McDonald’s Mondays: How much value is there to an Extra Value Meal?


Sometimes it seems like getting a combo in a fast food restaurant is a no brainer. You want a complete meal, so why not just order the #3? Fries, drink and a sandwich, and it shaves a little of the cost off of ordering the pieces individually… doesn’t it?

A few weeks ago The Consumerist reported on a McDonald’s in Edmond Oklahoma that was charging $4.09 for a McChicken Meal. The problem? The components in the meal only came to $3.49 when purchased seperately. They’re actually charging you 60 cents more to make it a meal.

This isn’t an isolated incident, either. I had noticed the other morning that it’s cheaper to order my breakfast in pieces than in a meal. If you want a Sausage McMuffin (no egg), hash brown and a large Diet Coke for breakfast (I like soda, get off my back) you’ll be paying $3.99 for the meal plus a little extra to upsize the drink. But individually? $1.39 for the Sausage McMuffin, $1.29 for the hash brown, and $1 for any sized drink this summer brings the total cost to $3.68. See? Cheaper. Now try explaining this to the person on the other side of the counter.

While problems like this aren’t likely well-spread, it’s certainly a reminder that everything on the menu isn’t always what it seems. Next time you visit your local fast food joint, do some basic math before you place your order.

34 responses to “McDonald’s Mondays: How much value is there to an Extra Value Meal?”

  1. Lynn says:

    Oh my gosh, are you serious?? I’ll keep my eyes open…

  2. Kat says:

    This is true! With the extra value menu and $1 any size drink this summer it makes sense to order your items seperately — and avoid the extra tax when you go “over $4” for a meal!

  3. carlycanadian says:

    Thanks for the heads up! Will make note of this! Geez!

  4. Linda says:

    I noticed this a few years back with Wendy’s. Fortunately they were really good as I filled out the customer reply card and made note of this to rectify the problem by sending me some complimentary coupons — I have learned my lesson some many years ago!

    Recently though I’ve noticed some McDonald’s posting the $1.00 drink deal right outside on their display boards — anyone have it that they charged more as I have? One day at one outfit I ended up paying $1.39 and was too short on time to comment or go for the hassle (maybe that’s why they did it?) — Does one know if the $1.00/drink is per franchise operator and therefore different? Next time, I’ll speak up for sure.

  5. Mike says:

    the $1.00 summertime drink deal changes the complexion (and savings) of some combos. That’s what is at work here. It may be cheaper to order separately, and not only to save on the tax. Better yet, avoid the fries and save cash and calories!

  6. itsjustmebub says:

    A LARGE diet coke for breakfast?! lmao
    Dude, that is not healthy!! 😛
    I had to say something … I’m done now lol

  7. FDF says:

    Good post…i’ll keep an eye out from now on

  8. Adam says:

    Thanks for the enlightening post, I’ll definitely make sure that I’m not getting gypped the next time I’m at a restaurant offering “money saving” combos!

  9. bhlombardy says:

    Mike says: “the $1.00 summertime drink deal changes the complexion (and savings) of some combos. That’s what is at work here”

    Actually, the $1 drink deal isnt in the US, only in Canada. And the Consumerist’s report is out of Oklahoma. However, Jim’s math IS using the current summertime deal, to be certain.

    All in all, it DOES pay to do the math. However, frequent customers dont think when they buy. They just walk and order their usual… They already know what it’s supposed to cost and pay that amount… not thinking twice.

    Myself, (and I’m sure others on here) regularly do their own math.

  10. Jay says:

    I kinda wondered why they don’t have ALL their menu item prices on display… one might think they’re trying to get away with something. Check next time you’re there, there are many items not listed so it’s almost impossible to calc whether it’s cheaper to order individually or as a combo.

  11. Erica says:

    Another Mc. D’s “Did you notice…” Next time you buy yours kids a happy meal, check the bill. I recently visited one here in Ontario and was not so happy when I happened to glance over the bill. There was a 70 cent charge for the happy meal toy!

  12. Julie says:

    You drink coke for breakfast. Imao !!!

