Fast-Food Workers Reveal Items You Should Never Order

INDIANAPOLIS, IN - FEBRUARY 2019: The front of a Dominos pizza store with a small delivery car in front of the store.
Matthew Schaefer /

While fast food is a great way to get an affordable meal quickly, sometimes these convenient eats are actually not a great value for the money. Whether you’re ordering Domino’s or another quick meal, there are a few menu items that give a bad bang for your buck. By slightly adjusting your ordering, however, you can get a nearly identical product for less.

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Read on to find out about the fast food items you should never order along with the best and worst deals — according to fast-food employees themselves — plus trade secrets for major savings when you’re looking for your next drive-thru fix.

Fast Food Items You Want To Avoid — and Better Alternatives

Fast-food employees have seen a thing or two while working behind-the-scenes, and their expertise grants them some insight regarding the items that have the best and worst value for money.

Make Your Money Work for You

1. Panda Express: Shrimp

Beware of the portion restrictions fast food places like Panda Express have on their most popular menu items.

“I used to work at Panda Express. No real complaints about the ingredients and food prep, but don’t buy any shrimp entrees if you actually want to [get] a full meal,” said Panda Express employee noodlez5120 on Reddit. “They purposely use a smaller serving spoon to make it appear you’re getting a lot of food. I believe it was [six] shrimps per serving max was the policy.”

Opt for a different entree, or don’t be afraid to ask for more to get your money’s worth.

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2. Domino’s: Bread Twists

Shave off a few bucks when ordering bread items at Domino’s by following this employee’s advice.

“Please stop ordering our bread twists (unless you want the cinnamon ones),” said Domino’s employee feelikekobe on Reddit. “You can order the Parmesan bread bites instead that have the same amount of dough in total for three bucks cheaper.”

Make Your Money Work for You

Save money with this ordering hack, as the Parmesan bread twists cost $7.99 and the 16-piece bites cost $4.99.

The Best Deals You Can Get at Fast-Food Joints

Frequent fast-food diners know ordering hacks that will help you stretch your purchases and save money. Be sure to consider trying these during your next fast-food run.

1. McDonald’s: Take the Surveys

While this isn’t technically a food item, this tip will help you save on every trip to the golden arches.

“Save your Mcdonald’s receipt and go to and take their customer service survey, which takes less than one minute to complete,” said Reddit commenter I_am_Partly_Dave. “Write down the promo code that they give you on your receipt and use it the next time you hit McD’s. It’s good for BOGO or the lowest-priced item you order for free. I do it every time and haven’t paid for a soda at McDonald’s for years.”

By taking the surveys after every McDonald’s run you can earn yourself a free item every trip, potentially saving $1.29 on a medium drink or $1.79 for a medium fry, depending on what the lowest-priced item you ordered was.

2. Starbucks: Build the Latte Yourself

While this money-saving tip might result in you getting a side eye from Starbucks employees, it’s a tried and true way to save a few dollars on your next coffee purchase.

Make Your Money Work for You

Instead of ordering a grande cafe latte for $4.45, build your drink yourself. Order a couple of espresso shots for $2.95 in a grande cup, and go to the counter to add your milk and sugar. While this hack, unfortunately, won’t get by in the drive-through, it’s a cheaper way to build the drink you want with a little extra effort when you buy in-store.

3. McDonald’s: Substitute Sauce To Avoid an Extra Charge

An additional easy way to save money at McDonald’s is by following this careful verbiage to avoid an extra sauce charge.

“When I get a McDouble and want Mac sauce, I say sub the ketchup for Mac sauce,” said Reddit commenter Afeazo. “If they input it this way, there is no extra charge, but if I say no ketchup and add Mac sauce, it will ring up as extra.”

Save 23 cents every trip by ordering this way.

4. Chipotle: Build Your Burrito at Home

Chipotle is known for filling their burritos and bowls to the max with loads of toppings for customers. Here’s an easy hack for making their generous portions stretch a little more.

“Order one huge burrito bowl with tons of beans, fajita veggies, lettuce, guacamole, cheese, sour cream, salsa, etc. plus a bunch of taco-size tortillas. [This] makes at least four decent meals and it’s $10 or so,” said Chipotle employee timjasf on Reddit. “At Chipotle, you can ask for two tortillas with a burrito bowl for free.”

Additionally, if you’re looking for a cheap bite to eat at this food stop, order any burrito or bowl with two fillings — such as beans and cheese or beans and rice — and you’ll be charged for two sides, bringing your grand total to $1.94. Unfortunately, if you want three toppings in your burrito or bowl, you’ll be charged full price.

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About the Author

Maddie Duley is a content intern for ConsumerTrack writing about finances for GOBankingRates. She is currently pursuing a bachelor's degree in communication and design from the University of California Davis.
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