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Chipotle and Friends - Saving Money While Eating Out

Updated on December 3, 2014

Getting the Most for the Least

The name of the game is getting the most bang for your buck. Now, let me start by saying that I do not practice nor condone underhanded tactics, so think of this as the white hat's guide to getting the most for the least amount of money.

Some of you may wish to stop reading here, because let me go ahead and say that dining out is not about ordering that one single item that you want to eat the most.

  • NO, dining out is about saving the time and effort of having to make something at home.
  • AND, while you're spending money to enjoy that convenience, your primary objective is to figure out how to be most satisfied without ordering the most expensive thing on the menu
  • EXTRA CREDIT, is to speak the language and know how to get more than the person next to you paying the same amount for the "same" food

Great, let's dive in.

You Have to Eat There

Eating lots of Chipotle can hit your wallet pretty hard, but it's delicious so it's not like you can go cold turkey. So how do you get the best bang for your buck at Chipotle and restaurants like it?

Imagine yourself driving down the street after a long day of doing something (working, studying, watching the kids, even vacationing!) and you see your favorite Chipotle-style dining franchise. You're oh so hungry and you've got ten bucks burning a whole in your pocket so you decide to walk in and order something.

You walk in to the familiar smells of grilled meats and fresh vegetables. You can hear the chatter of others like you that have wandered in to quell empty bellies. And if you're someone that constantly thinks about personal finance as I do, your eyes are drawn to the prices and descriptions with a single question dominating even your hunger:

How do I get the most satisfaction for the least amount of money?

Giant Chipotle Burrito

Giant Chipotle Burrito
Giant Chipotle Burrito | Source

Saving Money at Chipotle Tips

1 out of 5 stars from 1 rating of Saving Money at Chipotle Tips

Half + Half > Whole

We've learned since 2nd or 3rd grade that two halves make a whole. Well, let's rethink that when it comes to Chipotle or a Chipotle-style restaurant. I'll stick with the latter for the following examples:

The absolute most important thing you can take away from this article is to order half-and-half when it comes to proteins at Chipotle.

I witnessed this first-hand years ago when i was visiting a friend who lived near a college campus and we decided to grab a burrito at Chipotle. We watched and learned from the throngs of hungry 20-somethings as seemingly all of them were ordering half and half on their proteins. Their burritos and burrito bowls were overflowing with tender slices of steak and shredded carnitas. But when it came to be my turn, I ordered chicken, and I couldn't believe it but I was ending up with less protein than everyone in front of me. How could this be?

We're all paying the same amount and yet they not only get the benefit of variety (the spice of life) but more actual meat for their money. BUT, think about it for a second. when you order at Chipotle, you basically get one spoon of your desired protein. So if you order half and half, you would expect 2 half spoons of protein. BUT the half spoon looks so sad that you will normally end up with 2 spoons that are more like 2/3 or 3/4 so you end up ahead.

Chipotle Half and Half

Chipotle Half and Half
Chipotle Half and Half | Source

Stuffed with Veggies Like You're Jared

If you've ever paid attention to the old Subway ad campaign and Subway Jared, then you probably noticed how he always had this subs absolutely stuffed with vegetables. After all, these veggies were free, full of vitamins and somewhat filling because of dietary fiber. So what if you apply the same rationale to Chipotle?

First, you get your half and half of pinto and black beans. Then ask for the peppers and onions (they are so delicious, BTW!). Get all the salsas so you get a scoop of tomatoes, corn, and feel free to ask for a little extra if you really want it. Always add lettuce, cheese and sour cream, and if you've done well, they'll have to grab a second tortilla just to wrap your burrito. Now that's getting a lot for your money!

Chipotle Burrito Bowl

Chipotle Burrito Bowl
Chipotle Burrito Bowl | Source

Extra Veggies like Subway

Extra Veggies like Subway
Extra Veggies like Subway | Source

Bowling for Burritos

A question I've had asked of me before is whether you get more if you order a burrito bowl? I can only speculate on this one, but I would say YES. Imagine if you're in the Chipotle employees' shoes and you have two orders come in. The tortilla is limiting because you essentially spoon everything onto it taking into account the size of the tortilla. The bowl however is massive in comparison, and you would subconsciously add a little bit here and there to that the customer gets a plentiful order.

