College Students: Is the Late-Night Dollar Menu Really Saving You Money?

Fast food dollar menus appeal to many types of people, including college students on a fixed income. While it may seem like eating cheaply could be worthwhile, let's take another look.

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Dollar Menu Deception

It's late. There's no food in your dorm. But while you're studying, you feel that sudden queasiness and hear the growling of your stomach telling you that it's hungry. Your first instinct is to make a fast food run. After all, if you order off the dollar menu you're saving money, right?

Over the past decade dollar menu options have become tempting choices for the budgeting student. While establishments tend to add new items every year or so, some classic items usually remain. You know how they taste, and you know which ones you like. Odds are when you leave your dorm room you're already deciding which you'll get. But there are some things you should take into account before heading out for your late-night fix.

It Won't Save Your Body

You may've heard that ramen is horrible for you when made with their directions. Yes, it's basically a saltlick with noodles, but fast food is no better. French fries are fried, flash frozen, refried and then salted very heavily. Burgers are fried and salted while on the grill. Along with the sodium intake from that little burger, you're also adding on fat. Often, the small dollar-sized burgers make students want to buy more than one just to fill them up. Next thing you know, you'll have tripled your daily intake of fat.

It Won't Save Your Budget

Besides the cost of gas to drive to a restaurant and sit in line while they fetch your food, drive-thrus cost more than you think. Most 'dollar menus' may have upgraded their popular items to a higher price, as they are slowly changing the titles of their respective menus. Once they hook you, they know you'll think that 29 cents more for your favorite burger isn't that bad. Also, when you order off the dollar menu you buy more than one item. 'Just a burger' can quickly turn into fries and a drink, too (now you're up to three dollars at least).

On campus, to make a sandwich you'll need to have all the ingredients (a loaf of bread, a jar of mayo, lettuce, tomato, turkey and cheese). After combining all of these ingredients you'll find that it makes more than one meal. Who knew? That $15 you spent to get the ingredients can easily make ten sandwiches, and now your meal (with chips) is down to about $1.75 each. Plus, you likely have drinks in your dorm already!

It Won't Save Your Mind

After you've eaten the fast food meal, you'll feel bloated and heavy. Salt dehydrates your body and constricts blood vessels, making it more difficult for oxygen and blood to get to your brain. The fatty foods are inefficient for your mind, and hydrogenated oils (in most processed foods) clog your arteries, which can eventually lead to stroke (not good for your brain).

If you don't buy diet soda, you'll be chugging down sugary liquid loaded with artificial coloring. Even diet soda contains artificial sweeteners, which are also bad for memory and brain functions. You'll be better off drinking water.

Okay, so you'll skip the drive-thru. But now you need to make a quick dinner. Check out these cheap and easy-to-cook recipes.

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