Have you heard of National Food Days?! I always thought they were stupid until I learned about all the free food I was missing out on! It turns out these silly, made-up dates are great for grabbing free food at your favorite restaurants.
After all, free food is 100% more delicious than food you have to pay for, right? I’m pretty sure that’s science.
If you love to eat, then you’ll rejoice to know that there are some recurring national food days that offer free food every year! These dates include Tax Day and Veteran’s Day, but they also include delightfully bogus free national food days like “National Cheeseburger Day.” On these days, certain restaurants offer free food. Sounds great, right?
Of course – as long as you’re luckier than I am. I usually find out about these deals 24-48 hours after they’ve ended… and it’s so frustrating! I put that frustration to good use, though, and assembled a calendar of all the recurring national food days around the US. Now we’ll never miss out on free food again! =D
It is important to realize that, although I’ve spent dozens of hours researching this article for you, these deals are subject to change at any time and may vary by location. Always call ahead to confirm that the deal is valid in your area!
National Food Days in January
January 1: New Years’ Day
Pick up a free coffee from Sheetz before 4pm on New Years’ Day!
January 20: National Cheese Lover’s Day
Is there anyone that doesn’t love cheese? I’m not sure. What I do know, though, is that we can snag a free bowl of queso from On the Border for National Cheese Lover’s Day! The only downside? You’ll also need to buy an adult entree.
On National Cheese Lover’s Day, you can also get free chips and queso with any purchase from California Tortilla. All you have to do is say “I love cheese” when you place your order!
It appears that some grocery stores, like Whole Foods, may also offer free cheese tastings on this national food day!
National Food Days in February
February 2: Groundhog Day
Chick-Fil-A may provide free spicy chicken biscuits on Groundhog Day. It appears that this deal is only available in certain areas around the country, so definitely call ahead of time to confirm this.
February 9: National Bagel Day
February 9: National Pizza Day
That’s right – February 9 is also National Pizza Day! You can get free slices of pizza at Pilot Flying J. You can also get a free personal pan pizza from Round Table Pizza but only if you purchase a Pepsi product.
In the past, Baskin Robbins has offered free samples of ice cream Polar pizzas on this day. I’m not sure if that is going to be repeated, though.
February 14: Valentine’s Day
Bring your sweetheart (or your fabulously single self) into these restaurants for a delicious free treat on Valentine’s Day! Firehouse Subs will give you a free dessert on Valentine’s Day. Quiznos provides a free Lobster & Seafood sub to customers who use their Toasty Points loyalty app.
In 2018, Qdoba offered a promotion where you could get a free entree “just by sharing a smooch with anyone or anything (even your burrito!) at checkout.” It’s not clear if this will be offered again in the future, so be sure to confirm the deal before you pucker up.
In the past, Chuck E. Cheese has also offered free downloadable cards that are redeemable for tokens and by distributing free brownies on Valentine’s Day.
Planning to get propose? If you pop the question in Mimi’s Cafe during your three-course meal, then your meal (and your fiancee’s) will be free! However, there is one catch: a ring is required in order to get this discount. Post a picture of your proposal on their Facebook page for the chance to win a $500 Mimi’s gift card!
Shrove Tuesday: National Pancake Day
National Pancake Day is celebrated on Shrove Tuesday (Fat Tuesday), which is always 47 days before Easter. On this national food day, IHOP will give you a free short stack of pancakes!
February 29: Leap Day
If you are a “Leapling,” or someone born on Leap Day, then you can score all sorts of extra freebies and deals! You will need to provide valid photo ID with your birthdate in order to receive these deals.
In 2016, Leaplings enjoyed all sorts of freebies, including:
Free, one-topping Personal Pan Pizza from Pizza Hut
Free entree from Hard Rock Cafe’s “Leaplings Eat Free” menu
Free order of Spaghetti and meatballs from Buca di Beppo
Free order of cheesesteak eggrolls from Del Frisco’s Grille
Free slice of pizza from Villa Italian Kitchen
Free Individually Yours Cookie Cake from Great American Cookie Company
Free dozen cupcakes from Sprinkles Cupcakes in Georgetown DC
29 free meals from Houlihan’s! The meals were spread over the following 30 days, for a whole month of freebies
Those who weren’t born on Leap Day can still score some great deals! In 2016, several Chick-Fil-A restaurants provided free spicy chicken sandwiches and Chili’s provided free queso and chips.
I’m not sure exactly what 2020 will bring, but I can’t wait to find out!
