Is the Dollar Menu Really the Best Value at McDonalds?

|
Is the Dollar Menu Really the Best Value at McDonalds?
Image Credit: Ethan / Flickr
Team Clark is adamant that we will never write content influenced by or paid for by an advertiser. To support our work, we do make money from some links to companies and deals on our site. Learn more about our guarantee here.
Advertisement

On a recent family trip, I found myself having lunch at a McDonalds, even though I know it’s not very good for me. I ordered a hamburger off the dollar menu without thinking too much about it and sat down to enjoy my lunch.

While eating I got to thinking about the menu a little bit more. I hadn’t stopped to consider whether the dollar menu really was the best deal, I had pretty much just ordered off it because having the word “dollar” in the title made me think it was a good deal.

What about the Extra Value Meals? I like the word “value” just as much as I like the word “dollar” and adding the word “extra” in there makes it seem all the better. The Extra Value Meals cost more, but they were larger too, so maybe you are getting more for your money.

There are plenty of people who would tell you to never eat at McDonalds, and I am sure their arguments are pretty good. But, the fact is that a lot of people eat at McDonalds, and those people deserve to get maximum value for their money. It’s time to figure out which is the better deal, the dollar menu, or the extra value meals.

How to figure out what the best deal is at McDonalds

To calculate what the best deal is first I recorded all the prices from the menu. Then I went to the nutrition page at McDonalds.com to see what the size of all the menu items were. Dividing the price by the size gives me the price per pound of every item on the menu.

Comparing the value of food based only on price per pound is not a perfect measurement because there is a bunch of stuff it doesn’t consider — such as calories or how much you would enjoy a particular sandwich. Even though it’s not a perfect measurement, it does give us some idea of value to compare one food item to another so that is what we will use for this article.

Sandwiches

First, I looked only at the hamburgers and sandwiches

  Price Ounces Price per pound
Dollar Menu      
McChicken $1.00 5.10 $3.14
McDouble $1.79 5.20 $5.51
Double Cheeseburger $2.89 5.70 $8.11
Jalapeno Double $2.00 5.60 $5.71
       
Extra Value Meal Sandwiches      
Big Mac $4.19 7.40 $9.06
2 Cheeseburgers $2.00 8.00 $4.00
Quarter Pounder with Cheese $4.29 7.00 $9.81
Double Quarter Pounder $5.19 9.80 $8.47
Quarter Pounder Deluxe $4.69 8.40 $8.93
Bacon Clubhouse Burger $5.39 9.40 $9.17
Bacon Clubhouse Chicken $5.59 9.50 $9.41
Grilled Chicken Deluxe $5.09 7.50 $10.86
Crispy Chicken Deluxe $5.09 8.00 $10.18
Chicken & Bacon McWrap $4.69 10.70 $7.01
Chicken & Ranch McWrap $4.79 10.50 $7.30
Sweet Chili Chicken McWrap $4.29 10.30 $6.66
Filet-o-fish $3.89 5.00 $12.45

As you can see, the dollar menu is generally a better value than the extra value menu. The best deal in a sandwich is the McChicken off the dollar menu, but if a burger is what you want than the 2 Cheeseburgers for $2.00 off the Extra Value Meal is the best deal.

Sandwich Meals

Do most people go into McDonalds and only order a sandwich? Probably not. To make this calculation a little more realistic let’s add fries and a drink to our lunch.

The Extra Value Menu sandwiches have the meal option that includes a medium fries and drink for a couple dollars more. To make the dollar menu comparable, we will add in the price of a medium fries and drink to the cost of the sandwich. The ounces used in this table come from the weight of the sandwich plus 3.9 ounces for a medium french fries.

  Price Ounces Price per pound
Dollar Menu + medium fries and drink      
McChicken $4.48 9.00 $7.96
McDouble $5.27 9.10 $9.27
Double Cheeseburger $6.37 9.60 $10.62
Jalapeno Double $5.48 9.50 $9.23
       
Extra Value Meals with medium fries and drink      
Big Mac $6.19 11.30 $8.76
2 Cheeseburgers $4.99 11.90 $6.71
Quarter Pounder with Cheese $6.29 10.90 $9.23
Double Quarter Pounder $7.19 13.70 $8.40
Quarter Pounder Deluxe $6.69 12.30 $8.70
Bacon Clubhouse Burger $7.39 13.30 $8.89
Bacon Clubhouse Chicken $7.59 13.40 $9.06
Grilled Chicken Deluxe $6.69 11.40 $9.39
Crispy Chicken Deluxe $6.79 11.90 $9.13
Chicken & Bacon McWrap $6.69 14.60 $7.33
Chicken & Ranch McWrap $6.79 14.40 $7.54
Sweet Chili Chicken McWrap $6.29 14.20 $7.09
Filet-o-fish $5.89 8.90 $10.59

You can see from this table that if you want to have fries and a drink with your sandwich, then the Extra Value Meal actually beats out the Dollar Menu in many cases.

If a sandwich is all you care to have for lunch or you don’t mind drinking a free cup of water instead of a soft drink, the dollar menu isn’t a bad deal at all, but if you want the whole meal you may want to go with the Extra Value Menu.

Salads

For those rare individuals who go to McDonalds because they want to eat something healthy, let’s look at the salads.

  Price Ounces Price per pound
Side Salad $1.00 3.10 $5.16
Southwest Salad $4.99 12.60 $6.34
Bacon Ranch Salad $4.99 11.30 $7.07

In terms of price vs size this one isn’t complicated. The side salad off the dollar menu is the deal here, and if 3 ounces isn’t enough for you then I recommend just ordering 2 or 3.

Good luck getting the best value at McDonalds!


Advertisement
Andy Prescott About the author:
Andy Prescott is a CPA and the author of ArtOfBeingCheap.com, a website he describes as an instruction manual to saving money. Andy enjoys spending time with his family, travel, and finding new and exciting ways to pay less for stuff.
View More Articles
  • Show Comments Hide Comments