18 Best Fast Food Hacks to Score Menu Items on the Cheap!
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Use these ordering hacks to get the cheapest fast food around!
Is it just us, or is fast food getting more and more expensive? 🤔
Fast food may not always be the healthiest meal, but sometimes families on the go need a quick bite to eat. With prices skyrocketing this year, even fast food can hurt your wallet. Luckily, Hip2Save readers know a few ways to score cheap fast food! On our Facebook, we asked readers for their most savvy fast food ordering tips, and here’s what they had to say!
The best cheap fast food hacks and other savvy saving tips:
1. Save a
cluck buck when using these Chick-Fil-A ordering tips.
Maximize your meal when you order using these Chick-Fil-A hacks! One of our favorites is how to snag a sweet treat for less. According to The Deal Guy, you can order a Chick-Fil-A kids’ meal and ask for an ice cream cup instead of the toy and the swap is free of charge. For a chocolate fix, order a crumble topping (you may or may not be charged an extra 30¢). You’ll get a meal and a dessert similar to a McFlurry or Blizzard for a fraction of the cost of ordering an adult meal and ice cream.
Just check out these savings…
An adult Chick-Fil-A Nuggets Meal costs $8.55 and a scoop of ice cream is $1.35 plus 30 cents for the cookie topping. That’s $10.20. A Kids’ Chick Fil-A-Nuggets meal with the ice cream cup is $5.85 plus 30¢ for the cookie crumble for a total of $6.15. You’ll have 3 fewer nuggets and a smaller fry but you’ll still have plenty to eat and will have saved $4.05.
Feeling a salad? Don’t pay the whopping $10 price tag. Instead, order the kale crunch side for $2.35 (local price may vary) and request garden herb ranch sauce for free. Then order a chicken sandwich for $4.65 and add it to your kale salad. You’ll save around $2.39 by ordering this way instead of paying for the salad outright.
“If you like CFA salads, order a grilled chicken meal with a salad as your side. You also get a drink for less than a salad. Also, I recommend asking for a poly and a ranch… combine them both as your dressing and thank me later.” – Lori, Hip2Save reader
I order Chick-Fil-A Kids’ Meal and get an ice cream cone instead of a toy. One person brings their own bun and asks for sauce to make a Kids’ strip meal into a sandwich.” – Sharon, Hip2Save reader
2. Try these clever ordering hacks when visiting Culvers.
Ordering the kid’s meal at Culver’s is a no-brainer. Not only are the burger and fries almost the exact same size as the adult meal, but it comes with free custard. You’ll also get tokens to collect! Save 10 tokens to earn a FREE kids’ meal.
Check out this cheap fast food hack…
Near me, a Culvers Deluxe Value Basket with Single Burger is $7.89 plus $3.09 for One Scoop of Fresh Frozen Custard. That’s a subtotal of $10.98. Meanwhile, a Single Butterburger Cheese Kids’ Meal costs $6.79. That’s a total savings of $4.19.
Another Culver’s ordering hack is to forgo the meal deals and order just the entrees but with a family-size fry or cheese curds. These family-size sides might not be listed on the menu but many Hip2Save readers report receiving them when they ask.
“Always get the kids’ meals and save the tokens. Didn’t realize how many we had until we counted them out and had enough for 4 free kids’ meals and then extra tickets for the free scoops. We have family that save the tokens for us too so they add up fast.” – Nicole, Hip2Save reader
“When you’re out as a family, you can order a family-size fry instead of a bunch of meals with fries separately. Of course, I think cheese curds this way might be better. Sign up for birthday rewards too” – Melanie, Hip2Save reader
3. The next time you go to McDonald’s, get a Big Mac without paying for it.
To save a few bucks, piece together your sandwich like Hip2Save reader, Jessica does for her son. She orders the Big Mac sauce on the side and applies it to a regular cheeseburger.
Want to try it? Here’s how you’ll save…
If you order a Big Mac, it costs in the ballpark of $6.09 (may vary by location). With a regular cheeseburger costing just $1.79 and a double only $3.09, you’ll score a savings of around $3 – $4 depending on how many burgers you buy.
