Cheapest food near me: 50+ places you can eat in 2024

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After a long day at work, cooking dinner or preparing lunch for the next day might be the last thing you feel like doing. Thankfully, dining out or ordering takeout doesn’t have to drain your wallet.

If you’re looking for good inexpensive food nearby, there are plenty of affordable dining choices available.

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Cheapest places to eat “near me”

Here are several nationwide restaurant chains offering great food deals. Keep in mind that these deals may vary by location:

Applebee’s

For the best affordable meals, opt for the 2 for $20 menu, available for dine-in, carryout, and delivery where offered. This deal includes two entrees and one appetizer for just $20.

Additionally, certain appetizers are half off from 3-6 p.m. and from 9 p.m. to closing time at participating restaurants. Kids’ menu items are mostly under $6, and side dishes typically cost $5 or less.

Buffalo Wild Wings

Buffalo Wild Wings offers a buy-one-get-one deal on traditional wings every Tuesday and boneless wings every Thursday. This deal applies when you buy the same style of wings at equal or lesser value.

Additionally, at select locations, you can enjoy drinks and appetizers between $3 and $6 from 3 to 6 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Burger King

Burger King offers a value menu featuring sandwiches, drinks, fries, and desserts starting at $1. Additionally, certain Burger King outlets provide a $5 snack box containing a cheeseburger, eight chicken nuggets, small fries, and a small soft drink.

Customers can access free or discounted menu items through the Burger King app, website, or printed coupons in newspapers and mailers.

Certain Burger King locations in states participating in the Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) accept Electronic Benefit Transfer (EBT) from eligible SNAP recipients.

Carraba’s Italian Grill

Enjoy dining out at Carrabba’s while saving money with their Family Bundles menu. Each bundle serves four and includes a generous family-style entree along with your choice of salad and warm bread. Plus, when you dine in, you can grab take-home meals for just $10. Don’t forget to sign up for their rewards program to receive a complimentary appetizer.

Chili’s

Join Chili’s rewards program and when you buy a regular entree, you’ll receive a complimentary kids’ meal for a child aged 12 and under. Chili’s also features a “3 for Me” menu starting at $10.99, which includes a drink, appetizer, and entree.

Chipotle fast casual restaurant

At Chipotle, meal portions are generous enough to split into two servings. Each meal comes with rice and various protein options such as beans, meat, or soy protein, served in your choice of salad, burrito bowl, tacos, or a traditional burrito.

If you’d like, you can opt for a single or double serving of meat; chicken and sofritas have the lowest upcharge for a double portion. Additionally, guacamole is complimentary with a vegetarian dish but costs an extra $1.95 otherwise.

For a small fee of 50 cents each, you can also add extra tortillas on the side. And if you’re in the mood for chips and salsa, they’re available for less than $3.

Dominos

With Dominos Mix & Match Deal, you can pick two or more items from a selection of entrees, appetizers, and desserts priced at $6.99 or less each. Some stores offer a daily $7.99 carryout deal, including options like a three-topping pizza, oven-baked dip with twists, or wings.

Check the Dominos website or app to find out what deals are currently offered at your nearest store.

Golden Corral

Golden Corral is an American-style buffet offering over 150 food options for all-you-can-eat dining. You can eat in, take out, or have it delivered. Join the Good as Gold club for free drinks, a birthday reward, and coupons.

Sign up for Golden Corral Rewards, get a $5 joining bonus when you spend $25, and earn points for free food. Every dollar spent earns one point, and every 100 points gets you a $10 reward.

IHOP

IHOP starts its reduced-price menu at 3 p.m. at participating locations. Entrees begin at $6, and menu items for seniors (55+) and kids are under $10 all day.

Jimmy John’s

When you join Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast Rewards program, you’ll snag a complimentary sandwich after your initial purchase. You also enjoy regular alerts about deals and earn points for more free food.

