Wendy’s Value Menu: Healthy Options

September 12, 2016   17 Comments

Most people don’t eat the $7 salads at Wendy’s. They eat off the Wendy’s value menu.

Wendy's Value Menu

You might be wondering (since this is a healthy eating website) why I am even talking about Wendy’s or McDonald’s. My thinking is that many of us do not want to admit how much we eat at fast food joints.

I am not judgmental about where people eat and I never want to label food as “bad”. Food is food. Are there better choices than fast food? Sure. But, if you are stuck in the middle of nowhere or you love the drive-thru – there are options for you.

First, the bad news. This is the McDonald’s Every Day Value Menu:

As you can see, there is nothing that can be called “healthy”. When I went to McDonalds for an Egg Mcmuffin (without the bacon and cheese) and a coffee for a snack, everyone in the line was ordering from this menu.

Stick with the Egg McMuffin (whole grain muffin and an egg) at $3.35 – it is your best bet.

Wendy’s on the other hand has two things on its value menu that are pretty great:

The garden side salad and the chili are both fine options and are great when you put them together. I hate cheese on my salad so I put it on my chili. I didn’t need the dressing on the salad because it tasted good to me without it and I skipped the croutons and crackers.

The salad without the croutons and dressing is a whopping 25 calories and includes:

Iceberg Lettuce, Romaine Lettuce, Spring Mix (baby Lettuces [red & green Romaine, red & green oak, red & green leaf, lolla Rosa, tango], spinach, mizuna arugula, tatsoi, red chard, green chard), Grape Tomatoes, Cucumbers, Red Peppers.

Yes, people, arugula!

With the croutons and dressing = 220 calories (you decide).

The small chili is:

170 calories, 5 g fat, 2 g saturated fat, 16 g carbohydrates, 6 g sugar, 15 g protein, 4.0 g fiber, 780 mg sodium, 5 SmartPts

FYI - the cheddar cheese adds another 70 calories.

Where this goes off the rails is the SODIUM. Why on earth would you need so much salt in chili?

At any rate, this is a far better choice than the others and you spend a total of $3.60 for a soup and a salad. It is a bit shocking how inexpensive this is and I don't want to get into a debate about wages, etc.

You can do this every once and a while and not pack your lunch (or break the bank). Whatever you do - don't order the fries or the Frosty. They are bad. (just kidding :)

Do you eat off the value menu? What do you eat?

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Guilty...I love Wendy's. I always order off the value menu. What about the grilled chicken wrap at Wendy's? I usually ask for extra pickles on my grilled chicken and then give the wrap to my husband, which he eats with his chili. I also order a side salad with light balsamic dressing.

Which salad dressing is best? I usually get fat free but I'm told thats not the best choice? I work and try to pack my lunch but on hectic daus I have to rely on takeout so I really appreciate your input on this! Thanks so much!

I enjoy lunch at Wendy's about once every month and I have the cup of chili and their baked potato (minus the butter and sour cream). It costs under $5. and I feel like I'm having a meal not just a snack.

Salad with chili on top makes taco salad (no tacos necessary, no dressing necessary for the salad because the chili takes care of that). Adding a baked potato (I let my conscience be my guide regarding toppings), and putting some of the chili on top of the baked potato makes for a healthy, inexpensive and fast full meal. If we encourage Wendy's (en masse) to reduce the salt in the chili, I think they would listen. People can add as many salt packets as they want after they order it. But there must be a bunch of us all whining about excessive salt at the same time!.

Text or Call
The Wendy's Company
One Dave Thomas Blvd., Dublin, OH 43017

Please reduce the salt. Love taco salad with baked potato idea!

I do like Wendy's and on occasion will eat there, but I try to make good choices when I do.

I've lost 30 lbs and I just made a few changes in my diet. My biggest change was to stop snacking at night. Then it was to cut my portions down eat more fruit and veggies. I also started putting my calorie intake into a app I downloaded on my phone. That has really helped me to pay attention. My job is to do home visits with people so I'm driving around a lot and it would be so easy to stop at a fast food place and go crazy, but I don't. I had knee surgery and was worried I might put some weight back on, but I haven't and now I'm walking which is helping my knee and waist line.

I used to get the chili all the time before I became vegetarian. Then I switched to the sour cream and chives baked potato. Did they remove them from the value menu? Or perhaps it is more of a regional thing? I haven't been to Wendy's in a couple of years, so I couldn't say. I'm sure with butter and sour cream the potato has more calories than the chili, but still not as bad as most of the other things on the menu.

As a side note--if you like arugula, the "wild" version is perennial in milder climates and reseeds itself in tougher climates. Then you have it readily available for salads, sandwiches, pastas, or soup. The wild version is pungent, nutty, and easy.…

Yup pour the chili over the baked pot :-) or just order the baked pot w broccoli. Chili over a side salad is a great idea too!

@Sue--I really like the ideas from Wendy's. If you have lunch with a friend OR your kids, I think the way to make it even healthier is to get salads and plain potatoes all around then 1 bowl of chili to split 2 or 3 ways as potato topping or taco salad. That will take care of the sodium issue! Thanks for these ideas and nutritional data!

I like these suggestions as hubs n I stop at Wendy's on our way to-from our cabin in the summer. Since it's hot outside, we usually split a medium frosty during the drive; could you please expound on its ingredients/caloric values since you DID say it's BAD(hahah). Thanks!

Other than value menu:

I sometimes order the grilled chicken sandwich with sauce on the side. I eat the chicken meat and maybe 1/4 the bun. I dunk pieces of chicken in just a little of the sauce. Wendy's has my favorite fast food grilled chicken!


I love the chili and side salad! That's what I try to get when I go. But I have been guilty of one of their burger w/o the bun and a side salad.. 😊

There' something I do t understand about the McD's menu as shown above:

If 4 chicken nuggets are 180 calories, how can 20 nuggets be only 440 calories. By my math, which I'll admit is usually poor, 20 nuggets are 5x as many as 4 nuggets and so 20 nuggets should be 900 calories. Am I missing something?

Several years ago I used to get just the salad at Wendy's when it was all you can eat and I had leftover to take home cause I couldn't finish it. Yes: I used too much dressing back then!

Today it's McD off the value menu: a McChicken and fries with hot coffee or tea. In my teens (many years ago!)we used to have a hamburger, fries, and shake for a "complete" meal. I remember the green shakes around St. Patrick's day too!

The Wendy's in my area will sell you a piece of grilled chicken on the side.

So some nights I will get a plan grilled chicken, side salad, and a plain baked potato.

Nancyabc: What a wonderful idea to get just a piece of grilled chicken at Wendys! I have never asked, but I will soon!

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