“Order a regular cheeseburger, no onions or mustard, add lettuce and Big Mac sauce. My 4yr old loves Big Macs so this is what I order for him.” – Jessica, Hip2Save reader
4. Snag the Wendy’s Biggie Bags or Taco Bell Box for just $5.
Both Taco Bell and Wendy’s offer $5 bags full of customers’ favorite cheap fast food items. A Wendy’s Biggie Bag currently includes 4-Piece Nuggets, small fries, a small drink, and your choice of a Double Stack, Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, or a Crispy Chicken BLT.
Meanwhile, the Taco Bell My Cravings Box includes your choice of a specialty item, a classic item, a side, and a drink. An example of what you can get in one $5 box is a Cheesy Gordita Crunch, a soft taco, a side of cheesy fiesta potatoes, and a Wild Cherry Freeze.
For the price, these boxes are some of the best fast-food deals available!
“$5 biggie bag from Wendy’s!” – Jasmine, Hip2Save reader
“Wendy’s $5 biggie bags, are more food than a value meal, we usually get ours large so they are a little more, but still way less than the combo’s.” – Erin, Hip2Save reader
5. Take advantage of the Frosty Pass or Taco Pass.
These passes are almost too good to be true! 🤩
The Frosty Key Tag, sometimes called the Frosty Pass, can be bought in the winter months for the upcoming year. For just $2, you can get a FREE Jr. Frosty with every single Wendy’s purchase you make from January 1st to December 31st. The 2023 Frosty Key Tag is available to purchase until January 29, 2023. Not only do these Frosty Key Tags make great gifts, but 85% of the profits go to the Dave Thomas Foundation for Adoption. 🥰
The Taco Lover’s Pass is another great deal not to miss. Taco Bell occasionally offers it and when they do, grab it while you can! You’ll get a taco every single day for 30 days for a one-time fee of $10.
“Taco Bell is less than half a mile from me. I loved their taco pass and got way more than my $10 worth last time. I’m in!” – Peaches, Hip2Save reader
“Love these [Frosty Key Tags]!! We always get these for class gifts, and for all the cousins!! Then my girls make keychains to go with them!! I love that it’s a great gift…and the majority is going to a great cause!!” – April, Hip2Save reader
6. Score the equivalent of a free burrito with this genius Chipotle hack.
This lunch trick from The Deal Guy is one of my favorite cheap fast food hacks. Instead of ordering two burritos, order one burrito bowl with a side of two tortillas. Divide the burrito bowl contents and scoop half the bowl into each of your tortillas. Voila! You have two burritos for a little over the price of one (average savings between $10-$13)! 🙌
I don’t eat fast food often, but when I do it is usually Chipotle. I’ve tested this hack out and it works. My burrito wasn’t quite as packed but it was definitely still a full portion! 😋
7. Ditch the ice, especially at Starbucks and Dunkin’!
Don’t let your fast food bill suck you dry. Get the most bang for your buck by ordering your drinks without ice. The ice is taking up more room in the cup than people realize and you end up paying the price for a large when you’re actually getting more like a medium. If you really want that iced beverage, ask for a second cup with only ice and pour your drink over it. You’ll have more liquid than if you ordered it the usual way.
You can also use this hack with another person. At Starbucks or Dunkin’, order the largest size without ice and a second cup with ice. Split the ice and beverage in half and you’ll end up with two medium-sized iced drinks. At the Dunkin’ by me, a Large Iced Latte costs around $6.61. If I order a Large Latte instead it costs less at only $6.11. Split this drink in two for a savings of about $3.30 per person.
“At Starbucks, I always ask for ice on the side for my drinks and it makes a HUGE difference… Like having another whole drink. Also when I use my rewards I make sure to apply it to the most expensive item in my order.” – Mapita, Hip2Save reader
8. Use coupons and discounts through the restaurant’s app, loyalty rewards program, and email lists.
When it came to giving us money-saving fast food advice, the one word Hip2save readers mentioned the most was, “apps.” If you’re looking to score the best deals at your favorite restaurants, you’re going to want to download their app and join their rewards program!
You’ll get the best prices, the most exclusive deals, exciting birthday rewards, and sometimes totally free food. Having the app at your fingertips is one of the best fast food hacks. It’s one of the easiest ways to score savings, like BOGO free deals and discounts such as a $1 McDonald’s large fries.
