Deals On Meals
Wojciech Kozielczyk/istockphoto

The Best Value Meal Deals at 50 Chains Across the Country

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Deals On Meals
Wojciech Kozielczyk/istockphoto

Deals On Meals

Cheap eats aren't quite what they used to be. In the past couple of years, fast-food chains including McDonald's axed food deal dollar menus in favor of slightly pricier rosters of value-focused fare. And some family-friendly casual-dining chains have pulled back on coupons, large sizes, and other offers that hurt their bottom line as the economy improved.

But we've found that there are still great offers that can help consumers stretch a buck, whether you love burgers, pizza, or something in between at a favorite fast-food or fast-casual chain. (And don't forget to look for opportunities to add a free food offer for the kids along with your restaurant deals.) Just remember that many deals are offered only for a limited time, as many restaurants opt for seasonal deals over fixed value menus. Prices also may vary by location. (Looking for even more ways to save? Check out 32 Secrets for Better, Cheaper Meals at Your Favorite Chains.)

McDonald's
McDonald's

McDonald's

The nation's largest fast-food chain has long tried to provide a lot of bang for the buck. While its much-loved Dollar Menu is no longer around, the chain has resurrected that idea with the $1 $2 $3 Dollar Menu. A buck will get you a McChicken crispy chicken sandwich, cheeseburger, or any size soft drink. Spending $2 will get you a six-piece chicken nuggets and several McCafe drinks, among other choices; $3 can buy a Happy Meal.

Related: Why McDonald's Fries Used to Taste Better

Burger King
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Burger King

Burger King has a fairly robust value menu, including $1 hamburgers and cheeseburgers and $1 chicken sandwiches, right up through a $5 Whopper Meal and $6 Double Whopper Meal. Keep an eye out for limited-time offers, which right now include $1.50 for a 10-piece nuggets, a $4 meal could be a Whopper Jr. meal or two sandwiches for $6, including the Whopper or Spicy Crispy Chicken. This is just the start of the $4 meal offerings, which you can order conveniently online like other menu items. Wondering what you might find on the Burger King menu in other countries? Take a look at the 50 Fast-Food Menu Items You'll Only Find Abroad.

Wendy’s
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Wendy’s

Wendy's has an extensive menu of 4 for $4 meals right now, one of the better deals we've seen among the major fast-food players. Customers can choose from $4 meal options including a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, Double Stack, Spicy Chicken Wrap, or Crispy Chicken BLT, then pair that entree with a four-piece nugget, small order of fries, and small drink. (As crispy chicken sandwiches go, the Crispy Chicken BLT is basically a Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger with a fried chicken patty subbed in for beef. As to the Spicy Chicken Wrap, the kind of folks who review Wendy’s fast food items are surprisingly excited about it.)

Related: Taste Test: The Best Fast-Food Cheeseburger

Jack in the Box
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Jack in the Box

There are plenty of cheap eats to love on the Jack in the Box menu, which includes two tacos for $1, $1 value fries, a $1.30 crispy chicken sandwich, and a $1.40 Jr. Jack burger. Recent limited-time deals include a Really Big Chicken Sandwich combo as a $4 meal and a BLT Cheeseburger combo for $5.

Culver’s
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Culver’s

Wisconsin-based Culver's — found mostly in the Midwest, Florida, and Arizona — has developed a loyal following with menu favorites such as cheese curds and frozen custard. (Looking for a kids-eat-free deal? Culver’s offers a cone or dish of frozen custard with a kids' meal.) If you're eating there on a budget, a $5 Snackpak meal will get you chicken tenders or one of the chain's famous ButterBurgers, crinkle-cut fries, and a small drink.

Taco Bell
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Taco Bell

It's easy to eat for cheap at Taco Bell any time of day (and no need to wait for National Taco Day to roll around again — it was Oct. 4). In the morning, you can get a sausage flatbread quesadilla, mini skillet bowl, breakfast soft taco, or grilled breakfast burrito for $1 each. A dollar will also get you plenty at other times of day, including a shredded chicken mini quesadilla, triple-layer nachos, and a cheesy bean-and-rice burrito. You can order Taco Bell online and even use DoorDash, GrubHub, and other services.

