According to Money Under 30, the average American spends $50 a week or $2,500 per year on restaurant food. While going out to eat can be a fun experience with delicious food, it can really start adding up. Several popular restaurants have huge perks that can save people a lot of money. Here are some special offers from popular restaurant chains.
Collect Stars At Starbucks Coffee
Many people can't go a day without having a cup of coffee. Some may prefer at-home methods, but others choose to go out to places such as Starbucks Coffee.
Starbucks offers a rewards program that earns people stars for how much money they spend. After they acquire a certain amount of stars, they start to earn free items such as a bag of coffee, a signature cup, and refills.
How To Get A Free Domino's Pizza
Domino's Pizza is one of the cheapest fast food pizza restaurants in America and they have even more ways to save customers money.
Those who join their Piece of the Pie Rewards can earn points toward earning a free pizza. Before ordering, make sure to only do one order per day because multiple orders in one day are counted as one transaction.
Celebrate Your Birthday At The Cheesecake Factory
There are many restaurants that will give people free items on their birthday and The Cheesecake Factory is one of them.
When it's your birthday, make sure to tell the server. They will bring you a free birthday ice cream sundae. Make sure you're not lying because they may check your ID.
IHOP Is Great For All Ages
IHOP is one of the most popular breakfast food chains in the United States and offers some great deals for certain age groups.
Both children and seniors are able to get a discount on their meal. Also, people can join their eCLUB and get special offers such as a free birthday meal.
Get Your ID Ready At McDonald's
While many of the prices can't be beaten at McDonald's, they still offer several discounts for certain groups of people.
Military members, veterans, students, and seniors are all able to get either 10 percent off their meal or a free drink. Also, those who have the McDonald's app can get weekly deals.
Get Early Access With The Panda Express Newsletter
One of the most successful Chinese fast food restaurants in America is Panda Express. They have dozens of options for a bargain price.
Those who want to save money at this chain can sign up for the email newsletter. The newsletter often has exclusive offers and shares information about new menu items.
Get Free Chips And Guacamole At Chipotle
One of the great things about Chipotle is just how fast people can get their food. Those who want to save money to get that extra guacamole can join the Chipotle Rewards program.
This can be done through their app. Each purchase gives people points they keep to earn a free entrée. Also, the first purchase with the program gives customers free chips and guacamole.
Why Parents Should Go To Applebee's
There are many ways people can spend their money wisely at Applebee's. If you're an EClub member, you can get free dessert on your birthday.
Parents should be glad to know that kids' meals are either free or under two dollars with the purchase of a regular entrée. Also, seniors can get 10 to 15 percent off their check.
Seniors Can Save A Lot Of Money At Taco Bell
Not only does Taco Bell have an extensive menu, but their prices are some of the cheapest around. This Mexican fast food restaurant has a few nifty perks as well.
Those who are part of their rewards program can get exclusive offers such as a free menu item on their birthday. Also, seniors over 65 can get five percent off and a free beverage.
Save More At Subway
It's often difficult not to feel full after ordering a sandwich from Subway. In order to stop overspending, customers can join the MyWay Rewards program.
This allows people to collect tokens that they will be able to cash in for certain rewards. Being part of the program also leads to coupons, special deals, and bonus tokens.
How To Get A Free Roast Beef Sandwich At Arby's
People who are in the mood for a classic roast beef sandwich don't have to look any further than Arby's.
Both seniors and students can get 10 percent off of their meal with a valid ID. Also, if you sign up for their email list, you can get a free classic roast beef sandwich with the purchase of a soft drink.
Kids Can Eat Free At Chili's
There are numerous ways for customers to get their money's worth at Chili's. Bringing an ID might be helpful if you're a senior over 55, an active military member, or veteran.
These groups of people are eligible for a 10 percent discount at participating locations. Also, kids eat free at most Chili's locations on Mondays and Tuesdays.
Jack In The Box Will Give You Free Tacos
There's usually something for everyone at Jack in the Box and they have some tempting perks as well.
Make sure to sign up for their email updates because you can get free tacos on your birthday. Also, seniors over 55 can get 20 percent off their meals at most locations.
Pizza Hut Is Perfect For Students And Teachers
The chance for free pizza can make anyone's mouth water. Pizza Hut has some smart offers for customers to save money.
People who sign up for the Hut Rewards program can earn points toward free pizza and you can get other free things on your birthday. Also, students and teachers can get up to 20 percent off their orders.
Why Customers Should Download The Buffalo Wild Wings App
There are a ton of ways to save money at Buffalo Wild Wings. First, customers should sign up for the Blazin Rewards program through their app.
People automatically earn points after joining and for each future transaction. When these start to add up, customers can get free chips and salsa, a large tray of boneless wings, and more.
The Many Perks Of Red Robin
From burgers, fries, and milkshakes, there's a lot to love about Red Robin. They also have a neat rewards program.
