What can you buy on a $5 budget?

October 29, 2019

Being a college student can mean that your already tight budget can be spread pretty thin. After burning cash on books, classes, car payments and, of course, streaming subscriptions, there may not be a lot left over for basic necessities like food.

Worry not, however–thankfully, Crusader is here to help you find the best deals on cheap food around Liberal. Paying your Spotify bill doesn’t have to mean you can only eat ramen noodles for the rest of the month now!

Here are five different fast and easy meals that you can get for about $5 (tax not included) in Liberal:



Calen Moore
Wendy’s makes spending $5 on food easy with their $5 Biggie Bag.

We went to Wendy’s with only $5 to see what we could buy. When we walked in, we noticed that the restaurant itself was very nice and clean. The employee’s acted with a sense of urgency. The store manager, Manuel Amaya, took our order and was delighted to find out about the review we were conducting. 

“[Wendy’s] is definitely going to win the best value,” Amaya said.

As the manager was handing back our change, our food was already done and called out, making it the fastest transaction out of all the establishments staff members visited.

Our order, the $5 Biggie Bag, included a jr. bacon cheeseburger, spicy nuggets, french fries, and a small soft drink.

The food tasted good, and our favorite item was the spicy nuggets which, in our opinion, had the right amount of spice. They should really make the spicy nuggets a mainstay.

Of course, this wasn’t gourmet tier food, but it was top tier as far as fast food goes. In total the meal cost $5.46 and was literally out faster than we could pay for it. It was a good value for the price that we paid. 


Rebecca Irby
McDonald’s value menu is the perfect spot to go when you are low on cash.

For $5, we were able to purchase two McChickens and two cheeseburgers. We think they both tasted pretty good. The chicken wasn’t as crispy as most people would prefer but in terms of flavor, it was nice–very moist, too. The cheeseburger was filling, but there was definitely more bun than meat, and it was honestly pretty small. 

For under $5 though, we got a great value and a lot of food. The food came out fast, too, within about three minutes, and tasted fresh. 

The customer service wasn’t the best, but it was okay, and it was pretty busy inside so the employees were probably stressed. It was what you’d expect from McDonald’s, honestly. Overall, this meal was good because it was quick, easy, tasty and most of all, cheap.  

Taco Bell

Rebecca Irby
A review on cheap food wouldn’t be complete with Taco Bell. It wins for “buy the most for $5” category.

At Taco Bell, we were able to get enough food to feed several people, perhaps a whole family, for $5 and some change. 

We got two tostadas, and they were pretty good, but the lettuce tasted off, like it wasn’t quite fresh. The bean and rice burritos were filling, but you could definitely tell that they were made with cheap fast food tortillas. 

The quesadilla wasn’t so filling, on the other hand–there wasn’t very much cheese or meat inside the tortilla. It also wasn’t as flavorful as the other menu items we tried. 

On the bright side, our food came out in under a minute, and the employee that served us was really nice. If you need a really quick, really cheap meal, Taco Bell is the place to go if you don’t mind sacrificing a little bit of quality. 

Garden Of Eatin’ (Southwest Medical Center cafeteria)

Preston Burrows
Hospital food in a college review you ask? Hey! It’s close to campus and you can get a cheap healthy meal.

Garden Of Eatin’ is the cafeteria at Southwest Medical Center in Liberal. Anybody is welcome to eat for a small price.

During lunch and dinner times, they serve a main entree. If you don’t want the main entree, you have the choice of ordering other options from the menu, like hamburgers, grilled cheeses, fries, ham and cheese sandwiches, chicken strips, deserts, and more, though each item is priced differently. 

At first, we wanted to order off the menu, but we decided that ordering the entree would be quicker than having them prepare food for us from scratch. Five dollars got us an entree of herb baked chicken, fettuccini noodles, one side of vegetables and a bag of chips. 

However, an extra side of vegetables would cost you an extra 90 cents, which we did not get. The main entree meal with vegetables came out to a total of $4.59 including tax. With the extra change you get back, you can purchase a bag of chips for 40 cents (44 cents with tax). The total comes out to $5.03. 

The taste of the food was definitely not up to par for five dollars. It was bland. Unlike the tacos from El Pastorcito or the McChickens, it had no seasoning or flavor. The noodles were dry and had no sauce. The chicken was mediocre and lacked seasoning as well. They could’ve added a lot more to the food. 

El Pastorcito

William Swanson
These street tacos from El Pastorcito win for “best tasting” food for $5. You can alter your toppings and choice of meat.

At El Pastorcito, we purchased 5 soft tacos, 3 barbacoa and 2 carne asada, for $5 even. 

There, we ordered from our car, and the waitress brought the food out to us in a relatively short amount of time. Then we rushed back to Crusader headquarters at SCCC to peep this one out. 

From the moment we unraveled our meal, the homely smell of authentic Mexican food wafted through the air, and into our noses. The quality of the food was just as good as the smell. 

As we bit into the soft roasted barbacoa beef taco, we noticed how well the juiciness of the meat complimented the soft texture of the taco. 

With the carne asada soft tacos, the only difference is the meat, which is steak instead of beef. The quality was still the same, and amazed all of us. For $5, this is a great value for someone who might be pinching their pennies. We definitely recommend it.

Overall, we decided as a group that while Taco Bell offered the greatest quantity of food for $5, El Pastorcito’s food was the best in quality.

There are a lot of places in Liberal where you can find good, cheap food, but now you don’t have to search for it. 


About the Contributors
Photo of Calen Moore
Calen Moore, Club Multi-Media Reporter

Calen Moore is a sophomore at SCCC and is from Liberal. He discovered his love for writing through writing for Crusader News....

Photo of Preston Burrows
Preston Burrows, Features Editor

Preston Burrows is an 18-year-old sophomore at SCCC, who was born in Johnson City. He attended Rolla High School until he...

Photo of Monica Gonzalez
Monica Gonzalez, Social Media Director

Monica Gonzalez is a 19-year-old sophomore who loves to travel and take sports photos. While at Seward, she has realized...

Photo of Rebecca Irby
Rebecca Irby, Reporter

Rebecca Irby is a 19 year old Liberal local. She is a music major. After attending Seward, Rebecca plans on attending Fort...

Photo of Maggie Ibarra
Maggie Ibarra, Reporter

Maggie Ibarra is a behavioral science major from Garden City who can help solve all your problems. If you have problems,...

Photo of Annette Meza
Annette Meza, Managing Editor

Annette Meza is a sophomore journalism major. She is 19 years old and was born and raised in Liberal. In her free time, she...

Photo of Kris Liggett
Kris Liggett, Sports Reporter

Kris Liggett is 19 years old and working to get a degree in Journalism. He's from Ness City and comes from a family of seven:...

Photo of William Swanson
William Swanson, Reporter

William Swanson is a simple man, he writes mediocre articles and he plays Halo 3. Water is his favorite food. He also thinks...

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