There was a time when Taco Bell was the cheapest fast food you could buy.
They had tacos that cost only 69 cents.
Times have changed, and prices increase.
This price increase is something that many of us have come to accept.
It is hard to take the increased cost at Taco Bell.
Many of us have fallen back into the Taco Bell groove only to be shocked by the price.
This article gives you some insight into why you are paying more when you eat at Taco Bell than you did in the past.
Why Is Taco Bell So Expensive?
1. Cravings Value Menu
Do you remember the dollar menu?
If you are a die-hard fan of Taco Bell, you remember this menu.
Every fast-food restaurant has one.
They are offering specific foods or meals at a discounted price.
A few years back, Taco Bell decided to trade in the dollar menu for the cravings value menu.
Notice they removed the word “dollar”?
What Taco Bell did was take advantage of this move to add more food items to this menu and start them at $1 or close to it.
The cravings value menu also added tiers.
They also allow you to add items to your item at an extra cost.
Adding on items is how the price increases quickly and without the customer even realizing it.
These additions allow the customers to beef up their meal, but it also adds to the cost.
It should be no secret that Taco Bell has found itself subject to many lawsuits over the years.
If you have guessed that fighting lawsuits is expensive and those costs are passed along to the customer, you are correct.
Taco Bell spent time and money in court or settling court claims, and those costs are always passed along to customers.
You may remember the various suits brought against the Bell over the years.
There was the one that said their beef was not full beef. It said that meat was only 35 percent beef.
Taco Bell tried to fight the claims stating it used 100 percent beef.
However, their sales dropped.
Taco Bell had no choice but to reveal all their ingredients and the truth.
The truth was that it was not completely beef, and because of that lawsuit, we all know about it.
Their customers can decide to continue to eat their food with full knowledge of what they are eating.
This is when we found out that their meat was only 88 percent beef.
Taco Bell has been given a grade of B+ for their beef.
Now, Taco Bell must disclose all of the ingredients they put in their beef, and there are many more than just beef.
The most surprising of the ingredients is cocoa.
The biggest reason for this is to give the beef its color.
It gives it a nice brown color that we are all used to seeing.
The good news is the beef does not taste like chocolate.
3. Pays Above Minimum Wage
While they are not setting the world on fire with their pay, Taco Bell tends to pay their workers above minimum wage, which translates to higher costs for the customer.
Many people eat fast food because it is inexpensive.
The food is cheaper because they do not pay their employees well.
Taco Bell is not an exception to that philosophy.
They pay minimum wage or a little higher than minimum wage.
You can find an employee earning about $8 to $14 per hour.
Those who work in the kitchen tend to earn about $8.50.
This dollar amount may not seem like a lot of money, and it is not, but it does result in your tacos costing more.
4. Limitless Options
Taco Bell offers a value menu.
The items on this menu have low prices, but they are missing some things.
You may get a taco for a low price, but you may only get cheese and meat.
The real trick is you can add on to each item on the value menu.
These additions cost money.
If you choose to add sour cream or guacamole, you will pay more money for it.
Taco Bell claims there are millions of options, modifications, and combinations.
That may be true, but you are going to pay for each of them.
You may pay as much as 50 cents for each additional item.
That adds up quickly.
Before you realize it, you are paying much more for your item from the value menu.
This allows the Bell to advertise low prices on their value menu, but the reality is that, when you are finished, you are paying a lot more for your cheap food item.
5. Late Night Drive-Thru
Taco Bell finally understood that people considered their restaurant to be perfect for late-night meals, oftentimes after they had a decent amount to drink.
Once they accepted this, they began to advertise it.
They created a late-night drive-thru meal.
This also means that they had to keep their drive-thru open late and staff it.
They needed their employees, even if it was a smaller number of them, to be working at midnight.
Staying open after the bars closed allowed customers to eat late at night.
They even began marketing it as the fourth meal until that no longer worked for them.
6. More Environmentally Friendly Options
Taco Bell is doing its best to stay current and give its customer base what it wants.
To do this, Taco Bell needed to know what their customers wanted.
This means marketing and studies to understand their customers better.
This includes spending money to find out more about their customer base.
Those costs are passed along to the customers they are trying to learn more about.
The result of this was a protein power menu.
This gave customers the opportunity to find healthy and protein filled options at their local Taco Bell.
This menu gives you more meat, high protein, low carb, and low-fat options.
These options give you a large amount of protein and low carbs that may or may not appeal to the masses.
7. Cost of Drinks
It is not a surprise that fast food restaurants make a considerable profit on soda and soft drinks.
It is one of the biggest makers of money for them, hands down.
A small soda costs a couple of dollars, and a large soda costs only a few cents more.
The reason for this is they are making a 90 percent markup on the soft drink you buy, even when it is a large.
Every drink they sell costs the restaurant is less than 25 cents.
Soft drinks are where they sneak in extra and inflated costs.
One of the reasons Taco Bell or any fast-food restaurant can offer items at a decreased cost is that they are making so much money off the soda.
Most customers are going to buy a drink when they purchase a meal, and that is where the money is made.
