Travels with Children

The adventures I embark upon with my four young children.

Archive for Happy Meals

How Long Has This Been Going On?

OK, I’ll admit it.  When I’m out on adventures with the kids, we sometimes (gasp!) eat at McDonald’s.

We have a pretty standard order, and it’s usually in the same ballpark price-wise.  Today I was surprised at the price, and since my husband was along, I actually had time to look at the receipt in detail.  I was shocked and disappointed when I went back to the counter to question the manager.

My order for the kids was this:

  • 1 Hamburger Happy Meal, French Fries, Chocolate Milk, menu price $2.60.
  • 2 Chicken Nuggets Happy Meal, French Fries, Chocolate Milk, menu price $3.20.
  • 1 Chicken Nuggets Happy Meal, Apples, Chocolate Milk, menu price $3.20.

But on the receipt it looked like this.

  • 1 4NUG/AD HPY ML TOY $2.30
  • 1 HAMB/FRY HPY ML TOY $1.70
  • 2 4NUG/FRY HPY ML TOY $4.60
  • 4 CHOCOLATE MILK $5.80

These receipts have never been the easiest to decipher, which is probably why I didn’t figure this out sooner.

The “$5.80” is what caught my eye, so I broke it down, and found that I was paying $1.45 per milk above the Happy Meal price on the receipt.  This brought the Hamburger Happy Meal to $3.15 and the Chicken Nuggets to $3.75.  Each Happy Meal was $.55 more than the price in the menu.

I went to the counter and asked the manager about it.  I was directed to the “prices may vary” asterisk by the Happy Meal options and informed that the milk costs more than the pop does, so the Happy Meal with milk does as well.  (The asterisk was next to the french fry/apple dippers choice as well, but they cost the same, at least at this particular restaurant.)

I’ve been ordering milk with Happy Meals as long as I’ve had kids eating solid foods, which is about 7 years now, and this is the first time I’ve noticed that the milk cost more.  When my oldest was a toddler, the Happy Meals only cost $.10 more than the All-American meal (hamburger, small fries, tiny drink) so I would splurge and spend the dime to get him the little toy.  As my life got more hectic, I didn’t pay as much attention to the prices because I was just trying to get everyone fed and out of the restaurant in a well-behaved manner.  How long has this been going on?

What’s your experience with kids’ meals?  Do the healthier options cost more at other restaurants (fast-food or sit-down) as well?  I’m feeling really foolish right now and would love any insight you might have.

And, yes, next time I go in to McDonald’s, I’ll be pricing out the following: 1 hamburger, 3 4-pc. Chicken Nuggets, 1 medium or large fries, and 4 waters, to see how much these Happy Meals have really been costing me.