People who join the Red Robin Royalty program can choose any of their gourmet burgers for their birthday. Also, people in the program get every 10th purchase for free and those who visit Red Robin five times within five weeks get $20 off their next bill.
What To Get If You Love Panera Bread
The menu at Panera seems endless with so many different types of sandwiches, soups, salads, pizzas, pastas, and much more.
Frequent customers should consider getting a MyPanera Member Card to earn rewards, which they can do on the app or online. Being a member also gives you access to new menu updates.
Being A Senior Is A Great Thing At Boston Market
There's a wide array of different foods available at Boston Market including mac and cheese, green beans, cornbread, and mashed potatoes.
People who register for the VIP Club can get three dollars off any purchase over $10, free items on their birthday, and other coupons. Also, seniors and AARP members can get discounts.
Snag These Freebies At TGI Fridays
One popular restaurant with a giant menu is TGI Fridays. Those who want to order a lot can still save some money.
Being part of the TGI Fridays Rewards program will give people a free appetizer or dessert just for joining. Members also get free chips and salsa with every visit and a free dessert during their birthday month.
Olive Garden Has Some Free Food Options
Olive Garden wants their customers to feel like family, so they made sure to include some top deals when it comes to their food.
If you sign up for Olive Garden's eClub, you can get a free appetizer or dessert. Also, they give you a free dessert on your birthday.
The Grill Marks Are All An Illusion
You know in those fast food commercials it shows your burger being grilled to perfection complete with grill marks? Well, as it turns out, those grill marks that you see on the burger aren't made by the grill.
According to a former employee, those grill marks are etched on by a factory before the burgers are shipped out. That allows the employees to cook the meat on an ultra hot stove top rather than an actual grill.
Fresh Food Depends On The Timing
It's all about timing! It may be a shock to hear, but your fast food might not be so fresh after all. If you want the freshest food, one former fast-food worker says to come in between the hours of 11 a.m. and 1 p.m. or between 6 p.m. and 8 p.m.
These are the busiest hours that require the most food, so naturally that the food will be freshly made. Otherwise, it’s up to chance.
The 10-Second Rule Exists In Fast Food Too
Remember when you were growing up and dropped a piece of food on the floor, but that was okay, because as long as you picked it up before 10 seconds, it was still safe to eat? Well, one former employee says that this is the rule of thumb in the kitchen at some fast food chains, too.
Mistakes happen and food gets dropped, but it's pretty shocking to hear that food doesn’t always go straight to the trash bin.
Build Your Perfect Big Mac For Cheap
Wish your burger was listed at a cheaper price? As it turns out, you can haggle the price if you're smart. One former employee says that it’s possible to rebuild a Big Mac. Just get a $1 McDouble, without mustard, ketchup, and then add lettuce and mac sauce, and you’ve recreated your choice item for a lesser price.
For those who don’t have the time to list that, you can just ask for any burger "dressed like a Mac." The employees will know what you mean.
Check The Soda Machines For Mold
If you're worried about the cleanliness of your food or drink, you can always check for mold yourself. One former employee gives a tip to paranoid customers and says that they should check the drink dispenser chute by bending down and looking up.
If you see mold or anything else "growing" it means you might be in danger. That’s because it’s just one of those places that employees forget to clean on a regular basis.
Your Chicken Breast Isn't Healthy
Some customers may feel proud of themselves for escaping binging out on burgers and fries by ordering the seemingly "healthier" option — chicken. As it turns out, that chicken breast you thought was healthier is actually slathered in fat butter when the grilling process is done, in order to avoid it sticking to the grill.
Not only that, but the chickens that many fast food companies use are genetically modified, and do not look like real chickens to begin with.
The Fries Have One Hidden Ingredient
We've all (sadly) come to the point where we expect our fast food to have some strange ingredients in it. Well, your fries have one extra one that wasn’t there when it arrived at the restaurant. According to one employee, the fries have chemical residue in them because the chemicals linger on the cooking appliances after they’re sprayed down. Gross!
No matter what fast food chain you go to, odds are you love the fries. Maybe not so much anymore.
The Chili Is Just Recycled Burgers
It's become surprisingly well known that the meat in the chili from Wendy’s is really just leftover beef from their patties, but people still keep ordering it. If a burger patty was left out too long to be sold, it’s set aside for the chili meat.
The employees are instructed to put all the leftover patties in a vat of water, microwave them for ten minutes, pour out the water, chop up the meat, and let it cool.
The Salads Aren't As Healthy As You’d Think
Think you're avoiding using your calories by ordering a salad? You’re not. The salads are not at all healthy. That said, here’s the real surprise: it’s said that big macs are just as "healthy" as the salads because they’re relatively the same in calories.
Also, make sure to avoid salads at any pizza place. Most of their lettuce comes pre-shredded in bags and will turn brown within just a few hours of opening it.
Want Something Fresh? Just Ask
According to a former fast food employee, while there are peak hours for fresh food, most of the employees will cook your food fresh if you ask them nicely. It will take a few extra minutes, so it's not the best option if you want the "fast" part of “fast food” but that’s okay.
