These Are the 7 Cheapest Fast-Food Joints To Try Right Now

Costco cafe pizza


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

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.


1. 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.

Sign of Wendy's restaurant in Niagara Falls, Ontario, Canada.

2. Wendy’s

Although one recent study found that Wendy’s is the most expensive fast-food chain, Redditors argue that the chain’s “4 for $4 meal” is still a steal. As the name implies, you get four items — a junior cheeseburger, nuggets, fries, and a drink — for just $4.

Costco Business Center food court
Liane Starr/Cheapism

3. 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
Stockholm, Sweden
Alexander Farnsworth/istockphoto
Taco Bell Late Night Hours
Chipotle Restaurant in New York City
Anne Czichos/istockphoto

7. 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.