Stretch your budget this Valentine’s Day by saving on the big meal.
Fancy dining and casual restaurants alike are offering special menus and deals. Plus, you can eat your heart out with heart-shaped treats and meals.
Brad Plothow, vice president of corporate marketing and communications for Womply, a small-business software provider, said the holiday is a fairly typical day for local restaurants.
“While we’re projecting Valentine’s Day to be extremely busy for upscale restaurants, it also looks to be a fairly average foot traffic day at most other local spots,” Plothow said. “You’ll need a reservation for a high-end experience with a significant other, but unattached diners will find light crowds at more casual eateries.”
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According to the National Retail Federation’s annual Valentine’s Day survey, spending for the holiday is up.
The survey found that those celebrating the holiday said they plan to spend an average of $196.31, up 21% over last year’s previous record of $161.96. Spending is expected to total $27.4 billion, up 32% from last year’s record $20.7 billion.
Shoppers plan to spend $4.3 billion on an evening out, according to the survey.
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Valentine’s Day freebies and deals
The following offers are available Friday, Feb. 14, at participating locations unless otherwise noted. Some continue through the weekend. To be on the safe side, check with your closest location before heading out.
Applebee’s: The February drink of the month is the $1 Vodka Strawberry Lemonade, which is pink.
Aroma Joe’s: Get $2 rushes on Valentine’s Day and the brand also has a special Lemon, Pineapple and Grape Rush for the holiday.
Baskin-Robbins: Get $3 on cake purchases $15 or more through Friday online and with the mobile app using promo code BEMINE.
Bob Evans: Friday through Sunday, upgrade a full-priced entrée to a three-course meal for $3 extra. With the dine-in only deal, you’ll select any dinner entrée then add a soup or salad and a slice of pie for dessert.
Burger King: This is not a nationwide promotion and is only taking place at four select locations posted at www.bk.com. But scorned lovers in New York City, Los Angeles, San Francisco and Boston can bring in a printed photo of their ex to the restaurant’s “breakup boxes” for a free Whopper. The fast-food chain also has offers nationwide on its mobile app.
California Pizza Kitchen: Through Sunday, get the “Sweet Deal for Two” $35 special. Plus, for dining in through Sunday get a card with a buy-one-get-one-free offer on a return visit and chance to enter the California Wine Country Sweepstakes for a two-night stay in Sonoma, California.
Carrabba’s Italian Grill: Through Sunday, Carrabba’s has a four-course Surf & Turf dinner for two for $60.
Chuck E. Cheese: Through Friday, purchase any large pizza and get a free upgrade to an xlarge pizza.
D’Angelo Grilled Sandwiches: Get two medium sandwiches for $14 Friday through Sunday with code 7897 in restaurants and online.
Del Taco: Get a free Breakfast Toasted Wrap Friday with any purchase with an offer on The Del App or an email coupon for Raving Fan eClub members.
Dickey’s Barbecue Pit: Through March 22, get two Two Meat Plates for $24.
Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse & Wine Bar: Through Saturday, Fleming’s has a three-course Valentine’s Day menu. If you’re not looking for a deal, there also is an “all-inclusive Valentine’s Day experience” called “Wine, Dine, & Sparkle” with the “three-course dinner for two, premium champagne and a special gift from luxury jewelry brand David Yurman.” Prices range from $500 to $1,000.
Fogo de Chão: From Thursday through Sunday, every couple that dines in gets a free dining card valid while supplies last for one lunch, dinner or Sunday brunch.
Freebirds World Burrito: Dine in Friday and get free queso on top of any burrito, bowl, taco or salad or on the side.
Golden Corral: Restaurants will serve prime rib and butterfly shrimp Friday and Saturday as part of the “endless dinner buffet.”
Hardee’s: Use passcode “Say Cheese” and get a free Big Fried Cheese Frisco Breakfast Sandwich with the purchase of the sandwich during breakfast hours or a free Big Fried Cheese half-pound Angus Thickburger with the purchase of the same burger during lunch and dinner hours.
Hard Rock Cafe: Through Monday, Hard Rock has a Sips and Sweets menu and Love at First Bite menu.
Houlihan’s: Get a four-course dinner for two for $50 Friday through Sunday.
Jack in the Box: Through Sunday, the chain has a few deals. If you have the app, you can get a free Chocolate Overload Cake, Cheesecake or five-piece Mini Churros with purchase. And if you’re part of the text or email club get buy-one-get-one shakes. Offers cannot be used in same transaction.
Johnny Rockets: Through Sunday, get two burgers, two shakes and a starter for $30.
Kolache Factory: Buy a kolache, get one free Friday when you say “Happy Valentine’s Day.” No coupon needed.
Maggiano’s Little Italy: Through Sunday, the restaurant will have a special “That’s Amore!” menu with a three-course prix fixe menu. Pricing varies by location.