Other ways to get useful coupons are to join a restaurant’s email list, use the paper coupons sent to you in the mail, or by using the Entertainment.com app to see deals near you.
“I use the McDonald’s app and do the BOGO 10 pc nugget and split them between my 3 kids. Also, my local Chick-Fil-A locations give out rewards on the app every once in a while. A few weeks ago I had a free chicken sandwich and a free side.” – Jodi, Hip2Save reader
“I always use the apps, Wendy’s, McDonald’s, Jack in the Box, Burger King, Chick-Fil-A, etc. I’m always getting deals and earning rewards for free food. Take the surveys on the receipts for freebies. I also purchase an Entertainment Book every year for coupons.” – Cara, Hip2Save reader
“Apps and more apps. Can’t list them all because I just counted and I have 37 restaurant apps 🤣 My boyfriend makes fun of me because I always say I have to check the app before we go somewhere so I can see what kind of deal we can get.” – Michelle, Hip2Save reader
“Use their apps. We get a $1 breakfast sandwich every day at McDonald’s. I actually freeze them to eat at another time.” – Shelly, Hip2Save reader
“App rewards… today my entire lunch was FREE!!!” – Sharon, Hip2Save reader
“Definitely use the apps. Besides earning points to redeem food, they also always have deals (I’ve used the $3 off mobile order coupon on Wendys a couple of times), give you free birthday deals, and, for me, I tend to be wiser about choosing when I have time to look at the app rather than quickly ordering stuff in the drive-thru. Plus, you can play around with ingredients and often add things to a basic menu item for less than what they charge for a similar item on the menu.”
– Peggy, Hip2Save reader
9. Take the surveys on your receipts to score free food.
Don’t toss that receipt! Many fast-food restaurants offer you free food or discounts in exchange for filling out their surveys. Doing so is one of the best fast food hacks and one of the easiest ways to score free food from some of your favorite restaurants like Wendy’s and Subway.
“Do the survey on the bottom of the receipts for free food next visit, then next visit order the freebie in one ticket and the rest in another so you get another survey. 🙂“ – Kristal, Hip2Save reader
“Do their surveys. A lot of fast food places have it on your receipt. A few minutes of your time in exchange for discounts or free items.” – Kimberlee, Hip2Save reader
10. Use your senior discounts and military discounts, especially at Wendy’s!
A big perk of being a senior is that you can snag a discount at A LOT of restaurants. In fact, we made a whole list of places where seniors can score savings. The Wendy’s by me gives out FREE senior coffees and even lets me pick one up for a family member with no questions asked. Meanwhile, the Dairy Queen by Hip2Save reader, Kim, gives her 10% off her entire bill!
If you’re military personnel or a veteran, take advantage of your military discounts. We know of over 100 places that offer discounts and freebies. Many favorite fast food places made the list including Dunkin’ and El Pollo Loco!
“I use the apps for food, AARP for restaurants, and ask for military or senior discounts.” – JoAnne, Hip2Save reader
“Always ask for my military discount and 10% really helps.” – Febe, Hip2Save reader
11. Order a kid’s meal for the adults (or an adult’s meal for multiple kids).
Many Hip2Save readers report ordering a Happy Meal for an adult to cut the cost of eating out. Others say they order one adult meal and split it between their children. Both options can be an effective way to slash costs!
“Order off the kid’s menu or buy one chicken strip value meal & split it between kids. Mine never eat all the fries so it works for us. Also if eating at home order just the sandwich/burger.” – Mindy, Hip2Save reader
“Don’t buy kids meals. My 3 littles can split an adult meal.” – Christina, Hip2Save reader
When my husband and I eat fast food, only one of us gets the meal (usually him as I always just drink water) and the other gets a sandwich only. Then we share the fries.” – Freda, Hip2Save reader
“If you have younger kids, it’s much cheaper to get a regular meal (not the kids’ meal UNLESS there’s a deal on those) and split up.” – Peggy, Hip2Save reader
12. Choose the daily special or order from the value menu.
Many restaurants offer a daily special at a discounted price. Some readers mentioned that Burger King usually has Whopper Wednesdays where you can buy the popular burger for just $3.
