Eat Out Frugally With Special Freebies

The Breakfast Club

Recession-proof Entertainment

I recently did a little research on where to get a free meal - and there are lots of options. Restaurants and other quality fast food eateries are tuned in to the fact that customers have less jingle in their pockets than before, and before going out to eat a little planning, coupon combining and organizing must come into play.

There is a method to the madness and with a little foresight, a meal out can be budgeted in, once or twice a month. Thank goodness, there are still a few delicious places to eat that offer free or reduced price options - guaranteed to give the family a night our without seriously impairing the old (already thrashed) budget.

Hot and Easy to Go

Starbucks coffee is considered one of the best in the world.  The firm rewards customer loyalty with discounts on brewed and packaged coffee products.
Starbucks coffee is considered one of the best in the world. The firm rewards customer loyalty with discounts on brewed and packaged coffee products. | Source

Coffee Culture

Morning Java

If you can't start the day without a cup of coffee, join the Starbucks club either online or on your mobile device. After five coffee purchases (think: Monday-Friday) you are entitled to free refills.

Taking it step by step, once you are in their system, for every pound of coffee purchased to get a free drink. Get in on member only offers and specials.

If you buy coffee every day, it will take you a month to qualify for another plan. After 30 purchases, you will get a free drink after every fifteen purchases. As you can see, it only gets better and better. Once you are in this "every fifteen" level, that means you can treat a friend or your mom out for coffee twice a month for the rest of the year, which isn't a bad deal.

Go for Classic Chinese

Source

Going Ethnic

Even if you leave the house without any coupons, don't despair. Many times an ethnic restaurant provides a great meal for a bargain. This can mean Korean BBQ, Vietnamese, Thai, Chinese and more. The Swedish smorgasbord in your town might offer a great lunch special worth checking out, as well as the Alpine Club (middle European style dishes, like sausage and sauerkraut, hearty stews and daily specials). There are a lot of goodies out there for $5 to $10 lunch or dinner entree. Asking for a kiddie discount is not a bad strategy too. For an all you can eat place, you may be able to get your kids in for half price.

Frugal Families

Would Freebies make a difference in whether you went out or not?

  • Yes, it would make a big difference
  • "Maybe"
  • No, not at all. I don't like eating out.
See results without voting

Thank God!

TGI-Fridays is a happy, festive place to go - especially on with a discount.  This TGI Friday's is located in New York City.
TGI-Fridays is a happy, festive place to go - especially on with a discount. This TGI Friday's is located in New York City. | Source

Rewards Come to Those Who Plan


Rewards Program at Qdoba

Those who went the full distance set up a rewards program based on points. At Qdoba, a popular Tex Mex chain, south of the border specialties are given when you sign up for their bonus plan.

Instant gratification - you get a free drink or chips order immediately, then begin building up points. After about ten meals, you are entitled to a free entree. The Tex Mex chain also has qualifying discount meals, specials and discounted weeknights - see if these qualify for the discount plan then splurge on a free meal when you have saved up enough points.

Thank God It's Friday - TGIF

The other rewards program that we learned about was at TGI Fridays, using the stripes system. If you know their logo, it's a red, white and green striped design, resembling an Italian bistro.

Although the popular chain restaurant mentions "Friday" it is a friendly and upbeat place to go any night of the week, especially if you are in a mood to celebrate. Known for its exorbitant menu - it has a large variety of appetizers and happy hour drinks to choose from. I personally feel a bit sorry for the waiters and waitresses there - learning the menu must feel like cramming for a chemistry exam.

By keeping track of your stripes in the Give Me More Stripes program, you get freebies like appetizers or desserts. This is a good idea for those of us who would normally not buy them. How do you earn a stripe? Each dollar spent converts into a stripe which can be redeemed on entrees, appetizers and desserts. So go, have a blast.

They also offer a birthday freebie – with a twist. If you buy a regular entree during your birthday month, you get a free dessert. That is also great, because TGI Fridays is known for their excellent desserts. It's also nice that you can stretch out your birthday a bit. If you get a FREE meal at another restaurant, there's always the free DESSERT option on the other 29 days of the month. And who says you have to use it only once, LOL?


Breakfast 24/7

Denny's is famous for serving breakfast all day long.  The Grand Slam consists of two hotcakes, two eggs, two sausages and two strips of bacon.  This plate is being served on Halloween with a holiday flag.
Denny's is famous for serving breakfast all day long. The Grand Slam consists of two hotcakes, two eggs, two sausages and two strips of bacon. This plate is being served on Halloween with a holiday flag. | Source

Your Kids Deserve a Free Lunch

Kids Eat Free at Denny's - Once A Week

When it comes to something you can sink your teeth into, let's move on to free meals. Families with kids will be happy to hear that kids get a meal free when their parents order a normal, adult entree. Don't forget that Breakfast, Lunch and Dinner are served all day long, maybe that is one of the reasons why truck drivers and those who work the night shift adore coming into Denny's for a steak sandwich at 8 am or ordering breakfast at midnight. Different strokes for different folks.

Since not all Denny's are the same, be sure and check your local Denny's to see which nights the "kids eat free" deal is offered.

Lone Star on Tuesdays

Lone Star follows the same logic, but just on Tuesday, their deadest night. Bring your kids (maximum of two) to dinner for free – as long as the parent buys their own entree. If you sign up for email notifications, the steakhouse will reward its loyal clients with printable coupons for free appetizers, desserts, and other great deals. Sign up and then pick and choose - it's free.

