Newest Review: ... ordering a burger without an ingredient can usually endure you get a freshly cooked burger as well. McDonalds have made an effort... more
McDonalds - better than their reputation gives them credit for
Member Name: rackerss
Advantages: sustainable, tasty, consistent, more vegetarian options than their counterparts
Disadvantages: high in fat, salt and calories, sometimes very busy
Here's something you won't see every day: a vegetarian giving McDonalds a good review! Well - a better review than you might expect. I've been going since I was a very small child, but didn't go for a long time because they didn't do any meals I could eat. I have since discovered three vegetarian meal options and they are actually delicious!
There are over 1200 McDonalds restaurants in the UK - plenty of opportunities to grab a bite. The locations certainly not coincidental; they always seem to be exactly where you want one. They're always easy to find and of course those famous golden arches make each restaurant very easy to spot!
First of all, McDonalds is consistent. You can go into any branch in the country (and so far in my travels the world) and know what to expect. This is great for me because I like what I know and I know what I like! If you're in a strange City and not feeling too adventurous or you just want some reliable comfort food, for me McDonalds would be my first stop.
McDonalds employ over 80,000 people. In the current economic climate with high rates of unemployment, McDonalds really does benefit the community. They offer excellent training programmes and seem to really look after their staff. People joke about working at McDonalds as a low point, but as far as I can tell, there are worse companies to work for!
I always take the time to read the paper tray covers and it really emphasises the steps McDonalds are making towards health and sustainability. As an environment student, sustainability is very important to me. A company like McDonalds uses a lot of meat and they source this from British farmers, reducing the food miles and supporting local farmers. Their eggs are free-range and certified by RSPCA freedom-food standards. Furthermore, they have applied pressure on their supply chain to source fish sustainably in order to meet the standards of the Marine Stewardship Council. Cooking oil is reused as biodiesel for their fleets, restaurants are fitted with low energy light-bulbs, urinals are slowly but surely being converted to waterless urinals and packaging used in deliveries is being returned to the suppliers to be reused. There are countless ways they are trying to protect the world we live in - for more information see the 'Our News - Your Views' section of their website - some truly inspiring articles! The fact that a lot of this information is on their paper tray covers not only impresses people like me who are passionate about these causes, but may educate people who know nothing about it and show them that this is important - it's raising awareness of global issues!
As I've mentioned before, I like their choice of vegetarian meal options. After a bit of controversy a few years back, the fries are 100% vegetarian - the oil is filtered to ensure no contamination from the meat and fish fryers. There is a veggie burger, a spicy vegetable wrap and a spicy vegetable deli sandwich. The wrap and deli sandwich are discounted on a Tuesday because it is the 'deli of the day'. If you are a meat-eater, every other day has a different chicken based deli of the day which works out as a great deal.
Speaking of great deals, McDonalds, I find, is the cheapest fast food outlet. I find a meal is cheaper in McDonalds than if I got the same amount of food in Burger King or even Subway. The prices vary from store to store depending on location so check your local store to see the prices. They also offer a little bonus for students; with a valid student card you can get some free gifts such as a cheeseburger or a McFlurry with any meal.
The Menu changes seasonally with a lot of topical promotions. The old favourites stay there pretty much forever, but if you fancy something new and exciting there's usually at least one special item to try. The only bad thing about this is that you might fall in love with a new burger and have it disappear in a few weeks' time. There's currently onion rings on the championship menu (for the 2012 Euros) which I'm sure will disappear soon! Gutted!
The opening hours tend to be very good. A huge amount of McDonalds are open into the wee hours and many are 24 hours; this is great for those late nights after the pub - I can certainly admit to visiting with heels in my hand and a fair bit of alcohol in my system! If you're an early riser you can visit McDonalds for a breakfast McMuffin, a coffee and the famous hash browns! They also do bagels and wraps as part of the breakfast. Making them even more convenient are the numerous drive-thrus dotted across the country. These allow you to place and collect your order without leaving your car - the only problem with this is that if your order is wrong you're usually 10 miles down the road before you realise!
The most obvious con, I suppose, is the negative health benefits associated with McDonalds. They have long been criticised for the salt content of their food. The NHS recommends that adults should eat no more than 6g of salt a day and children no more than 5g (up to 11). A cheeseburger and medium fries has 2.1g of salt which is actually a lot less than I was expecting. This meal will set you back 625 calories and 28g fat without a drink. Of course, you may wish to add a McFlurry at 340 calories at 13g of fat. Each one of those little pots of sauce is around 50 calories. You can see it soon adds up. But the fact is, they make it very easy to see how much is in each item. There is usually a chart on the back of the paper tray covers and on their website they have a nutrition calculator which allows you to put all the items in a calculator and it will tell you the information for the whole meal (excluding sauces).
A lot of the 'too good to be true' promotions usually are. The monopoly is one example - I know a lot of people who have played this A LOT and nobody has ever won anything more than a cheeseburger. They distribute the cards very carefully to make sure winning is unlikely. To be fair this isn't a real dig at McDonalds - they're a company that needs to make profits so they're really just being clever. It gets people buying their products; just make sure you don't get sucked in too much and spend hundreds of pounds trying to win a house!
During busy lunchtimes the whole system can seem a bit chaotic - the till attendants can take orders faster than the food is being made so there's a huge cluster of people waiting for their food by the till listening for their order. Queues sometimes go outside the door, but there's always enough staff guiding you to the shortest queue.
Currently, very little of the actual food packaging is recycled. McDonalds claim this is because cardboard contaminated with food cannot be sent to recycling plants. I feel they could have two separate bins - one for cardboard and one for non-recyclable waste. I'm sure McDonalds have looked at different ways of recycling this waste and I imagine we'll see some kind of improvement in the system soon!
Overall, Maccas is an eatery I will visit maybe two or three times a month. I would put it above Burger King and KFC any day. Their reputation is far worse than it should be, in my opinion, and I like the way they are heading into a sustainable future. The fact that their reputation has been so bad in the past means they are keen to lead the pack in these important issues. It's not an everyday treat, because it is still quite bad for you, but they're making a real effort to include more healthy options and, more importantly, more transparency in how bad the food actually is.
Summary: Don't let preconceptions tarnish your view of McDonalds