It feels like I get stuck in a pattern sometimes. I recently wrote Goodbye Google Finance, Hello Google Spreadsheets. The family passed around the plague for a couple of weeks. So I’m going to return back to that formula, because it works.
I have a history of writing about McDonalds. For years and years, they’ve been a great value. I recognize that it is unfortunate that the healthiest food (salads and grilled chicken sandwiches) are the most expensive. Nonetheless, if you were on the go, a single dollar (plus tax) could sustain you for quite a few hours. Here’s a brief history of what I’ve written about McDonalds over the years:
- Back in 2006, you could use a Bank of America promotion to get 10-cent double cheeseburgers for 3 months!
- In 2007, I defended McDonalds Double Cheeseburger as be more efficient than making your burgers. Another popular blogger went through a detailed exercise to say it wasn’t so.
- In 2008, I wrote about McDonalds Eat-in Tax. This got very confusing for everyone, and I still don’t know what the truth is about whether McDonalds charged a separate tax for eating in the restaurant. I just know that on consecutive days, I was charged different prices and the receipt on the second day when I ate in had the difference which appeared to be clearly labeled.
- In 2009, I wrote about McDonalds switching from the double cheeseburger to the McDouble on the Value Menu. They took away a slice of cheese and called it a McDouble. So if you weren’t paying attention and ordered a double cheeseburger, you paid a 29% premium for that extra slice of cheese. I called it sneaky, but credited McDonalds with good disclosure.
- There seems to be a gap when not much changed. You could get a McDouble for a number of years for just a buck. Alas inflation, like Father Time always wins*. In 2013, I wrote that people should avoid McDonalds $2 egg. Essentially that was the price difference between Egg McMuffin with Sausage and the Sausage McMuffin. A wise blogger, Tight Fisted Miser chimed in that you could order a side of eggs separately. They were about $1.20 and you seemed to get twice as much egg.
- In 2015, I wrote how to lose money at McDonalds. It compared making the silly choice of buying a QuarterPounder instead of a McDouble on the Value Menu.
As you can tell, I’ve been a fan of stretching my dollar when I go McDonalds. It may sound like I was a little obsessed, but it’s 6 articles in 11 years, so that’s not too bad, right?
Today, I think you can throw out most of those articles. The breakfast ones might be somewhat relevant, especially the eggs if they still honor that cheap price.
McDonalds went away from the Dollar Menu for awhile. They had various Pick 2 for $2 and Pick 2 for $5. I couldn’t make use of the Pick 2 for $5, but the Pick 2 for $2 of McDoubles could at least be shared with my wife.
Finally, it seems McDonalds has settled on their $1, $2, $3 Dollar Menu.
It seems like great marketing, but not a lot value for consumers.
For $1, you used to get a double cheeseburger. Now you can get a single cheeseburger. As we all know, the single cheeseburger is essentially bread, right? It’s 300 calories, and 8 less grams of protein from the McDouble, which makes it not very much of a meal. There’s a chicken sandwich, but there’s 40 empty calories from mayo. That brings it back down 310 calories.
For $2, you get a little more, but at that point you aren’t getting through for just a dollar. It doesn’t seem like much, especially if it’s only a sometime trip, but if becomes more of a regular thing, you are paying twice as much as you used to.
For the same reasons as the $2, menu, I don’t see a reason to dissect the $3 menu. There’s a triple cheeseburger, but shouldn’t that be less than $3 because I could get 3 of the $1 cheeseburgers and use the left over bread as Frisbees?
I understand that I’m rare to dissect McDonalds Dollar Menu like this. It’s good business for McDonalds and this will help improve their margins (as long as it doesn’t drive customers away). I don’t follow McDonalds stock, but maybe this is a good time to buy.
It would be easy to give McDonalds a pass and say, “Hey that’s just how inflation works.” However, it’s worth looking at a few other chains.
Hello Taco Bell!
Taco Bell’s $1 Menu is so large it feels like all its food is on it. The Beefy Frito Burrito is one such example. It’s not healthy. I don’t think anything with the word “Frito” in it pretends to be. However, it does have 440 calories. That qualifies as a meal for me at a price of a a single dollar.
While on the topic, I hear that the new nacho fries are good. I haven’t tried them, but they sound good. Again, this isn’t an article about healthy eating.
Subway seems to be having a hard time with its sales. Things got bad enough that they decided to bring back the $5 footlong while their franchises complain. I apologize to Subway franchise owners. I understand that you might not make big profits if everyone comes in and orders a $5 footlong without a drink or other “upsell” items.
That said, this is good news for me, the consumer! If I want something reasonably healthy (the health police are everywhere on such claims), I can pay $5 and often get 900 calories. That’s enough to two meals (I’m assuming a 450 calorie meal size, which is consistent with the calories in a McDonalds double cheeseburger, which was our baseline.)
So yes, it’s a little more money, but it feels more reasonable as a healthy upgrade.
Hello Dunkin Donuts!
I never thought I’d get Dunkin Donuts into a value article. I’m not a coffee drinker (the horrors!) and when we go there in the morning (my wife’s request), the bill always seems to come out to $12 because the breakfast sandwiches are so much. (The Wake-up Wrap is just an insult to food everywhere.)
However, there was a deal that caught my eye. It may just be my local franchise as I couldn’t find a lot of information online, but after 11AM they lower the price of the sandwiches to $2. That’s a decent price for a sausage, egg, and cheese on a bagel. I can see why Dunkin Donuts would want to do this. Their clients are focused on the morning coffee rush. I would expect business to be very poor after that.
It’s very tempting to do dinners at Dunkin Donuts especially since the only protein my kids will eat are their breakfast sandwiches for some quirky reason. They are small kids, so I can pick up dinner for the whole family for way under $10.
Random Fast Food Stuff
This isn’t part of the point of the article above, but I found these both interesting and worth reading:
- Burger King Pranks Customers to teach them about Net Neutrality.
- In-N-Out Managers Make $160K on average – Wowsers!!!
* The exception to this is obviously Tom Brady. And yes, this qualifies for my obligatory Tom Brady mention in every article until at least the Super Bowl.