You can also order the free tortilla on the side with a burrito bowl, so it's like having your cake and eating it too.

Chipotle Tacos - Mostly Empty

Chipotle Tacos - Mostly Empty
Chipotle Tacos - Mostly Empty | Source

Beware the Tacos

Yes, I said beware the tacos. I have to admit that the tacos at Chipotle may be the tastiest single entrée because of the added crunch and familiar corn flavors. The downside of course is that it is incredibly difficult to slide ingredients into the taco opening. So basically what you end up paying for are the 3 taco shells with the right amount of meat, but you're probably getting shortchanged on the other condiments.

The same is more or less true for the soft tacos as they're smaller canvases which pose limitations compared to the burrito bowl. So if you're serious about getting the most for your money, stick with the burrito bowl with the side tortilla.

An Idea: Crunchify

If you've been to one of Bobby Flay's Burger Palace locations then you've undoubtedly seen the signs for crunchifying your burger. What that means is that they'll actually put potato chips on top of your burger or chicken sandwich so you benefit from the crunch and salt of the chips.

I haven't tried it, but I would imagine that it's possible to ask for a few tortilla chips on top of your burrito, in essence Crunchifying it. If you give it a try, let me know how it turns out.

Crunchify It!

Crunchify It!
Crunchify It! | Source

8 Pound Chipotle Burrito

Will you be using these tips when you eat out?

Will you be using these tips when you eat out?

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Not Just Chipotle

The other biggest lesson to take away from this is that these ideas are not limited to just Chipotle. Because of the restaurant chain's massive popularity and stunning efficiency, lots of smaller shops have popped up with a similar assembly line layout.

Why not ask for half and half proteins when you're building a salad at Chop't?

I always get half and half meat + extra veggies at Roti on my salad bowl.

You can apply the same principles to Shophouse, Subway, Saladworks, Sarku, mall-style Chinese carryout, and the list goes on.

Go out there gang and get fuller than ever with the same amount of money.


DealForALiving | Source

About DealForALiving

I believe that being frugal and making smart money choices is like any other exercise. As we continue to practice good habits in saving money where possible, finding deals for what we want, and having a good time at it, then we become better at dealing for a living.

I'm committed to sharing my experiences with getting the most out of using credit cards, saving and spending tips, and I might even add a slice of perspective without trying to be a psychoanalyst like some other personal finance folks out there.

Please let me know what you think and if you'd like to hear my take on a specific topic.

Most Sincerely,


PS. I've also started writing on my own site:


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    • FlourishAnyway profile image


      4 years ago from USA

      The one time I ate at Chipotle I was underwhelmed. I didn't understand what the big deal was all about and neither did the teenagers who had me take them. But I always enjoy your tips!

    • CrisSp profile image


      4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      Well, I seldom eat out now a days and opting for a much healthier food. But, yes to chipotle provided I split the order (portion) with a friend. :)

      Good, enjoyable hub!

    • Frank Atanacio profile image

      Frank Atanacio 

      4 years ago from Shelton

      I too love chipotle.. and I will be using these tips thanks for the great deal for a living person ..:) bless you and Happy weekend my friend

    • heidithorne profile image

      Heidi Thorne 

      4 years ago from Chicago Area

      I LOVE Chipotle! I consider it a separate food group. :) Sometimes I'll order the kids meal because I don't want that much AND it includes a small drink.

      So, so glad you emphasized that eating out is a time and convenience strategy. Even if I'm doing minimal prep work for a home meal, I'm still spending up to 1-1/2 hours on this drudgery. My time is much more valuable that shelling out a few extra bucks to turn the duty over to someone who can do it cheaper, better, faster than me.

      Happy Thanksgiving Weekend!


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