We Tried And Ranked 11 Fast Food Value Meals Available For Summer 2024

There are two main reasons why people likely consider fast food when deciding what to eat: time and affordability. Now, like just about everything else in the world, fast food prices have increased in recent years, and diners can no longer rely on fast food chains to offer dollar menu deals or extreme bargains. In fact, in New York (where I live), a medium Whopper or Big Mac meal currently tops $12. To combat these increasing costs and entice customers, numerous fast food chains have released value meals for summer 2024.

Given the number of newly launched fast food value meals available, I tried and ranked these deal options from 11 different restaurant chains. When compiling the rankings, I most heavily favored value — that is, how much food you received for the cost (particularly when compared to the likely price without the existence of a value meal). I also considered additional factors, like which sides or drinks were included, the taste, availability, and more. Here's how 11 fast food value meals stacked up against each other.

11. Starbucks Pairing Menu

Starbucks isn't the first fast food chain to offer a value meal. But it's jumped on the bandwagon, nonetheless, as the coffee chain debuted its "Pairings Menu" in mid-June. Offering a tall (12-ounce) iced or hot coffee (or tea) with either a croissant or breakfast sandwich, the combo costs $5 for the croissant, and $6 if you want the sandwich.

My first issue was the lack of available options. Sure: There are a handful of sandwiches you can pick from, but you're pretty hamstrung in terms of beverages. Though you can customize the drink, as soon as you add anything beyond sweetener or cream, you'll likely be charged more — meaning a basic Starbucks beverage is half the value meal.

That being said, it's a fairly good bargain compared to the cost of each item when bought by itself, and the turkey bacon, cheddar, and egg white sandwich I ordered was light and tasty. Unfortunately, when looking at all the other options on this list, Starbucks just falls flat, particularly in terms of variety and overall satisfaction. Even though I'm generally a fan of Starbucks, its value meal belongs in last place.

10. Arby's 2 For $6 Everyday Value

To be honest, I hadn't been to an Arby's in about 15 years before trying its 2 for $6 Everyday Value meal. While I won't be beating the drum to go back again anytime soon, I won't necessarily go out of my way to avoid it, either. This fast food value meal allows you to pick two of: the classic roast beef, classic crispy chicken sandwich, and mozzarella sticks.

Now, opting for the two sandwiches certainly would have been filling and a good value for the money (the classic roast beef costs more than $5 on its own depending on the location, while the crispy chicken sandwich tops $6). But are two sandwiches really a meal? I'd say no, so I opted for the roast beef and mozzarella sticks. The latter were surprisingly enjoyable, while the classic roast beef — comprised merely of beef on a bun (with no sauce or dressings) — had a lot of good flavor and wasn't dry.

Even when purchasing an additional beverage, the total cost was still less than any other meal sold by Arby's, so the value is there. But due to the lack of available options, this one simply misses the mark, so it ranks fairly low. If you and someone else each need one small sandwich to fill you up, then the deal makes sense. Otherwise, I'd opt for any of the higher-ranked options.

9. KFC Taste of KFC

For $4.99, the Taste of KFC deal comes with two pieces of chicken (a drum and a thigh), mashed potatoes and gravy, and a biscuit. No drink was included — a common theme among the value meals in these rankings. Additionally, you can't substitute the potatoes for any other sides, nor can you swap out the chicken for anything more to your liking.

Now, despite the Taste of KFC deal offering the fewest options of any entry on this list — it has just the one, in fact — it's also the least expensive value meal included. It's one of the better values overall, as well, so it's hard to rank it this low. Even though it's a genuinely great deal, I simply find the lack of choices to be a big negative. It's better than the lowest-ranked meals, but in my opinion? Other restaurants offer better options.

8. Pizza Hut My Hut Box

Pizza Hut's My Hut Box is a clever direction for the pizza chain. While its typically offered deals that cater to groups, this one is sufficient for just one person. Best of all, there are several combinations that you can choose from. Each My Hut Box comes with a two-topping personal pan pizza (I went with pepperoni and chicken sausage) or a half-Melt, accompanied by fries or four boneless wings. The personal pan pizza and side option starts at $6.99, with all other pairings costing more depending on your selections (and location).

To compare only the cheapest of the value meals, I went with the personal pizza and a side of boneless wings (available in honey barbecue or medium buffalo). The wings had a good spice level and were cooked well. But since they were wrapped in foil, the sauce leaked everywhere in the box, including all over my pizza. While the toppings were a hit, opening the box to a mess of buffalo sauce was not ideal — and hurt this deal's ranking.

