Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Cheap Bastids Junk Food Junkie

Sunday nights in college meant that we were on our own for dinner at the fraternity where I lived. So being impoverished, cheap and resourceful we had a pretty good solution. Several of us would pile into a car and head across the river to East Grand Forks, Minnesota to the EGF Dairy Queen.

On Sundays the DQ in East Grand Forks would feature 5 for $1 specials. You could get 5 burgers for $1, 5 fries for $1 and 5 soft drinks for $1. There would be 4 or 5 of us and for $1 apiece we’d get pretty full. Two guys would get burgers, 2 would get fries and one would get soda. Not bad for what we called “gut bombs” or “gorp”.
Last Friday had an article on Yahoo news that reminded me both of my college eating habits and some of my “Cheap Bastid” ways.

The article was on the “top 5 fast food value menu deals”. Dollar menus at fast food joints have become increasingly popular and this piece compared the price of the “top value” with the cost of making it at home. Here’s a quick and dirty summary of the results:

No. 5 KFC Snacker—3 oz chicken sandwich At Home Cost: 75 cents
No. 4 Burger King--Whopper Junior—2.2 oz beef At Home Cost: 58 cents
No. 3 Taco Bell—99 cent Burrito—2.5 oz ground beef At Home Cost: 86 cents
No. 2 McDonald’s McDouble—3.5 oz beef At Home Cost: 94 cents
No. 1 Wendy’s—Double Stack—3.56 oz beef At Home Cost: 99 cents

What the article was trying to do was see how good a value the “value” menus are at the various fast food joints. It seems like my personal favorite, the Whopper Jr. is the least value.
Value Menu stuff is actually how Cheap Bastid got his reputation.

I figured out 2 things when I was traveling for business 80% of the time. First, I could eat a “Cheap Bastid” lunch at any of these places (especially McDs, BK or Wendys) for $3—that was less than my per diem so I could come out a couple of bucks ahead. Second was that you really don’t need any more to eat for lunch than a “Cheap Bastid” meal of a $1 burger, $1 fries and $1 soda.

How often do we see guys especially get a $3 “jumbo drink” with their fast food joint meal. Naw, I get the $1 drink knowing that I can get a free refill. I don’t need a 32 oz. or bigger beverage when I can get the cheaper 16 oz. and refill it. And besides, if I do it that way I’m denying the place of some revenue on their single biggest profit generator.

Now, I love making thick juicy burgers on the grill. A 6-8 oz. pattie, cooked medium; still juicy then loaded with 2 slices of melted cheese along with tomato and lettuce and other toppings. But, every once in a while we get a hankering for “gut bombs” and for about 6 bucks we can get our fill of ‘em along with some good fries.

We did that last week—and ate ‘em while watching Top Chef Masters. That $6 or $7 we spent is about the biggest restaurant food expenditure we’ve had since I’ve been out of work. And it was a treat.

So, Cheap Bastid loves the $1 value menu. Which reminds me, my birthday is next week and I got a coupon e-mailed the other day from Weinerschnitzel offering me a free corn dog for my birthday—with purchase! Horsecrap!

Cheap Bastid’s not going to go spend several bucks at Weinerschnitzel just to get a free corn dog! I’m gonna be 58 freaking years old and as Ralphie says in “Christmas Story” I want “honors and benefits”. The least they can do is not make me have to spend money to get a free damn corn-dog!

And that’s the “Cheap Bastid” way. Eat good. Eat cheap. Be grateful.

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