Also, at select stores, you can grab a 16-inch French bread loaf for a low price (e.g., $3.50 at my location), perfect for crafting homemade sandwiches.

McDonald’s restaurant

McDonald’s is known for its affordable fast food options, often offering deals like two sandwiches for the price of one or buy one, get one for $1. They also have a value menu offering breakfast, lunch, and dinner items for $1, $2, or $3.

For a more satisfying meal, consider these value menu food hacks:

  • Add a hash brown to your breakfast sandwich.
  • Opt for a McDouble and ask for an extra bun to make two sandwiches.
  • Enjoy any meal with a large drink, all sizes, priced at $1.

If you prefer a smaller portion, opt for a Happy Meal, which includes a hamburger or chicken nuggets, fries, apple slices, and a drink, all for less than $5.

Some McDonald’s locations in RMP states accept EBT from eligible SNAP recipients.

Olive Garden

When you eat at Olive Garden, you get unlimited salad and breadsticks with an entree purchase. They have deals like the Never-Ending Pasta Bowl and lunches starting at $7.99.

If you’re ordering takeout, you can pick from three classic entrees priced at $6 each when you buy one regular-priced entree. The choices are:

  • Fettuccine alfredo
  • Five cheese ziti al forno
  • Spaghetti with meat sauce

Red Robin

At Red Robin, when you order a burger or entree, you can enjoy unlimited steak fries, kettle chips, sweet potato fries, garlic fries, broccoli, or salad. They also offer a budget-friendly selection of Tavern burgers.

During happy hour, Monday to Friday, from 3-6 p.m., you can enjoy a 50% discount on certain appetizers, milkshakes, and drinks.

Sonic

On Tuesdays after 5 p.m., Sonic offers half-price cheeseburgers when you order online or via their app. You can also enjoy half-price drinks and slushies through the app or website. Simply text DRIVEIN to 876642 to receive updates on current promotions and deals from Sonic.

Taco Bell

Taco Bell has a variety of menu items priced at $5 or less, such as the Classic Combo featuring a taco, burrito, side (like chips or cinnamon twists), and a large drink.

Their menu includes vegetarian options, bowls, tacos, burritos, and more, many of which are under $5. Additionally, like many fast-food spots, Taco Bell offers a value menu with items ranging from $1-$5.

Certain Taco Bell locations in RMP states accept EBT from eligible SNAP recipients.

Texas Roadhouse

Join the Texas Roadhouse VIP Club for a free appetizer within 48 hours of signing up. It’s completely free to join. Members receive rewards via email simply for being part of the club. Plus, you’ll receive a personalized signup link for exclusive birthday offers once you’re in.

Best cheap eats in the U.S.

To make the most of your budget, it pays to try new places. Need help finding affordable meals nearby? Check out the Eat Cheap guide.

For great cheap eats in your town, skip the chain restaurants and try these local spots:

Cheap eats NYC

In New York City, you can find hot, fresh slices of pizza for just $1 all around the city, including Times Square, where you’ll spot plenty of dollar pizza shops, some even offering slices for 99 cents.

Here are some great budget-friendly eateries worth checking out in NYC:

  • B&H Dairy: A kosher lunch spot serving hearty portions of knishes, blintzes, stuffed cabbage, and soups. They also offer an extensive breakfast menu, with most items priced at $12 or less.
  • Empanada Mama: You can choose from over 40 different empanadas, fried or oven-baked and stuffed with meat, cheese, and/or vegetables, for less than $5 each.
  • Govinda’s: Enjoy a vegan or vegetarian lunch for $10 or less.
  • Gray’s Papaya: Try their recession special offering two hot dogs and a medium tropical drink for about $7.
  • Los Tacos No. 1: All tacos are priced under $5, and nothing on the menu exceeds $10.

For more affordable dining spots, simply search “cheap eats NYC” on your preferred search engine.

