- McDonald’s restaurant crew members know all about how you can save time and money at the fast food chain.
- Business Insider recently spoke with several current and former McDonald’s employees.
- They provided some tips and suggestions for customers, including subtle sandwich tweaks and advice for anyone craving fresh food.
McDonald’s crew members know exactly how to save you time and money on your next fast food run.
Business Insider spoke with several current and former crew members to get their best tips for customers.
These employees know all about how things run at the fast food giant. Their hacks, along with hacks from crew members who have posted their best tips on Quora and Reddit, can help you save cash and avoid common inconveniences on your next McDonald’s run.
Here are some helpful tips from McDonald’s crew members:
Ask for the budget version of certain meals
- Hollis Johnson
Craving a Big Mac, but tight on cash? Ask for a McDouble dressed up as a Big Mac.
“A lot of people know this already, but if you want a Big Mac and are low on money, get a McDouble and get Big Mac sauce instead of ketchup,” a crew member from New York told Business Insider. “It’s much cheaper. All you’re missing is the weird piece of bread in the middle.”
The crew member added that, “We can customize almost everything, so, if you want some sort of hybrid burger or salad, just ask.”
A former crew member of two years suggested another thrifty tweak to a popular order.
“If you get a burger, get grilled onions” instead of raw, for no extra cost, a former McDonald’s crew member of two years told Business Insider.
The ex-employee also advised customers to “always get the meals,” as they’re often a better deal than getting a sandwich and fries separately.
There’s a trick to getting a fresh egg on your breakfast sandwich
- Hollis Johnson
Request a “round egg,” she said. “It’s the best egg we have (and definitely real!).”
The website Serious Eats confirmed that the request could swap out “your folded egg patty with a real egg, free of charge.”
Chuck Chan, who says he worked at McDonald’s, wrote on Quora that you’d get the same type of egg used in McMuffins.
Call ahead if you’re placing a massive order
- Hollis Johnson/Business Insider
“If you’re going to order 100 nuggets or biscuits, call ahead,” a crew member from Georgia told Business Insider. “Nuggets have an eight minute cook time, and biscuits can be quite a wait in the oven.”
There’s a way to get fresh fries without annoying crew members
A popular myth circulating on the internet is that you can snag fresh fries by asking for fries with no salt.
“Buddy, there’s a 90% chance that you read some ‘life hack’ on Reddit, or Imgur, or what have you, that says to get fresh fries just ask for no salt,” a person who says they were a McDonald’s employee wrote on Reddit. “Do you realize you can just ASK us for ‘fresh,’ and we’re more likely to give them to you, right?”
Another Reddit user responded: “I understand that some people genuinely have to limit their salt intake as much as possible (McDonald’s isn’t really the best place to practice that sort of diet, but hey, not my life) but for me, at least, it’s easy to tell who genuinely needs it salt free and who’s just trying to get the freshest fries they can.”
Chuck Chan wrote on Quora that while it’s true that asking for fries with no salt will get you fresh fries, preparing the order is a nuisance.
“The fry person will need to wipe down the station, the fry scoop, and clear the area for the new batch to keep salt from contaminating the new batch,” Chan said. “The fry person might not even fill up your container as full due to this fuss. And if any fries fall out of the bag/container, they won’t put more in because the rest of the fries may have already been salted.”
He recommended instead just asking for fresh fries.
When you can, request fresh food
In fact, while you’re at it, one former McDonald’s general manager recommended just asking the crew to “drop your food fresh.”
“It will take about three minutes, but it’s well worth the wait,” the former manager told Business Insider.
A crew member from New York specifically advised always asking for fresh Filet-O-Fish and chicken sandwiches “if you have enough time.”
Avoid holding up the line by coming in with a plan
“Know what you want to order,” a former crew member from Pennsylvania told Business Insider, adding that customers who come in prepared make things “easier” for crew members.
But it’s not enough to just know what you want to eat – especially at the drive-thru.
“Have your money ready,” a crew member from Georgia told Business Insider. “Don’t drive up and then start digging around for money. Have it in your hand when you get to the window.”
And, if the restaurant you’re visiting can’t accommodate your order, don’t take it out on the people who work there.
“If we tell you we don’t have something or no longer carry it, don’t get mad at us,” a crew member from Pennsylvania told Business Insider. “We only work here. Write to corporate and complain.”
Read the fine print on coupons
- Savvapanf Photo/Shutterstock
Got a McDonald’s coupon? Don’t set your expectations too high.
“If the coupon necessitates that the item you want be made a certain way, you cannot customize it,” a former Virginia-based crew member told Business Insider. “It sucks, we know it sucks, but we will be berated by our managers if we give you food that doesn’t exactly correspond to your coupon.”
At the same time, the crew member added that the chain is often relatively flexible when it comes to coupon expiration dates.
“Coupon expiration dates don’t matter,” the crew member said. “No one checks. Managers don’t care when we do. Use it.”
Time your McDonald’s run strategically if you live in the UK
In the UK, McDonald’s employees might be especially attentive at certain times of the day.
And customers can use that to their advantage.
Kamran Adnan, who said he worked for a year at McDonald’s locations in London, said on Quora that 12 p.m. to 2 p.m. and 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. were called “gap-buster times,” or times when mystery shoppers who get paid to rate their experience may visit a McDonald’s restaurant.
“It is easy to spot a gap-buster because they always ask for a receipt so they can get their food costs reimbursed by the company employing them,” Adnan wrote.
He continued: “If you ask for a receipt in that time, everyone will be immediately alert that you could be a potential gap-buster, and they’ll make sure to serve you the freshest burger and fries and give you priority over everyone else.”
Are you a current or former McDonald’s employee with a story to share? Email firstname.lastname@example.org.