National Food Days in March
March 14: International Pi Day
Whether you prefer pizza pie, pot pie or dessert pie, there are all sorts of discounts and freebies available on International Pi Day! Of course, the mathematical constant of π (pi) is a trillion digits long but is usually rounded to 3.14. That’s why we celebrate it every year on 3/14!
Since many restaurants have coyly discounted their products to $3.14 to celebrate, we’re including some items in this list that aren’t exactly free. They’re still discounts, though, and we thought you’d want to know!
Want a cheap pizza? BJ’s Brewhouse & Restaurants offer a mini one-topping pizza for $3.14. Papa Murphy’s provides a large, thin one-topping pizza for $3.14 also. Blaze Pizza, Fired Pie, Firenza Pizza, Flippers Pizzeria, Giordan’s, In Vicino Wood Oven Pizza, Me-n-Ed’s Pizzeria, Pagliacci Pizza, Patxi Pizza, Pi Pizzeria, Pie Five, The Pizza Press, Rotolo’s Pizzeria, Urban Bricks, Villa Italian Kitchen and Your Pie also offer similar deals.
You can also get a cheap piece of pie at Coco’s Bakery Restaurant, O’Charley’s, Pick ‘n’ Save, Vilage Inn, Wesco and more. Marie Callendar’s has a coupon on their website that can be used to score a free piece of pie on Pi Day. If you’re local to one of their 16 shops, you can get a free pie slice from Grand Traverse Pie Company.
Getting married? You can even get a free wedding from regional chain &pizza, which converts their stores into wedding chapels. They offer free weddings, including pizza, on Pi Day! They have locations in DC, New York and Philadelphia.
You can also get discounts at Bakers Square, Bojangles’ and Boston Market (on pie, not weddings).
March 17: St. Patrick’s Day
On St. Patrick’s Day, you can get a free sample of their Mint Chip n’ Oreo Cookies Milkshake from Baskin-Robbins!
March 19-21: Spring Solstice
Celebrate the first day of spring with tasty freebies! The first day of spring isn’t the same every year so this national food day usually occurs sometime between March 19 and 21.
Rita’s Italian Ice provides free shaved ice. They gave away almost one million free cups in just nine hours in 2016.
Dairy Queen offers free small vanilla cones on this day, also. Mall locations do not participate in this promotion.
National Food Days in April
Early April: Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day
Ben & Jerry’s Free Cone Day happens sometime in early April, usually between the 4th and the 10th. This tradition has continued since 1979. You can sign up for an email reminder on their website!
Mid-April: WaWa Day
Every year, WaWa celebrates their anniversary by giving out unlimited free coffee. The convenience store was actually established on April 16, 1964, but the free WaWa day doesn’t always occur on the 16th. In 2018, it was on April 12.
Tax Day: All the Restaurants that offer Free Food on Tax Day
Unfortunately, Tax Day occurs every year also. It’s usually on April 15 but the deadline may fall sometime between the 16-18 depending on weekends, holidays and tech glitches.
Paying taxes isn’t much fun (unless you’re getting a refund). As a consolation prize, many restaurants offer freebies and this has become one of the most abundant free food days during the year!
On Tax Day, you may be able to score the following freebies:
Arby’s offers free curly fries.
Cinnabon offers two free Cinnabon bites.
Great American Cookie offers one free cookie to each customer.
Hardee’s offers free sausage biscuits in the morning. Use the password “made from scratch” while ordering to receive this discount!
Hot Dog on a Stick offers one free Original Turkey or Veggie Dog to all customers.
Kona Ice Trucks offer free shaved ice.
Sonic offers half-off burgers! It’s not exactly free but I love Sonic so I had to include this. Sorry!
April 22: Earth Day
Evos offers free organic milkshakes on Earth Day! This chain is local to the Florida area.
April 26: National Pretzel Day
There are few foods I love more than fresh salted pretzels and cheese, so this is one of my favorite national food days! I’m thrilled that so many major pretzel chains participate in the National Pretzel Day freebies.
You can get free pretzels from Philly Pretzel Factory, Pretzelmaker and Wetzel’s Pretzel’s. In addition, Ben’s Soft Pretzels will provide free pretzels with an on-site donation to the Intrepid Fallen Heroes Fund.
If you’re willing to make a purchase, then you can get a BOGO deal on pretzels from Auntie Anne’s. Cumberland Farm’s will give you a free “Chill Zone” beverage with your pretzel purchase.
August 27: Carvel National Free Cone Day
Every year, Carvel provides free ice cream during their annual Free Cone Day. The cones are limited to select flavors in the junior size.
