The end of the Minnesota State Fair is near, but take note if you're planning on attending one of the remaining few days.
I went to every (yes, every) food and drink stall on the fairgrounds looking for deals that may not leap out immediately when you're hankering for a bite – but prove to be a downright bargain.
Here's what a day's tireless searching turned up.
The $8.75 meal deal
Where: Mac's Grill, Food Building
Ok this is a bit pricier than some of the other bargains out there – but what you get for the money is substantial (pictured at the top of the page).
For $8.75 you get your choice of single burger (with toppings including cheese, bacon or chili), plus a mound of fries and a jumbo pop.
Find any other place that does those elements separate or combined for less and you've done well.
Most things at the Midway Mens Club
Where: Underwood Street just north of Dan Patch
Take a look at the menu:
It's chock-full of deals on food and drink. It's domestic tap beer was among the cheapest I could find at the fair and you can get a burger for $2.25, doubling up for $3.
Where: Hamline Church Dining Hall, Dan Patch Avenue between Underwood and Cooper
There are plenty of places offering $1 coffee across the fair, but if you find you need more than just a cup to kick-start your day, head to the Hamline Church Dining Hall, where you get unlimited refills for $2.50.
A cheap children's meal
Where: Giggles' Campfire Grill, Cooper Street between Lee and Randall
Barely noticeable at the bottom of the extensive Giggles' menu is its sole kids item, the Lil' Minnow Bucket, available to children under the age of 12.
For $1.75 you get chicken strips, fries and a drink.
One-buck hot dogs
Where: Frontier Bar, Carnes Avenue between Leggett and Clough
The bar's "naked" hot dog comes plain, obviously, but relish, onion and condiment toppings are available free of charge. There will be better hot dogs out there, but you'll be paying three or four times as much ... why not just buy three or four naked hot dogs instead?
Where: Caramel Apples Stand, Randall Avenue between Underwood and Cooper
How much: $1
I had a look around several Sno-Cone stands to see if this deal was replicated anywhere else and couldn't find anyone offering them this cheap.
Cider freeze pops
Where: Minnesota Apples, Horticulture Building
One of my favorite purchases at the State Fair. These apple cider freeze pops taste great and really cleans the palate after a long day eating grease.
A fro-yo alternative
Where: Dairy Goodness Bar, Dairy Building
While I'm firmly in the Ron Swanson camp when it comes to frozen yogurt ("Be ice cream or be nothing"), this is a pretty good deal from the already good-value Dairy Goodness Bar.
If you'd rather not spend $3 on an ice cream at Dairy Goodness, this is the cheap alternative.