Is Hitting The Drive-Thru Actually Saving You Money?

Visiting the drive-thru has always been thought of as a time-saving tactic, and many see it as a way to grab a quick meal without breaking the bank, too. Drive-thrus have been around for decades; they have allowed customers to drive up to a speaker, place an order with the employee, then drive to the pickup window to pay and get their food. The ability to pick up a hot meal without getting out of the car is a major plus, too, not to mention all the secrets we don't know about drive-thrus.

The prices of fast food have always appealed to customers. People could often get a combo meal for less than $10, with some menu items costing just $1 or less. The introduction of $1 menus or value menus brought customers in as well since there were typically small burgers, chicken nuggets, and fries on the value menu list. In recent years, though, prices have climbed due to factors including inflation and supply-chain issues. It begs the question: Is the drive-thru actually saving you any money compared to cooking at home?

The drive-thru isn't always less expensive

In terms of whether the drive-thru actually costs less, it essentially depends on what you're cooking and the type of ingredients you're buying. You have likely noticed the extreme jump in your weekly food bill, as well as in the overall cost of living. However, if you are a smart shopper, you might actually save money at the grocery store and find it cheaper to cook at home.

According to U.S. News, prices are really all about the ingredients. The outlet spoke with Budget Bytes founder Beth Moncel, who offers recipes that cost as little as $1.55 per serving. Moncel revealed that the key is to keep it simple by using ingredients that are inexpensive and won't go to waste. "If you're cooking with expensive ingredients or making complicated recipes that have ingredients that are not common or reusable, then it can be more expensive to cook at home," Moncel says.

Though some might think the drive-thru is quicker, it's relatively easy to find recipes that can be made in 20 minutes or less. When factoring in the drive to and from the restaurant, plus waiting in line, you're not saving as much time as you might think. Ultimately, if you consider your recipes and ingredients carefully, it can cost less to cook at home.