Best fast food value meal: Which chain is winning the trend?

Maddy Kinkead
fast food value deal

With the current inflation in the fast food industry, a lot of the big-name restaurants have been racing to win back their customers with the best fast food value meals.

It started with Burger King and McDonald’s rumoring a $5 value meal back in April 2024, but now, other bigwigs like Starbucks, Taco Bell, and Sonic have joined the race.

But, who takes the gold medal for the best value fast food meal? Let’s dive in and find out.

Best fast food value menus ranked

In this ranking, we’ll be looking at price, of course, however, the lowest price meal won’t necessarily make the top spot. We’ll also be looking at value for money, as well as the range of menu items available at the advertised discounted price.

9. Starbucks’ Pairings Menu

Starbucks is one of the latest chains to launch their value meal, and they’re offering a $5 ‘Pairings Menu’ that allows customers to order tall coffee or tea paired with a butter croissant for $5, or a tall coffee or tea paired with a breakfast sandwich​ for $6. 

Starbucks pairing menu
Starbucks’ version of a value meal.

Usually, a tall latte would cost you $2.95, and a standard breakfast sandwich like the bacon, gouda, and egg will cost you $5.95. At around $9 separately, the menu is certainly saving money and there are a lot of options to choose from.

However, the downfall of this menu deal is that it is only set to last throughout the summer and there isn’t a huge amount of choice food-wise, so don’t get too used to those savings. If you want to save money on your caffeine fix on a more long-term basis, find out how you can become a Starbucks Gold Member.

Rating: 6/10

8. Taco Bell’s Luxe Cravings Box

Taco Bell gets mega-points here for the portion size on their value box. This meal comes with a choice of several large-sized menu items, including a Chalupa Supreme, Beefy 5-Layer Burrito, Double Stacked Taco, chips, and nacho cheese sauce, along with a medium fountain drink.

Taco Bell Luxe cravings box
The new Luxe Box features an array of fan favorites

Taco Bell has given its fans a value menu that exceeds expectations, the portions are huge, there are several items in each box, and there’s no suggested end date for the deal.

The only downfall here is that the box costs $7, so it is the most expensive value meal of all of them.

Rating: 7/10

7. Jack in the Box $4 Munchies menu

‘Jack’s Munchies Under $4’ menu features 13 items, making it more extensive than most, and includes sandwiches, tacos, sides, and even something sweet.

Jack in the box food
Jack’s Munchies Under $4 Menu

Jack in the Box is truly a jack of all trades, and they serve burgers, tacos, and chicken, all of which can be sampled on the new munchies menu.

On top of this, the menu has been declared a permanent feature, making it a reliable option amid the rising rate of prices.

Rating: 7/10

6. Pizza Hut ‘My Hut Box’

Pizza Hut is targeting the lunchtime cravings with their My Hut box. They are the only pizza chain that has announced a value meal this summer.

Pizza Hut have unveiled their My Hut box allowing customers to get food for cheap.

The meal includes:

  • Two-topping Personal Pan Pizza served with either four boneless wings or a choice of fries.
  • Pizza Hut Melt paired with a choice of fries or four boneless wings, plus a side of marinara sauce for dipping.
  • Half Melt and four boneless wings or a choice of fries, served with marinara sauce for dipping.

You can also opt to add a 20-ounce beverage of your choice for an extra charge of $1.50.

This meal starts at $6.99, again, putting it on the pricier end for value meals, but you are getting a pizza and sides.

Rating: 8/10

5. Wendy’s $3 Breakfast Deal

Saving money before you even reach the office in the morning? That’s guaranteed to put you in a good mood. This promotion has been around since May 20 and looks to be a long-running menu feature.

Wendy's breakfast with biscuits, drinks and potatoes
Wendy’s has also got its own breakfast deal

You can get one small seasoned potatoes and a choice of either a bacon, egg, and cheese English muffin or a sausage, egg, and cheese English muffin. No coffee in this one like Starbucks, but it is half the price. This is definitely the best fast food value meal that you can snag before 9am.

Rating: 8/10

4. Burger King $5 ‘Your Way’ Meal

This meal deal was discontinued in 2023 but has been back since June 2024. You get an entrée, two sides, and a soft drink, all for $5. Here are the burger options:

  • Whopper Jr. – The Whopper Jr. is a classic, smaller-sized version of their famous burger. It contains a flame-grilled beef patty with tomatoes, lettuce, mayonnaise, ketchup, pickles, and sliced white onions on a toasted sesame seed bun.
  • Bacon Cheeseburger –  This one is made with the chain’s classic flame-grilled beef patty, layered with crispy bacon, American cheese, pickles, yellow mustard, and ketchup on a toasted sesame seed bun.
  • Chicken Jr. – The Chicken Jr. features a crispy chicken patty with chopped lettuce, and creamy mayonnaise packed on a toasted sesame seed bun.
Burger king Value box
Burger King’s answer to a value meal.

In terms of sides, customers will be able to grab a portion of french fries, as well as a 6-piece nugget pack to accompany their main. 

Burger King’s meal was the hottest competitor of McDonald’s due to the similarity of the menu choice, but Burger King missed out on the top spot, only because their prices weren’t too high to begin with.

Rating: 8/10

3. Popeye’s Big Box

Popeye’s Big Box is on the pricier end of the scale, however, you’re getting a lot of good food for only $6.99.

Popeyes bigger box
Popeye’s Big Box.

The meal consists of two pieces of fried chicken (spicy or mild) or three chicken tenders, two regular sides, and a biscuit. So it is a significantly heftier portion than other chains offering a burger and a portion of fries.

This meal has been intermittently available for the past few years, but after people in California claimed they were paying $42 for 16 chicken tenders, this value meal is a welcome arrival.

Rating: 9/10

2. Sonic’s ‘Fun.99’ Menu

Sonic is the latest to launch its value menu, and they get the crown for the lowest price. This new permanent menu features several items all priced at $1.99. Here’s what’s up for grabs:

  • All-new Sonic Queso Wraps
  • Quarter Pound Double Cheeseburger
  • Chili Cheese Coney
  • Small Tots
  • 16 oz SONIC Shakes (available in 12 flavors)
jack in the box value menu
The Fun.99 menu is all priced at $1.99.

Sonic may have joined the race late, but they are killing it with these menu options, especially the 16oz milkshake in any flavor.

Rating: 9/10

1. McDonald’s $5 value meal

The price surges at McDonald’s are what kicked off the whole debate about fast food prices. In fact, there was so much of an uproar over the Big Mac costing $18 at some locations, that McDonald’s CEO responded and promised a low-cost meal.

McDonald’s value meal is very similar to Burger King’s. Customers can opt for a McDouble or McChicken, small fries, four-piece Chicken McNuggets, and a small drink, all for the price of $5.

McDonald's $5 value meal
McDonald’s takes the top spot.

Although McDonald’s value menu only offers two main options and a small portion of fries, they get the crown for best fast food value meal because they answered their customers’ outcries for a value meal when, realistically, they could have ignored them and still continued to run a booming business.

As the most iconic fast food chain, customers would have kept coming back regardless, but McDonald’s has shown that they listen to their fans.

We’ve also made a definitive ranking of the best fast food chains in the US if you want to see how your favorites stack up.

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