Combo Meals Aren’t Always Fast-Food Deals

What's Hot


2 Types of Black Marks Might Vanish From Your Credit File SoonBorrow

6 Ways the Obamacare Overhaul Might Impact Your WalletInsurance

7 Dumb and Costly Moves Homebuyers MakeBorrow

This Free Software Brings Old Laptops Back to LifeMore

Obamacare Replacement Plan Gets ‘F’ Rating from Consumer ReportsFamily

Beware These 12 Common Money MistakesCredit & Debt

21 Restaurants Offering Free Food Right NowSaving Money

17 Ways to Have More Fun for Less MoneySave

House Hunters: Beware of These 6 Mortgage MistakesBorrow

30 Household Uses for Baby OilSave

25 Ways to Spend Less on FoodMore

Nearly Half of Heart-Related Deaths Linked to These 10 Foods and IngredientsFamily

5 Surprising Benefits of Exercising Outdoors in WinterFamily

10 Ways to Save When You’re Making Minimum WageSave

Boost Your Credit Score Fast With These 7 MovesCredit & Debt

7 Painless Ways to Pay Off Your Mortgage Years EarlierBorrow

The Most Sinful City in the U.S. Is … (Hint: It’s Not Vegas)Family

The True Cost of Bad CreditCredit & Debt

10 Companies With the Best 401(k) PlansGrow

This Scam Now Tops ID Theft as the No. 2 Consumer ComplaintFamily

6 Stores With Awesome Reward ProgramsFamily

6 Ways to Save More at Lowe’s and The Home DepotSave

6 Healthful Treats for Your DogFamily

New Study Ranks the Best States in the U.S.Family

Thousands of Millionaires Moving to 1 Country — and Leaving AnotherGrow

Strapped for College Costs? How to Get the Most From FAFSABorrow

6 Overlooked Ways to Save at Chick-fil-AFamily

Ask Stacy: What’s the Fastest Way to Pay Off My Mortgage?Borrow

Where to Sell Your Stuff for Top DollarAround The House

8 Ways to Get a Good Price on a Shiny New AutoCars

Ask Stacy: How Do I Start Over?Credit & Debt

Secret Cell Plans: Savings Verizon, AT&T, T-Mobile and Sprint Don’t Want You to Know AboutFamily

30 Awesome Things to Do in RetirementCollege

14 Super Smart Ways to Save on TravelSave

The Rich Prefer Modest Cars — Should You Join Them?Cars

You’ll Soon Pay More to Shop at CostcoSave

10 Ways to Save When Your Teen Starts DrivingFamily

If you think "combo meals" are always sweet deals, think again. A new study shows combo meals often cost the same as ordering everything individually - and give you less choice and more calories.

The next time you order a hamburger and a soda from your favorite fast-food joint, and the cashier asks, “Do you want fries with that?” – think twice before buying the so-called “combo meal.”

That’s because a new study from the University of Virginia says the combo meal isn’t necessarily a great deal. And it has some unhealthy drawbacks.

Combo meals encourage consumers to “super-size” their orders, the study says, because they appear to pack a lot of food into a tiny price. But they really don’t. “We were very much surprised that people chose the combo meal option even when there was no price discount,” professor Kathryn Sharpe says.

More findings from the study:

When presented with bundled and á la carte options from fast food menus, the researchers saw significant increases in the proportion of people who bought both a drink and fries when a combo meal is offered.  Furthermore, consumers tended to purchase smaller portion sizes when they bought á la carte.  For example, a consumer may purchase a 12-ounce drink when buying a la carte, but a 21-ounce drink (approximately a 100 calorie difference) when the combo meal was purchased.

Here’s what happens inside your head: You think the combo meal is cheaper, when many times, if you ordered all those same items individually, the price would be the same.

Here’s what happens in your stomach: Combo meals often contain way more calories than you’d eat if you ordered separately – because you feel compelled to finish everything you bought. Given the choice, you might’ve gone with that small order of fries instead of the larger, for instance. Result? You get fatter more quickly.

Worse still, the researchers found that many fast-food customers have “the underlying belief that a combo meal is considered a representative or appropriate meal size for the average consumer.” Actually, the fast-food chains aren’t counting calories at all. They just count profits. So if you think a combo meal is somehow a balanced meal, you’re wrong.

The healthiest and cheapest advice? When you order fast food – and 22 percent of Americans do at least once a week, according to the Pew Research Center – say no to the combo. Or at least see if you’re actually getting a deal.

Stacy Johnson

It's not the usual blah, blah, blah

I know... every site you visit wants you to subscribe to their newsletter. But our news and advice is actually worth reading! For 25 years, I've been making people richer without making their eyes glaze over. You'll be glad you did. I guarantee it!

💰🗣📰

Read Next: Ask Stacy: What’s the Best Way to Borrow?

Check Out Our Hottest Deals!

We're always adding new deals and coupons that'll save you big bucks. See the deals to the right and hundreds more in our Deals section.

Click here to explore 2,061 more deals!