    I worked at mcdonalds in quebec during my college years, and as I remember, all the prices for the breakfast menu were offered for the coffee. Same as lunch, it’s a medium coke with your Big Mac.

    But it tells me that I’ll keep my eyes open in the futur.

  13. FreebieChick says:

    Wow! Never even thought about this before but i will order seperately from now on and save money by just always getting an ice water instead of my usual ice tea. Actually, one time i will get a combo with Nestea and the next time i’ll get the same items seperately and keep both receipts and will post the difference between the two.

    I was just at McDonald’s today and got a combo 🙁 Now, i feel jipped, lol.

  14. McD Cashier says:

    Erica, we have to punch in everything for the happy meal separately, or any other combo that that matter. It doesn’t mean that we are charging you EXTRA for the toy though. If you add everything together it should be the cost of that happy meal.

    I get asked a lot why are we charging customers for everything on the receipt when they simply ordered a combo. The system is designed in a way that if you want to change your fires or drink to a larger size, we just punch in that so you’ll never see something like combo price + 30 cents out of no where. If what you are paying is what is displayed on the board behind us then it’s right.

  15. Larissa says:

    Erica and McD Cashier

    I had a HUGE grip last year with the happy meal, as i specifically asked for them to hold onto the toy – turns out when you ask them to do this, they will charge you more for the meal (i think it’s listed as a canadian meal then, right??)
    I don’t want my kids to have the toy, don’t want to throw it in the garbage and create more waste, so instead i get charged more $$ to do this.

    Now this was last year, and i was sooooooo mad i have not ordered one since, i wonder if this is still the same situation

    thanks for the heads up, i will be sure to let my hubby know that, we constantly argue over if it’s a “deal” or not

  16. Chrissy says:

    Ive noticed at different mcdonalds they are charging diff prices.
    The one closest to my house charges 4.89 for a double hamburger combo, the one closer to my work charges 5.08 how does that make sense? The same combo, diff locations.

  17. Katyana says:

    I’ve been to 4 different McD’s locations in the same city and ordered the same meal, and the price is different. 50% (2 of 4) felt that drinks in a combo were exempt from the $1 deal posted on their windows, and the other 1/2 thought the other 2 locations were nuts and only charged me $1.00 when I ordered a combo.

    What annoys me is that on the $1.39 menu they have a double cheeseburger, but I only want a little hamburger and have to pay more because it’s not on that menu, even though I get 50% less meat and no cheese. Durrrrrr

  18. Lisa Hallman says:

    To Larissa… Just order it with the toy. Leave it on the counter and walk out. They can’t charge you more then.

  19. heidi says:

    very interesting post… but completely off-topic, here: doesn’t that big mac look sooooo good? too bad they don’t REALLY look like that. you’re lucky if all the toppings are at least in the box with the burger, let alone ON the sandwich! that’s how it is at my mcD’s anyhow.

  20. Sally says:

    Lmao yeah the picture is a little too fake.
    Your lucky at our Mc’ds to even get 2 patties on the double cheeseburger lmao.

  21. Caitfoster says:


    It depends on if you are going to a corporate versus a franchisee location. Franchisees usually charge a bit more to make up the cost of what they must pay to corporate for extra little charges hidden in the fine line.


    A lot of places have just discontinued the Great Canadian meal all together. And in the great canadian meal you wind up being charged for a small pop, rather than a child size. Depending on the location you can sub your toy for some McDonald land Cookies, or even apple slices. I’ve seen many people get the happy meal and give it to a child just standing in the store. I wouldn’t leave it on the counter like Lisa suggested because then it doesn’t make it into another childs hands, just back into the bin to make another profit turn.

    McD cashier is right. Everything is charged seperatly to allow for subsitiutions. Like I said before, you can sub a toy for cookies or apple slices depending on location. You can also upsize your child sized drink to a small, or change it to milk. Fries can be subed for apple slices as well. That is why the toy charge comes up on the bill.