Cheap eats Chicago

Looking for affordable dining spots in downtown Chicago and beyond? Check out these budget-friendly eateries:

  • Chicken Planet: You can grab a grilled chicken meal with pita bread and rice for just $9.
  • Chopper’s Good Eats: Indulge in a double cheeseburger with thick-cut fries and coleslaw for around $9, dubbed the “happy meal for adults.” They also have a range of menu items priced under $5.
  • Luke’s Italian Beef: Enjoy pizza, hot dogs, tamales, and more for $10 or less. Their Chicago-style hot dog costs less than $4.
  • Pittsfield Cafe: Take advantage of their early-bird $9.99 breakfast specials. One favorite is the 2-2-2 Special, featuring two eggs, two strips of bacon, and two pancakes.

For more wallet-friendly dining spots, search “cheap eats Chicago” online. Enjoy great value for your money!

Cheap eats Los Angeles

Looking for affordable dining options in Los Angeles? Check out these spots:

  • El Chato Taco Truck: Offering tacos for $1.25 and other items like burritos and quesadillas for $7 or less. It’s cash-only but worth it for the tasty eats.
  • In-N-Out Burger: A beloved burger joint where a Double-Double burger costs about $5 and a regular cheeseburger costs around $3.50.
  • Sushi Stop: Enjoy a variety of maki and hand rolls ranging from $5 to $10, including regular and specialty rolls.
  • Wirin Thai: With most menu items priced at $11 or less, you can choose from options like Pad Thai, curry dishes, and fried rice.

For more budget-friendly dining options in LA, simply search “cheap eats Los Angeles” on your preferred search engine.

Cheap eats San Francisco

If you need a satisfying meal in San Francisco without spending too much, try these affordable restaurants:

  1. Bei Fang Style: You can enjoy bowls, soups, dumplings, and steamed buns for around $13 or less.
  2. Hawaiian Drive Inn: With plates under $9, you can choose from various meats or seafood served with rice and macaroni salad.
  3. La Cocina Municipal Marketplace: Provides multiple budget-friendly dining options and accepts EBT for those 60 or older, disabled, or homeless.
  4. Super Star: A Filipino restaurant with plates priced at $7 or less, served with fried rice.

For more wallet-friendly dining spots, search “cheap eats San Francisco.”

Cheap eats Boston

Looking for a budget-friendly meal in Boston? Check out these spots:

  • Cusser’s: Offers roast beef sandwiches, chowder, pizza rolls, and seafood for $12 or less.
  • Gene’s Chinese Flatbread Cafe: Enjoy noodles, flatbread sandwiches, soups, and more, priced between $6 and $13.
  • Mike’s City Diner: Known for its generous portions and wallet-friendly prices, with breakfast sandwiches starting at $7 or less.
  • Tasty Burger: Serves burgers, fries, sandwiches, and milkshakes. All burgers are priced under $9.
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For more affordable dining spots, search “cheap eats Boston” to discover delicious meals without breaking the bank.

Cheap eats Miami

Looking for affordable meals in Miami? Check out these spots:

  • Casa Cuba: Grab a Cuban coffee and two empanadas for about $5. Pastries are also available for $5 or less, and sandwiches are typically under $10.
  • La Sandwicherie: A French sandwich shop where options cost $10 or less. Their sandwiches are generously sized, often enough for two people.
  • Pizza Rustica: Enjoy pizza by the slice for around $8. Each slice is large enough to share and cut into six squares.
  • Versailles: Satisfy your sweet tooth with various baked goods, from cakes to tarts. They also offer sandwiches and fresh juices, with most pastries priced under $5.

For more budget-friendly dining options in Miami, search “cheap eats Miami” on Google.

Search for “cheap eats (city)”

Wherever you are, whether at home or traveling, you can easily find affordable meals to fit your budget. Simply search “cheap eats” followed by the city name you’re in or visiting. For instance, try “cheap eats Austin” or “cheap eats Seattle.”

