I can't remember what day it was last month, but my boss invited Critter and me to go have lunch at one of our favorite burger joints in town. Which one it was isn't the important detail, but the total cost of our three meals kicked off a conversation that opened eyes and made us all realize, fast food is no longer the cheap option for a meal.

Three double meat, double cheeseburgers, fries, and regular drinks for the table... The grand total was nearly forty dollars. I think it's fair to say we were all surprised by the total. I mean, the boss can just get reimbursed by the company, but forty bucks for three burger meals?

The conversation quickly turned from a certain level of shock and disbelief to where you can go to get fast-casual food in the sit-down restaurants for less, and the list of places we came up with was far longer than we expected it to be.

Just off the top of our heads, there was a list compiled of better food available locally at a cheaper price. Just up the street, Rib Crib and Buffalo Wild Wings both offer solid lunch combos that have enough food to fill any one of us up at a rate cheaper or on par with what those burgers cost. My boss is a Wing Stop guy, he mentioned their cheaper promo options good a few days each week. Even Texas Roadhouse offers their steak and two sides for $11 on Wednesdays. How is it possible these delicious restaurants are beating the prices of fast food joints?

It has to be the pandemic effect.

In 2020, when government overreach forced most sit-down casual dining places to close for an extended period of time, we seem to have just accepted and gotten used to swinging through fast-food drive-thrus for our quick bites and meals away from home.

Blaming supply and delivery chain issues, prices for those fast-food meals have steadily risen over the last year and a half too even though prices at the casual sit-down places have stayed relatively the same. At least my beloved wing combo at BWW has somehow stayed the same as it always was. Even more curious, how is it that every McDonald's I've been to in 2021 is open to in-house dining but the Lawton stores aren't?

The next time you head out to grab a quick bite, you might revert to being a little more thrifty with your food. If inflation keeps rising as wages continue shrinking, you'll need every penny you can save.

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