12 Ways to Get Free Food from Your Favorite Restaurants
There IS such thing as a free lunch (or appetizer, or breakfast) if you know when to visit these restaurants.
What’s better than the delicious salty goodness of McDonald’s fries? Free McDonald’s fries, of course. And getting them couldn’t be easier. All you have to do is download the McDonald’s app and order a minimum of one dollar’s worth of Mickey D’s through your phone. When you come in to pick up your meal, you’ll get a free medium order of fries with it. This offer began as a National French Fry Day promotion, but they decided to extend it—now, you can snag your free fries every Friday until the end of 2018! McDonald’s philosophy seems to be, “Why celebrate National French Fry Day when you can celebrate National French Fry Months?!” And we gotta admit, we’re totally on board. Here’s how to make a Big Mac at home.
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If you’re someone with their finger on the pulse of free food deals, you might already know that you can stop by the International House of Pancakes on their designated “National Pancake Day.” The exact day is different every year—it was February 27 in 2018—but the sweet, sweet deal is the same. Starting at 7 a.m., customers can get a free short stack of pancakes purely for showing up. But that’s not the only day you can enjoy the deliciousness IHOP has to offer for free. By becoming part of the “Pancake Revolution,” IHOP’s rewards program, you’re automatically eligible for a free stack of flapjacks on your birthday and on every anniversary of the day you signed up. Love getting breakfast for free? These are the hotels that offer a free hot breakfast.
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On the Border
What better way to spend a chilly weekend in January than feasting on free queso? On the Border celebrates National Cheese Lover’s Day, which falls on January 20, all weekend long. Cheeseheads get a free bowl of queso with the purchase of any adult entree. You can also get some complimentary cheese by signing up for the Mexican grill’s Club Cantina rewards program; signing up immediately gets you a coupon for a free bowl of queso or sopapillas. Club members also get free queso on their birthdays and on the anniversary of the day they signed up.
There’s no one day where you’re guaranteed to always walk away with free Chipotle, but freebies from the Mexican grill still pop up every now and then. In June 2018, Chipotle celebrated National Nurses Day by offering buy-one-get-one entrees for anyone who displayed a nursing license. A few months earlier, in March, they offered a free burrito, taco, bowl, or salad (with an entree purchase) to any customer who came in wearing a hockey jersey. This one was in honor of “Hockey Weekend Across America.” And even if you don’t have a hockey jersey or a nurse’s license, maybe you scored some free guac in April 2017. This was when Chipotle rolled out its “Spot the Imposter” promo, to celebrate becoming the first national restaurant brand to completely eliminate added colors, flavors, or preservatives. Moral of the scrumptious story: Keep your eyes open for deals, because you never know what type of occasion will put the powers-that-be at Chipotle in a giving mood! Learn the secrets Chipotle employees won’t tell you.
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Au Bon Pain
C’est bon indeed! If you sign up to be part of Au Bon Pain’s eClub, the soup-and-sandwich spot will send you a coupon on the week of your birthday. Come in to this French café-style chain on your big day to get a salad or sandwich of your choice for free—there’s no purchase required for this one!
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Lots of restaurants offer free or discounted food on fun days, like National Food Holidays or reward program members’ birthdays. Arby’s, though, knows that there are some less-fun days on which free food would make an excellent pick-me-up. That’s why, for the past few years, the fast food franchise has been offering free curly fries to anyone who comes in on April 15—Tax Day. The mouthwatering taste of yummy, curly goodness is sure to soften the blow of doing your taxes. During the rest of the year, you can also snag a free Roast Beef Sandwich with the purchase of a soft drink by signing up for Arby’s email list. Get a look at the first-ever locations of your favorite fast food hot spots.
America’s favorite restaurant for three years running also happens to have a free-food promo that is downright delightful. Sometime in early July, Chick-fil-A celebrates “Cow Appreciation Day” by giving a free chicken entree to any customer who shows up dressed like a cow. This udder-ly great tradition always leads to plenty of creative costumes and fun photos. So as next July approaches, keep your eyes open for the date announcement for the next Cow Appreciation Day, so you can get a tasty chicken sandwich without spending your mooooo-la.
November 3 is National Sandwich Day, and it’s a great time to head to your local Subway. The fast-food giant offers a free sub with every purchase of a sandwich and a soft drink. And that’s not all they do. Last year, the world’s biggest fast-food chain actually matched customers’ purchases with donations to Feeding America, so why not go buy a sandwich and support a good cause?! Here are some more delicious National Food Holidays you’ll want to start celebrating every year.
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Chili’s reward program is something of a gift that keeps on giving; if you frequent this bar and grill, the program is totally worth it. Here’s the deal (in both senses of the word): You sign up for Chili’s Rewards, and you can get free chips and salsa, or a free soft drink, every single time you go to Chili’s! Now that’s not bad for a sign-up that takes all of five minutes.
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If having salsa-smelling breath on Valentine’s Day isn’t something that you’re bothered by, consider checking out this fun promo the next time February 14 rolls around. Anyone who smooches their significant other at a participating Qdoba counter will get “QDOBA for a Kiss,” or a free entree with the purchase of another entree. Don’t have a Valentine? Never fear—kissing a photo of your favorite celebrity, or even just blowing a kiss, are equally valid forms of PDA. And there’s even more to love about Qdoba’s Valentine’s Day festivities: Last year, the franchise donated a dollar to No Kid Hungry for every use of the hashtag “Qdoba for a Kiss” between February 6 and 28.
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Whether you frequent this classic Americana joint for its savory burgers or its fresh Garden Bar offerings (or both!), the So Connected club has something for you. Immediately after you join this free email club, you get a coupon for a free appetizer with a purchase of an adult entree. So Connected members should also come in on their birthdays to get a free burger or garden bar entree. For more penny-pinching food tips, get a look at the eateries that offer the best deals for your money.
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Long John Silver’s
Ahoy, matey! To celebrate International Talk Like a Pirate Day, exchange some fun pirate jargon for free food. On September 19, would-be buccaneers can get a free fried Twinkie at Long John Silver’s if they *arrrr* willing to talk like a pirate. Not to be outdone, Krispy Kreme has offered free donuts to celebrants of this holiday in past years. (And rumor has it that customers in pirate costumes would get a full free dozen!) Sadly, Krispy Kreme chose to “avast” this tradition in 2017, with a spokesperson saying that they would “not be giving away donuts” for the festivities. Whether the doughnut giveaway will be back up and running for TLAPDay 2018 remains to be seen. Now that you know the best spots for free food, learn the secret menu items you should be ordering at your favorite restaurants.