I was hoping to make this bigger and more extensive, but we’ve had a stomach bug come through the house. It’s also one of the busiest dog boarding weeks of the year. Sometimes you just try to get by and fight another day.
It used to be extremely easy to save money at McDonald’s. They seem to have caught up to many of my tricks and it is more expensive now. Nonetheless, there are still a number of ways to save some money if you are smart.
One thing to note is that the idea here is to save money. This means ignoring nutrition much of the time. McDonald’s should be a “sometimes food.” I like to do a penance later by eating a bowl of broccoli and carrots.
Basic Tricks To Save Money at McDonalds
- Get Deals on McDonald’s App
I love the McDonald’s app. It’s much easier to order my favorites and then go to the drive-thru and give them a code. I don’t have to stop to give them my card or get a receipt. I just put my favorite restaurant rewards card in the app and I know I’m always saving at least 3%.
The best part of the app though is the “Deals” section. The app offersexclusive deals and coupons. Lately, there’s been a chicken crispy sandwich free with any purchase of $2. My son loves the chicken crispy sandwich, so I’ll by a McDouble for $2.29 and we’ve got a solid meal. It’s great on the way to those after school activities.
- Use Rewards on McDonald’s App
Each of the purchases on the app earn us rewards points that can be cashed in for freebies. If I don’t see a good deal like the one above, I’ll cash in 1500 points for a free McChicken. I’m usually not a fan of paying for mayonaise calories, but it gets the job done when your in a rush. Some people may prefer to cash in 6000 points for Quarter Pounder with Cheese or a Big Mac, but I think the McChicken is a better value.
I’ll make an exception and use 6000 points for a Happy Meal when the kids need a pick-me-up or deserve a celebration meal. I always avoid everything in the 3000 point tier. The 6-piece chicken nuggets seems like a bad use of points.
It’s free food, so you might as well get it.
- Order from the Value Menu
A time-tested trick to saving money at McDonald’s is the value menu. I liked it a lot better when it was a Dollar Menu and you could get a double cheeseburger for a dollar. Inflation is tough, so we have to make the most of what we can. In the morning, I find the best value is a Sausage McMuffin for $1.89. The Sausage Biscuit may be 20 cents cheaper, but it is nowhere close to as good in my opinion.
During the regular (non-breakfast) hours, the McChicken or McDouble is my go-to pick.
- Skip the Soda (Drink water)
All restaurants charge a ton for a little syrup added to water. McDonalds is actually one place where the dollar any-size isn’t too bad. I always ask for no-ice so I can get the most amount of drink.
- Avoid the Combo Meals
They may appear to save some money, but it’s easy to overspend. They are often $7-8. At that price, I’d rather go to Subway. Or I could also pay an extra buck or two and have Chipotle’s.
- Use coupons
McDonald’s sometimes distributes coupons through flyers, newspapers, or online. Keep an eye out for these coupons to save money on your next visit.
Advanced Tricks To Save Money at McDonalds
One of my favorite tricks to saving money at McDonalds happens at breakfast. For example, we’d be traveling (perhaps taking a red eye) and have a layover in an airport like Orlando. The food court there is very expensive and not a ton of food is very kid-friendly.
I would buy the Big Breakfast with Hotcakes for around $7 (maybe more with the airport mark-up). It’s 1350 calories and it is very versitle. One kid doesn’t eat meat or eggs, so he chooses from the hotcakes/biscuit/hash browns. The other kid eats eggs and sausage and the left over carbs the other kid didn’t eat. For kids 5-8, this was more than enough food for mom and dad to have some leftovers. We generally buy something on the value menu like a Sausage McMuffin.
Blast From the Past
One of the (very few) benefits from being a dinosaur blogger is that I have written about this in the past. Some people refer to this as “wisdom.” In any case, here are some ideas from previous blog posts. Perhaps they’ll be relevant again as you read this. Perhaps they are simply for historical purposes. Either way, let the fun ensue: