You may be on an incredibly tight budget, but there are only so many nights you can eat ramen noodles. A minor splurge on fast food would be nice, but how do you stay within your limited budget? The major fast-food chains may have eliminated their dollar/99 cent menus, but they are all offering deals that still allow you to buy some items for $1 or less. Here are the current offerings from the big three.
- Wendy's 4 for $4 – Wendy's offers a set meal of four items for $4: a Jr. Bacon cheeseburger, four chicken nuggets, small fries and a small drink. It sets the baseline of including a reasonable amount of food along with a drink at a low price. Unfortunately, you cannot substitute the drink for one of Wendy's popular Frosty shakes. Perhaps the hook is to get you to buy a small Frosty for dessert.
- Burger King's 5 for $4 – The King's value offering is almost exactly the same as Wendy's: a bacon cheeseburger, four chicken nuggets, small fries and a small drink, with the added bonus of a chocolate chip cookie. However, you may be trading off that cookie for a smaller sandwich — according to a blog on Nation's Restaurant News, the bacon cheeseburger here is the smallest of all the sandwich offerings currently touted.
- McDonald’s McPick 2 for $2 – You at least have some choice here as compared to the set deals at Wendy's and Burger King. With a McPick 2, you pay $2 and choose any two of these four items: a McChicken Sandwich, McDouble Cheeseburger, small fries, and three mozzarella sticks with marinara dipping sauce. Note what is missing — a drink. If you have the discipline to get your meal to go or drink free water, Mickey D's offers you the lowest overall cost.
Assuming no favorite among those three — a rather large assumption — McDonalds may be the choice for lighter eaters while those who need more volume can choose between Wendy's and Burger King.
Don't like any of these options? A growing number of chains have value options that are in the same general ballpark. Hardees/Carl's Jr. offers a $4 Real Deal containing a double cheeseburger, a spicy chicken sandwich, a small order of fries, and a drink. The NRN blog found this deal to be more filling than any of the three above.
Still looking? Arby's boasts a two for $5 campaign that includes an order of their loaded (cheese, bacon and ranch dressing) curly fries as a choice along with classic Roast Beef, Crispy Fish Fillet, and Classic Beef and Cheddar sandwiches. The bad news: you have to eat at Arby’s.
Do not forget to look for coupons that you can use to get an equivalent amount of food (if not a greater amount) for the same low price as the everyday value meals. Check local newspapers and flyers as well as online coupon sites. Many of these chains offer apps that could result in savings.
These new value offers are not necessarily limited time offers, but in a sense, they all may become that way. Dollar menus disappeared for a reason — because chains could not make money off them. They did not generate enough other purchases (or food upgrades, if you will) to remain worthwhile. If you follow our advice and resist the urge to buy other items, these deals will not be any more profitable for the fast-food chains.Take advantage of these deals while you can, because if enough people take advantage of them successfully, they will not be around for long.