Many fast food chains pride themselves on offering quality food at affordable prices with instant service. With drive-through burger chains such as McDonald's and Burger King, pizza chains such as Papa John's, Domino's and Pizza Hut, and the many more options available, there are plenty of fast food chains claiming to offer the best deals to their consumers. But who truly reigns as king of fast food value? Here is a look at some of the most affordable fast food chains in the United States, along with a determination of which one really is the most reasonably priced.

The McDonald's logo is one of the most easily recognizable company symbols in North America and throughout the world. The highly popular food franchise has many menu items as they serve up specials for breakfast, lunch, dinner and plenty of snack options for anyone who is hungry in between. McDonald's is among the most affordable fast food chains due to its dollar menu; everything on this menu is available for $1. Additionally, McDonald's offers a value menu with many options that help keep dining costs low. Occasionally, McDonald's will run promotions offering soft drinks for $1, or 2 breakfast sandwiches for just $3. These deals keep luring hungry consumers toward the golden arches.

Little Caesars
Another fast food chain that keeps costs low while giving their customers top value is Little Caesars. The pizza chain offers "Hot-N-Ready" pizza for as low as $5 a pie, in comparison with its direct competition at Pizza Hut and Papa John's, which offer large pizzas at approximately $10 each. While the menu at Little Caesars may not offer as many options as its direct competitors, the cost factor certainly gives it an advantage.

Taco Bell
Taco Bell is an industry leader that offers rock-bottom pricing on many menu items, including its 89 cent nachos and tacos for less than $1 each. The value gets a little watered down, however, when you consider that most people will order more than just one taco. But in comparison with other fast food vendors that sell Mexican-inspired menu options, Taco Bell is definitely a good choice that won't overly impact your bottom line.

Another fast food chain that offers a value menu along with reasonably priced meals is Wendy's. Some of Wendy's lowest-priced menu options appearing on its "Everyday Value Menu" include a small-sized order of chicken nuggets, a baked potato with sour cream and chives and a small frosty. While Wendy's isn't necessarily known for any sandwich in particular, it are known for their low prices, and that, along with taste, is what keeps customers coming back for more.

Burger King
Is Burger King the king of fast food? The fast food giant is definitely up against some steep competition for the title. Similar to McDonald's and Wendy's, Burger King offers a BK Value Menu with a long list of items that are both filling and inexpensive. In addition to the value menu, Burger King also has a hearty menu of combo meals for breakfast, lunch and dinner, as well as many snack items and beverages. In comparison with many other fast food chains, Burger King's value lies in how filling many of its value menu options are. Consumers could easily satisfy a hearty appetite with just a few dollars.

The Bottom Line
While each of the fast food chains examined above have its own set of advantages, there is one clear champion of the drive-through in terms of cost and value. While many fast food restaurants offer value menus, none trump McDonald's in terms of value. The fast food giant has many menu items that sell for just $1 each, in addition to many combo meals and frequent promotions for discounted sandwiches, drinks and more. While Burger King and Wendy's are following right on the heels of McDonald's, they aren't as highly ranked because their promotions don't quite measure up to what McDonald's offers. Regardless of which fast food restaurant is your favorite, the five restaurants listed are among your best bets when looking for a deal on your next meal.

Related Articles
  1. Budgeting

    How To Save Money When Moving

    Moving doesn't have to be as expensive as you think. Here are some great ways to save money on moving costs.
  2. Stock Analysis

    How Expensive Is Whole Foods, Really?

    Learn about Whole Foods Market, Inc., and discover how Whole Foods pricing actually compares to that of other grocery store operations.
  3. Stock Analysis

    4 Quick Service Restaurants for Your Portfolio

    Learn about the four quick service restaurants with attractive investment theses and growth prospects that can be valuable additions to your portfolio.
  4. Stock Analysis

    What Makes the 'Share a Coke' Campaign So Successful?

    Understand how Coca-Cola implemented the successful "Share a Coke" campaign. Learn about the top three reasons why the campaign was successful.
  5. Stock Analysis

    The 6 Best Dividend Stocks in the Consumer Staples Sector

    Learn about the top six companies that make an attractive investment for investors looking for stocks for dividend income investing.
  6. Mutual Funds & ETFs

    Top 3 Consumer Cyclical Mutual Funds

    Obtain information on, and analysis of, some of the best performing mutual funds that offer exposure to the consumer cyclicals sector.
  7. Investing

    10 Ways to Effectively Save for the Future

    Savings is as crucial as ever, as we deal with life changes and our needs for the future. Here are some essential steps to get started, now.
  8. Investing Basics

    Investing $100 a Month in Stocks for 30 Years

    Find out how you could potentially earn hundreds of thousands of dollars by just investing $100 a month in stocks during your working years.
  9. Investing

    Procter & Gamble Restructures, Sheds 100 Brands

    All businesses face adversity, and Procter & Gamble is no exception. We take a look at recent developments affecting this global giant.
  10. Budgeting

    Key Questions to Ask Before Moving in Together

    Moving in together is a big step. Here are some key financial questions to ask your partner before you make the move.
  1. Who are Chipotle's (CMG) main competitors?

    Chipotle Mexican Grill Inc. (CMG), the market leader in the Mexican-style fast casual dining sector, faces direct competition ... Read Full Answer >>
  2. What does marginal utility tell us about consumer choice?

    In microeconomics, utility represents a way to relate the amount of goods consumed to the amount of happiness or satisfaction ... Read Full Answer >>
  3. What are some common ways product differentiation is achieved?

    There are many ways to achieve product differentiation, some more common than others. Horizontal Differentiation Horizontal ... Read Full Answer >>
  4. How does the trust maker transfer funds into a revocable trust?

    Once a revocable trust is created, a trust maker transfers funds or property into the trust by including them in a list with ... Read Full Answer >>
  5. What is the difference between an OEM (original equipment manufacturer) and a VAR ...

    An original equipment manufacturer (OEM) is a company that manufactures a basic product or a component product, such as a ... Read Full Answer >>
  6. Is the retail sector also affected by seasonal factors?

    Generally speaking, the retail sector is highly seasonal. Almost invariably, sales in the retail sector are highest in the ... Read Full Answer >>

You May Also Like

Trading Center
You are using adblocking software

Want access to all of Investopedia? Add us to your “whitelist”
so you'll never miss a feature!