The fast food industry in the United States alone is worth nearly $200 billion, and it’s not hard to see why with the convenience and affordability that these restaurants offer. Follow these tricks for saving money—and eating fresher food—from nine of the most popular chains. Most importantly, always be nice to your server, because being nice can go a long way!
1. Ask that your sandwich be made with a round egg instead of a folded egg.
Go for better quality and taste by asking that your sandwich be made with a round egg instead of the scrambled stuff that’s been pressed into a patty. The round egg is made right there on the premises in an egg ring, free of charge.
2. Save $2.30 by ordering a Double Cheeseburger without ketchup and mustard, and with lettuce and special sauce, instead of a Big Mac.
You may not get the sesame seed bun, but you’ll save about $2.30.
3. Save $1.30 by ordering a Sausage McMuffin with a round egg a la carte instead of a Sausage McMuffin with Egg.
Order a round egg for an added $0.50 and build your own Sausage McMuffin with Egg instead of ordering the real thing for $2.99.
4. Pay only $0.25 per Chicken McNugget by going with the 20-pack instead of the 4-pack.
Each Chicken McNugget costs $0.30 in the $1.19 4-pack. If your family loves McNuggets, save a nickel per piece by ordering in bulk with the $5 20-pack.
5. Request a steamed bun for fresher-tasting, warm bread every time.
6. Get more meat by choosing 2 proteins at no extra cost.
You can choose two proteins at no extra cost, but you’ll pay for the more expensive protein. Still, each portion typically turns into 3/4 of a serving each, which means more meat all around in that burrito.
7. Add extra rice to any order for free.
8. Get a full meal–drink and side included–for under $5 by ordering off the kids menu.
Kids menu meals come with fruit or chips and juice, milk, or soda–all for under $5. You can choose from three dishes: build-your-own tacos, a cheese quesadilla, or a cheese quesadilla with meat or guacamole.
9. Get guacamole added to your order for free when you skip the protein.
10. Make 2 meals out of a burrito bowl by asking for a free tortilla or taco shells on the side.
Load up a burrito bowl and eat half now by stuffing the ingredients in taco shells or wrapping them up in a tortilla. Then, save the other half for later.
11. Save $2.10 by sharing a French press instead of ordering 2 Grande drip coffees.
12. Save $0.80 and get the same amount of caffeine by ordering a Short latte instead of a Tall.
These fun-sized drinks (8 oz. versus a 12 oz. Tall) contain the same amount of caffeine for less money (you get less milk to espresso)!
13. Save $0.58 when you ask for light ice in your iced coffee.
When you order more ice, you end up with less beverage in your glass.
Bonus Tips: Check out these 12 Insider Secrets from a Starbucks Barista for more hacks.
14. Save $1.19 by ordering 2 Junior Roast Beef Sandwiches instead of a Classic Roast Beef Sandwich.
You get more of the same food for less money.
Bonus Tip: Buy anything off the menu, then call the number on the back of the receipt to do a quick survey. Write down the survey code and get back in line for a FREE Roast Beef Sandwich or Beef’n Cheddar Sandwich.
15. Save $10 by ordering a large carryout 3-topping pizza with pineapple, ham, and bacon instead of a large Honolulu Hawaiian.
Technically, the Honolulu Hawaiian also has shredded parmesan asiago and roasted red peppers. Add both as additional toppings to your 3-topping carryout pizza and still save $7.
Bonus Tip: Call your local branch and see if they have any pizzas that weren’t delivered or picked up. There’s a good chance you can get the pizza at a discounted price.
16. Split a Footlong and customize each 6-inch portion instead of ordering individual 6-inch subs.
You can’t change the meat or the bread, but you can change the cheese, produce, and condiments—which saves you a couple dollars.
17. Keep all the ingredients deliciously tucked in by ordering a sub “old cut style.”
The subway artist just needs to make a V shape or trench into the bread, instead of slicing along the side. This will neatly hold your toppings, and keep the ingredients from slipping out the sides.
18. Ditch the cheap, clear water cup and opt for a medium-size cup for about $0.60 instead of paying $2 for a water bottle.
Bonus Tip: As part of their 50th anniversary celebrations, Subway is letting customers add 50% more meat to their 6-inch sandwiches for just $0.50 more.
19. Get a fresher sandwich by customizing it.
Have it your way and customize anything on your sandwich, even extra pickles. This pretty much guarantees your sandwich is fresh, because the server won’t want to unwrap an already wrapped sandwich.
20. Order “Off the Broiler” or “OTB” for the freshest burger.
When you order your food and literally say “off the broiler” or “OTB,” servers will take a fresh, uncooked hamburger patty and send it through the conveyor. In about seven minutes you’ll have a freshly made hamburger that hasn’t been sitting for a while on a warming tray.
Bonus Tip: Here’s where Burger King makes it easy for you. Get their 5 items for $4 deal and save $2.75. You’ll get a bacon cheeseburger, crispy chicken nuggets, small fries, a small drink, and a chocolate chip cookie.
21. Order the Triple Layer Nachos without beans or sauce for $1.10 instead of the Chips & Cheese for $1.30 to get more nachos with cheese already poured over them.
Forgo the chips in a small bag and cheese in a little container. Not only do you get more nachos when you order the Triple Layer Nachos, but you’re also saving $0.20.
22. Add guacamole to anything for $0.35 more.
Try adding guac to a beef or bean burrito. Amongst the Taco Bell regulars, this is known as “The Hulk.”
23. Order your fries unsalted to ensure you get a fresh batch of fries.
You can salt them yourself with salt packets (this works at most fast-food joints).