Fast Food Hacks to Save Money and Ignite Your Taste Buds
Fast food sometimes gets a lot of negative hype, but it’s an essential food choice for broke college students and anyone with no time to spare or the late-night munchies. Not all fast food joints are created equal when it comes to getting the best flavors or the most bang for your buck.
When you want to eat cheap but still enjoy every bite, you need to know where to go. Check out these fast food hacks that could help you save money while giving your taste buds a little treat.
Starbucks: Larger-Sized Cup
Depending on what you order at Starbucks, the whipped cream, caramel drizzle and other top-of-the-drink-goodness often takes up a lot of space in your cup. If you’ve never noticed some of your delicious drink getting washed down the drain when your barista makes your delicious Frappuccino, rest assured that it’s probably happening. What a waste!
Taco Bell: Double-Grilled Quesadilla
The quesadilla is a Taco Bell go-to for anybody with a hankering for some Mexican deliciousness. Whether you're a steak quesadilla person, a chicken quesadilla buff or you prefer to go cheese-only, you really can't go wrong with this cheesy grilled tortilla.
Chipotle: Extra Rice
Chipotle is yet another Mexican-inspired staple in many fast foodie's diet. Whether you’re a burrito fan or you prefer to go a bit healthier with a bowl, you should know that you're always allowed to ask for extra rice at no cost. That’s right — free!
McDonald's: Steamed Bun
Most people roll through the McDonald’s drive-thru or stroll up to the counter and place their orders without giving it much thought. This is a critical error if you normally eat burgers at the fast food giant.
Starbucks: Your Own Mug/Cup
Plenty of Starbucks loyalists stop by the renowned coffee joint several times a week (or even once a day). The delicious offerings keep them going through work, workouts, errands, kids' errands — you name it. Ever noticed how Starbucks walls are lined with tempting take-home cup options? People buy them in droves while completely overlooking one very significant benefit.
McDonald's: The Rule of Four Nuggets
Are you a McDonald’s chicken nuggets fan? Some very clever enthusiasts have discovered over the years that nuggets should be ordered in specific quantities. This isn’t a bit of promotional propaganda. It’s a value-based hack that can save you money over time.
Burger King: The Quad Stacker
The Quad Stacker isn’t an ironically named menu items. It’s a staple of BK's off-the-menu offerings that’s listed here not because it’s a "secret" item, but because it’s delicious and a great value.
Shake Shack: Peanut Butter Bacon Burger
The Peanut Butter and Bacon ShackBurger was once a regular menu item at Shake Shacks all around the world, but it was discontinued due to liability issues related to those with peanut allergies. That doesn’t have to stop you from channeling your inner MacGyver to enjoy it anyway.
Chipotle: Chicken and Steak Combo
You should always feel free to ask for what you want, regardless of where you’re eating. Unless you’re a vegetarian, it’s unlikely you want less meat in your Chipotle burrito. This hack is dedicated to everyone out there on a budget who needs to make the most out of every meal.
Jamba Juice: Substitute Away
At Jamba Juice, employees have to honor your requests for item substitutions. That basically gives you a license to customize your smoothie any way you like without paying extra — assuming you are clever enough. The possibilities are endless, but it's not always easy to come out ahead.
Burger King: Crown Card
Burger King offers what is essentially a rewards program, but you'd never know it if you simply go through the drive-thru or order your meal off the menu inside. That makes the Crown Card Club as exclusive as any secret society or local country club. (Okay, not really, but you get the idea.)
Subway: Foot-Long Sandwich
If you and a friend or family member are both craving the same tasty Subway sandwich, you could both individually order your Spicy Italian or your Meatball Marinara. There’s nothing wrong with that — except you’re missing out on some big savings.
Domino's: Pizza Profile
Domino's is winning the large American pizza chain competition when it comes to perks and rewards, and their customer Pizza Profiles are at the heart of their winning strategy. Many rewards programs are a sham, offering little in return for your purchases, but that’s not the case with Domino’s.
Arby's: Roast Beef Sandwiches
Arby's might not be the most popular fast food chain in America, but it’s hard to deny the appeal of the roast beef sandwich that made them a household name. Next time you want to pick up a classic roast beef at Arby's, there’s something you need to know to get your money’s worth.
