Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Your guide to eating cheap including tips, recipes and techniques

Archive for January, 2008

1/29/08 | The Big Deal, JITB

[ Currently Eating: Coffee ]

The Big Deal - Jack in the Box - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Hm… here’s yet another week where I’m taking the easy way out and using someone else’s pics instead of my own. In fact, I grabbed the above straight from a company’s press release. The company? Jack In The Balpha. Longtime readers will remember why we call them that.

Actually, there’s a legitimate excuse for not using my own pictures for this review of The Big Deal, their new “combo” meal. And this goes for pretty much a whole range of fast and prepared food. Usually, I only pick up fast food when I’m so hungry that I can’t wait to make something at home or go to a sit-down restaurant. As such, I don’t really feel like messing around with camera angles while the meatpaste in my 2 tacos for 99 cents is quickly congealing.

This is actually one of the reasons I haven’t really featured Subway on here yet – most of the time I’d just make a sandwich at home. Whenever I get Subway, it’s because I’m too hungry to wait. So the sandwich gets inhaled without the usual pretty photos being taken.

But back to The Big Deal. In theory, it fits in with Cheap Eats. Here’s what the press release says:

“Thanks to rising gas prices, penny pinching has become a necessity for many Americans. To help consumers fill up for less (their stomachs, not their gas tanks), Jack in the Box® restaurants offer The Big Deal, a combo meal that features a chicken sandwich, two beef tacos and a 20-ounce beverage for the bargain-basement price of … drum roll, please … $2.59!”

Sounded OK to me. I went through the drive-through. In my gas-guzzlin’ Toyota 4Runner. Before that, though, I looked all over the pre-drive-thru menu to try and find the “Big Deal” on the menu. Boy, they sure like to hide the deals and the 99 cent menu well. The rip-off Combo meals are prominently displayed, however. Hello, Marketing!

The reason I wanted to find it on the drive-thru menu is that I’d forgotten what they were called. I guess I’m just a bit self-conscious when it comes to ordering things. The drivethru makes me nervous. I get performance anxiety. I couldn’t remember if it was called “Great Deal”, “Good Deal”, “Meal Deal” or “Big Combo Deal”. Luckily, the kind drive-thru waitress knew what I was talking about when I said “I’d like one of your great deals.” Haha. She could have easily been an ass (sorry gals, I mean an ass-ette) and said something like “Well, all of our items are great deals.”

Anyhow, I got the food and ate it in the car. Here’s the thing: I’m used to the deep fried meat paste taco shells they sell (fun tongue twister – she sells swell taco shells by the seashore). And in fact, I often pick up 2 tacos for 99 cents when my garbage-food intake is feeling a little low. Interestingly, the quality seems to vary. They’re best when they’re fried crispy and almost burnt. This particular batch was excellent. Although, if you believe they look like the picture, I’ve got a lock of Britney Spears’ hair to sell you. They should also put the word “beef” in quotes in their ads. Maybe also put the word “taco” in quotes.

You also get to choose between a 99 cent cheeseburger and a 99 cent chicken sandwich. I’m actually familiar with the latter dollar item, so I got that. It’s just a breaded formed ‘n fried chicken patty on a bun with iceberg lettuce and 5 million billion gallons of mayo. It’s actually not too bad except for the mayo. If I’m not driving, I wipe it off. I guess I could ask for less mayo – but then it’s much too easy to camouflage disgruntled fast food worker loogies inside mayo. I’d rather not antagonize them.

If you’ve been keeping up with their 99 cent menu, you know you can ALWAYS get 2 tacos for 99 cents as well as the chicken sandwich or cheeseburger for 99 cents. So, we’re up to $1.98 – and all that’s left is the drink. And that drink is – just a soda. So breaking it down, Jack In The Box’s The Big Deal equals the opportunity to buy a soda for 61 cents. Is that a good deal? I don’t know – because when I buy dollar items I never get a drink. But it’s probably cheaper than if you were to buy it separately in addition to the 99 cent items.

What they should have done instead was offer ANY combination of 2 items off the dollar menu plus a drink. Or even just add more items to their dollar menu. Or offer a $4 for 5 dollar items special. Because otherwise the only thing different about the Big Deal is a 61 cent drink. Think of all the marketing dollars that went into getting you to pitch in 61 cents more for sugar water. But hey, I bought a Big Deal just from watching their commercials. So, wow, advertising Workzzz!11!

