I’m not a big fan of burgers, but sometimes the American in me do crave it. In the past, when I order fast food for my family, the average cost for the entire dinner would be around 15 to 20 dollars. Whether it’s McDonald’s or Burger King, a complete meal is roughly around 5-6 dollars each. A complete meal include fries, the burger, and a drink. If I feel like it, I would include a snack or two. I especially love McDonald’s fruit salad along with their iced coffee. That would of course add to the bill. But now, during this tough economic time, I found creative ways to save money when that burger craving creeps up on me. If you’re dining in with a group or if you’re alone or driving through, the following guide may save you some money.
Ordering Fast Food The Cheaper Way – Dining In With a Group
Before visiting a fast food restaurant, do some calculations and come up with an ordering strategy. Depending on the amount of people in your party, calculate what the cost would be if each person ordered a combo meal. For instance, my sister and her children were visiting the other day. Since no one felt like cooking, I offered to treat them to dinner at McDonald’s. There were seven people all together. If everyone ordered a meal, my total would come out to roughly 40 plus dollars, and that’s not including tax or any snacks the kids might want to order. So before I took them to McDonald’s, I did some quick calculations and decided on a strategy.
Ditch the combo meal, switch it up a bit. When super-sizing your meal, your fries might be super-sized, and your drink might super-sized, but your burger isn’t super-sized. You might think you’re getting more for your money, but do you really need loads of fries when 80% of the time, the fries are the item on the tray that is thrown away? And what about that huge cup that you paid for? Have you forgotten that there are free refills? Before ordering, observe the menu closely. Don’t just focus your eyes on the enticing conveniently numbered meals, look at the individual burgers. They are usually around 2-3 dollars, depending on your location. Order a sandwich only, we’ll cover the fries next.
As I mentioned earlier, I noticed that fries are the most leftover items on the tray. If you must have your fries, I recommend ordering one large fries and share them among your party. In my case, I had 7 people in my party, so I ordered two large fries. In my area, the large fries cost $2.69 each. Going back to my ordering strategy; if 7 people in my party ordered their individual burgers at 2 dollars each (for now, let’s play it safe and say each burgers cost 3 dollars each), it would be 21 dollars total. The two super-sized fries are $2.69 each, so my total would be $26.38 not including tax. For right now, I would be saving about 15 dollars, but let’s talk about drinks next.
Drinks are essential when eating fast food. The salty fries and the chunks of burger will definitely make you thirsty. After I ordered my two large fries and 7 burgers for everyone, I now go for the drinks. Depending on your area, a large drink may costs around $1.79, but I’m looking to save more money so I’m going for the free cups. At any fast food restaurant, a cup of water is free. Instead of ordering a large drink, I would ask for free cups. At most fast food restaurant, they offer free refills. Their fountain is located in the dining room area for customer access. I ordered 1 large soft drinks and 7 small free cups. There isn’t any rule on the wall that says you can’t share your drinks right? That large cup of soda can go a long way. Use it as a pitcher; each person can still have their drinks and drink it too. When the pitcher empties out, go refill it. My total is now $28.17. I still have enough money left to buy the kids some apple pies.
Ordering Fast Food The Cheaper Way – Dining in Alone
Don’t forget the value menu. It seems like McDonald’s quarter pounder with cheese is very popular. What I’ve noticed is that, the quarter pounder taste a lot like the cheeseburger. The cheeseburger in my area is .89 cents each. It looks small, but if you order multiples of them, it will equal out to the same amount as the regular quarter pounder, if not more. If you ordered 3 cheeseburgers, that would be a triple cheeseburger for only $2.67! Add a small fries for a dollar. Ask for a free cup of water (perhaps you can sneak a free refill at the fountain or two, but you didn’t hear that from me); your total would be around $3.67.
Ordering Fast Food The Cheaper way – Driving Through With The Family
The combo can definitely be passed around. There are three people in my family. If I ordered three combos, it would come out to 15 dollars not including tax. What I do is I order 1 combo; a combo meal comes complete with large fries and a large drink. I then order two to three sandwiches from the value menu for .89 cents each and if my daughter prefer, she can get her four piece chicken nuggets for 1.20. I then ask for small empty cups to share the drinks. Together we could be saving around 7 dollars and could still afford the .50 vanilla cones for each person.
These are some of my money saving strategies that I abide by. Call me cheap, but at least I’ll have money to buy the super expensive gas for my car. So depending on the size of your party or your family, you might want to switch some things around and create your own strategy. Whatever you decide, I hope this guide will give you some ideas of your own.