There are a lot of opportunities for free and cheap food in Chicago. An easy way to find out about these opportunities is by following Chicago Cheap Ass on Facebook for of-the-moment updates. You could also refer to this definitive guide of Chicago email newsletters to have free food delivered straight to your inbox. No spam here, people.
1. Corner Bakery Cafe
I’ll admit that Corner Bakery Cafe is not a place I often seek out on my own, but often consume at networking events and office parties. There are tons of different types of things to eat, they readily post nutrition information, and they offer free coupons all the time. Recently I’ve gotten coupons for free soup, free pastries, and even a free meal. Click here to sign up for their Chicago email newsletter.
2. Noodles & Company
Noodles is one of those places I can’t justify going to on a regular basis because I’m pretty accomplished at making pasta dishes for myself. I know that pasta is a high-margin dish at any restaurant and I wouldn’t be much of a Chicago Cheap Ass if that was how I spent my money while dining out. That being said, getting an email from Noodles is always a delight because more often than not they have coupons for free or BOGO noodle bowls (sometimes other entrees are included as well). Click here to sign up for their Chicago email newsletter.
Panera skimps more on the freebies than Noodles & Company and Corner Bakery, but just today I got an email that said I can get free coffee the entire month by using MyPanera card. Every once in awhile, they’ll give away coupons of soup and sandwich combos or free baked goods. Definitely worth it if you like their food at all (and are close enough to one of their locations). Click here to sign up for the MyPanera card and loyalty program.
4. Au Bon Pain
ABP’s email newsletter is cool, because right off the bat you get a free reusable coffee cup. On top of that, they send out dollar-off coupons regularly, and always have freebies like cookies or drinks to give away. If you work close to one (ABP is primarily in the Loop and River North-ish), you’re going to want to click here to sign up for the Au Bon Pain Chicago email newsletter.
5. Lettuce Entertain You – Beatrix and Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba
Lettuce Entertain You is the first member of this list to operate primarily in Chicago (with some outliers in the suburbs and other neighboring states). They have their own loyalty program that costs money to join (it’s worth it, but I’ll come back to that in another blog post), but also text clubs that don’t require you to be a member of the loyalty program to use. If you like free tapas, you should sign up for Cafe Ba-Ba-Reeba’s program by clicking here and finding the “Text Club” option on the sidebar. If free coffee, fresh-squeezed juice, and bakery items are more your style, click here for Beatrix’s text club.
6. Spring Rewards
I wrote a post about Spring Rewards and you should check that out for some of the best free food possibilities under the sun. Pairing their loyalty program with a Groupon offer at a participating restaurant means you can dine fine on a budget.
I know I said “definitive” guide at the beginning of this post, but I plan on coming back and updating as I discover more great Chicago email newsletters to follow.
If there’s a Chicago email newsletter you receive that Chicago Cheap Asses would love, let us know in the comments!