Fast food is not always synonymous with cheap food. If you want to prove that point just go into any fast food place and order some “special orders” that are not in their “deals” category. The reason the fast food places give you somewhat of a discount on ordering a meal the way that they perceive it is that they can still make their profit margin if everyone cooperates and orders what they tell them to order. The other people get “penalized” for not following the rules. This way they can overstock certain foods, etc. and under stock other less profitable items.
Although, I have also found that fast food can really be one of the best alternatives when you get down below the $10 or even $5 and under mark and need a meal. In some states the dollar menu is actually now called a value menu and they only have one or two things you can still buy for an actual dollar. But, the other value items are more like $1.69 or $1.39 so it pays to look up the menu before you order to make sure you budgeted for your whole meal. Most of the fast food places get you with the price of drinks because it is very hard to find a coke for a dollar any more unless one of the places is running a special.
There are times when it is a good deal to go in and get a salad and yogurt even some ice cream and not have to pay restaurant prices because the restaurants can usually charge about $10 a piece for one of these items and you are still getting the same exact one scoop of ice cream only in a fancier dish. Salad is usually overpriced in sit down establishments and is usually filled mainly with lettuce and not the good stuff. As long as you don’t get fancy and order an extra piece of cheese or piece of tomato at a fast food joint; you should be well within their restrictive money codes.
So, when you really have to watch your money closely and still want a satisfying meal; fast food can be a cheap alternative if you order the right things on the menu and you still want to try and eat as healthy as you can because otherwise you are not saving money in the long run.