People taking pizza slices

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As much as we’d all like to cook wholesome, homemade meals every night, few people have the time, energy, or know-how to put together seven dinners a week. And so we eat out … and bleed money. But if you know how to find deals, you won’t have to tighten your belt and eat ice soup at the end of the month. In this guide, we’re serving up the best deals of September 2023, along with a few tips on how to find limited-time offers and freebies on your own.

Today's Top Food Deals

We won’t waste your time with a long-winded intro and list of all the upcoming limited-time offers this month (that’ll come later). Instead, we’ll dive straight into a few deals that you can take advantage of today, with a special focus on fast-casual restaurants. For promotions on McDonald’s, Burger King, and Taco Bell meals, check out our up-to-date fast food deals guide.

Group of loyal clients of italian restaurant enjoying tasty pizzaPhoto credit: fizkes/istockphoto

Applebee’s: $5 Sunshine Sips

Drinking an Electric Long Island Iced Tea at Applebee’s sounds like a recipe for the world’s worst hangover. But the cocktail is just $5 at the fast-casual chain. The limited-time summer Sunshine Sips campaign also boasts a $5 Bacardi-infused drink called the Tipsy Sunset.

Arby’s: Two for $7 ‘Everyday Value’

For just $7, diners can choose two items from Arby’s “Everyday Value” menu, which currently includes a classic beef ‘n cheddar sandwich, a classic crispy chicken sandwich, and mozzarella sticks. Thanks to the promo, you'll save up to $4 per meal.

Baskin Robbins: Discounted Iced Cold Brew

Want a cheap way to get your caffeine fix? Weirdly enough, you might want to go to Baskin Robbins. The ice cream chain is selling its new cold brew at a discount, offering a small for $2, a medium for $3, and a large for $4 through Sept. 4.

Baskin-Robbins ice cream and cake shop. Baskin-Robbins is a subsidiary of Inspire Brands.Photo credit: jetcityimage/istockphoto

Domino’s: Mix and Match and Carryout Deals

With its rotating selection of coupons, Domino’s is the king of daily deals. Though we’re not sure how long they’ll last, the pizza chain has three national offers at the moment. For $7, customers can choose two items from a list of select entrees, including medium two-topping pizzas, breads, loaded tots, boneless chicken, pastas, sandwiches, salads, or desserts. A dollar more will get you the carryout deal: $8 for a one-topping pizza, dip and twist combo, or eight-piece wing entree. And for the ultimate (in Domino’s words, “perfect”) combo meal, you’ll get a 2-liter bottle of Coke, two medium one-topping pizzas, 16 parmesan bread bites, and eight cinnamon twists for $20.

Little Caesars: Free Delivery

Through Sept. 10, you can get Little Caesars’ inflation-proof pizzas delivered for free. Order your pie online and enter the promo code FREEDELIVERY to claim the deal.

Looking for more ways to save on a pie? Check out our roundup of the best pizza deals at chains across the country.

Little CaesarsPhoto credit: jetcityimage/istockphoto

Best September Food Deals: From Labor Day to National Food Holidays

While we have no idea why there’s a national French Fry Day — or why it’s in July — you’re all but guaranteed to find meal deals and freebies on food-themed commemorative holidays. For September, businesses have only telegraphed Labor Day deals (listed below) at time of publication. But we recommend setting a few reminders and perusing the internet for deals a day or two before the other dates, too.

  • Labor Day (Sept. 4)
  • National Cheese Pizza Day (Sept. 5)
  • National Guacamole Day (Sept. 16)
  • National Cheeseburger Day (Sept. 18)
  • National Pepperoni Pizza Day (Sept. 20)
  • National Coffee Day (Sept. 29)

Labor Day Food Deals

While trade unionists established Labor Day to celebrate the labor movement and its achievements, corporations have turned it into another opportunity to lure consumers and drive sales. The fact remains that it leads to some of the best deals of September, if not the entire summer. Just keep in mind that buying a Cinnabon gift card isn’t exactly what workers had in mind when they came up with Labor Day.

Auntie Anne’s: $5 Reward Card

You can revel in a little shopping mall nostalgia by grabbing a gift card from Auntie Anne’s, the pretzel chain best known for its mall kiosks. For each purchase of a $30 gift card online, customers will receive $5 in Auntie Anne’s rewards up to Sept. 4.

