Some say there's no such thing as a free lunch. Au contraire. Our monthly guide covers where to eat cheaply (or even for free) right now and the secrets to slimming down food bills.
As of 2022, monthly food bills (and everything else on the planet) is skyrocketing, so vouchercloud put together a list of savvy tricks to help consumers save money on the things they love. If you've ever wondered how to eat for free or get 50% off at Bella Italia and a free Whopper from Burger King, this one's for you.
The promise of a free lunch might sound like a cruel trick, but there’s some substance (or sustenance) to these rumours. Lots of fast food joints offer free food with sign-ups to the app. What's in it for them? Probably to act as an enticing siren call when you stumble within a mile of the nearest store, but you can always turn off notifications or delete the app after claiming.
|Greggs||Free hot drink with the Greggs app. After the first freebie, you’ll start collecting stamps for every purchase you make in a food category (like sweet treats or bakes) and the 10th item is free.||£2.00|
|KFC||Free side with the Colonel’s Club app. KFC will credit your account with three loyalty stamps just for downloading the app, which can be redeemed straight away for two delicious hot wings or fun-size popcorn chicken. Regular KFC-ers can build up £5 credit after collecting 11 stamps.||£0.99|
|Burger King||Free Whopper or Plant-Based Whopper with the Burger King app. Place your first order via the app and spend at least £3 on a click & collect purchase to qualify. There are bunches of other app-exclusive offers like £1.99 Whopper Wednesdays to keep you sticking around.||£4.99|
|Krispy Kreme||Free glazed doughnut with the Krispy Kreme Rewards app. By scanning the app, you’ll then collect 10 ‘Smiles’ for every £1 spent—after 100 Smiles, you’ve earned enough to redeem the OG Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut.||£1.10|
|Taco Bell||Free Crunchy Taco with the Taco Bell app. Afterwards, you’ll start stacking up points for future tacos or desserts.||£1.50|
Get 20% off your first order with the My McDonald’s app. While there's no tangible freebie like a Big Mac (we wish), the 20% discount can save you a decent chunk of money if you order in a group. The introductory offer must be redeemed within 21 days of registering, and it expires completely on 31 December 2022.
|Shopmium||Free product when you sign up. Expect anything from savoury snacks like Pringles to free chocolate like Maltesers or Cadbury Dairy Milk. Simply scan your receipt after paying and allow one to three business days to receive 100% cashback into your bank or PayPal account. You can also earn £3 credit by referring friends to the app.||£1.50 (approx)|
|Vintage Inns||Get 20% off food with the Vintage Inns app. We Brits love our pub grub, so download the app for an estimated £2 off your meal (including Sunday lunch and burgers), a free starter or dessert on your second visit and £20 off your fourth visit when you spend £40!||£2.00 (approx)|
Little mouths can have large appetites, so it’s worth knowing the restaurants and cafés providing free meals for children. You can expect a flood of offers from supermarkets like Tesco and M&S during school breaks—it gets a little quiet during term time. These restaurants and cafés offer free meals for children right now:
|ASDA café||Kids eat free when an adult spends £1, so grab yourself a caffeinated beverage and you’re covered! The offer covers multiple children (we haven’t tested exactly where ASDA draws the line) under 16. Little ones under 18 months get a free Ella’s baby food pouch.||£2.60|
|Brewers Fayre||Free cooked or continental breakfast for up to two children under 16 with a paying adult. Adult breakfasts cost between £7.50 and £9.50, so the initial cost is higher, but it provides breakfast fuel for three members of the family.||£5.00 per child|
|Morrisons||Kids eat free from 3pm with an adult meal costing £4.50. Kids meals also include fruit and a choice of Tropicana or water.||£3.25|
|The Real Greek||Kids eat free on Sundays when an adult spends £10. Forget fish fingers and chips. For the real Greek experience, kids can choose between the Soulavki wrap or Meze platter with veggies and houmous.||£6.75|
This is a no brainer if you’re already an O2 customer, but we have a sneaky tip to beat the system. If you have an unlocked phone knocking around, order an O2 Pay as You Go SIM card and top up £10 to get started—then, download the O2 Priority app to get free food and some delicious discounts.
|Caffè Nero||Free mystery hot chocolate or any hot drink or iced coffee from 10am Monday to Thursday||£2.60|
|Greggs||Free breakfast roll, sausage/vegan sausage roll or doughnut on selected days of the week.||£2.30|
|Caffè Nero||2 for 1 on desserts, including vegan salted caramel and chocolate cheesecake, Black Forest roulade and more.||£3.40|
Learn more on the O2 Priority offers page.
Like O2 Priority, you can access VeryMe rewards with a simple £10 top-up on a Vodafone SIM card. Vodafone partners with brands like Candy Kittens and Thortful, but the star of the show is a small Costa Coffee hot drink for £1 every week for 12 weeks.
Vodafone also dishes out 2-for-1 meals and 25% discounts on food and drink at local restaurants via the Eat Local app. Find out more on the VeryMe Rewards page.
