The purpose of this disclosure is to explain how we make money without charging you for our content.
Our mission is to help people at any stage of life make smart financial decisions through research, reporting, reviews, recommendations, and tools.
Earning your trust is essential to our success, and we believe transparency is critical to creating that trust. To that end, you should know that many or all of the companies featured here are partners who advertise with us.
Our content is free because our partners pay us a referral fee if you click on links or call any of the phone numbers on our site. If you choose to interact with the content on our site, we will likely receive compensation. If you don't, we will not be compensated. Ultimately the choice is yours.
Opinions are our own and our editors and staff writers are instructed to maintain editorial integrity, but compensation along with in-depth research will determine where, how, and in what order they appear on the page.
To find out more about our editorial process and how we make money, click here.
The idea of secret menus at restaurants and fast food joint is not a new concept. Items that might not be on the regular menu, but yet are ordered by savvy eaters who are “in the know.” Could be just a small twist on a popular item, or better yet, it could be a secret menu item that’ll actually save you some money, or give you more food for your greenbacks. Here are nine such items that you just might need to add to your fast food vernacular.
1. Poor Man’s Big Mac at McDonald’s
The McDouble, also known as the “poor man’s Big Mac,” is a must-order for the frugal minded dining at McDonald’s. To make it happen, you need to order a McDouble, which is a burger with two beef patties and a slice of cheese in the middle. Next, politely ask them to hold the pickles and ketchup, and add lettuce, onion, and secret sauce to your burger. The result is essentially a Big Mac for about $1.39, compared to $3.99 for an actual Big Mac. The only thing missing is the bun stuck in the middle, but who really needs that anyway, right?
2. Order Meat “Half & Half” at Chipotle
If you want to get a bigger burrito at Chipotle, consider asking for half chicken and half steak. Or whatever meat combo you like. By doing this, you’ll inevitably get more protein in your wrap. The idea here is that the burrito artist behind the counter tries to get a half scoop of each but more often than not, you get over a half-scoop of each. I’ve personally seen this phenomena happen, and while not scientific, it’s a great way to get more chow without paying extra.
3. Order Both Bean-Types at Chipotle
Similar to the above meat example, if you want an even bigger burrito at Chipotle, order both pinto and black beans. Apparently, you’ll typically end up with 92% more beans and a 16% bigger burrito overall. Want even more food? Do the same thing with rice and order both white and brown and you’ll get 93% more rice on average.
4. Grande Americano in a Tall Cup at Starbucks
If you’re looking for the cheapest caffeine fix available at Starbucks, and you only want a “Tall” sized drink, try this hack. Order a “Grande” Americano, but ask for it in a “Tall” sized cup. You’ll get three shots of espresso, instead of two that comes with a “Tall,” and you’ll be charged less than if you ordered a “Tall with an extra shot.”
5. Iced Coffee With “Half-Ice” at Starbucks
Have you ever noticed how much ice Starbucks baristas add to your iced coffee drinks? By the time they’re done adding ice, there is barely any room for your actual drink. Heck, they’ve even recently been sued over this issue. To fight against this, try asking for “half-ice” when placing your next order. Most baristas will happily reduce the amount of frozen water added to your drink leaving you more coffee goodness.
Read More: Tips For Eating Out Cheaply
6. Cheap Chai Tea Latte at Starbucks
A Chai Latte at Starbucks will cost you about $4 for the Grande size. But if you simply order the same sized Chai Tea for about $2 — which is just hot water and a Tazo tea bag — you can create your own latte. To make it happen, you can either add the milk yourself, or better yet, most baristas will give you some steamed milk for free, up to one and half inches, to be exact.
7. Don’t Buy Bottled Water From Starbucks
Whenever I see someone buying a bottle of water at Starbucks, I have to shake my head and fight the temptation to inform them they’re wasting money. This is because the ice water they’ll give you for free is triple-filtered and tastes great.
8. Order the “Old Cut” at Subway
Consider ordering an Old Cut sub at Subway and get more toppings for free. This cut refers to how the sandwich artist slices the bread. Back in the day, they would cut a small notch, or v-cut, from the top of the bread and re-add it after the sandwich was made. This is known as the “Old Cut” and many Subway employees will still cut the bread for you this way. While this cut won’t get you more meat and cheese, you can absolutely get more toppings as they won’t fall off the side of the sub. Order the “Old Cut” and pile the toppings high.
9. “Extra Everything” at In-N-Out Burger
If you’re lucky enough to live in a state that has an In-N-Out Burger location, this menu hack is for you. Consider politely ordering your next burger “Extra Everything” and they’ll happily load your burger with extra lettuce, pickles, tomatoes, and onions. I’ve actually seen a diner do this and order a free package of spread (used as salad dressing) and create a small side salad with all the extra veggies.