Even if Taco Bell loses money on a meal, they are always making money on the drinks.
When many people moved toward healthier choices and cutting soda out of their diet, it hurt the profits of fast-food restaurants.
This diet change may have been better for each person, but it was not suitable for the fast-food industry.
8. Smaller Amounts of Food
On the surface, the prices at Taco Bell seem to be on the low side.
However, once you begin to realize the amount of food that you are getting, you see why the price is so low.
It may even seem like you are paying more for the food than you should.
While it may seem that you are paying a lower price for your favorite item, you may have to buy multiples of the item or more items to make sure you can get enough to eat.
You can go to a more high-end fast-food restaurant, pay just a little more and get a much higher quality of food.
You most likely will get more food, too.
Taco Bell is smart with its marketing techniques.
When you are looking at their menu, they prominently display more expensive items.
They make the items that are more affordable appear small on the menu.
If you are in a hurry or feeling rushed, you are more likely to select the more expensive items because you can read them much more easily.
9. All the Extras Will Cost You
This seems silly, we know.
However, it is true.
Taco Bell knows what their customers want, and so they skimp on it.
When they skimp on the extras, like cheese, sour cream, and guacamole, they know people are going to want more of it.
All of those extras are going to cost you.
Most people who enjoy Taco Bell food really love their sour cream (or cheese or guacamole), which is why they charge you for the extras.
Taco Bell has correctly surmised that people who want more will ask for it and pay extra for it.
They make quite a significant profit from it.
If you plan to eat your Taco Bell at home, you can have some sitting in your fridge and use that.
However, many customers have said that the sour cream from Taco Bell just tastes better.
10. Desserts Cost More
You may have noticed that Taco Bell offers a dessert or two on their menu.
While it probably is not the healthiest idea to order dessert from a fast-food restaurant, it is not the most cost-effective.
The markup on dessert at all fast-food restaurants, including Taco Bell, is somewhere between 15 percent and 70 percent.
You might want to pass on dessert at Taco Bell because of the cost.
How Can I Save Money at Taco Bell?
There are many ways that can help you save a good amount of money at Taco Bell.
This is good news for those die-hard Taco Bell fans.
You can order extra sour cream on the side.
Do not order extra sour cream on your item.
If you order it on the side, Taco Bell gives you two squirts from the sour cream gun.
If you order extra on your item, you only get one squirt.
You will pay the same price no matter which one you choose, but one way gets you more sour cream.
This is also true for extra sauces.
If you ask for the sauce on the side, you get twice as much.
If you ask for extra on the food item, you get less.
How To Order Food
The real trick to saving money at Taco Bell is knowing how to order food.
You can make special requests to menu items to make a different item.
This is how it works.
If you want cheese and chips, you can order the triple layer nachos without the sauce or beans.
This option gives you cheese and chips for less money.
You also get more chips this way than if you ordered them by themselves.
If you were to order the cheese and chips by themselves, you are paying $1.30, but if you order the triple layer nachos without sauce and beans, you will only pay $1.10.
If you want to order a Meximelt, it will cost you $2.49, but if you order a beefy mini quesadilla and add pico de gallo and chipotle sauce, you get the same meal and only pay $1.25 for it.
That cuts the price in half.
If you want to order a Quesarito, it will cost you $2.49. Instead, you can order a Beefy Fritos Burrito with some tweaks.
If you remove the Fritos and add sour cream, cheese sauce, and chipotle sauce, it will cost you $1.90.
This food hack gives you a savings of 59 cents.
If you want Nachos BellGrande, it costs you $3.19. Instead of paying that, you can order Triple Layer Nachos and a Crunchy Taco Supreme.
Then you crush up the Crunchy Taco Supreme and put that on top of your nachos.
You get Nachos BellGrande for $2.59 and a savings of 60 cents.
Taco Bell has a happy hour that happens every day from 2 pm to 5 pm.
During these three hours, you can get medium drinks for just $1.
This price reduction includes their freezes, Baja Blasts, Sparkling Freezes, and fountain drinks.
Waiting until 2 pm to order these drinks saves you almost $1 on your favorite beverage.
Other Taco Bell Food Hacks
Some other Taco Bell food hacks include knowing that the Beefy Fritos Burrito is the absolute most food you can buy for $1.
This delicious burrito includes seasoned beef, seasoned rice, nacho cheese sauce, and Fritos, all wrapped in a soft tortilla.
You can also add on just about any upgrade you want.
Just remember that add-ons cost, and it will no longer be just $1.
The burrito that is a close second for the most food for $1 is the Cheesy Bean and Rice Burrito.
This option comes with seasoned rice, beans, nacho cheese sauce, and creamy jalapeño sauce, all wrapped in a tortilla.
If you are going to order a dozen tacos, it is much more affordable to order the 12-taco party pack.
If you order 12 tacos, it will cost you $15.49.
When you order the 12-taco party pack, it costs you $13.99.
That is like getting a taco for free.
It makes no sense for you not to order the party pack.
Do not rely on the cashier to catch that mistake and automatically ring you up for the party pack instead of 12 separate tacos.
Most likely, that is not going to happen.