Related: Live Más: 20 Spicy Secrets Behind Taco Bell's Success

Del Taco
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Del Taco

Found mostly in the western United States, Del Taco is another reliable bet for cheap, fast Mexican eats. The chain's Buck & Under menu has more than a dozen items, including bean-and-cheese burritos, quesadillas, and breakfast tacos. A dollar can also buy a small iced coffee, strawberry lemonade, a 30-ounce iced tea, or Donut Bites. Right now, you can also visit on Tuesday afternoons and evenings and nosh on three tacos for $1.50, though you can prepare for your visit by using the Del Taco app.

Domino's
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Domino's

In the battle of the pizza chains, Domino's latest value offering is a menu of $6 items that includes medium two-topping pizzas, chicken wings, oven-baked sandwiches, stuffed cheesy bread, salads, and brownies. The catch: You have to order at least two items. If you just want one pizza, a large three-topping pie is $8 every day as long as you forgo delivery. (Though you still get to order online.) Thinking of ordering in? See how Domino's stacks up in our review of the Best Cheap Delivery Pizza.

Dairy Queen
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Dairy Queen

Got a sweet tooth? The $6 Meal Deal at Dairy Queen is where it's at: You'll get a double cheeseburger or three-piece chicken strips, fries, a soft drink, and a sundae for $6. Smaller appetite? The limited-time 2 for $4 Super Snack lets you mix and match: Choose from a cheeseburger, two pieces of chicken strips, regular fries, pretzel sticks with queso, small sundae, or any size soft drink. That's a pretty good $4 meal.

Sonic
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Sonic

Sonic's Everyday Deal menu has more than a dozen items under $2, including a double cheeseburger, breakfast burrito, or crispy chicken sandwich (made with strips). Limited-time deals include half-price cheeseburgers on Tuesday nights or $3 for a quarter-pound double cheeseburger (sorry — it'll cost extra to make it a bacon cheeseburger) or 6-inch cheesesteak, both served with tots.

Hardee's/Carl's Jr.
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Hardee's/Carl's Jr.

Fill up on the cheap at Hardee's or Carl's Jr. with the chains' limited-time $5 All Star Meals. Choose from a meal with a double cheeseburger and jumbo hot dog; hand-breaded chicken tenders; a double cheeseburger and onion rings; or a double cheeseburger and spicy chicken sandwich. All come with fries, a drink, and a chocolate-chip cookie.

Tim Horton’s
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Tim Horton’s

Grab an inexpensive breakfast at Tim Horton’s with the chain’s Double Deals promotion. Three bucks gets you two sausage, egg, and cheese wraps; a $4 meal could be two sausage, egg, and cheese English muffins; and $5 buys two bacon, egg, and cheese biscuits.

Kentucky Fried Chicken
KFC

Kentucky Fried Chicken

Kentucky Fried Chicken's $5 Fill-Up Menu offers plenty of options, including a pot pie, two pieces of KFC chicken (which could be grilled chicken, including grilled chicken breasts), or three chicken tenders, plus mashed potatoes and a biscuit, a cookie and a medium drink.

Boston Market
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Boston Market

Boston Market will feed a hungry family well: For a limited time, $2 will get you an entire rotisserie chicken with the purchase of any family meal, which includes choice of entree, cornbread, and three or more sides. Even without the rotisserie chicken deal, Boston Market makes for a pretty affordable family combo.

El Pollo Loco
El Pollo Loco

El Pollo Loco

Found mainly in the Southwest, El Pollo Loco is the place to indulge in Mexican favorites based around savory grilled chicken, including grilled chicken breasts. The best deals include a menu of $5 Fire-Grilled Combos that include three handmade taquitos, three tacos al carbon, or a pollo bowl with beans and rice. All include chips and a drink.

Steak 'n Shake
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Steak 'n Shake

Prices at Steak 'n Shake won't break the bank most days of the week — a burger and fries will run you only about $4. But if you want to stretch your dollar and indulge your sweet tooth, be sure to do during happy hour, 2 to 5 p.m. on weekdays. That's when all drinks and shakes are half price. Kids also eat free on weekends; the free kids meal comes with a $9 adult meal.