In particular, if you want to ensure that you get your french fries fresh, one former employee says to order them without salt. Doing that forces the workers to cook a whole new batch.
Don't Let That Sauce Slide Down
There's nothing worse than buying a delicious sandwich from Subway then getting home to find that sauce all slid to one end when you were carrying the sub. You’d think that the sandwich chain would have switched up their bag design by now but no, they’re still torturing us.
Luckily, Subway employees know a simple hack of tying the open end and ripping a hole for "handles" on the other side. Voila! No more sauce problems.
They Give You Different Portion Size Options To Trick You
Some restaurants will give you the option to choose between two sizes for a dish. Most people choose the smaller portion because they think the restaurant is just trying to get them to spend more money. In fact, it's the exact opposite.
Restaurants offer two sizes in the hope you choose the smaller one because there is a better profit margin compared to the raw materials used to make the dish. This is one of the oldest tricks in the restaurant books. It even has a term: "bracketing."
IHOP Only Serves 'Real Eggs' If You Ask
One longstanding rumor that actually is true is that IHOP mixes pancake batter into their omelets and scrambled eggs. The intention is to make them fluffier, but it also allows them to use less fresh eggs. If you want a normal omelet, you have to ask for it to be made with "real eggs."
We'll find out if this is still a problem now that IHOP fooled us all and turned into IHOB.
Skip The Soft Serve Ice Cream Products. Period.
In a Reddit chain where workers were asked about foods to avoid, a repairman warned customers to avoid soft serve ice cream products from fast food chains.
"Avoid all ice cream machine products. McFlurry's, Frosty’s, Soft Serve. Nope." The repairman says hygiene should be your main reason for skipping the soft serve ice cream. So, if we’re keeping a tally, that means soda taps and ice cream machines are entirely unclean. There goes my summer plans.
Starbucks Is Overcharging You For Water, So Beware
There are a lot of things that Starbucks will try to overcharge you for but the biggest scam is water. Most Starbucks sells water bottles for a whopping $3 each. In reality, you can just ask for a cup of water and they'll give it to you free of charge.
And if that water you got (or any iced drink) finds itself to be too cold and creating too much condensation, then you can use the lids of their plastic cups as coasters!
Get The Best Service From Your Car
This should actually be a no-brainer, but apparently, it isn't. If you want the fastest service, then it’s going to be in your car, at the drive-thru. Waiting on the lines inside takes forever, and people usually move a bit faster while driving in their cars.
If that’s not enough to convince you, it’s said that employees are told to prioritize people on the drive-thru line first. They get judged on the speed of the drive-thru so it makes sense.
There's A Holding Cabinet For Food
Bet you didn't know that there’s a holding cabinet for your food. Sometimes, your fast food is cooked and then immediately put into your bag, other times…not so much. Instead, food stays in a cabinet that keeps the food warm and moist.
The cabinets have a timer that is supposed to dictate when the food gets thrown out. Unfortunately, not all employees listen to the timer and reheat the food to give it to you anyway.
That Secret Recipe Really Is A Secret
Love that crispy fried chicken? How about that delicious burger? Want to know how the employees make specific items? Well, so do the employees! According to one former employee, all of the recipes are proprietary, so none of the workers know what ingredients are in any given item.
They just know how to arrange the ingredients, which also sounds like they're not as fresh as you may think. You have to go straight to the top if you want to know what’s in the secret sauce.
Your Meat Is Being Chemically Cleaned
Chemicals can be a good thing and a bad thing. When it's cleaning your toilet at home, they’re great. When you’re trying to eat food, you don’t want chemicals anywhere nearby. You’d be surprised then to find that all fast food burgers go through a chemical wash that includes ammonium hydroxide.
The USDA says the practice is safe, and that it’s only to get rid of other harmful bacteria like e. coli. Still, we’d prefer less chemicals if it’s possible.
Subway's Tuna Sandwich Doesn’t Contain Tuna
Most Subway workers will admit that overall, the restaurant does an excellent job of providing fresh ingredients and clean facilities, but the tuna doesn't make the cut. The tuna sub is one of the fewest ordered, so the tuna is often expired before they even open the container.
To make matters worst, a DNA examination conducted by the New York Times found that there might not be any actual tuna in Subway’s tuna sandwich! The Times commented on reasons why the study would see this result, saying, "One it’s so heavily processed that whatever we could pull out, we couldn’t make an identification … Or we got some and there’s just nothing there that’s tuna."
The Managers Aren't Daddy Warbucks
Do you think the managers at your favorite fast food chain are sitting on thrones? Do you think they're the next Daddy Warbucks? Think again! It’s said that even the managers of these fast food chains aren’t making bank.
In fact, most of them aren’t making more than minimum wage like the staff below them. It’s just another reason to be nice to the person serving you food because they don’t exactly get major benefits from it.