While it may not be the smartest meal choice, fast food is typically viewed as a budget-friendly option for families.

But the prices have become a lot less friendly over the years in New Jersey and across the country, according to an analysis released by FinanceBuzz.

Average menu prices at fast-food establishments rose between 39% and 100% from 2014 to 2024, the report shows.

Even at the low end, that spike outpaces inflation. The cost of goods has increased by 31% since 2014, according to the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics. Much of the inflation occurred in the last 5 years.

FinanceBuzz took a look at prices at several major chains in the U.S., including McDonald's, Popeyes, Taco Bell, and Wendy's.

McDonald's prices

According to the FinanceBuzz report, McDonald's recorded the most dramatic price decreases over the past decade. On average, prices have doubled over that time.

An order of medium fries rose from $1.59 in 2014 to $3.79 in 2024, the report says. A meal involving a quarter pounder with cheese has gone from a price of $5.39 to a price of $11.99.

The McChicken, once a staple on the McDonald's "dollar menu," costs $3 at some locations.

Meanwhile, the price of a Big Mac jumped 50%, and a medium drink costs 25% more today than in 2014.

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Taco Bell prices

According to the analysis, Taco Bell has increased prices by at least 75% since 2014.

Their Beefy 5-Layer Burrito can cost you $3.69 today. That item had an average cost of $1.59 a decade ago.

A Cheesy Gordita Crunch has doubled in price — it's around $5 today.

Popeyes prices

Prices at Popeyes are up by 75% or more on many options.

A four-piece chicken dinner will cost you between $13 and $14 today. It was $7 in 2014.

A regular order of mashed potatoes with gravy has moved up from $1.79 to a price of $4.19.

Even an extra biscuit costs a lot more pennies today — $1.50, compared to 79 cents a decade ago.

Wendy's prices

Price adjustments have been more tame at Wendy's than at most other fast-food chains.

Still, a number of menu items have jumped in price by between 50% and 60%.

A six-piece nugget order has jumped in price by $1 since 2014, and the price of a Baconator is up by more than $2.

A small Frosty recorded the highest price hike since 2014, according to the analysis. The price is up 111%, to $2.09 today.

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