Other ways to score cheap food “near me”

If you’re seeking discounted meals nearby, consider these options:

Your local college

If you’re close to a college, consider checking out the dining spots on campus. Some provide affordable buffet or cafeteria-style meals that are open to everyone. Also, explore areas around the campus as nearby restaurants often cater to budget-conscious students.

Search for “Chinese food near me”

Chinese cuisine is known for its affordability and freshness. Meals are typically made to order, ensuring hot and tasty dishes for $10 or less. Chinese restaurants boast a wide variety of options, ranging from vegetarian dishes to ones featuring beef, chicken, or seafood paired with vegetables over rice or noodles.

Simply search “Chinese food near me” to discover top picks in your area that won’t break the bank.

Search for “Mexican restaurant near me”

Mexican restaurants are famous for their hearty portions and traditional sides like rice and beans, ensuring you get a satisfying meal without breaking the bank. Many of these eateries also provide complimentary unlimited chips and salsa as starters, allowing you to snack on them freely and save half of your main course for later.

Check out your local grocery store’s deli at closing time

If your grocery store has a hot bar or prepared foods section, consider asking the deli counter just before closing time about discounted items. Delis often sells these items for less since they might otherwise be thrown away if unsold.

Fast food restaurants that take EBT

The Restaurant Meals Program (RMP) allows eligible EBT users to purchase prepared meals at select fast food restaurants. Currently, it operates in seven states:

  • Arizona
  • California
  • Illinois (in Cook and Franklin Counties only)
  • Maryland
  • Michigan
  • Rhode Island (in Providence and Washington Counties only)
  • Virginia

If you receive Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program (SNAP) benefits, are 60 years or older, reside in one of these states, and lack the means to store or prepare food, you may qualify for the program.

Different states have different fast food options that accept EBT under the RMP. Not every location participates, so it’s wise to check beforehand. Some major fast food chains that do accept EBT include:

  • Arby’s
  • Carl’s Jr.
  • Church’s Chicken
  • El Pollo Loco
  • Firehouse Subs
  • Jack in the Box
  • KFC
  • Subway

Additionally, some other fast food places not officially affiliated with the RMP may still accept EBT. To be certain, it’s recommended to call ahead and inquire.

Cheap eats “near me” at convenience stores

Convenience stores and gas stations are excellent spots for affordable snacks, often featuring rewards programs. Here’s a list of food options available at your nearby convenience store:

7-Eleven

7-Eleven offers a variety of food options, including hot items such as pizza and wings, as well as healthier choices like fruits and salads. Prices are competitive with other convenience stores, but you can get even lower prices by joining the 7Rewards loyalty program.

Circle K

At Circle K, you’ll find a range of menu items, including hot foods like breakfast burritos, hot dogs, and pizza, as well as healthier options like wraps and prepared salads. Everything is ready to grab and go for your convenience.

Sheetz

Sheetz offers freshly prepared meals around the clock. Here’s what you can find on their menu:

  • Breakfast options like sandwiches, burritos, hash browns, waffles, and French toast sticks.
  • Lunch and dinner choices include sandwiches, wraps, subs, and burgers.
  • Sides include French fries and tater tots, as well as various fried appetizers.
  • Pizza
  • Hot dogs
  • Salads

Additionally, Sheetz provides convenient grab-and-go options such as refrigerated wraps, salads, and sandwiches.

Royal Farms

Royal Farms specializes in fried chicken, complemented by a variety of sandwiches, subs, burgers, and breakfast/lunch bowls, all available at affordable prices. You can find plenty of satisfying options priced at $10 or less.

Wawa

Wawa offers a variety of customizable prepared foods made to order. You can personalize your meal with various toppings and sauces. The menu includes:

  • Sandwiches
  • Wraps
  • Subs
  • Bowls
  • Soups
  • Salads
  • Snacks such as fruit and cheese boxes or soft pretzels.

