7 Fast-Food Joints That Give You the Most Bang for Your Buck

Close-up on a chef preparing burgers at a restaurant

Hispanolistic/istockphoto

Cheapism is editorially independent. We may earn a commission if you buy through links on our site.
Close-up on a chef preparing burgers at a restaurant
Hispanolistic/istockphoto

Frugal Fast Food

With the economy on shaky footing and inflation sticking around, fast food has come out as a real winner in 2023. McDonald’s saw sales soar by 10.3% in the fourth quarter of 2022, buoyed by low-income consumers who’re “trading down” to cheap fast food. Taco Bell saw similar success, reporting an 11% increase in U.S. sales


Still, consumers are feeling the squeeze everywhere — even at fast-food chains. “With prices continually going up, it is becoming less and less worth it to eat at many fast food places,” a popular Reddit post reads. The original poster goes on to ask the r/Frugal community which fast-food chains still give you “the most bang for your buck.” We’ve compiled a list of r/Frugal’s top replies, contextualizing their picks in this frustrating economy.


Related: The Best Fast-Food Deals To Grab Right Now

IKEA
virtualphoto/istockphoto

Ikea

While it’s technically a furniture store, Ikea’s cafeteria “has really affordable meals with big servings,” one Redditor writes, adding that the kid’s meal is just a few bucks. The trick is to eat at Ikea without buying 15 other things. If you can manage that, Ikea’s cafeteria can be a quick and cheap alternative to fast food.


Related: Fast-Food Deals to Feed the Whole Family

Sign of Wendy's restaurant in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.
JHVEPhoto/istockphoto
Costco Business Center food court
Liane Starr

Costco

Like dining at Ikea, eating at Costco’s food court ceases to be frugal if you step foot in the store. But if you’ve got wicked self-control and can stick to your shopping list, then dinner at Costco isn’t a bad idea. Their legendary $1.50 hotdog and soda comb is quite literally inflation-proof, as it hasn’t gone up in price since 1985. And at just $10, Costco pizza is also surprisingly affordable.


Related: Food Court Showdown: Costco vs. Sam's Club

Del Taco
hapabapa/istockphoto
Stockholm, Sweden
Alexander Farnsworth/istockphoto

McDonald’s (With the App)

You can still snag a deal at the golden arches as long as you take advantage of McDonald’s app. “No matter where you go, use the apps. It’s always way cheaper,” the thread’s top comment reads.


For more fast-food tips, please sign up for our free newsletters.

Taco Bell Late Night Hours
lawcain/istockphoto

Taco Bell

As one of the few fast-food restaurants that has items for as low as $1, Taco Bell’s value menu remains a go-to spot for penny pinchers. In fact, that same study we mentioned earlier named Taco Bell the cheapest fast-food chain in the country.

Chipotle Restaurant in New York City
Anne Czichos/istockphoto

Chipotle

You may be surprised to see Chipotle on this list given that most dishes start at around $10, but Redditors say that the portions make up for the price. To stretch your dollar further, order a bowl with double rice, double beans, and a tortilla on the side.