Taco Bell Reaches Out To Cash Strapped Diners

Dana Hinders

If you're struggling to make it to payday, Taco Bell is the place to be. Every day from 2 pm to 5 pm, most Taco Bell locations will have six popular menu items for just $1 each as part of the company's Happier Hour promotion. Items featured in the promotion include:

Taco Bell's current value menu items are sold under the heading Why Pay More? and include cinnamon twists, cheesy nachos, soft tacos, crunchy tacos, bean burritos, beefy 5-layer burritos, and caramel apple empanadas. Prices for these items range from $0.89 to $1.59.

For breakfast, Taco Bell also recently launched a menu that includes options such as a sausage and egg burrito, bacon and egg burrito, steak and egg burrito, and hash browns for $2 or less. These new offerings have been a success so far, helping Taco Bell take on McDonald's as a morning option for cash strapped diners. The breakfast menu also helps distinguish Taco Bell from Chipotle, which remains popular among those with a little more money to spend but does not currently have a breakfast menu.

Unfortunately, however, those who are trying to lose weight will find that the chain's healthiest options are not part of the value menu offers. Every item on the Fresco menu has 350 calories or less and under 10 grams of fat. For those who are trying to add more protein to their diets, the Cantina Power Menu features protein packed bowls and burritos for 500 calories or less with almost 30 grams of protein per serving. These are slightly more expensive than other Taco Bell offerings, but still cheaper than you'd find at Chipotle.

Taco Bell, which is part of Yum! Brands, remains a high point for company thanks in part to its commitment to keeping prices low. Taco Bell's U.S. and global same-store sales grew 2 percent over the last quarter, even though other Yum! Brands holdings saw significant drops in their same-store sales.

Photo courtesy of Mike Mozart via Flickr.