National Food Days in May
Early May: Free Cone Day at Haagen Dazs
The date varies, but every spring Haagen Dazs offers free ice cream cones! Follow their social media channels for updates.
1st Week: Teacher Appreciation Week
If you’re a teacher, then you won’t want to miss out on all the free food during Teacher Appreciation Week! The best deals happen on Teacher Appreciation Day, which is the Tuesday of Teacher Appreciation Week. On this day, teachers can enjoy:
Free meal from Boston Market
Free buffets at Cici’s Pizza
Free ice cream at Haagen-Dazs
Free box combos at Raising Cane’s
Free milkshakes at Zinburger Wine & Burger Bar
There are many more restaurants that offer discounted meals. For example, you can get 50% off at MOD Pizza and PDQ. You can also get 20% off Einstein’s Bagels.
May 5: Cinco de Mayo
Every year on May 5, you can find excellent Cinco de Mayo deals at most Mexican restaurants.
Here are some deals that we’re aware of:
Moe’s Southwest Grill usually offers a freebie but it may be limited to a certain number of customers.
On the Border offers free chips and salsa, as well as some drink deals.
Taco Time may also offer a discount.
May 6-12: National Nurses Week
Nurses have a tough job! That’s why so many restaurants and retailers make a point of thanking them for their efforts each week during National Nurses Week.
Buca di Beppo has historically offered free meals for nurses with ID.
Cinnabon offers a free Cinnamon Classic Roll, MiniBon Roll or four-count BonBites.
Dunkin Donuts offers a free 16 oz beverage during certain hours with a valid health care ID.
In addition to these freebies, nurses can also enjoy discounts at Jimboy’s Tacos, Pollo Tropical, Potbelly Sandwich Shop, Texas Steakhouse & Saloon, Culvers, Freebirds World Burrito, PDQ, Scooter’s Coffee and more. Chipotle offers a BOGO deal on burritos, bowls, salads and tacos for nurses, but their discount date may not correspond with National Nurses Week.
2nd Sunday: Mother’s Day
Mother’s Day is traditionally celebrated on the second Sunday of May. Take your mother out to enjoy some freebies!
You can get a free cup of frozen yogurt from TCBY.
She can also get a free red velvet cake donut and a small coffee at Lamar’s Donuts and Coffee, although they sometimes celebrate this the Saturday before Mother’s Day.
May 28: National Hamburger Day
Although national chains like Jack in the Box often host some kind of BOGO or with-purchase deal, you can sometimes find better deals at local restaurants. For example, Bareburger gave away free Standard or Farmstead (vegan, gluten-free) burgers for National Hamburger Day 2017!
Memorial Day: Last Monday of May
Like Veterans Day, Memorial Day is filled with deals and freebies for retired and active members of the military.
Firebirds Wood Fired Grill offers a free lunch or dinner to veterans and active-duty military.
McCormick & Schmick’s invite military and veterans to get a free lunch or dinner entree from a select menu. The menu includes buttermilk fried shimp, parmesan crusted chicken, tender beef medallions or beer battered fish and chips.
MOD Pizza offers a free 11-inch pizza or salad to those with military ID.
Ninety Nine Restaurants invites military and veterans to choose one free entree from the $9.99 menu as long as there is another meal purchased at the table.
Shoney’s offers a free All-American burger to those with military ID. This offer is limited and may sell out.
Twin Peaks provides a free meal from a special menu to those who are veterans or serving on active duty.
In addition to free food at restaurants, those with military ID can expect free admission for their entire families at many zoos, museums, and theme parks. Blue Star Museums offer free admission from Memorial Day through Labor Day!
National Food Days in June
1st Friday: National Donut Day
We love National Donut Day! Our favorite go-to donut shop is Krispy Kreme. You can celebrate this with a free original glazed donut from Krispy Kreme.
You can also stop by Dunkin Donuts to get a free donut with any coffee purchase.
Edible Arrangements also offers a free Edible Donut, which is really just a dipped apple.
Walmart sometimes gives away a free whole glazed dontu to shoppers on National Donut Day, too!
2nd Sunday: Father’s Day
TCBY offers a free 6-ounce frozen yogurt to dads on Father’s Day! Dads can also score a free chili dog from Wienerschnitzel if they bring in proof of fatherhood, like a picture of their kid (or their actual kid).
Third Friday: National Flip Flop Day
The Tropical Smoothie Cafe gives free smoothies to all customers wearing flip flops on this day!
