Maybe you enjoy shopping and cooking for yourself. Maybe healthy choices are important to you. Maybe going out to eat is a special “splurge.” Or, maybe you find yourself making a lot of your food choices at the end of a squawking intercom in a line wrapped around a colorful building. 

Whatever the case, when checking out a fast food menu, you may find yourself wondering if picking the combo meal is a better value price-wise than buying the food items individually. From a marketing perspective, is it more profitable for a restaurant if the customer buys the combo meal (at a discount?) or buys some–but not all– of the individual items at full menu price?

Check out a recent examination of a Taco Bell special combo meal’s value here: to an external site. 

Then look at advice for increasing restaurant revenue from U.S. Foods (a major restaurant supplier) here: to an external site. 

Then compare the options yourself in the real world. Using their apps, websites, or even in-person menus:

  • Choose two separate fast food/fast casual restaurants of your choice (they do not have to be similar competitors)
  • Pick two “combo meals” at each restaurant (so four meals in total) and explain their included items and price
  • Then build each of the four meals a la carte by pricing out the individual food items
  • Compare the price of each bundled combo meal to its individual price counterparts

You may choose to explain your choices as a discussion, or it may be easier to construct a table to explain your findings.

Finally, discuss why you feel that your chosen restaurants have built their menu options the way they have? Does it seem to be primarily focused on bundled combo meals or a la carte choices?

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