Cheapest food “near me”

If you’re looking for affordable food nearby, here are some good options:

Food pantries and food banks

If you’re having trouble affording food for you and your family, food pantries and food banks can help.

Many food banks offer free food without hassle, although some might ask for paperwork or an ID.

Grocery stores

Many grocery stores sell affordable hot meals and grab-and-go options. It’s handy to know that you can use EBT to purchase food at these stores. However, EBT benefits typically can’t be used for hot or prepared foods such as rotisserie chicken or deli sandwiches.

Membership warehouses (Sam’s, Costco, BJs)

If you’re a member at stores like Costco, Sam’s Club, or BJ’s, you can get a really cheap lunch. They offer menu items priced at $5 or less, with generous portions and sometimes even a drink included. For example, you can get a large hot dog or a slice of pizza with a drink for $3 or less.

IKEA

Living near an IKEA? Consider joining IKEA Family (free to join) for these weekly specials from Monday to Thursday:

  • Monday: Veggie and Plant Ball plates for $3
  • Tuesday to Thursday: $2 off meatball plates from 3-5 p.m.
  • Wednesday: Buy one adult entree, get two kids’ entrees free
  • Thursday: Buy one adult entree, get the second 50% off (equal or lesser value)

Food app rewards

When you get a food app, you usually get a sign-up reward, such as free food or drinks. As you make more purchases, you’ll accumulate points for discounts or free items.

Here are some popular choices to consider:

Convenience stores

Here are some convenience stores where you can earn food rewards:

7-11 free drinks or snacks when registering for 7REWARDS

When you join 7REWARDS, you start earning points that you can trade for free food items. Simply show the app in-store or link it with 7NOW Delivery to earn points on food, drinks, snacks, and convenience items.

Every 1,000 points you earn equals $1. Use the 7-Eleven Wallet on the 7-Eleven app to earn five times the points. Simply link your credit/debit card to the app or add cash at the register. Your points won’t expire if you use the app, redeem points, or make an in-store purchase every 90 days.

Sheetz free beverage or snack with 250 reward points

Join Sheetz Rewardz for free and earn five points for every dollar spent in-store. When you reach 250 points, you can redeem them for a fountain drink, self-serve Sheetz Bros. coffee, or a Shweetz donut or cookie.

As you accumulate points, you’ll progress to higher reward levels, unlocking more free food options. Points expire one year after the month they were earned.

Free drinks and meals with ROFO Rewards

Join the Royal Farms Rewards program and enjoy a free two-piece chicken meal on your birthday. Earn two points for every dollar spent in-store and one point per gallon of gas purchased. Accumulate points to redeem for food, snacks, and drinks.

There are four-point tiers: 50, 125, 250, and 400. Reach each tier to redeem points for free food and drinks. Keep track of your rewards with the ROFO app. Points earned in a month are valid for one year.

Restaurants

Many restaurants and fast food joints offer free food when you join their rewards or loyalty programs.

Here are some examples:

Chili’s, free chips & salsa with a rewards program

Join My Chili’s Rewards to enjoy perks every time you dine in! As a member, you’ll get complimentary chips and salsa or a non-alcoholic beverage when you spend $5 or more. Plus, receive a free birthday dessert and other treats for being an active member.

Jimmy Johns, free sandwich after first order with Freaky Fast Rewards

Sign up for Jimmy John’s Freaky Fast Rewards and score a complimentary 8-inch sandwich with your first online or app order. Plus, enjoy free food rewards for every menu item you purchase.

Panera Bread, free pastry for signing up for MyPanera Rewards (and free drinks through July 4th)

Join MyPanera rewards today to enjoy exclusive perks! As a new member, you’ll receive a complimentary pastry or bagel (valued up to $4.59) with any purchase online or in-store. This reward is valid for 60 days once credited to your MyPanera account. Plus, you’ll receive a special birthday treat and earn points towards free food, including surprise perks like free bagels for a month.