    Next time you order just ask for a double cheese burger, single patty, no cheese. Or just reneg on the cheese. They will make it like this for you. If they say “a hamburger?” just say “yes, but I like the price of the double cheeseburger better.” Plain and simple, as long as you don’t get a dense cashier. lol

  22. Kitty_Chan says:

    What I’ve noticed in some stores they have incomplete menus… they show the combos and the extras but don’t give prices for the fries except for the small which is on the $1.39 menu prices. Even if you order a combo with a burger from the #1.39 menu, there is a combo price for that but it is not listed either. Sometimes it would be listed on one of those flip cards at the cash.

    The reason they don’t charge $1 for drinks with the combo is that the combos are considered discounted meals and are already discounted. You can’t combine discounts… that is why some store won’t charge $1 for the combo drinks. You can’t combine discounts.

    One time someone was ordering several McChicken combos..just over $30 worth of food. She looked aghast at the cost when she thought only one $20 dollar bill will do. I should of mentioned to her to order the junior chicken and $1 drinks and share several large fries… to save money.

  23. Kitty says:

    I’m still upset that they’ve discontinued the Mac Snack Wraps & that’s all I have to say about any of this.

  24. Wendy's says:

    i worked at wendys, and so i can only speak for them since i dont eat out that often to know. But we always tell the customers to just order a combo if they’re gonna order three things or sometimes if they will order two things, cuz sometimes its just few cents more to get a drink, even if its a bottled water

  25. McD Cashier says:

    at my location we can substitute cookies for the happy meal toy. However the proper way to make sure it shows on the receipt is to punch in both the toy and cookies but promo the cookies, meaning you’ll see something like 100% off for the cookie.

    There are 2 reasons why we do this:
    1. if another cashier is taking care of my orders, she’ll know that that specific customer wants the cookies instead of the toy.

    and 2. for inventory reasons. What we sell have to add up to the inventory count managers do.. make sure we are not stealing you know.. ><

  26. Eric Lewis says:

    @Kitty there is still Mac Snack Wraps there just not on the menu?

    The dollar drinks dont work in Combos… i hate when people ask for it with the combo

    its seperately!

  27. bobgrace says:

    Yes you need to really keep an eye on the prices, especially the under $4.00 to save paying double tax. I find a lot of places McDonalds included the server gets upset when you pay separately to avoid the extra tax as if you are taking money right out of their pockets. The law was placed for a reason by the government and I for one am going to take advantage of it. It only adds insult to injury if the total is higher because you order a combo and it actually costs more money and more tax too. I don’t remember when it was passed but I do notice that even though everything has rose in price since the $4.00 tax range has not changed. Most things that were under $4.00 at that time are now over $6.00. I wonder who is responsible or should I say irresponsible for the short sight/change in our pockets. HHHMMMMMMMMMMM

  28. trrifk says:

    I am with you bobgrace, i do that all the time!

  29. fundygal says:

    You have to watch for this scam at Tim Hortons too when you order a sandwich deal. When I asked the cashier about it, the best explanation was the register needs to be re-programmed and someone has to come down from Toronto (to the Maritimes) to do it. That was 3 years ago.

  30. Thatguyrob says:

    it sadddends me that the mcsnackwrap is gone! only thing part from ice cream and salads i liked

  31. phpatato says:

    This world is full of far tooooo many choices. What happened to the good ole days when you bought this for that much, that for that much and this-n-that for that much. Add it up (which is basic math) and pay your bill. If whoever the place is wanted to bring in the customers, they would have a sale on either this, that or this-n-that, which would be then discounted for the sale price. Easy math with a straight-forward honest sales pitch. ALAS, those days have long gone.

  32. McD Cashier says:

    it’s true you pay much less if your order is under $4… I personally don’t care if customers make several orders.. it’s not like I pocket the extra tax money myself anyway.

    remember the coupons you got last month? There was one coupon where you buy 1 sandwich and medium fries and get the 2nd sandwich free. I always tell the customers that it’s cheaper to get the combo because for 26 cents LESS (at my location) you get an extra drink. Always do the math.

  33. I’m answering the person who blogged a couple weeks ago about I used their service a week ago and the great part about them is that if you have problem a real live person actually answers the phone to help you!

  34. Tam Schoch says:

    Voir AGMI Di te pour un exemple d 39 un plan de menu pour ce programme apaisante alimentaires. Les r gimes alimentaires faibles en gras


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