Thursday, September 4, 2008

Thrifty Thursday: Eating Fast Food Cheap

Many of us have those days when we just need to get the kids (or ourselves) fed quickly and on the run. Fast food is typically not a thrifty option, but there are few of us who never visit a fast food drive-thru. Today I will share how I manage to feed myself and the kiddos for $5-10, depending on where we are eating and what is nearby.

-Dollar/Value menus: Many places are beginning to phase out their dollar menus and phasing in "value menus", but they still work. Before leaving the house, grab a bag of baby carrots or some fruit for everyone. You could also add to this by grabbing a box of granola/cereal bars and/or juice boxes/cans of soda, etc. At the drive-thru, order everyone something from the value menu, ensuring it is something that will fill them up. For us, that means no chicken nuggets for those over age 5 and no fries, since they do not fill them up enough. Order everyone a water to drink and pass around the goodies from home.

-Order one meal (preferably a value meal for about $3-3.50), upsize it to the largest size, and order everyone else their "entree" from the dollar/value menu. Again, waters all around except for the drink with the meal. Divide up the fries and the drink (or keep the drink for yourself) among everyone. If your family is large enough to need more fries, it is often more economical to go ahead with another value meal than to just order extra fries. You could also supplement this meal with carrote/fruit/granola bars from home. At some places, particularly sub places, get the largest subs and split them among the family. It takes 2 subs to feed myself and my three girls (the baby doesn't eat food yet) and if my husband is with us I am sure to grab some carrots from home to supplement rather than order an extra sub.

-If by chance the toy in the kids meal is something spectacular and you really want to get it for your child, ask about buying just the toy. Often it is more economical to do that AND order from the dollar/value menu than it is to get the whole kid's meal. If it is not, then order the one kid's meal and split the fries and drink.

-Coupons are great too, IF you have them with you. Quite often, they arrive in the mail, we bring them in the house, and then when we are in the drive-thru we are thinking,"Shoot, I have a coupon for here at home on my desk." When coupons come in the mail or paper, put them right into your glove box, then you always have them on hand.

When we find ourselves pinched for time, or even if we just want a treat, these are the methods I use, to keep our bill low. Often I combine some of the "methods", sometimes I just do one. What ways do you save money at the drive-thru?

1 comment:

  1. How funny, we do the same thing at fast food joints, the kids are gonna waste their food anyway, we have 4 kids all under 6 years old. My husband likes to get the Happy Meals, but I am really thrifty and I always suggest that we buy from the value menu, also only water and buy one super sized meal to share from. It also helps us not consume so many calories. I love using the coupons for fast food too! These are great tips!