McDonald’s, free Big Mac when you download the app, and free offers

When you sign up for the MyMcDonald’s Rewards app, you get a free large fries as a welcome gift (food items may vary). After your initial purchase, you’ll continue to earn free food rewards with each visit to McDonald’s. Simply link your payment card, make a purchase, and score 1500 bonus points for a free cheeseburger, McChicken, hash browns, or vanilla cone.

Checkers/Rally’s, free Mother Cruncher, or Big Buford when you sign up for rewards

Sign up with Checkers and Rally’s to earn 250 reward points instantly after your first purchase. With every subsequent purchase, you’ll accumulate more points. Once you hit 400 points, you’ll receive a $5 reward that you can use to get free food.

Baskin-Robbins, get a free scoop of ice cream when you download the app and sign up for mobile deals

Download the Baskin-Robbins app and sign up for text message deals to score a free regular-sized scoop of your favorite ice cream.

Quiznos, get $5 off the first app order and get a free 8” sub when you invite friends and they sign up for the app

Get $5 off your initial order by downloading the Quiznos loyalty app. Celebrate your birthday with a buy-one-get-one-free offer on 8-inch subs. Refer a friend to receive a complimentary 8-inch sub when they join and use the app. Accumulate points for additional free food rewards within the app.

Krispy Kreme, get a free doughnut when sign up for the rewards program

Sign up for Krispy Kreme Rewards and score a complimentary doughnut. Earn free treats with every doughnut and coffee purchase. Plus, get exclusive perks for members. Just remember to use your rewards within 90 days.

Free meals for birthdays

Looking for a birthday treat? Many restaurants offer free meals or treats on your special day. Just join their rewards program and add your birthday to your profile when signing up.

Here’s a list of places where you can score free birthday meals, desserts, or treats:

  • Arby’s
  • Baskin-Robbins
  • Bertucci’s
  • Bonefish Grill
  • Buffalo Wild Wings
  • California Pizza Kitchen
  • Chevys Fresh Mex
  • Chipotle
  • Denny’s
  • Einstein Bros. Bagels
  • Firehouse Subs
  • Fuddruckers
  • IHOP
  • Jersey Mike’s
  • Jimmy John’s
  • Johnny Rockets
  • P.F. Chang’s
  • Red Robin
  • Starbucks
  • Waffle House
  • Zaxby’s

Free meals for veterans

On Veterans Day, many restaurants offer free meals and special deals for veterans.

Every November 11th, veterans can enjoy free or discounted meals at various restaurants.

Here is a complete list provided by Military.com.

Tips on how to make the most of your cheap eats

  • Do your research: Ask friends and family for affordable dining recommendations, browse online, or check platforms like TripAdvisor for budget-friendly eateries near you with reviews from fellow diners.
  • Keep it simple: Extra add-ons to your meal can increase costs, so opt for simpler options.
  • Share meals: Some restaurants serve large portions, so consider splitting a meal to save money. Just make sure the restaurant allows splitting and inquire about any extra charges.
  • Look for discounts: Many restaurants offer discounts for kids, seniors, or on specific days of the week.
  • Check restaurant apps: Sign up for restaurant apps to receive bonuses like free appetizers or meal discounts and earn points for free food.
  • Opt for kids’ meals: Kids’ meals often include a main dish, side, snack, and drink, sometimes with portions similar to regular menu items.
  • Complete surveys: Some receipts include surveys that can be completed for free menu items or discounts.
  • Happy hour specials: Sports bars offer discounted drinks and appetizers during specific hours, usually between 3 and 6 p.m.
  • Ask about kids eat free offers: Some restaurants offer free kids’ meals by purchasing a regular entree. Give them a call to inquire.
  • Look for unlimited toppings: Choose restaurants that offer unlimited toppings, like build-your-own pizza or salad places, to get more value for your money. Examples include Blaze Pizza or Nalley Fresh.