For the same price (per person), Pizza Hut also offers a $7 Deal Lover's menu in which you can select two or more from one-topping medium pizzas, Melts, wings, pastas, and more. In the future, I'd probably go with this over the My Hut Box. It simply wasn't worth it or better than the value meals above it, especially given the risk of sauce leaking everywhere inside the box.

7. Popeyes Big Box

The Popeyes Big Box definitely comes with more than enough food to fill you up. It includes two pieces of bone-in chicken or three chicken tenders, two sides, and a biscuit — all for $6.99. You can choose between light or dark meat and spicy or mild chicken, while the side options include fries, red beans and rice, mashed potatoes with gravy, coleslaw, and homestyle mac and cheese (for an upcharge).

To keep the price as low as possible, I went with the signature dark meat chicken with fries and mashed potatoes. It was plenty of food, and — for $6.99 — it was a great deal. This combo would typically run more than $10, so the Big Box is a genuine discount. However, the Big Box appears to be online/app-exclusive options, and the menu in the restaurant did not list the deal. You'll have to order on your phone for pick-up or delivery, which isn't ideal.

In the event I get the Big Box again, I'd opt for the tenders over the signature chicken (which I find to be less greasy and equally tasty). While I enjoyed it overall, the lack of a drink option and inability to order in the store or drive-thru hurt its ranking, and I preferred the value meals ranked higher on this list.

6. Papa Johns Papa Pairings

I mentioned that the next time I order Pizza Hut, it would likely be the $7 Deal Lovers combo. Well, Papa John's offers a Papa Pairings deal, in which you can get two or more medium one-topping pizzas, boneless or traditional wings, Papadias, sides, or desserts (starting at $6.99). Of course, for one person, this can be a lot of food, but it works well for groups of two or more. For me, I was happy to make the "pairing" last several meals.

I ordered a medium pepperoni pizza and a Philly cheesesteak Papadia; I'd never had that item before and thought this made for a great chance to give it a shot. The pros of the Papa Pairings are that you can choose from a large variety of menu items, and even with the minimum of two selections at $13.98 total, the deal comes out to less than the price of a single medium one-topping pizza. When including the Papadia, that's a savings of over $10.

The con is that you need to order at least two items, making this meal tied for the most expensive deal on the list. For one person, that's a bit much, keeping it in the middle of these rankings. Plus, the Papadia was just a folded pizza with a new name, and I found it lacked any strong flavors. While this is a decent deal, there are better summer 2024 value meals (and pizza) to come.

5. Dominos Choose Any 2 or More

Like several other fast food pizza restaurants, Domino's also offers a deal that's perfect for groups. With the Choose Any 2 or More deal, you can order from medium two-topping pizzas, breads, loaded tots, chicken, pasta, sandwiches, salads, and desserts. Each item costs $6.99 and, as the name implies, you need to order at least two, bringing the total to a minimum of $13.98 (which keeps it from ranking higher overall). But having more options available, plus the ability to get an additional topping on each pizza? It certainly bests its pizza rivals' value meals.

Frankly, I felt Domino's achieved its goal of being more delicious than the other pizza chains with this order. Alongside my pepperoni and sausage-topped pizza, I tried a sandwich, which I'd never ordered from Domino's previously. The Philly cheesesteak was pretty good — and better than the similar Papadia from Papa John's. It was plenty cheesy and juicy, while the mushrooms added an umami bite. It was good enough, even, that I would consider it over a pizza the next time I order Domino's.

Even at nearly $14, the combo cost less than a single medium two-topping pizza at certain locations, while offering a several dollar discount on the regular sandwich price. That's not bad. However, just like Papa John's, the issue resides with the price being too high overall (and a lack of drink options), keeping it from cracking the top four.

4. McDonald's $5 Meal Deal

McDonald's made waves when it announced it would be launching its own $5 Meal Deal this June. Now, of the major burger chains, McDonald's isn't my usual go-to, but I didn't let that affect my ranking — and this value meal may change my mind to go more often.

The $5 Meal Deal comes with a McDouble or McChicken sandwich, a four-piece chicken McNuggets, small fries, and a small soft drink. Finally: I got a complete meal with an entree, side, drink (and even a second "main" in the nuggets). I should note that the $5 Meal Deal cost $6 at my New York City location, but even with that marginal increase, I still found it to be a very good deal. While you likely wouldn't order these exact four things separately, seeing how all four items would normally run you about $15, the $5 Meal Deal has incredible value.

