How I had a day of FREE food & drink – and you can too

Including free Warburtons crumpets, Greggs hot drink, Taco Bell, and more

They say there's no such thing as a free lunch, but I'm here to prove otherwise. In fact, it's possible to get a free breakfast, lunch, dinner, snacks and drinks, if you know where to look. Come along with me on my day of free feasting, and I'll show you how you can do it too.

Before I start, this is just an example of how you can claim free food via a variety of deals, app offers and reward schemes. In some cases, you can only redeem certain items on specific days or times, so while I've said it's 'one day', you may not be able to claim all the below at once.

I hope knowing where and how you can pick up a free coffee or something to eat is a help. And of course, even if you don't want a freebie yourself, you could pass it on to someone who needs it.

Here's how my free day of food and drink began...

🕗 8am: Breakfast – what I went for

FREE crumpets with jam at Morrisons Café

When you can claim it: Any day from café open to close until Sunday 14 April or while stock lasts

My first port of call for the day was to my local Morrisons Café (find your nearest*) to claim a free portion of Warburtons crumpets with butter and jam. All I had to do was go to the till and utter three little words – "Ask for Ellen".

Ellen Warburton is the founder of Warburtons in case you were wondering why it's Ellen. Warburtons has teamed up with Morrisons Café (as it did during October half-term and the last summer holidays) to offer this freebie at all 397 Morrisons Cafés, with 100,000 portions available.

It couldn't have been easier to claim – it almost felt like I was part of a secret club when 'asking for Ellen' and getting two free crumpets in return – though now the secret's well and truly out.

As you can claim this freebie any time during café opening hours, even if you don't fancy it first thing, you can still get it as a light lunch or snack later in the day.

If the above freebie doesn't tickle your taste buds, not to worry as I've a second way to blag a free brekkie, though you will need to be an O2 mobile or Virgin Media broadband customer.

Breakfast alternative

FREE Greggs breakfast or sausage roll, or cheese & onion bake (normally up to £2.95) via Priority

When you can claim it: Fridays or Saturdays from 7am

To kick start the weekend nicely, O2 mobile and Virgin Media broadband customers with the Priority loyalty app (free for Android and iPhone) can nab a code for a free £2.95 breakfast roll, £1.45 sausage roll, vegan sausage roll or a £2.35 cheese and onion bake at Greggs. You can only claim this freebie once a week on a Friday or Saturday, and there are only 25,000 codes released on each of the days.

The app will give you a unique code that you need to show to staff when ordering. You must display it live from the Priority app – screenshots won't be accepted.

  • Excluded Greggs locations

    The offer can't be used at: MOTO forecourts – Doncaster, Ferrybridge, Toddington North & South, Heston, Hilton Park, Lancaster, Southwaite North, Trowell, Leigh Del East & West, Knutsford, Heston East, Frankly North & South, Donnington Park, Trowell South, Wetherby.

With breakfast done, it was soon time for a mid-morning hot drink. Grabbing a takeaway coffee can be a pricey treat (or an essential, some might say), but spoiler alert... this one's costing us nowt. For the free hot drink I got you'll need to be an O2 or Virgin Media broadband customer, but if you're not, I've two more free hot drink offers below, so hopefully you'll be able to claim at least one.

🕙 10am: Coffee break – what I went for

FREE Greggs hot drink (normally up to £3.35) via Priority

When you can claim it: Any day from 7am, once a week

A takeaway coffee always feels like a little treat to me, so getting one for free tastes all that bit sweeter. As I'm with O2 mobile (this'll work for Virgin Media broadband customers too), I've got access to the free Priority app (for Android or iPhone), where you can get a code for a free takeaway hot drink at Greggs once a week – though do note you can't use it on the same day as the free Greggs food offer above.

A limited number of codes are released each day, so it's best to go quick as often they're all gone by around midday – something I learnt the hard way.

And be warned, once you claim a code, it's only valid for 30 minutes. I claimed one, then as luck would have it, I had to attend a brief work meeting which left me with only 12 minutes spare to dash to the Greggs nearest MSE Towers. Little did I know my recent half-marathon training would also be useful for a scenario like this. I legged it the half a kilometre (and two flights of stairs might I add) that separated me from my free vanilla latte, managing to get my code scanned at the till in the nick of time.

You can choose one item in any size (regular or large) from the following, depending on availability:

Cappuccino, Latte, Speciality Latte, Flat White, Espresso, Hot Chocolate, Mocha, or Speciality Tea (Green or Peppermint) Up to £3.35
Americano or White Coffee Up to £2.35
Tea Up to £1.55
  • Excluded Greggs locations

    The offer can't be used at: MOTO forecourts – Doncaster North, Ferrybridge, Toddington North & South, Heston East, Hilton Park North, Lancaster North & South, Southwaite North, Trowell North & South, Leigh Delamare East & West, Rugby, Frankley North & South, Donnington Park and Wetherby.

If you don't have access to the Priority app, there are other ways to claim a free Greggs hot drink, including if you're new to the Greggs app. Here's how...

Coffee break alternatives

FREE hot drink (normally up to £3.35) via Greggs app

When you can claim it: Any day, up to 31 days after sign up

If you're a newbie to the Greggs app (free on iPhone and Android), you can get a completely free hot drink as a welcome treat. 

This will appear as 'Free reward' in your app and it will expire 31 days after it's applied to your account. It works on any size drink, on any day of the week – simply show the reward when you're at a Greggs to claim it.

FREE Greggs hot drink (normally up to £2.35) via Octoplus

When you can claim it: Any day, once a week

Octopus Energy customers need to download and open the Octopus app (free for iPhone and Android) and then opt in to Octoplus for free – it's in that section of the app you'll find the offer of a free takeaway regular hot drink at Greggs.

Every Monday, Octopus releases codes, and there's a limited amount available on a first-come, first-served basis, so go quick if you want it. Codes are for that week only (Monday until 11.59pm on Sunday) – just show it at a Greggs store (any, excluding MOTO forecourts) to redeem.

Unlike Priority, the Octoplus code will only work on regular-sized drinks.

Deals hunting can really build up an appetite, so after successfully spending a grand total of zero on breakfast and a mid-morning drink, it was time to grab some lunch.

🕐 1pm: Lunch

FREE Taco Bell crunchy taco (normally £1.69)

When you can claim it: Any day

Here, there's no need to crunch the numbers, just the taco, as it's completely free if you're new to the Taco Bell app (free for iPhone and Android). This saved me £1.69, and I just had to present a QR code within the app at the till in-store – no minimum spend required, so you can just get the taco.

There are 140+ Taco Bell restaurants in the UK (find your nearest). This offer's valid any day of the week, though you'll only have 30 days from signing up to redeem it.

Time for an afternoon break to run some errands, and of course, be on the lookout for more free food. I got lucky when I checked my M&S app...

🕒 3pm: Running errands – what I managed to claim

FREE food via M&S app and Sparks membership

When you can claim it: Limited amount of time, usually up to 14 days when offer appears

Signing up to M&S' free Sparks membership and linking it with the M&S app (free for iPhone and Android) can be a great way to bag occasional freebies.

As luck would have it, I checked the app and to my delight I was offered a free loaf of M&S farmhouse bread that would normally cost £1.30, and of course will feed me beyond just one day.

The app deals tend to be account specific, so I can't promise you'll receive the same as me, and it's unlikely you'll be offered a freebie immediately, but it's worth checking the app regularly. In the past, I've also had a free bag of Percy Pigs, and a free pack of cookies (simply for having the app for a year).

Check the 'Sparks offers' section of the app and make sure you add a deal to your account if you see a reward, offer or freebie you want to claim – you'll then need to scan your app at the till.

As not everyone will receive a freebie in the M&S app, I've an alternative idea for how you can claim a free afternoon snack...

Afternoon snack alternative

FREE Krispy Kreme doughnut when joining its rewards scheme (normally £2.65)

When you can claim it: Any day at Krispy Kreme or Tesco, within 30 days of sign up

If you haven't signed up to Krispy Kreme Rewards before, you can get a free original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut just for doing so. It would normally cost up to £2.65, so you're saving some decent dough.

When registering, you'll need to decide whether you want to pick up your free doughnut from a Krispy Kreme store or at Tesco – you'll then be sent an email on how to claim it.

As we head into the evening, with work finished, I wanted to wash down today's free food. So, a post-work pint (or wine or cocktail) really hit the spot...

🕔 5pm: Early evening drink – what I went for

FREE drink at 400+ England & Wales pubs (normally up to £9.50)

When you can claim it: Thursdays from 5pm to 7pm

I went back to the Priority app for this one – I went along to a Sizzling pub with a friend and I was able to claim a code through Priority for one free drink (luckily my mate was able to do the same). The offer's also available at O'Neill's and Ember Inns pubs in England and Wales, on Thursdays from 5pm to 7pm.

Only 6,000 codes are released at 5pm on a first-come, first-served basis, so it's best to grab your code quickly.

You can choose one drink from the below, depending on availability, and there are some soft drinks included. Please be Drinkaware.

Cocktails: Aperol Spritz, Long Island Iced Tea or Sex on the Beach £8.95-£9.50
Wine, 175ml: House Pinot Grigio, Barefoot White Zinfandel or Gallo Family Vineyards Cabernet Sauvignon £4-£7
Draught cider, pint: Magners or Strongbow £5.95-£6.50
Draught lager & stout, pint: Carling, Tennents, Guinness £4-£7
Bottled beer, 300ml: Daura Damm £6
Bottled soft drinks, 275ml-330ml: Diet Coke, Coca-Cola, J2O Apple & Mango or J2O Orange & Passionfruit £4.15-£4.35

It was time to round off a successful day of freebies with dinner.

🕖 7pm: Dinner – what I went for

'Free' main meal at Bella Italia (normally £10-£17)

When you can claim it: Any day of the week, within 14 days of sign up

Admittedly, this isn't a total freebie, but if you dine out with someone else at Bella Italia (find your nearest), you can get a main meal for free when you sign up to the Bella Italia newsletter and purchase one main meal from the A La Carte menu.

Essentially, it's a 2for1 deal, and rather than splitting the cost, I had the free meal this time, and my friend will have the free meal on our next Bella Italia dinner date, as they'll be able to sign up and get a voucher themselves for next time.

If you'd rather eat in than eat out, I've got a suggestion for how you can have dinner at home for free too...

Dinner alternative

Grab free grub from neighbours and local businesses via the Olio app

When you can claim it: Any day depending on availability, just check the app

Here's a way to pick up food items for free that you may be able to use to make a decent dinner, depending on availability.

The Olio app (free for iPhone and Android) allows people to offer food they no longer want or need for free (perhaps they bought too much, or are going away for the week so won't have time to eat it before it goes off). 

It's not just people living locally, as some supermarkets and businesses such as Pret a Manger – as well as independent cafes, bakeries and shops – have also jumped on board to offer up leftovers at the end of the day.

All you have to do is download and sign up to the Olio app, pop in your postcode and search the listings of freebies near you. When I checked my local area, people were giving away pakora curry, burger buns, tins of food, and plenty more. Of course, what you can get will differ all the time, but you may just manage to find the right ingredients for a free tasty dinner.