If the daily special doesn’t intrigue you, another trick is to make your meal selection entirely off the value menu. McDonald’s, for example, offers $3 and under deals on food items like the McDouble, Chicken Nuggets, Fries, and more!
“Wednesdays are BOGO flatbread pizza or regular style pizza at Schlotzky’s.” – Judy, Hip2Save reader
“My teens taught me years ago! Use the dollar menu!” – Kelly, Hip2Save reader
13. Scan your receipt to Fetch Rewards or other cash-back apps.
Many people toss their receipts at the counter these days. Not savvy shoppers who love fast food hacks! If you save your receipt, you can get a little cash back on apps like Fetch Rewards and Receipt Hog. Simply scan your receipt using your camera and then upload it to the app.
“I don’t eat out much but I order water instead of a drink; it’s free. Also, submit the receipt on Fetch Rewards.” – Amy, Hip2Save reader
“I’ll use about 10 apps for scanning receipts and surveys. Some connect to my bank card. Watch the $$ roll in!! Love it!!” – Gina, Hip2Save reader
14. Skip the drinks or sides.
Like everything else, drinks are getting more and more expensive. Adding a few drinks to your fast food order can increase the total of your bill by A LOT. Next time, skip the drinks and opt for water. Your wallet will thank you!
Another way to cut costs is to pass on the sides. If you take your protein home, you can fill out the rest of the meal with ingredients you already have in your pantry.
“Keep a bottle of water with me and only get a burger no fries. Unless it is Zaxby’s or Chick-fil-A then I’m just helpless. 🤣” – Melissa, Hip2Save reader
“I order water and lemon to drink. Add sweetener and I have lemonade.” – Renee, Hip2Save reader
“We always get water. Drinks are about $3 per person plus tax, plus tip. I buy a twelve-pack on sale for the same price as one drink. – Crystal, Hip2Save reader
15. Check your credit card rewards for savings on cheap fast food.
Many credit card companies offer special discounts and cash-back deals when you purchase from your favorite restaurants. Several Hip2Save readers are taking advantage of these special perks and you can too! Check with your credit card company to see what kind of rewards and benefits are offered.
“My credit card also gets a $10 off Grub Hub ‘n Uber Eats once a month.” – Beth Anne, Hip2Save reader
“For a FREE meal, I sometimes use my credit card reward points and Ibotta points for gift cards to a food place.” – Cristina, Hip2Save reader
16. Scoop up discounted gift cards.
Is there a cheap fast food joint you go to a lot? Major stores like Costco and Sam’s Club frequently have deals on discounted gift cards. For example, you can pay $25 for a gift card worth $30. If you know you’ll eventually end up at your favorite restaurant, scooping up a gift card when they are on sale is an easy way to save a couple of bucks.
“I buy used gift cards using CardBear website. I literally buy about 200 used gift cards every year. Even if I’m only saving 5% or less, it’s still a savings, and I almost always use up the gift card in one shopping trip.” – Cindi, Hip2Save reader
17. Share your food to save extra money.
If you’re not too hungry, consider sharing a meal. It’s one of the tried and true fast food hacks that saves some cash.
“Share meals. The portion sizes are so huge. Splitting a meal not only saves money but overeating.” – Crystal, Hip2Save reader
18. Become a fan of the food court and take advantage of Costco and Sam’s Club’s stable prices.
Both Sam’s Club and Costco consistently offer delicious food at super-low prices. At Sam’s Club, you can get a hot dog and soda combo for only $1.38 or a giant pizza slice and a drink for just $2.50. At Costco, you’ll find several food options under $3. Plus, many Costco and Sam’s Club locations outside of California will let you enter the food court without a membership!
If you want a quick bite to eat under $5, these food courts are your best bet. 🌭🍕
“We go to Sam’s Cub for pizza and ice cream and it is a lot of food for like $15 for our family” – Wendy, Hip2Save reader
“Eat at Sam’s Club or Costco unless there’s a restaurant you’re really wanting to eat at. If you just need food (or your kids are st–aarvvv–ing ) a hot dog or pizza will tide you over until you can eat at home. We can take our family of 6 for a meal including an ice cream or churro or Icees instead of a soda for less than 20 bucks.” – Haley, Hip2Save reader
Have a fast food hack that we missed? We’d love to hear about it!