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FiveThirtyEight

We’ve all been there. It’s the day before payday, your checking account is running on fumes, and your stomach is as empty as your wallet. So you go to McDonald’s, a somewhat popular fast-casual restaurant with a business model predicated on consistent, cheap food that, at minimum, gets you fed.

What do you order to make the most of your limited resources while maximizing, say, caloric intake? Or net weight?

Two weeks ago I pulled the nutritional table from the McDonald’s website and combined it with 88 menu-item prices from #HackTheMenu, a fantastic, crowdsourced fast-food price-reporting site. It’s possible that prices may have changed in the interim, as it is crowdsourced.

Here are the top 15 food items based on net weight per dollar:

Item Price Grams G/$
1 Bacon Cheddar McChicken $1.00 171 171
2 McDouble $1.00 151 151
3 Fruit ‘n Yogurt Parfait $1.00 149 149
4 Buffalo Ranch McChicken $1.00 145 145
5 McChicken $1.00 143 143
6 Double Cheeseburger $1.29 165 128
7 Fruit & Maple Oatmeal $1.99 251 126
8 Fruit & Maple Oatmeal (no brown sugar) $1.99 251 126
9 Sausage Biscuit $1.00 117 117
10 BBQ Ranch Burger $1.00 116 116
11 Grilled Onion Cheddar $1.00 115 115
12 Sausage Burrito $1.00 111 111
13 Sausage McMuffin $1.00 110 110
14 Daily Double $1.99 194 97
15 Cheeseburger $1.29 114 88

Here are the bottom:

Item Price Grams G/$
79 Egg White Delight $2.79 134 48
80 Southwest Salad (no chicken) $4.79 230 48
81 Southern Style Crispy Chicken Sandwich $3.89 159 41
82 Filet-O-Fish $3.49 142 41
83 Chicken McNuggets (10 piece) $4.29 162 38
84 Southern Style Chicken Biscuit $3.89 143 37
85 Apple Slices $1.00 34 34
86 Mighty Wings (10 piece) $9.69 314 32
87 Mighty Wings (5 piece) $5.59 157 28
88 Mighty Wings (3 piece) $3.69 94 26

If you want as many calories as possible, here are the top 15 based on calories per dollar:

Item Price Cals. Cals./$
1 Bacon Cheddar McChicken $1.00 480 480
2 Sausage Biscuit $1.00 430 430
3 McDouble $1.00 390 390
4 McChicken $1.00 360 360
5 Sausage McMuffin $1.00 360 360
6 Buffalo Ranch McChicken $1.00 350 350
7 BBQ Ranch Burger $1.00 350 350
8 Double Cheeseburger $1.29 440 341
9 Grilled Onion Cheddar $1.00 310 310
10 Sausage Burrito $1.00 300 300
11 Cheeseburger $1.29 300 233
12 Bacon McDouble $2.00 460 230
13 Large French Fries $2.19 500 228
14 Daily Double $1.99 440 221
15 Ranch Snack Wrap (crispy) $1.59 350 220

And the bottom:

Item Price Cals. Cals./$
79 Premium Grilled Chicken Classic Sandwich $3.99 350 88
80 Mighty Wings (5 piece) $5.59 480 86
81 Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with Crispy Chicken $4.59 390 85
82 Mighty Wings (3 piece) $3.69 290 79
83 Premium Southwest Salad with Grilled Chicken $4.79 290 61
84 Premium Bacon Ranch Salad with Grilled Chicken $4.59 230 50
85 Premium Bacon Ranch Salad (no chicken) $4.59 140 31
86 Southwest Salad (no chicken) $4.79 140 29
87 Side Salad $1.00 20 20
88 Apple Slices $1.00 15 15

To review: The McDonald’s Dollar Menu offers pretty good value. But with Mighty Wings and Apple Slices, you’re overpaying.

I’m pretty sure that eating like this regularly is terrible for you. You’d be spending your dwindling cash on, say, Bacon Cheddar McChickens, and each one is packed with half of your daily recommended amount of sodium.

Update: We’re getting reports that the Bacon Cheddar McChicken is now priced at $2. This would knock it down substantially. Congratulations to the McDouble and Sausage Biscuit, which become the most cost-efficient menu items at McDonald’s by weight and calories, respectively.

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