Saturday, June 25, 2011

5 Ways to Save Money on Fast Food

I don't eat fast food all that often, so the last time I went into Popeye's I was amazed and how much prices have gone up.  It seems that fast food eating isn't as cheap as it used to be.  We're all going to indulge once in a while - who can resist all that tasty grease all the time?  Still, there's no reason to have it hit your pocketbook any harder than necessary, so here are some things you can do to knock a bit off the price.

1) Walk Inside to Get Your Food
Two minutes of idling your car burns as much gas as driving for a mile.  While you're waiting in your car for your food to be assembled, you are literally burning money.  Also, at peak times, the line is generally much longer in the drive-through than in the interior, so you might even save yourself a little time.  Remember that they're just as happy to serve it to you "to go" on the inside.

2)Buy Your Food Family Style
Most fast food restaurants are set up to give you exponentially more food at a marginal price.  If more than one person is eating, there are ways to leverage it to your advantage.  Does everyone at the table really need their own fries, or can you get a super-jumbo-extra-large and feed the table?  Can you split a double hamburger instead of getting two singles?  A couple of minutes of thought can save you money here.

3)Nix the Beverages
Even a solo eater can save by declining to pay extra for colored, carbonated water sweetened with high-fructose corn syrup.  The healthiest option, of course, is to bring your own filtered water.  You can also bring your meal home and drink it with whatever is in your fridge, at a fraction of the cost.

4)Avoid the Salads
Salads spoil easily and require more delicate handling, so they cost more.  Normally, I would be willing to pay extra for the healthier option, but most fast food salads are strange creations.  Ingredients are chosen for their shelf life, not their nutrition, and then they are heaped with fatty extras and dressings to cover the mediocre taste of the ingredients, so their caloric contents are not generally very low.  Check the nutrition information - the salad is often more calories than a regular burger.  And the salads are not generally tasty, either, so you end up feeling unsatisfied.  In short, salads are generally the least frugal item on a fast food menu, and are by no means the healthiest.  Get your salad fix elsewhere.

5)Remember that Fast Food is a Treat
The biggest threat fast food poses to your pocketbook is the threat to your health.  Even if you have the willpower to refrain from loading up on calories, the food offered is not nutritionally adequate to your long term needs.  So enjoy fast food occasionally, but don't let eating it interfere with a healthy eating lifestyle.

1 comment:

  1. Fast food is indeed a treat... sometimes nothing but a burger and fries will do. For me, that moment comes after having traveled abroad, and I need a shot of comfort food.