Price: $2.59
Found At: Jack In The Box
Cheap Eats Score: 4/10

[ Currently Eating: Pita Bread and Hummus ]

Free Fiber One Cereal - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Every so often, I have a little conversation in my head with myself. A little mini “The State Of Cheap Eats” conversation. (By the way: warning, do not try talking to yourself when driving.) The conversation always concludes with the following: “Man, I should really try and write shorter posts on the blog. I could have more frequent posts and it would take much less time. I mean, there are fans of the longer posts but it’s just so draining and time consuming to research and write them. I could have a backlog of shorter posts to fall back on when I don’t have the time to write up a 3 dollar recipe. In addition, shorter posts would help out on the chronic shoulder/back issues I’ve been having.”

And I always resolve (especially near the new year) that THIS time I’m going to stick to a more frequent but shorter post schedule. The problem is, I always do one or two short posts and then fall back into the “usual”. It just seems like I’m not wired for writing quickhit blog posts or something. That’s great for readers, but bad for me.

Anyhow, what I mean to say is that I’m going to try again to keep up with the blog by writing shorter things. Hmm.. look at this post, it’s already as long as Britney’s hair would have been if she hadn’t shaved it all off.

Just kidding, no bagging on Britney please. The main reason for this post is to tell you that Fiber One is handing out free samples of their cereal. And all you have to do, i.e. “the catch”, is sign up for their EatBetterAmerica newsletter. That’s all you ever have to do for these things – agree be inundated with yummy emails. I would use a throwaway email address. Sometimes I also send these free samples to my PO Box to avoid getting junk mail at home – although not all places will send to a PO Box.

I think I might try and write up more of these “free food” thingies in the future – they’re popular, easy to talk about and relatively quick to post. In my opinion, I think you’ll save more money on food by learning how to cook and cutting down on eating out. But hey, give the people what they want right?

Anyhow, here’s where you sign up: Free Fiber One Cereal

[ Currently Eating: Avocado-less(?) California Roll ]

Cheerios Snack Mix - Cheddar - Cheap Eats at BloglanderHello. Oh man, raise your hand if you had a hard time getting back into the swing of things last week. Yep. After overdosing on Free Family Eats and general holiday Eggnogging, I just didn’t get around to turning the blog back on. But here it is, and here’s the first review of the new year: Cheerios Snack Mix.

If you don’t believe that the “healthy breakfast and snack” market is insanely popular right now just take a look at the recent archives of the food sent in for review. It’s pretty much all cereal, health bars or healthy snacks. I guess there’s nothing wrong with going for the “turn over a new leaf” crowd.

I go back quite a long ways with my friend Cheerios – I guess their advertising got me back in the 70s. I also remember lots of parents making the homemade “Chex Mix” (not the kind you can buy pre-packaged nowadays). I’m trying to remember if the one my parents made had Cheerios in it. I think it did. I also believe it featured worcestershire sauce in it?

Anyhow, I was sent this new Cheerios Snack Mix in the Cheddar flavor the other day. First off, I want to say that I wish I was sent the “Original” flavor. Not that I don’t dig cheesy artificial goodness, but I usually like to try the basic flavor of a snack before kicking it up a notch with the cheese.

Still, this snack seemed promising. They tout it as a “balanced” snack because of the Cheerios, and like most snack manufacturers are sure to say it’s Baked and not Fried. I’m glad, because Fried Cheerios does not sound like a delicacy.

There’s 6 different kinds of snack pieces in the mix: standard multigrain Cheerios cereal, Wheat Chex, Corn Chex, triangular Cheese Crackers, “Bread Twists”, and Twist Pretzels. I’ll go through each of them in reverse order, but first let’s talk about the Cheddar powder: it tastes just like Doritos. Yep, that’s pretty much it – you’ve tasted one artificial cheese powder, you’ve pretty much got them all. Well, actually it reminded me more of the artificial cheese powder packet from Kraft Macaroni. But you know what I’m talking about.

I’m not against the taste of it, but I already thought Cheerios ‘n Cheez was going to be strange. The taste of the multigrain Cheerios with cheese powder is a little too weird for me. I think it’ll be an individual taste thing.

Cheerios Snack Mix - Cheddar - Cheap Eats at Bloglander

Continue reading “Cheerios Snack Mix” …



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