Little Caesars
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Little Caesars

Little Caesars has always offered some of the best pizza deals around, including large pepperoni or cheese pizzas for just $5 every day. Upgrade to extra cheese or pepperoni for $1 more. Offers are pickup only.

Popeyes
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Popeyes

Visit the Popeyes website to find a rotating offer of limited-time deals. When we looked, the best promotions included a $4 meal of three-piece chicken tenders, a side and a biscuit; $8 for five piece of chicken, two sides, and two biscuits; and a free two-piece chicken dinner with the purchase of a three-piece combo.

Pizza Hut
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Pizza Hut

Pizza Hut usually has a robust menu of rotating deals. Right now, pizza purists can get a large Pizza Hut pizza pie with three toppings for $8 for pickup. There's also a $5 'N Up Line-Up Menu that lets you select two or more items for $5 or $6 each. They include medium one-topping pizzas, Tuscani pasta (which includes fettuccine Alfredo and marinara style options) , double orders of breadsticks, wings, and more.

Cook Out
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Cook Out

Cook Out, a drive-through burger joint found throughout the South, offers a great deal in the Cook Out Tray. Customers can choose an entrée such as a double burger, quesadilla, chicken sandwich, or two hot dogs, then add two sides and a drink for just $5. Upgrading the drink to one of the chain's 40-plus milkshakes costs $1.

Papa John's
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Papa John's

If you love your pizza loaded up with the works, Papa John's is offering a large The Works or The Meats pizza for $12 for a limited time. You can also pick two or more sides for $6 each or get a party pack of any five large pizzas for $55.

Long John Silver's
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Long John Silver's

Feelin' like fish? Head to Long John Silver's on Sunday, when you can get all-you-can-eat fish (or chicken for the landlubbers) along with sides and hushpuppies starting at $8. Other deals include an everyday $5 grilled taco combo that lets you choose any grilled taco, a side, and a drink.

Krystal
Krystal

Krystal

Customers can find Krystal's inexpensive signature square sliders throughout the South. The chain's current deals include a 5 for $5.55 menu that includes burgers, crispy chicken sandwiches, chili cheese dogs, fries, tots, soft drinks, and even sundaes and apple turnovers. Customers can also look out for coupon-based deals, printable online.

White Castle
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Church's Chicken
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Church's Chicken

Be sure to scope out the website at Church's Chicken before going in. Printable coupons will show you current deals near you; in our area, they include three pieces of chicken, a side, and a biscuit for $4.50; five pieces of chicken, two sides, and two biscuits for $6; and 20 pieces of chicken for $16.50. Everyday values include a crispy chicken sandwich, apple pie, or three-piece boneless wings for $1.

Waffle House
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Waffle House

This late-night bastion of cheap eats lives up to its reputation with its Value Dollars Menu. It includes items as cheap as $1, such as an Angus hamburger, and tops out at $5, which will get you a grilled ham and cheese with hash browns or a pecan waffle and drink.

Huddle House
Huddle House

Huddle House

At this 24-hour diner, customers can choose from eight meals for just $5. The Atlanta-based chain's value menu has breakfast, lunch, and dinner favorites including a bacon, egg, and cheese melt with grits; a farmhouse burger and fries; a BLT combo; and an open-faced sausage biscuit and gravy with eggs.

Blimpie
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Blimpie

One of Subway's main competitors, Blimpie, is making its own play for the value-conscious crowd. Just $6 buys a regular sub combo that includes chips or a cookie and a drink. Choose ham and Swiss; veggie and cheese; tuna; or ham, salami and provolone.

Taco Bueno
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Taco Bueno

Found mostly in the South, Taco Bueno offers a "Bueno Under a Buck" menu. Your choices include small versions of all the menu staples, including tacos, burritos, quesadillas, nachos, and churros.

Marco's
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Marco's

This predominantly eastern U.S. pizza chain promotes an "everyday value" of two medium one-topping pies for just $7 each. Limited-time deals have also included large two-topping pies for $9 each, carryout only, or two large one-topping pies for $17.

