McDonald’s vs. Wendy’s vs. Popeyes vs. Burger King: Which value meal is the best bargain?

The Value Meal wars have begun, but which fast food chain has the best bang for the buck?
McDonald's $5 Meal Deal - credit: McDonald's
McDonald's $5 Meal Deal - credit: McDonald's /

Begun, the Value Meal Wars have. And while the consumer is the true winner here in the ultimate battle between fast food chains to offer a discount value meal, they’re not all made equal. In fact, some aren’t necessarily big discounts at all. So with McDonald’s, Wendy’s, and more all offering a discount value meal, we here at Guilty Eats decided the best thing to do was pit them all against each other, in order to discover which is, indeed, the best bargain.

With that in mind, we broke each value meal down in a few different ways: first, what is actually in the Value Meal (or your choices); second, how much it costs a la carte, i.e. if you bought the items individually; and third, what your total savings are, pre-tax, tip, etc.

One very important note here is that prices will vary by location. And in fact, I’m located in New York, which is insanely expensive compared to other cities, even when it comes to fast food prices. So with that in mind, I would recommend checking your local chain’s prices to make sure these match up. And if not, take it as more of a relative scale - meaning the costs are all relative to each other, most likely, regardless of your location.

…Which means when we choose the ultimate winner at the end, just know that even at New York prices, it’s probably the winner near you, too.

Caveats out of the way, let’s get into it. Which chain reigns supreme, at least for now, when it comes to the Value Meal Wars?

McDonald’s $5 Value Meal

McDonald's $5 Meal Banner
McDonald's $5 Meal Deal - credit: McDonald's /

What’s In It? A McDouble, or a McChicken sandwich (your choice); a small order of fries; a four-piece Chicken McNuggets; and a small soft drink (your choice).

How Much Does It Cost A La Carte?

  • McDouble: $4.69
  • McChicken: $4.19
  • Fries (small): $2.87
  • Chicken McNuggets: $3.88
  • Soft Drink (small): $1.79

Total Savings: The meal with the McDouble would otherwise cost $13.23; with the McChicken, $12.73. So you’re either saving $8.23, or $7.73.

Wendy’s $5 Biggie Bag

Biggie Bag Group Shot
Wendy's Biggie Bag Group Shot - credit: Wendy's /

What’s In It? A Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, or a Crispy Chicken Sandwich (your choice); a four-piece Chicken Nuggets; a small soft drink (your choice). Until June 30, 2024, you can also get the $5 Biggie Bag with a free Frosty.

How Much Does It Cost A La Carte?

  • Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger: $3.69
  • Crispy Chicken Sandwich: $2.59
  • 4 pc Crispy Chicken Nuggets: $2.29
  • Soft Drink (small): $3.19
  • Frosty: $1.79

Total Savings: With the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger and the Frosty, you save $6.26. With the Crispy Chicken Sandwich and the Frosty, you save $4.86.

After the Frosty deal is done, the Biggie Bag will continue, so: with the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, you save $4.47. With the Crispy Chicken Sandwich, you save $3.07.

Popeyes Big Box ($6.99)

Popeyes seafood menu items. Image courtesy Popeyes /

What’s In It? Two pieces of signature chicken, two sides, one buttermilk biscuit.

How Much Does It Cost A La Carte?

This one is difficult to nail down for a variety of reasons, including my local Popeyes doesn’t sell the Big Box meal. It also doesn’t sell individual pieces of chicken, and sides vary in price.

Working backwards, a buttermilk biscuit is $1.99. Sides range from $4.99, to $5.49 (for the Mac & Cheese). As for the chicken, the closest I’m going to get here is the 8pc Signature Chicken, which costs $24.99. Dividing that by four, let’s say two pieces of chicken costs approximately $6.25.

  • Two piece signature chicken: $6.25 (approx.)
  • Two sides: $9.98 (approx. assuming you don’t get mac and cheese)
  • Buttermilk biscuit: $1.99

Total Savings: $13.22 (again, approximately)

Burger King $5 Your Way Meal

What’s In It? Whopper Jr., Bacon Cheeseburger, or Chicken Jr. (your choice); fries; four-piece chicken nuggets; soft drink (your choice).

How Much Does It Cost A La Carte?

Okay, a couple of notes here. My local Burger King doesn’t serve the Chicken Jr. so I’m working off BurgerKingMenus dot com for info. Additionally, the offer doesn’t state what size fries or drink… My local BK only serves medium and large, so I’m defaulting to medium (even though I expect it’s actually small). And they also don’t serve four piece nuggets a la carte, so I’m halving the price of an 8 piece nuggets ($4.29).

  • Whopper Jr.: $5.89
  • Bacon Cheeseburger: $4.08
  • Chicken Jr.: $2.99
  • Fries (medium): $5.49
  • Chicken Nuggets (4 pc): $2.15
  • Soft Drink (medium): $3.99

Total Savings: With the Whopper Jr., it’s a savings of $12.52. With the Bacon Cheeseburger, it’s $10.71. With the Chicken Jr., it’s $9.62.

Overall Verdict: Which Chain Is The Value King? Or Queen?

Hope you love that chicken from Popeyes, because despite offering a $6.99 box instead of the $5 box, you’re still saving an approximate $13.22, at least at New York prices.

Burger King’s Whopper. Jr. $5 Your Way Deal saves you $12.52, bringing it to a relative close second.

As for the worst value? Even with the free Frosty, Wendy’s is the least bang for your buck at any iteration of their value meal. That said, one could argue they have relatively low prices anyway, meaning whether you’re getting the Biggie Bag or not, you’re still sort of saving money.

Regardless, the real winner here? It’s you, as the chains fight to get your loyalty with actually affordable prices. Keep it up, chains.

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