country have options that are tasty and good for you! These selections are more likely to be antibiotic-free, lower in calories, and containing no trans-fats as well. Which means you can skip those greasy bags of fries and say sayonara to those annoying paper wrappers. Trade the drive-thru for more flavor and a meal that’s less likely to make your scale or your doctor cringe.

What’s your favorite fast-casual lunch option? Do you have a strategy for sticking with healthier choices when you dine on the go?  Share them below and remember; with the help of a $5 Restaurant.com Gift Certificate, you can eat well on any budget. Try one today!