National Food Days in July
2nd Tuesday: Chick-Fil-A Cow Appreciation Day
Every year, Chick-Fil-A hosts a Cow Appreciation Day. Dress up in a cow costume (or any sort of cow apparel) during business hours and you’ll get a free entree.
July 11: Free Slurpees at 7-Eleven
On the 11th of July (7/11), you can score free Slurpees at 7-Eleven!
3rd Wednesday: National Hot Dog Day
The best freebies seem to come from convenience stores. I’ve heard that QuikTrip, Pilot Flying J and Love’s Travel Stop all offer free hot dogs on this day. You may need to download an app to access the discounts, however.
You can get great deals on hot dogs from Ben’s Soft Pretzels, 7-Eleven, Dog Haus, Hwy 55, Hopdoddy Burger Bar, Philly Pretzel Factory, Sonic Drive-in and more.
3rd Sunday: National Ice Cream Day
You can expect great discounts and free upgrades on ice cream from Baskin Robbins, Sub Zero, Carvel, Friendly’s, Wienerschnitzel and more. They aren’t exactly free but the coupons do make it much more affordable.
Pets can enjoy National Ice Cream Day, too! PetSmart has been known to distribute ice cream sundaes with dog-safe vanilla soft serve and dog biscuits.
National Food Days in August
August 6: National Root Beer Float Day
A&W serves up their signature treat for free between 2pm and 8pm! Just stop by and pick up your free root beer float! You can get the details on their website.
August 20: National Lemonade Day
If you love lemonade as much as I do, then you aren’t going to want to miss this!
Hot Dog on a Stick will provide a free small lemonade when they make a donation to the charity of the restaurant’s choice.
National Food Days in September
September 19: International Talk Like a Pirate Day
September 29: National Coffee Day
Coffee aficionados rejoice! On September 29, you can score a free coffee from Peet’s Coffee, Krispy Kreme, Sheetz and McDonald’s!
National Food Days in October
October 4: National Taco Day
Use the code word “taco life” to score a free taco from Chronic Tacos!
You can also use this coupon to get a free Chicken Taco al Carbon from El Pollo Loco!
Green Leafs offers a free street taco with this coupon.
Free tacos are available from TacoTime, Taco Cabana, Jimboy’s Tacos and Taco John’s.
New Jersey chain Bubbakoo’s Burritos will sell each customer up to 5 tacos for just $1 each.
You can also get BOGO and other deals at Del Taco, Fuzzy’s Tacos, Jimboy’s Ta
cos, On the Border, Taco Bell, Taco Bueno, California Tortilla, Chuy’s, En Fenix, El Polla Loco, Rubios and more.
October 31: Halloween
Naturally, restaurants are getting in on the fun and capitalizing on Halloween! Wander the town in your costume and you could score the following freebies:
Free donut from Krispy Kreme,
Free small custard from BurgerFi
Free cookie from PDQ
Free candy corn pizza slice from Chuck E. Cheese
You can also pick up a $3 Boo-rito from Chipotle and 50 cent corn dogs from Sonic!
If you’re a kid, you can score even more freebies! However, please pay attention to the age limits on these and call your participating location to confirm the details.
Free scary face pancake from IHOP (12 and under only)
Free Jamba Juice smoothie (8 and under only)
National Food Days in November
November 6 – Election Day
Bring your “I Voted!” sticker to claim freebies from restaurants and chains around America! Among other things, you may be able to get:
Free cookie from Great American Cookies
Free coffee from 7-Eleven
Free drinks from &pizza
Free drinks from Firehouse Subs
Free glazed donut from Krispy Kreme
Free day at Gold’s Gym
Offers may vary by election year. Be sure to call ahead for details!
November 11 – Veterans Day
There is a lot of free food available for veterans and active-duty military on Veteran’s Day! To see the full list, you’ll need to click here.
National Food Days in December
December 4: National Cookie Day
Sweet! National Cookie Day is a great time to gobble up some free sweets from restaurants and retailers around the country.
Quiznos offers a free toasted cookie with any purchase. You can choose between oatmeal raisin, chocolate chunk or cinnamon sugar!
Insomnia Cookies also offers free warm cookies on National Cookie Day. Their flavors include sugar cookies, M&Ms, chocolate chunk, double chocolate chunk, oatmeal raisin, white chocolate macadamia, snickerdoodle, double chocolate mint and peanut butter chip.
Whole Foods usually offers a special as well. Last year, they sold cookies for for 25¢ apiece all week! (Limit 3 per customer.)
December 25: Christmas Day
For more than 20 years, Sheetz has distributed free coffee on Christmas Day.