Why Has Fast Food Become So Expensive

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Fast Food Has Become So Expensive

Why Has Fast Food Become So Expensive

Fast Food Has Become So Expensive

If you’ve visited the drive-thru recently, you may be wondering, why has fast food become so expensive? Fast food used to be a convenience most Americans could afford. Dollar menus made it possible to feed the whole family on a budget. However, because of rising food costs, many fast food chains moved away from value menus last year and started promoting pricier $10 to $30 combo meals. 

Fast food chains have been forced to change their business models for a number of reasons, including inflation and labor shortages. Here’s why fast food has become so expensive and how you can save money despite price hikes at the drive-thru.

3 Reasons Why Fast Food Has Become So Expensive


You may remember popular deals like $5 Subway footlongs and BOGO for $1 coupons at Burger King. Sadly those promotions are now becoming things of the past because of inflation.

Subway tried to restart its $5 footlongs deal during the pandemic, but quickly took it off the menu because franchisees complained they’d lose money on the promotion. Burger King is also phasing out paper coupons and reducing the number of discounts it offers to maintain its profit margins. 

As the cost of labor and ingredients rise over the years due to inflation, it doesn’t make financial sense for companies to offer the same promotions at the same prices. This year we’ve had record levels of inflation, so price increases have been much more frequent and noticeable. 

In a normal year with low inflation, the cost of your favorite Taco Bell burrito may only rise by a few cents, which barely affects your wallet. But because inflation soared last year, fast food chains had to bump up their prices by 8% to stay profitable. That’s the largest price hike in over 20 years, which is why fast food has become so expensive. 

Supply Chain Issues 

One of the factors that’s contributing to inflation is supply chain issues. Global supply chains still haven’t recovered from the disruptions the pandemic caused. As a result, shortages of essentials including meat, dairy, produce, eggs, soda, and more are expected to continue through 2022. 

Because these ingredients are in short supply, fast food chains are forced to pay more for them and pass some of the cost onto consumers. According to Restaurant Business Online, wholesale food costs are up 13% overall, which is why fast food prices jumped 8% in 2021.

Labor Shortages 

Labor shortages are also making your favorite fast food meals more expensive. The food sector is one of the industries that’s been most affected by worker shortages. Fast food chains are having trouble finding and retaining workers, who are quitting at higher rates than usual. Over the past year, fast food operators have raised wages by 10% to try to attract new employees.

How to Save Money at the Drive-Thru 

Even though fast food costs are rising, there are still ways to save money at the drive-thru. Many fast food chains have customer rewards apps that give you a certain number of points for every dollar you spend. Once you rack up enough loyalty points, you can usually redeem them for free food and drinks. You can also find special promotions on fast food apps, like free fries or nuggets with a qualifying purchase. 

You can also find lots of money-saving hacks for your favorite fast food chains online. For example, Wendy’s sells $2 key tags every November that entitle you to a free Jr. Frosty with purchase for a whole year. Reportedly you can get free sauce packets at McDonald’s when you order through the app. In-store, they cost $0.25 each. At Burger King, you can get a free Whopper or chicken sandwich with the purchase of a drink and fries just by filling out the survey on the back of your receipt. 

There are tips and tricks like this for every fast food restaurant, so do a little research and rake in the savings! 

Wrapping Up 

Do you still eat fast food even though it’s gotten more expensive? What are your favorite ways to save money at the drive-thru? Let me know in the comments section below! 

Read More 

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