Chili's is on the same wavelength, but with more options. Sign up for their online deals including freebies and specials that only registered "club" members can qualify for. (A little like a secret society.) You might score a free "Awesome Blossom" onion rings appetizer and other creatively delicious appetizers. Chili's is also a savory - California type - Tex Mex restaurant chain with entries that you won't find in other restaurants. Besides a free appetizer, you may be lucky enough to even score a free kids' meal on this program when a paying adult buys their own entree (tuna steak is my favorite). Chili's isn't overpriced, and if you like Chili's anyway, this could be worth your while.

A Free Scoop on Your Birthday

Getting a free scoop of ice cream on birthdays is one of the fundamental traditions at Baskin Robbins, right alongside the 31 flavors rule.
Getting a free scoop of ice cream on birthdays is one of the fundamental traditions at Baskin Robbins, right alongside the 31 flavors rule. | Source

And now for dessert....

Happy Birthday to ... ME!

Baskin Robbins, the famous 31 flavor ice cream store has been giving their free birthday scoop for as long as anyone can remember. The good news – you don't have to be a kid, and it didn't go away with the recession. Of all their amazing flavors - guess which one is the most popular? Hint: it's featured in the photo above.

When you register for the birthday club, you get a complimentary scoop of their award winning ice cream on the spot (a great incentive in and of itself). When your actual birthday rolls around, you are entitled to another free scoop, plus a discount on an ice cream birthday cake creation. That means - two scoops and a discount. Not bad.

Ice cream lovers look for April's 31 cent scoop night which enables you to treat your family out for just a dollar or two. Another great special after that is offered during the first week of May when the chain offers the ol' "buy one scoop, get one scoop free" deal, just in time for warmer weather. Maybe they think it will get you in the habit of buying ice cream in the summer months ahead.

Lone Star Restaurants ups the ante by recognizing anniversaries as well as birthdays. Not only do you get a free dessert on your birthday, those celebrating their anniversaries also get a sweet something to accentuate the occasion. They didn't specify how you prove that it's your anniversary - nor what type of anniversary (first date, first kiss, first "excellent" date - ) although it's assumed that they mean a serious anniversary like Wedding. No harm in trying to see what they will accept as a qualified Anniversary.

Eating Out

How often do you eat out as a family?

  • Once a month
  • Once a week
  • A few times a week
  • A few times a month
  • Often
  • Never!
See results without voting

Splurge a little

Krispy Kreme started out on the east coast but has recently debuted in Tokyo.  Mm, those donuts look good!
Krispy Kreme started out on the east coast but has recently debuted in Tokyo. Mm, those donuts look good! | Source

Famous Quotes Heard at the Dinner Table

Yes, I'm quite full - but I have a little bit of room left in my "dessert compartment"

Donut Time

My diet starts... Tomorrow

If you love donuts, Krispy Kreme gives away free donuts to all who enter its doors on June 1. Now that isn't hard. Be there or be square! (triangular?)

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Comments 11 comments

billybuc profile image

billybuc 4 years ago from Olympia, WA

Great suggestions! I'm all about a simpler, frugal lifestyle, and these are great ideas. I won't shop at Starbucks but there is a local coffee shop that has a similar program and I'm there often.


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Me too. I thought just those of us who "have to" chose to be frugal, but have lately met people with double my income who refuse to throw away money needlessly. Like the principle of refusing to wasting food, for example. So I have adopted these new lifestyle changes as a matter of choice, not need and it definitely feels good! Thanks for your contributing comments :) and see you around the Hub. Ecal.


europewalker profile image

europewalker 4 years ago

Great tips. As much as I stop in at Starbucks, you think I would have known about the Starbucks Club! Thanks


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Dear Eurowalker, Glad to hear you woke up to smell the coffee. As you can tell by my name I am a big coffee fan like yourself. Rgds, Euro :)


GoodLady profile image

GoodLady 4 years ago from Rome, Italy

What a helpful fun Hub. I wish we had things like this in Italy! Not sure any food is free here. It's a different eating culture. Nice one.


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Hi Penelope, yes, you are right - in Europe it's a completely different approach. Thanks for your visit and comment, Anastasia


cashmere profile image

cashmere 4 years ago from India

We tend to order in more than eat out, and I'll agree nothing here is free either!


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 4 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Hi Cashmere, thanks for stopping by. Yes, this Hub is geared mainly for Americans. There is another place my mom told me about - A huge buffet that's all you can eat with half price on Tuesday. But the people who eat there look like they have been there before (oink oink!). Regards, Anastasia


farmloft profile image

farmloft 3 years ago from Michigan

I just went through my coupons and gift cards to organize them for the next month or so. I found some I had forgotten about, thank goodness gift cards don't expire.

I have used Lone Star deals before (birthday and wedding anniversary).

Always remember to tip your waiter/waitress on the amount you would have paid.


toknowinfo profile image

toknowinfo 3 years ago

Wow, I really learned a couple of things that have motivated me to sign up with some of these eateries. Thanks for the great tips.


EuroCafeAuLait profile image

EuroCafeAuLait 3 years ago from Croatia, Europe Author

Good point, Farmloft. Your server usually survives on the tips they earn, and if you have a coupon, be sure to treat them right.

Glad to know you liked the Hub, toknowinfo. Yes, restaurant meals don't have to cost a bundle if you play your cards or coupons right. Happy Easter!

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