Despite the small fries and drink, it came out to enough food that I wasn't still hungry, nor was I struggling to finish the meal. Between that and the fact that the Meal Deal was among the lower-priced items on the list, I'd say this is a good buy. It actually begins the "tier," let's say, of the best value meals. It's quite good, but those ranked ahead simply offered better overall options at a similar price point.

3. Burger King $5 Your Way Meal

Topping McDonald's value meal by one spot, Burger King's recently returned $5 Your Way Meal lets you pick from a Whopper Jr., a bacon cheeseburger, or a Chicken Jr., accompanied by four-piece chicken nuggets, value fries, and a value soft drink. Plus, unlike McDonald's $5 Meal Deal (which cost $6 for me), Burger King's was actually true to its name pricewise.

While I typically would select a restaurant's signature item for this ranking — whether it was my preferred selection or not — I didn't follow suit at Burger King. Instead of the Whopper Jr. (which I'm simply not a big fan of), I went with the bacon cheeseburger. The result? A very tasty meal that I would order again. While I feel McDonald's has better fries than BK, the bacon cheeseburger is worth it and the nuggets were great.

The savings versus ordering these four items individually is immense, too, just like the $5 Meal Deal from McDonald's. In that sense, if you're a fan of one over the other? I wouldn't stop you from choosing that option over the $5 Your Way Meal. But this is my list, and when factoring the options, value, and, yes, taste, Burger King gets the slight nod (even if the top two-ranked meals were a bit better).

2. Taco Bell Build Your Own Cravings Box

Not to be outdone by the burger and pizza chains, Taco Bell added a Build Your Own Cravings Box to its lineup for $5.99. True to its name, you can choose a "specialty" item, a "classic" item, a side, and a drink. Among those specialty items are the Crunchwrap Supreme, Cheesy Gordita crunch, and Chalupa Supreme. Classics include the crunchy or soft taco and beefy 5-Layer burrito, while the sides include chips with nacho cheese, cinnamon twists, and cheesy fiesta potatoes.

Aside from the sheer volume of combinations you can make (45 by my count, excluding drinks), each selection also offers a vegetarian option. That makes this one of the best fast food options for vegetarians in general — and by far the best on this list. Plus, with a 20-ounce drink, you're receiving a full meal. Keep in mind that this is an online exclusive offer, though, so you'll have to order via the website or app (which kept it from earning the top spot).

In building my own Cravings Box, I selected the cheesy Gordita crunch, beefy 5-Layer burrito, chips and nacho cheese, and Taco Bell's de facto signature drink: the mysteriously flavored Mountain Dew Baja Blast. Would I recommend this value meal? Absolutely. Will I order it again? You bet. It's a great price, it offers plenty of options, and I find the food at Taco Bell to be creative and tasty.

1. Wendy's Biggie Bag

Topping the list of best value meal deals is Wendy's Biggie Bag. The chain had offered a 4 for $4 meal for years, but recently changed this to the Biggie Bag deal (and upped the price). This fast food value meal starts at $5 (up to $7 for a bacon Double Stack or crispy chicken BLT sandwich), and all meals come with a four-piece nuggets (regular or spicy), small fries, and small soft drink. Other sandwich selections include the regular crispy chicken, Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger, Jr. Cheeseburger, and regular Double Stack.

While this one may come at a higher price than either Burger King or McDonald's, you also get much more variety in sandwich options — and you get what you pay for. The sandwiches available for $6 or $7 are much more substantial than those offered as part of other value meals on this list. Plus, it's available in-store and online, but if you order online, you may be able to get a free Frosty, as well.

I bought the bacon Double Stack, but next time I would go with the Jr. Bacon Cheeseburger. It's $2 cheaper and the only difference is a single patty. Given the variety, taste, and availability, I had no choice but to rank this as the best fast food value meal available in summer 2024, and it gets the nod over every other fast food chain as a result.


In determining the best fast food value meals available for summer 2024, I went to each restaurant available to me in New York that offered such deals (11 in total). Given that this is a ranking of value meals, I emphasized value above all else. In fact, the price for the volume of food was a top factor in my rankings (with the prices above listed as of June 2024).

Another crucial factor was the versatility of the meal. As in: Do you have the ability or option to mix and match or customize a bit? I also gave more weight to those value meals that I found to be an actual meal (which most often meant, simply, including a drink and a side). Some of these items are available for a limited time only, while others are only available online or via the restaurant's app; these were also factored into the rankings.

Lastly, I considered the taste. I didn't set out to critique each of these restaurants as none of the food items are new, so those should all be well-covered, but I want to eat good food and so I factored in how much I would want each meal again regardless of price.