9 Fast-Food Value Meals You Need To Take Advantage of Before the Summer Ends

The best meal deals to keep your stomach — and your wallet — full.

eating fast food burger
Updated July 18, 2024
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With disposable income declining, the drive-thru has been a little less busy lately. 

Not deterred by inflation or rising wages, fast-food companies have switched things up to lure customers back to their stores. Many chains offer simple but cheap summer deals that provide greater value than the typical combos on the menu.

Here are a few summer fast-food offerings that can stretch your fast-food budget, as well as our take on which ones are worth your money.

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McDonald’s: $5 Meal Deal

gargantiopa/Adobe McDonald's worker holding bag of fast food

Since customers have been cutting back on eating out, McDonald’s has created a new $5 meal deal. You have two options for entrees: the McChicken and the McDouble cheeseburger. Each meal comes with four chicken nuggets, fries, and a drink for $5.

No expiration date is given, but the website says the deal is for a limited time. McDonald’s $5 Meal Deal is a solid offering that will go easy on your bank account.

Burger King: $5 Your Way Meal

vulcanus/Adobe drive in of fast food store Burger King

The $5 Burger King Your Way Meals are similar to McDonald’s offerings, but you have three entree choices instead of two: Whopper Jr., Chicken Jr., or a bacon cheeseburger. The meal comes with fries, a four-piece order of chicken nuggets, and a drink. This is a pretty great deal and much better than other combos you’ll see in the drive-thru line.

Prices and participation on the $5 deal may vary by location, and Burger King can terminate it at any time.

Wendy’s: Biggie Bag deals

IanDewarPhotography/Adobe  logo of Wendy's

For a limited time, Wendy’s is offering five Biggie Bag deals. Options range from the junior cheeseburger 444 meal (with fries, chicken nuggets, and a drink) for $4 to the Bacon Double Stack Biggie Bag at $7 (prices vary by location).

The value seems to be highest at the lower price point for the Bigge Bag deals. The main difference is that the more expensive sandwiches come with more meat, but that doesn’t seem to justify the $3 (or 42%) price difference.

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Taco Bell: Build your own Cravings Box

Refrina/Adobe exterior of taco bell

At Taco Bell, you can customize your value meal with one specialty entree (like a Crunchwrap, gordita, or chalupa), a classic entree (taco or burrito), a side (chips and nacho cheese, cinnamon twists, or cheesy potatoes), and a drink for just $5.99. Unlike many fast-food meals, the Cravings Box also has vegetarian options.

This deal will help you save money while giving you some variety in your meals. No expiration date is given for the Cravings Box deal, though it is labeled as “for a limited time.”

Subway: 20% off any sub

OceanProd/Adobe subway logo and text sign

One nice thing about Subway’s summer deal is that it can be used on any sandwich. Through August 28, 2024, Subway is offering 20% off any six-inch or footlong sub with the coupon code TWENTYOFF. Your order must be made using the Subway app or online through the website.

Participation in this promotion may vary by location and isn’t available in all areas. How valuable this coupon code is depends on your local store’s pricing.

Arby’s: 2 for $6 value menu

jetcityimage/Adobe arbys retail fast food

For the summer, Arby’s is offering a few options on a two-for-$6 value menu deal. You can choose between two classic roast beef sandwiches, crispy chicken sandwiches, and jalapeno bites, or mix and match.

Arby’s also offers a “Shake up your burger” meal at $9.99, which includes a burger, curly fries, and your choice of chocolate, orange cream, Jamocha, or vanilla shake. Ten dollars for a combo meal certainly isn’t anything special among fast food joints, as there’s only slightly more value with a shake instead of a soda. The website notes that these deals are “here for a good time, not for a long time,” though no specific end date is given.

Overall, Arby’s summer deals are OK (especially since you’ll be hard-pressed to find jalapeno bites in other places), but there are better values out there.

Sonic: $1.99 menu

wolterke/Adobe Sonic Drive-In Restaurant and Sign

We may not see a dollar menu again, but Sonic’s $1.99 summer menu may be the next best thing. For a limited time, you can get a quarter-pound double cheeseburger, chili cheese coney dog, bacon ranch queso wrap, southwest crunch queso wrap, small tots, or a 16-ounce shake in any of Sonic’s 12 flavors for just $1.99.

So a full meal of a cheeseburger, tots, and a small shake would only cost you $6 — much better than Arby’s “Shake up your burger” meal offering, even if the portions are smaller.

Starbucks: Summer Berry Refreshers

wachiwit/Adobe Starbucks coffee bangkok thailand

Starbucks isn’t hosting any meal deals this summer per se, but it has released several new cool drinks for the season. In the lineup are summer berry refreshers, which can be made with lemonade or coconut milk and feature raspberry-flavored pearls (basically boba balls). These drinks are good for a limited time and while supplies last.

While the reviews on the taste of the fruity drinks are positive, the price isn’t. Plan on paying around $6 for a 12-ounce summer berry refresher. This may not be too far off the usual price of boba tea, but you can find a lot more bang for your buck at other restaurants.

Jack in the Box: $4 Munchies Menu

MelissaMN/Adobe jack in the box fast food

This burger chain carries a dozen items on its summer $4 Munchies Menu. Most items are well under the $4 threshold; you can get two tacos for less than $1. You can make a whole meal for under $6, including a junior cheeseburger, fries, and a drink (pricing varies by location). That’s a win compared to a lot of meals at fast food joints, which can be over $10.

Jack in the Box’s Munchies Menu is perfect for when you don’t want a huge meal — just a filling snack at a reasonable price.

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Bottom line

Andrii/Adobe street vendor making sandwich

Any combo meal under $6 is a solid win, but the meal on this list that delivers the most value is the Wendy’s Junior Cheeseburger 444 meal for $4. No other chain we reviewed currently offers a sandwich, two sides, and a drink for $4.

If you up the price to $5, Mcdonald's and Burger King both have solid value meals with comparable contents and a few more entree choices. If you plan to branch out past burgers and chicken sandwiches, you’ll probably pay a little more for your value meal.

It’s worth noting that pricing and participation on these meal deals vary, so check with your store before you go to see if you can get the deal you’re craving for the price you want.

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Jenni Sisson

Jenni Sisson is a freelance writer and editor who focuses on personal finance, real estate, and entrepreneurship. She has been published in Business Insider and The Ways to Wealth. In addition to writing, Jenni hosts the Mama's Money Map podcast to help fellow stay-at-home moms on their journey to financial freedom.