Fast Food is a not a way of life, but unfortunately it is sometimes a fact of life. No matter how hard you try to eat at home there are times when you just don’t have the time to make your own dinner.
Moreover, fast food prices have been climbing lately along with the price of food. Have you seen how much you can spend on a meal deal at McDonald’s these days?! But luckily, fast food restaurants are extremely competitive and offer lots of coupons. That means that with a little planning, you can easily save money on fast food. Here are some tips that we’ve been using to help cut our fast food bills.
Use Coupons to Save on Fast Food
Coupons are the obvious choice when it comes to saving money at fast food restaurants. Everyone knows about coupons, but not everyone knows where to find good coupons. The best coupons are usually mailed out. Check through local coupon books and newspapers. Also, look through some of the free papers that are usually found at the entrance of restaurants or grocery stores. Also, look at the website of the restaurant you want, as well as doing a search for “xxx restaurant coupons”. You’d be surprised how many unadvertised coupons you can find. Also, visit the facebook sites or check in to the restaurant. Sometimes they have instant coupons available.
Another often overlooked coupon is the one found on your prior receipt. For example, Burger King offers a free whopper if you just complete a one minute survey using your receipt. Don’t have a receipt? Look for one laying on the floor of the restaurant or on top of the garbage.
Use Loyalty Rewards
Many fast food places have loyalty rewards. Some are a club that you sign up for and get a card (like Starbucks or Red Robin) and some are simple punchcards, like Papa Murphys or Subway. Taking advantage of any frequent buyer programs can yield significant savings, especially if you frequent certain restaurants more than others.
The best way to save money on fast food is to be prepared. In other words, try to plan in advance and always have a coupon ready. One easy method is to save a bunch of coupons and then put them in an envelope in your car. That way, next time you’re out and about you can still use a coupon and save money. Another part of being prepared is to already have gone through the coupons before you decide to go out. Keeping coupons organized is a good way to be prepared.
Use Your Smartphone
Use apps on your smartphone to find good deals. By checking in at restaurants you sometimes get instant coupons. Besides coupons, your smartphone can be used to find the nearest restaurant that you do have a coupon for, which brings us to the next pointer – being flexible.
If you have coupons, but not for the restaurant you like, then go to a restaurant that you have a coupon for. If you find yourself in a new location and don’t know where the nearest fast food restaurants are, check your smartphone to see if there are others nearby that might be cheaper. Avoid eating at fast food in any airport or at any type of attraction or amusement park.
Drink Water and Skip Dessert
By drinking water instead of soda and skipping dessert or fries, you can actually save quite a bit of money. Better yet, get one big soda and one big fries or dessert and share it with the rest of your family.
Budgeting for Fast Food
We looked around the web and found some useful tips on budgeting for food. For example, this article from Tight Fisted Miser points has some good points to offer:
How often can you afford to go? Figure it out. Set aside a specific amount that you know you can afford to use — it can be slotted as ‘entertainment’ or ‘food.’ Keep that amount in cash — or put it on a gift card for your favorite spot. When the money’s gone, it’s gone, until the next paycheck. Go home and have a peanut-butter sandwich.
Stretch your ‘go-to’ money. Coupons, especially BOGOs, will let you go twice as often. Choose the sale items: Subway’s monthly specials often let you choose a foot-long sub for $5 — or less! Many restaurants, including McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King, Taco Bell and even Kentucky Fried Chicken, offer a ‘dollar menu.’ Most of those items are now more than a buck — but not much more….
The rest of this article is at Frugal Fast Food.
These are some great points about saving money on fast food that we didn’t address. While we addressed the different ways to save when you are already going to buy fast food, this article addressed some techniques that can help you avoid going out for fast food, or at least help you plan a budget so that you go out less.
The takeaway here is that fast food can be expensive if you don’t utilize saving techniques. Hopefully, we’ve given you a suggestion or two that you haven’t thought of before. Have any other suggestions, please comment below.