Applebee's
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Applebee's

Casual-dining giant Applebee's offers a two-for-$20 deal that includes an appetizer and two full-size entrees good for family meal deals. Choices and participation may vary by location, but past selections have included wings, mozzarella sticks, a sirloin stir-fry, chicken pasta, and a burger. Also look for deals on drinks, like the $1 Adios, a twist on a Long Island Iced Tea.

Olive Garden
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Olive Garden

One of the best values at Olive Garden is on the lunch menu you can order online: For $8, enjoy dishes including asiago tortelloni, fettuccini alfredo, or a grilled piadina sandwich; a buck or two more opens up options including ziti, a meatball bowl, shrimp scampi, and chicken parmigiana. All dishes are served with unlimited soup or salad and breadsticks. Other deals include the $5 take-home entrees and a limited-time $11 Never-Ending Pasta Bowl, which includes soup or salad and breadsticks.

Chili's
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Chili's

Come to Chili's for lunch and you'll get your pick of eight $8 lunch combos that include a double burger and fries, soft tacos and chips and salsa, and a chipotle chicken bowl. There's also a 3 for $10 menu that includes a drink, appetizer, and entrée; and a Meal for 2 deal that includes an appetizer, two full-size entrées, and a dessert for $25. That's the start of a good family dinner.

TGI Friday's
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TGI Friday's

TGI Friday's best deal is also at lunchtime. The casual-dining chain is offering $5 Weekday Specials that include Cajun shrimp and chicken pasta; a burger and fries; and a chicken sandwich and fries. Other deals include $12 endless appetizers on Fridays and two grill favorites with mashed potatoes and lemon butter broccoli for $15. (More good family dinner options.)

Denny's
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Denny's

The value menu at Denny's lets hungry customers mix and match breakfast, lunch, and dinner favorites. Choices include a stack of pancakes or slice of French toast for $2; biscuits and gravy for $4; and a country-fried steak and eggs skillet for $8. You can also get a Super Slam with two pancakes, two eggs, two strips of bacon, two sausage links, and hash browns for $6 to $7, depending where you live. And keep in mind that on Tuesday's there's a kids-eat-free deal: Up to two free kids' meals with an adult entree costing $6-plus.

Romano's Macaroni Grill
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Romano's Macaroni Grill

Customers can grab a meal for less at Romano's Macaroni Grill if they opt for lunch instead of dinner. A mix-and-match lunch special offers a choice of any two of the following: soup, half salad, half sandwich, half calzonetto, and a half portion of pasta such as Mom's Ricotta Meatballs & Spaghetti, all for about $11. Diners can also choose unlimited soup and salad. A limited-time deal for a bigger crowd is the Feast for Five, a $25 family-style meal available for pickup or delivery that pairs either spaghetti Bolognese or chicken fettuccini Alfredo with Caesar salad and peasant bread.

O'Charley's
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O'Charley's

Got kids? Buying an adult entree at O'Charley's earns a free kid's meal every day. Other values include the Over the Top and Under $10 menu, which offers favorites including a homestyle pot pie or shrimp and rice pilaf. For $4 more, add soup or salad and a slice of pie. Any entrée purchase will also earn you a free slice of pie on Wednesdays. And remember, many other restaurants also offer special kids-eat-free deals for family meal deals.

Logan's Roadhouse
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Logan's Roadhouse

Head to Logan's Roadhouse early for the best dinner deals. Every day from 3 to 6 p.m., just $9 buys an entrée and two sides. Entrée choices include a 6-ounce sirloin, fried fish, a pulled pork plate, or grilled meatloaf, while sides include cinnamon apples, potatoes, and house-made chips or fries. (They even look like fairly large sides.) On Thursdays, you can get any burger, fries, and a beer for $10.

Carrabba's Italian Grill
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Carrabba's Italian Grill

If you love Italian food, head to Carrabba's at the beginning of the week to save a little dough. The three-course Amore Mondays meal is $13 and includes favorites such as calamari, lasagna, and linguine, and tiramisu. On Pizza & Wine Wednesday, all wood-fired pizzas are $10, and bottles of wine are $10 off.

Red Robin
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Red Robin

The best values at gourmet burger joint Red Robin are available all day. It offers its tavern burgers as cheap as $7, served with all-you-can-eat steak fries (one of the chain's many "bottomless" sides). Appetizers such as fried pickles and pretzel bites are as cheap as $5.