If you’re worried about inbox overload, it’s worth creating a strictly business-only email address or unsubscribing after the introductory discount. Discounts usually only apply to meals, so check the T&Cs carefully before telling anyone 'this one's on me'. Here are a few of the best food offers our discount code hunters tracked down:
|Brewers Fayre||25% off with newsletter sign-ups or 50% off with the Bonus Club||£2.50/£5.00|
|Cookhouse & Pub||25% off with newsletter sign-ups||£2.50|
|Beefeater||25% off with newsletter sign-ups or 50% off mains with the Reward Club||£2.50/£5.00|
|Bar + Block||25% off with newsletter sign-ups||£2.50|
It’s time to invite any student or NHS worker you vaguely know to front the food bill at restaurants (kidding). But seriously, most restaurants discount the entire bill (not just the individual person) when there's a student or health worker in your group—if you remember to ask.
Here are a few of the restaurants offering discounts right now:
- Beefeater: 25% off for NHS workers and students
- Bar + Block: 25% off for NHS workers and students
- O’Neill’s: 10% off for NHS workers
- Brewers Fayre: 25% off for NHS workers
- Frankie & Benny’s: 20% off for NHS workers and students
- Café Rouge: 30% off for students from Sunday to Wednesday
- Bella Italia: 30% off for students and 25% off for NHS workers
Bring along some valid ID: for students, it’s a university card or StudentBeans or UNiDAYS card; for health workers, it’s a Blue Light Card.
Food delivered to your doorstep will never be the cheapest way to satisfy your appetite, but we all deserve luxuries and a night off from the dishes sometimes. Our food and drink discounts can help make this luxury more affordable, particularly if you're a new customer. Here are some of the top discounts right now:
- Deliveroo: £10 off first orders over £15
- Uber Eats: £20 off across your first two orders (vouchercloud exclusive).
- Foodhub: 20% off your first order (vouchercloud exclusive)
- Hello Fresh: up to 56% off your subscription, available on Groupon
It's also possible to earn vouchers or credit by referring friends—Uber Eats will send you a £5 discount for every successful referral.
Itsu and Wasabi drop the price of all sushi and salads 30 minutes before closing time, so check the opening times if there's one in your area. Itsu's Super Salmon “3 Ways” is usually £7.99, but it'll cost £3.99 if you visit during the 50% off happy hour.
The website Approved Food sells food that would otherwise go to waste for 80% less—all past the best-buy date but not the expiration date. Think snacks, crisps, air fresheners and even beer. Tinned goods could probably survive an apocalypse, so these should be a safe bet. Otherwise, just use your best judgement.
Forget everything you thought you knew about “best before”. The best-before date is the date when the food quality and texture may start to change, but it’s still completely safe to eat.
Apps like Too Good to Go and Olio should be your bread and butter. Too Good to Go connects you with local restaurants and grocery stores: discounting meals, baked goods and fruit and vegetables. Usually, you'll receive a mystery bag of surplus food from that day, but reviews from previous buyers can help you figure out what to expect.
Olio is a leftover food app for rescuing free food near you that would otherwise go to waste. Set your location to browse and request items from people in your local area. Near us, we found all the ingredients for a vaguely Italian sort of dinner (bread rolls and baguettes, parsley and pasta sauce). There’s also a section for non-food items like clothing or books and a section to request items you’d rather not purchase yourself (like tools).
With Valentine’s Day on the horizon, a meal for two may be on the cards. This is where Tastecard comes in with 50% off or 2-for-1 discounts at popular restaurants: it’s free for 60 days with no obligation to continue the contract, and it works out especially well if you’re a fan of pizza and Italian food for that Lady and the Tramp moment. Here are some of the Tastecard discounts available right now:
- 50% off at Pizza Hut
- 2 for 1 on meals at Prezzo
- 2 for 1 on meals at Café Rouge
- 2 for 1 on meals at Bella Italia
- 2 for 1 on meals at ASK Italian
Don't forget to set a reminder to cancel the Tastecard subscription if you aren't willing to continue beyond the free trial.
If you’re searching for Valentine’s Day dinner ideas, try the local deals at Groupon, which house all the food and drink discounts available in your area. Near us, we found up to Valentine’s Day experiences for two, including around 50% off gin experiences, Italian food and cocktails. Some of the biggest savings included £35 off (or 58% off) a steak dinner with wine for two and £20 off (52% off) pizza and prosecco.
You can purchase these vouchers online and place the booking directly via Groupon. Check our Groupon vouchers before buying for some extra restaurant discounts.
Food for thought
- Check vouchercloud discount codes. We usually have a code or two up our sleeves to help you save on takeaways, restaurants and your weekly shop—take a look at the food and drink discounts available before making any purchase.
- Resist the cravings. Ordering takeaway can get expensive real fast. Keep an emergency pizza stashed away in your freezer for those days when fast food feels inevitable, or try meal kits by HelloFresh or Gousto. Food delivery boxes are cheaper than takeaways, and the recipes are super easy to whip up when you're hungry now.
- Plan your meals. Create a meal plan to keep you on target and prevent any food waste. Throwing food away is essentially money down the drain, so plan cheap easy meals for the upcoming week or pop any ingredients you won't use on Olio for your neighbours to enjoy.
MethodologyInformation updated monthly and sourced from retailers' websites, correct as of 26 May 2022. We use an estimated £10 spend to calculate the value of restaurant discounts.