09/14/2010 01:11 pm ET | Updated May 25, 2011

Fast Food Lies: Meals That Don't Live Up to Their Ads

Okay, no one walks into a burger joint expecting a $2 hamburger to look big, thick, and meaty. But every fast food restaurant seems to have one or two "fancy," high-ish-end items on their menu that come with high-ish expectations, especially when you see the photo. And these items are usually quite a bit more than your typical value meal sandwiches, often more around $5.

So how well does the fancy fast food hold up to the fantasy? Do we have the right to expect a little more for our money when we shell out the, well, medium bucks for a burger? I took a look at four menu items in real life to find out.

Fast Food Lies

So there you go -- fast food fantasy and reality.

Are you getting your money's worth? Meh. Fast food is supposed to be cheap, but for around $3 I could make a grass-fed bacon cheeseburger or a really big steak wrap. And for about $2 I could make my own free-range grilled chicken sandwich or chicken, heirloom apple, and pecan salad (using more flavorful thigh meat, and probably still come out with a lower calorie count). But the Chipotle burrito? With customization and fresh, ethical, quality ingredients I'd say it's worth the $7.

Still, Chipotle is the exception that proves the rule: I think fast food joints charge a disproportionately greater amount for the "fancy" menu items than for the more basic items.

Are you disappointed when a fast food meal looks a lot better in the pretty ad?

Written by Adriana Velez for CafeMom's blog, The Stir.

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