Fast food may be faster (AKA more convenient) than ever, given all the updates and automation you'll find at fast-food restaurant locations and all the many delivery services, app ordering, and curbside pickup options of our day, but it has also gotten pricier than ever.
Granted, with inflation on the rise in general, everything has gone up in cost recently, but fast-food price hikes began before the recent trend of inflation and, when you look at the price increases of fast-food menus in recent years (not to be confused with the Big Mac index economists use to track currency rates—and yes, that's a thing), you'll see the prices really have gone up a lot—as much as 50% since 2002, in fact, per Yahoo!.
The good news is that you can still find one or two decently-priced combo meals at your favorite burger chain, provided you're willing to skip the largest slabs of meat or the fanciest new iteration of bacon this or avocado that or Swiss cheese the other thing. And yes, you can also usually "Frankenstein" yourself an even cheaper meal by ordering a sandwich and fries separately, but today we're focused on official meals. So here are the 8 cheapest cheeseburger and fry combos at these major fast-food chains.
Noting that prices may vary by location (and in fact, they do vary for some of the chains and combos covered today), Dave's Combo is your cheapest cheeseburger, fries, and drink option at Wendy's, currently priced at $9.89 at the several Wendy's we checked out. It's not a steal, but at least it's less than 10 bucks!
At the McDonald's locations we checked out, the classic Cheeseburger Meal is currently $8.29. But this is a case where you really should note that the sandwich alone is just $1.99, while fries can be had for $3.39 and a soda for a buck, so… you do the math on that one.
Sonic Drive-Thru—Cheeseburger Combo
Per the latest data from Fast Food Menu Prices, Sonic is one of the few fast-food restaurants at which you can still get a combo meal at quite a good price. Right now, the chain's Cheeseburger Combo is just $5.99, a true deal for a cheeseburger, fries, and a drink.
Burger King—Cheeseburger Meal
If you're okay with a small fries and a small drink, then Burger King's Cheeseburger Meal will only put a small dent in your wallet. Per our latest check via the BK app, that trio of a cheeseburger, fries, and drink will cost you just $5.99. Now, want a bigger burger meal (sans cheese), and you can go with the small version of the Whopper Meal, but that bumps up to $9.39.
If you're out in the western states, you can get a decently filling meal from In-n-Out for a fine price. No Double-Double combo will cost less than $7.89, but per Menu and Price, an In-n-Out Cheeseburger Combo is just $6.65 right now. And that's only 30 cents more than the basic burger combo, so by all means go for it.
Checker's—Big Buford Combo
So, here's the thing: at $10.49, Checker's Big Buford Combo is hardly a steal. But this cheapest cheeseburger and fry combo meal from the chain also happens to be the biggest, beefiest burger on our list today. It features two patties and two slices of cheese, so this is hardly a little burger that will leave you more than a little hungry an hour later.
Jack-in-the-Box—Jumbo Jack Cheeseburger Combo
A Jumbo Jack Cheeseburger Combo will cost you $7.69, provided you go with the small size for your fries and drink. And if you want to go medium, it's just 70 cents more, for $8.38. Better still? A large-size Jumbo Jack Cheeseburger is just 20 cents more than that at last check, at $8.58. So yeah, go large.
Hardee's—Big Cheeseburger Combo
Hardee's is our winner for today, at least in terms of low price. At last check, the chain's Big Cheeseburger Combo can be had for just $5.00, a price that wouldn't much raise the eyebrows of a time-traveler from the year 2002. Granted, that's for the small size of fries and beverage, but the medium is still a deal at $5.70 while the large is just fine as well at $6.20, not much more than the other cheapest combo meals on our list.