Your Value Meal Isn't Saving You That Much Money

The rising costs of ingredients are leading to fewer savings for customers.

EDITED - Courtesy of McDonald's, Popeyes, Burger King
EDITED - Courtesy of McDonald's, Popeyes, Burger King

During the pandemic, many fast food deals felt less impressive. Even as some chains are trying to bring back customers, the bargains aren't as abundant as they used to be. According to CNBC, the value meals of the pre-pandemic era are gone. Instead, there are slightly more expensive options available.

With the cost of ingredients and labor increasing, supply chain-fueled shortages, and ever-changing demand caused by the pandemic, many fast food chains have raised prices. The first change that comes to mind is Little Caesars' Hot-N-Ready pizza. For the first time in more than 20 years, the cost rose from $5 to $5.55.

Other chains only offer the previous, less expensive cost of value meals if customers place their orders online. Popeyes still has the $5 Big Box Deal, but only when you order through the app or website. Domino's reduced its chicken wings menu item from 10 wings to eight while keeping the same price.

According to data from Technomic Ignite, as reported by CNBC, the cost of breakfast value meals increased by 19.6%, and snack value meal prices increased by 11.5%. The overall price of value meals decreased by 1.3% overall according to the same data, but researchers told CNBC the price decrease doesn't necessarily translate to more savings for customers. For example, some companies, such as Domino's, decrease the quantity of food in particular menu items.

The increase in prices at our favorite fast food restaurants comes with a historic overall increase in living costs. The average increase in goods and services rose by 7% throughout 2021. And while paying an extra $0.55 for a Hot-N-Ready pizza isn't ideal, there are still plenty of other great food deals available out there.

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Opheli Garcia Lawler is a staff writer at Thrillist. Follow her on Twitter @opheligarcia and Instagram @opheligarcia.