Chipotle: Tortillas on the Side
You could order the massive burrito at Chipotle for your monster appetite, but what happens if you don’t actually finish it? Yep, it turns into a much less appealing (possibly even a soggy mess) for reheating. We have an alternative option if you don’t mind a do-it-yourself method.
Taco Bell: Nachos
If you’re looking for your own customized version of nachos — like maybe some tomato thrown on for kicks — then don't simply order the chips and cheese and start adding toppings.
Domino's: Hawaiian, Anyone?
Domino's does pizza right, and sometimes that means a delicious pizza pie with ham and pineapple on it. If you're feeling tropical and decide it's a Hawaiian kind of day (or night), think twice before automatically pulling up a Hawaiian pizza in your app and ordering it.
Dunkin’ Donuts: Snickers Coffee
Snickers is one of the most beloved candy bars on the planet for good reason. Some clever flavor enthusiasts at Dunkin’ Donuts discovered that Snickers-flavored iced coffee is pretty darn good too. You can try it yourself by making a couple of simple requests when you order.
Sonic: Purple Sprite
If you’re a fan of the rapper, Future, you may be thinking of a different sort of Purple Sprite. This one is talking about Sonic, one of the most underrated fast food joints in the land, partially due to its specialty crushed ice that could make any simple drink taste magical.
Taco Bell: Guacamole
The burritos at Taco Bell tend to revolve around similar recipes featuring meat, beans, cheese and rice as primary ingredients. You may find these burritos to be boring and uninspiring, but there are ways to pump up the flavor.
Arby's: The Meat Mountain
Arby's slogan is "We Have the Meats," so it’s only fitting that we bring your attention to a monstrous, off-the-menu Arby's offering known as the Meat Mountain. Like real mountains, it’s massive — in the fast food sandwich world — and will certainly fill you up.
In-N-Out: Flying Dutchman
The world is very carb conscious these days. That means when you're chowing down on a delicious burger, the biggest tinge of guilt comes from the bun. The carbs are hidden in the bread, so if you cut down on the bun (or eliminate it), then you can put your conscience to rest. The West Coast staple known as In-N-Out is ready to help you solve this problem.
Jack in the Box: Junior Bacon Cheeseburgers
If you're a fan of the Jack in the Box Double Bacon Cheeseburger — and a fan of saving money, rather than wasting it — we have the perfect hack for you. Math-minded fast foodies have figured out a cost-saving shortcut that is sure to drive Jack in the Box executives crazy.
Steak ‘n Shake: Frisco Melt
Steak N' Shake is legendary among American fast food lovers, and the Frisco Melt — consisting of thin patties on delicious sourdough — is an absolute staple of the SNS menu. But it's far from one of the cheapest menu items, so we have a hack to make it a bit more affordable for those on a budget.
All Restaurants: Rush Hour
It may seem counterintuitive to go to any place of business when you know it’s crazy busy, but there are two very good reasons why this hack should be a rule of thumb when you’re seeking a fast food fix. Rush hour times are when you know the food will be fresh and when the best staff members are likely to be working.
McDonald's: No Salt
You would be hard pressed to meet someone who doesn't love McDonald's French fries, but fresh fries are dramatically better than those sitting under the heat lamp for too long. Fortunately, there’s a sure-fire way to make sure your fries are fresh every time.
McDonald's: Round Eggs
McDonald's has dominated the fast food breakfast game for years, but many customers don’t realize they could make their egg breakfast sandwiches even better. You don’t always get the freshest foods at fast food joints, but you can ensure your breakfast is fresh if you know what to ask.
Starbucks: Less Ice, More Coffee
It's basic logic: The more ice in any drink you order, the less room you have for the liquid that’s actually costing you money. When it comes to properly dosing yourself with caffeine, it’s particularly critical to maximize the amount of coffee in each of your Starbucks orders. Each and every sip could make a major difference in your daily productivity.
Burger King: Off the Broiler
You might be surprised to learn how many fast food joints will make your food fresh — simply because you know how to ask for it in properly coded language. Burger King isn’t an exception to the rule. If you want to make sure your burger is fresh, there’s a specific way you need to request it.
McDonald's: Big Mac
It’s really amazing how much you can save by simply ordering the base model of a burger and swapping out some ingredients. The Big Mac is a great burger — but most McDonald's customers pay more to enjoy that greatness. Imagine if they knew they could get it for less.