Working the McDonalds Dollar Menu

by Ryan Yates

Fast food is a staple meal for some people.

The question becomes, “How can I eat fast food and not break the bank?”

If you are worried about breaking the bank, then I suggest you refrain from ordering from the Extra Value Menu while visiting fast food joints.

If you are trying to save a little extra money, then there is one trick you can use to eat fast food and not completely go broke, the dollar menu.

The Dollar Menu

McDonalds Dollar Menu Most fast food chains have followed behind McDonalds and introduced a “Dollar Menu” or “Super Value Menu” or “Value Menu.” These have been around for a little while now and can provide you some great food at a better price.

Let’s take a look at McDonalds Dollar Menu. As you can see in the image; breakfast, lunch, and dinner are all included in the selections. They even have a couple “healthy” items on the list.

The Cost

The cost is simple for the dollar menu. Every item is $1 plus tax of course. In the chart below I’ve compared a Dollar Menu meal; Double CheeseBurger, French Fries, and a Coke. To an Extra Value Meal; Double Quarter Pounder, Fries, and a Coke (Medium sized). Here in Michigan the double quarter pounder meal is priced at $5.79 so I’m using that number in the example.

Compare the Costs of the Dollar Menu

Tricks of the Trade

Variety will make this plan work. McDonalds, Wendy’s, Burger King, and every other major fast food chain has a dollar menu. If you choose to eat fast food, rotate these fine food shops so you don’t get sick of the same old same old.

Another trick is to switch out the fry for a dessert every once in a while. One side benefit of the dollar menu is that most of the items are slightly smaller which will reduce the calories you consume. Now I’ll admit I not watching my weigh very close, but I do like secertly forcing myself to consume fewer calories by using the dollar menus.

Looking at the choices and the saving you can get by using the dollar menu, I might be something you should consider. I you visit fast food chains often, it is a great way NOT to spend a fortune. Good luck everyone.

I’m still working on next week’s Frugal Tip, any ideas are welcome!!!


Money Funk January 29, 2010 at

Jeff, I am worried about your health; ramen, Mountain Dew, and now McD’s $1 menu!
It is about time they have one healthy item on their $1 menu. Once, I bought there fruit and dip and it was $4! Wasn’t even that good.
How about Frugal Friday Healthy one time? 😉

Jeffrey Kosola January 29, 2010 at

Ha Ha Funk,

I write the frugal tips for everyone. The mountian dew and ramens are things I do. The beer and dollar menu are things I would do if I was using the products. I visit a fast food joint about 4 times a year. I just don’t like the food. I like to make my own tasty treats. Now Pizza is a completely different story. I eat it every day I’m delivering. Money isn’t a problem since it’s free 🙂

Thank you for your concern young lady. Guess what? I’m just about to start eating my ramens now. Gotta go, I’m hungry….

Mysti January 29, 2010 at

Here’s an idea for a future Friday….one that we took advantage of today: The public library has passes to local museums and attractions that you can borrow with your library card, for discounts! Our family of 4 went to a gorgeous natural history museum for $7 with parking.

Also…as an addendum to your McD post:
1) Happy Meals… Adults can get them, so they are also a cheaper alternative. Save the toy for an emergency meltdown of your little one.
2) Never buy your kids a Happy Meal. Once they know they exist, you are screwed. you can get an extra value meal and split it between 2 kids.
3) Did you know you can get a large coffee for $1??? Better choice than Starbucks and it is pretty tasty (of course….better to brew at home, but in a pinch…)
4) Also a dollar….the 32oz sweet tea!!!

Jeffrey Kosola January 30, 2010 at


I will look into the library providing value for other money saving idea besides just book and videos. Great idea!

I absolutly love the “Adult” happy meal idea. The best part is preventing a “melt down” with the kids. Having an almost 3 year old and a 1 year old, I know about those melt downs. As you point out I’m very careful not to order a happy meal with my son in the car. My wife loves Slurpee’s from 7-11 and we’ve been getting my oldest a small slurpee everytime we stop there. Well the other day we stop for gas at a gas station/7-11. My son saw the logo and went crazy because he though he was getting one. I caved, and he was happy. Branding happens at such a young ago.

Mrs. Money January 29, 2010 at

I noticed Arby’s just came out with a dollar menu. The other day I got a small roast beef sandwich, fries, and a drink for $3 and change. The sandwich was SO SMALL. Of course I couldn’t be mad because I didn’t expect it to be full size, but still. Get two if you do that deal. 😉

Jeffrey Kosola January 30, 2010 at

Yep, one draw back to the dollar menu is the amount of food. I look at as strategic calorie restriction. I usually go for the two sandwich plan and skip the fries. Although I haven’t had Arby’s for quite some time any you’ve just made me hungry. By the way, EXCELLENT job using the dollar menu!!

Dustin | Engaged Marriage January 29, 2010 at

The new McDonald’s dollar menu for breakfast is the devil! I would always bypass it in the mornings because I had the dual reason of health and expense for food that’s not that great. Well, now they’ve eliminated the expense part, and it is really hard to resist a $1 Sausage McMuffin when I am on the road after skipping breakfast at home!

Jeffrey Kosola January 30, 2010 at

I completely understand the problem with McDonald’s breakfast. Breakfast is my favorite meal and McDonald’s has the Sausage McMuffin with Egg (my fav) which is so tasty and greasy, but oh so bad for the body. The only thing working to my benefit is the time I drive to work. I’m on the road at 5 or 5:30 and the McDonald’s on my way is not open at that time. There is a 24 hour one about 1/2 mile out of my way, but I try not to remember that 🙂

RainyDaySaver January 31, 2010 at

The dollar menus at fast-food joints is pricing more in line for the food they’re offering, IMHO. I’m with MoneyFunk — need to find healthier alternatives! Although I’ll admit I used to LOVE McDonald’s and went there more often than I should have. Haven’t been there in a few years.

Jeffrey Kosola January 31, 2010 at

Great job on staying off the McDonald’s Drug. It’s a hard addiction to break 🙂

I think I’ll start exploring some healthier frugal tips for everyone soon. I just thought about next week’s Frugal Friday Tip. I can’t say what it is, I want to surprise everyone. Most people will say I’m nuts for writing about this topic, but I is a 100% sure way to save money!!

Jason @ Redeeming Riches February 15, 2010 at

Dude, I think I just gained 10 lbs from reading this post! Thanks man. I’m with you tho’, I can’t say no to pizza! I’d eat it everyday too if it were free!

Thanks for the tips! Keep up the hard work!

Jeffrey Kosola February 15, 2010 at

I hope you don’t gain too many pounds Jason, it will make blogging much harder 🙂 There will always be room pizza.

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