Auntie Anne's PretzelsPhoto credit: jessicaphoto/istockphoto

Carvel: $5 Reward Card

Carvel, famous for its soft serve ice cream and cakes, is offering a $5 reward card for every $25 customers spend on gift cards from through Sept. 29. While that’s not a lot, it’s just enough to order the chain’s famous soft serve for free.

Cinnabon: $5 Reward Card

Cinnabon is running the same online-only deal, offering $5 in rewards for each $30 gift card that patrons buy. Sadly, you’ll have to buy at least two gift cards to earn enough rewards for one of the chain’s gooey, frosting-slathered cinnamon rolls.

Firehouse Subs: Free Sandwiches

Although our resident sandwich reviewer described Firehouse’s deli meats as “forgettable,” it might be worth taking advantage of the chain’s Labor Day deal. On Sept. 4, customers get a free medium sub with a purchase of a medium or large sub, chips, and a drink. Since this promo is only available in person, you’ll have to ask about the deal at the register.

Firshouse Subs restaurantPhoto credit: TennesseePhotographer/istockphoto

Jamba: $5 Reward Card

Jamba Rewards members can earn $5 with the purchase of $25 in gift cards during the Labor Day weekend. The company’s smoothie-inspired nail polish collection — truly, who buys this stuff? — will also be available at 30% off from 9 a.m. on Sept. 4 to 9 a.m. on Sept. 5.

Krispy Kreme: Strawberry Glazed Donuts

The donut chain is bringing back its Pepto Bismol-pink donuts for Labor Day weekend (Sept. 1 through Sept. 4). Although there aren’t any discounts involved, it’s worth mentioning given that it’s been two years since these rare strawberry-flavored donuts have made an appearance at Krispy Kreme. (Your move now, Dunkin')

Old Fashioned Krispy Kreme Doughnut and Coffee SignPhoto credit: KathyDewar/istockphoto

How To Find the Best Food Deals Near You

There’s no way we can make this list exhaustive. It’s important, then, that readers know how to hunt for deals on their own. It sounds daunting, we know, but all it takes is a little Google-Fu, a few apps, and a little patience. 

Google It

The best way to find nearby deals is to ask Google. Simply type in “food deals near me,” and the search engine will feed you a list of location-based results. Some results will be hyper-local, like an article about the best bang-for-your-buck deals in your city, whereas others will come from larger sites like Groupon and Foursquare.

While chains will offer the steepest discounts, local restaurants often have happy hours or limited-time offers, too. Again: the best way to find these — short of actually calling restaurants — is to consult Google. In big cities like Los Angeles, there are bound to be best lists already dedicated to answering queries like “happy hour deals Los Angeles.”

Check Restaurant Apps

We also recommend downloading and checking apps from your favorite eateries. Some of the best restaurant deals are only available on mobile apps, with some fast food companies offering daily incentives.

Be sure to also check our roundups of the best value meal deals and where to score free fast-food deals.

Dunkin' AppPhoto credit: S3studio/Getty

Explore Food Waste Apps

To combat the billions of pounds of food we waste in this country, companies like Too Good To Go have partnered with eateries to bring perishable surplus food to the public. You simply download the app, make an account, and then you’ll see a list of participating businesses in your area. While your options will depend on where you live, city dwellers should find a mix of discounted sweets from cafes, cheap meals from restaurants, and affordable groceries from supermarkets.

Look Out for Food Delivery Promos

Food delivery companies like Grubhub, DoorDash, Uber Eats, and Postmates almost always have promos for new customers. If you’ve never used one of the above apps — we found that Grubhub was cheaper than DoorDash — check to see if you can get a discounted first meal or a free membership trial. But don’t get sucked in! Delivery apps almost never make sense from a financial perspective, especially if you’re paying full price.

Save Your Receipts

Hardly anyone saves their receipts these days. But if you want to get more bang for your buck at restaurants, hold on to the bill. That’s because most large chains — Panda Express, Wendy’s, and McDonald’s, to name a few — advertise surveys at the bottom of their receipts, many of which incentivize participation by offering freebies and coupons.

Check Your ReceiptPhoto credit: recep-bg / istockphoto

The Bottom Line

If you’re trying to save money, we’ve got straightforward advice: Don’t eat out. Cooking at home is cheaper and healthier. But given the constraints of modern life, we know that it’s impossible to live life without ever stepping foot into a restaurant. 

And if you’re strategic, taking advantage of monthly deals, affordable hole-in-the-wall restaurants, and fast food apps, you can walk away without racking up credit card debt. The bottom line is that some restaurant somewhere is probably offering a deal. You just have to know where to find it.

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