Not only do we want our fast food fast, but we don't want to fork out much for it; just a few of those bulky, annoying coins. All the big fast food franchises have been trying to entice the time poor, hard up consumer to drop by their joint and tempt us with an array of cheap as cheap chips, burgers and the like.
But who is offering the best value dollar deals? Are they cutting back on quality or size to offer fast food for a dollar or two? Without prejudice, fear or favour, I endeavoured to taste test some of the meals on offer.
I've always enjoyed Red Rooster. I suspect the chicken's pieces are a little smaller nowadays but the quality and taste have remained consistent over many years and the chicken flavoured chips are right up my alley.
The $2 snack deals seem to be pretty good value. There is a range of burgers, four nuggets or four apple bites each for $2.00, although $2.00 for one pineapple fritter seems a bit rich. I opted for a $2.00 chicken cheeseburger and a $2.00 chips.
Alas, Red Rooster is in danger of destroying their reputation with this burger. Despite the small size, I barely made it to the end. It looked like I do first thing in the morning - crumpled and dishevelled. Then I bit into it. The crumbed chicken pattie was tough and hard on the edges. It was almost completely flavourless. I reflected on my disappointment while I grazed on the reliably tasty chips but I can't say that I enjoyed them as I rued my dud burger choice.
Verdict: I paid $4.00 for a really disappointing meal. Maybe I had high expectations but I've leant my lesson. I'll stick to what Red Rooster does best: chicken and chips. Rating: 4/10
I am not a regular Hungry Jacks customer and so went in with an open mind. Bowing to pressure from their competition, Penny Pinchers are now back. The range is not huge. There's a small BBQ cheese burger or five nuggets for $2.00. There is a large frozen coke for a $1.00 and a sundae or a thick shake for $1.20. Beats me why they can't do them for a $1.00.
Knowing what nuggets are made from, I gave them a wide berth and ordered the burger and a strawberry thickshake. I sucked on the shake as I waited for the burger. It was cold, thick and creamy, and pretty damn satisfying on a humid afternoon.
Like most of the micro-burgers in this price range, it's not a piece of art but this one is not unattractive to look at. A peek under the soft bun revealed a generous squirt of BBQ sauce, a slice of cheese and a meat pattie. It was pretty tasty and disappeared in a minute.
I returned to the counter to check out the ice cream. I handed over 50 cents for a reasonably large mini ice cream. Who wouldn't like this for 50 cents?
Verdict: The menu is limited and chips/fries should be on the Penny Pincher menu. However, at $3.70 for quick meal with burger, creamy thick shake and an ice cream, I couldn't be happier. Rating: 8/10
There are heaps of options on McDonalds Loose Change menu. For $2.00 you can pick up a double cheeseburger or a 10 pack McBites. There's even a garden salad for the kilojoule conscious. $1.00 for a small fries.
I chose a McDouble burger for $2.00 and a $1.00 fries. I asked for a small orange juice and it was $2.95! Where else is a drink as much as your food? A small coke is $2.35. Isn't there one for a $1.00? Apparently not today.
The burger has two skinny patties, (one decent one would do wouldn't it?) cheese, onion and tomato sauce. It was typical Maccas in flavour and quality. It's not particularly attractive and failed the picture comparison test.
I also bought a 30 cent soft serve ice cream. I think it's equal in size to the 50 cent Hungry Jacks but way, way softer and I have to eat it quickly before it melts all over my hand.
Verdict: The quality and value of the food and service is good but I don't understand the drink pricing. Rating 7/10
I'd given the Colonel and his deep fried fatty chicken a wide birth for many years. I called in and asked if they had anything to offer in the way of a cheap and cheerful takeaway meal I could buy with a few coins. KFC only have one menu item that fits the bill, the Taster Box. It contains a slither of grilled chicken fillet, chips and some gravy for just $2.00. I buy a mini Pepsi Max for another $1.00 and sit down for a taste test.
The chicken piece is small but it's quite tender and tasty. The chips are well salted on top but the taste is a bit odd. As I get through the top layer of salted chips, I find that remainder are really unpleasant to eat. Even dipping them into the bland gravy can't save them.
Verdict: If you are an aficionado of KFC chips, you'll probably enjoy this meal. Based on the chips I was served, this was appalling, just awful and not saved by a small piece of reasonably tasting chicken. Rating: 2/10
And the winner is?
It was close. On this round alone, Hungry Jacks is the winner. With a tasty little burger that actually looked OK and a sundae for $3.20, it represented good value. However, if McDonalds had a loose change drink, I think they would have edged ahead. They have by far the superior range of options to choose from and with the ever popular 30 cent ice cream they have the ultimate fast, cheap, loose change snack.
Macc's burgers are dry and tasteless and not on the same planet as HJ. The taste to $ ratio is far better at HJs. The *only* reason I go into a MD's is to get a 30cent cone and use the dunny. Agree about KFC, they have gone downhill a lot and the chips are horrid these days. Rarely eat junk food nowdays except for HJs and their stunner deals are quite a reasonable feed for just a bit more loose change.
You're a brave man subjecting your body to such a waste of food. You are so right about the end product not resembling the promotional photos! Sushi/california rolls are around $2.50 and they're actually tasty, filling & half-decent. Shame on all fast food chains for offering such crappy cheap n nasty rubbish to customers. All have gone downhill in quality in recent years. Those post-mix soft drinks cost them a few cents each yet they charge at least $1-$2.95 for a cup. Rip off much?