Outback Steakhouse
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Outback Steakhouse

Like most steakhouses, Outback serves up its best deals at lunchtime. The restaurant offers lunch combos starting at $8 for endless soup and salad. Spending $1.50 more allows a choice of four entrées, including a chicken quesadilla or fish tacos, as well as soup or salad and one side. Spending $2.50 more buys choices such as steak tacos or a burger.

Cracker Barrel
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Cracker Barrel

If you're on an interstate, chances are there's going to be a Cracker Barrel sooner or later. Weekday lunch specials start at $6 and include baked chicken and stuffing on Mondays, chicken pot pie on Wednesdays, and turkey and stuffing on Thursdays. A country house salad with grilled chicken is available every day for family meal deals.

Beef 'O' Brady's
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Beef 'O' Brady's

Casual-dining favorite Beef 'O' Brady's offers a different value option every weekday. Enjoy a burger and fries for $6 on Mondays; two tacos, chips and salsa for $6 on Tuesdays; cheap wings on Wednesdays; $10 fajitas on Thursdays; and $13 for fish, shrimp, fries, and a salad on Fridays.

Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen
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Cheddar's Scratch Kitchen

Casual-dining staple Cheddar's has made more than 20 meals under $10 part of its everyday menu. Choices include three burgers, three salads, five sandwiches, a 6-ounce sirloin, and several fish and chicken dishes. Most dishes come with a choice of a side, too. Quick-pick lunch combos range from $6 to $8 and include favorites such as a club sandwich, meatloaf, and soup and salad. Not bad for family meal deals.

BJ'S Brewhouse
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BJ'S Brewhouse

BJ's has unveiled a slate of daily specials to bring in more value-conscious guests. The most compelling deals include half-off pizzas on Mondays and $10 loaded burgers with unlimited fries on Wednesdays. Rib lovers can also look forward to Thursdays, when $14 will buy a half rack of baby-back ribs, two sides, and a dessert.

Smokey Bones
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Smokey Bones

Hit up Smokey Bones for some cheap late-night eats. On Mondays, diners can indulge in all-you-can-eat wings and fries for $13 from 9 p.m. to close. On Wednesdays, go nuts with all-you-can-eat street tacos (keep this in mind next October, when National Taco Day returns and you have a real excuse to dig in) and chips for $12 during the same timeframe. Love ribs? A limited-time deal offers a two-thirds rack of baby-back or St. Louis ribs, two sides, cornbread, and a beer for $20.

Quaker Steak and Lube
Quaker Steak & Lube/Yelp

Quaker Steak and Lube

Tuesday is the day to bring $10 and a big appetite to Quaker Steak and Lube. Just $10 will get you either 20 breaded boneless wings, 20 panko-crusted shrimp, half a rack of baby-back ribs, 10 jumbo bone-in wings, or a half-pound top sirloin steak. Whatever you pick, you'll also get a choice of side.

Bonefish Grill
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Bonefish Grill

Bonefish Grill fans will want to wait for Tuesday to indulge, when the seafood chain offers its "Hooked on Tuesdays" promotion. You'll get a three-course meal with a salad, entrée, and dessert for under $17. Choices include cod piccata and a 6-ounce sirloin steak. A couple dollars more can even buy a fresh lobster tail with two sides, good for family meal deals.

Buffalo Wild Wings
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Buffalo Wild Wings

Tuesday is the day for wing purists to chow down at Buffalo Wild Wings, when traditional wings are buy one, get one free. Happy Hour, from 2 to 5 p.m., includes specials such as $2 draft beer and $5 loaded nachos.

Bob Evans
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Bob Evans

This casual-dining chain hawking down-home fare in the Mid-Atlantic and Midwest has a small menu of Pick 2 Combos that can stretch a buck the farthest. For $6, Bob Evans will let you can enjoy soup, salad, and dinner rolls; for $7, Bob Evans will pair half a sandwich with soup, a loaded baked potato, or side salad. At $8, good ol' Bob Evans — who back in 1948 made sausage on his Ohio farm to serve at his 12-stool diner — will let you sub in a burger. (And look into the Tuesday free kids meals.)