And I’ll protest if they take it off their menu.
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Wendy's on a designed background
Credit: Getty Images / Jeff Greenberg

Welcome to Thrifty. A weekly column where nutrition editor and registered dietitian, Jessica Ball, keeps it real on how to grocery shop on a budget, make healthy meals for one or two and make earth-friendly choices without overhauling your entire life. 

I'm a dietitian on a budget, which means I get pretty strategic when it comes to buying healthy foods at a low price point. Even though I love to cook, I still get takeout on the regular, at least a few times a month. And sometimes, that takeout happens to be fast food—yes, dietitians eat fast food, too! And one chain that will always have a special place in my heart is Wendy's. 

Growing up, my mom and I would always run errands together. Whether it was a trip to our beloved Costco or a stroll around the local mall, it was a special time for just the girls of the family to be together (my dad and brothers were not invited—sorry, guys). To cap off these shopping sprees, we would grab a quick lunch somewhere. That varied a lot and depended on where we were shopping, but Wendy's was a regular in the rotation for one reason: We both love (with a capital L) their baked potatoes. That's right, if you didn't already know, Wendy's sells whole baked potatoes at many of their locations. 

Here is the nutrition information for the potato options on the Wendy's menu:

  • 310 calories
  • 2.5g fat
  • 1.5g saturated fat
  • 10mg cholesterol
  • 55mg sodium
  • 63g carbs
  • 7g fiber
  • 8g protein
  • 440 calories
  • 13g fat
  • 6g saturated fat
  • 35mg cholesterol
  • 600mg sodium
  • 64g carbs
  • 7g fiber
  • 17g protein

There are several reasons why the humble spud from this chain has my heart, beyond the nostalgia factor. As far as meals at fast food chains go, it's pretty rare you can get a whole fresh vegetable cooked as is. Plus, potatoes are packed with good-for-you nutrients like fiber, potassium and vitamin C, to name a few. The Bacon Cheese potato has significantly more sodium and saturated fat than the Sour Cream & Chive potato. So if you're trying to follow a heart-healthy eating pattern, it may be a better idea to opt for the Sour Cream & Chive option or stick to plain and ask for toppings on the side.

You can also customize your toppings based on your preferences. Their menu items include Sour Cream & Chive or Bacon & Cheese topping options, but if you like to live on the wild side like me, you can ask for sour cream, chives and bacon (you can thank me later). Oh, and a delectable plain baked potato clocks in at 270 calories and $1.99 (price may vary depending on your location).

In an effort to keep this menu item on their menu eternally, I urge you to try the baked potato next time you stop at Wendy's. Whether you're on a road trip or just need a quick, healthy and affordable lunch in a pinch, this healthy fast food meal has you covered.