McAlister’s Deli: Kids eat free Friday for dine-in or carry out orders. Get up to two free kids’ meals per adult entrée purchase.
McDonald’s: The fast-food chain said it’s trying to start a new tradition: Palentine’s Day. Through Monday, get $5 off a $15 purchase with McDelivery with DoorDash and promo code LOVEMCD in the DoorDash app.
Moe’s Southwest Grill: Get a free side of queso with a burrito purchase Friday when ordered through the restaurant’s app.
Morton’s The Steakhouse: Through Sunday, there’s a steak and lobster deal for $59 and other special items.
Nékter Juice Bar: Sign up for the loyalty app Friday and get a buy-one-get-one free coupon for the 16-ounce Pink Flamingo Smoothie.
O’Charley’s Restaurant + Bar: The $39 Valentine’s Dine & Wine meal for two is available through Sunday.
Piada Italian Street Food: Get a buy-one-get-one free deal Friday.
Pie Five Pizza: On Friday get two personal pizzas for $10.99 with a coupon code that will be posted on the restaurant’s Facebook page.
Pieology: Through Saturday, get free delivery on orders placed online or through the app. Pie Life members also can get a free upgrade to the new “anti-crust” Protein Style Chicken Base for the week.
Postmates: The on-demand delivery service is partnering with 7-Eleven and Ben & Jerry’s and through Sunday is giving away free pints of ice cream. With any 7-Eleven order, select your favorite flavor at checkout and use code “happyvday.”
QDOBA Mexican Eats: Get a free entrée with purchase of an entrée Friday when you share a kiss with “anyone or anything” Friday with the chain’s “QDOBA for a Kiss” deal.
Romano’s Macaroni Grill: Through Sunday, the chain has a Valentine’s dinner for two that includes an appetizer to share, two entrees and choice of shared dessert for $45.
Ruth Chris Steak House: Through Sunday, choose from a multi-course Porterhouse Dinner for Two or a Surf & Turf special. And through Saturday, get a $25 dining card to redeem on a dinner between Feb. 17 and March 29.
Seasons 52: Couples who get engaged at the restaurant Friday get a free toast every time they dine for a year.
Slice: Through end of month, new customers to the mobile app get $5 off their first order with code PIELOVER at more than 12,000 pizza restaurants.
Sonic Drive-In: Through Sunday, get half-price shakes with promo code VALENTINE when ordering in the Sonic app. Limit five and not valid with other offers.
Stewart’s Shops: Get 50 cent ice cream cones Friday, no app or coupon needed.
Taco Cabana: Through Friday, get any shareable menu item and a pitcher of beer for $12.99.
TCBY: Get a buy-one-get-one free deal Friday.
The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf: From 2 p.m. to store closing Friday through Sunday, get a buy-one-get-one free special on beverages regular-sized or larger.
Torchy’s Tacos: Whether you are single or don’t want to share your queso with your partner, the chain will have a special $3.60 Queso for One option Friday. There also will be drink specials from 3 to 6 p.m.
UNO Pizzeria & Grill: The chain will have a three-course “Sweetheart Deal” menu this weekend. Prices vary.
Villa Italian Kitchen: With the chain’s loyalty app Friday, get cheese slices for $2.14.
Waffle House: The chain is taking reservations for Valentine’s Day where they will serve a a special menu that includes a T-bone dinner, waffles and more. Find participating locations and how to make reservations at www.wafflehouse.com.
White Castle: Buy one breakfast slider, get one free Friday. Then for dinner, the restaurant hosts its annual Valentine’s Day dinner with hostess seating and tableside service. Reserve a table and learn more at www.whitecastle.com.
Yogurtland: Get a free limited-edition giant red spoon with any $10 minimum purchase after 5 p.m. Friday.
More deals: Many smaller chains and individual restaurants also are expected to offer savings Friday.
Hooters’ free wings to ‘Shred Your Ex’
Shred a picture of your ex at participating Hooters’ locations or online at www.hooters.com/ShredYourEx and get 10 free boneless wings with the purchase of 10 wings Friday.
Heart-shaped pizza: Papa Murphy’s, Papa John’s, Pizza hut and more
Buca di Beppo: Get a “Heart-Shaped Margherita Pizza” for free Friday with any to-go order placed online. The chain also has a heart-shaped lasagna meal for two for $54.99.
California Pizza Kitchen: Through Sunday, get any pizza on a special heart-shaped crispy thin crust for no additional charge.
Giordano’s: The chain has heart-shaped pizza through Saturday.
Hungry Howie’s: Get a one-topping heart-shaped pizza for $6.99 Thursday and Friday.
Mountain Mike’s Pizza: Get a 14-inch heart-shaped pizza throughout February.
Papa Gino’s Pizzeria: Heart-shaped pizzas will be available through Friday. The pizzas come as a size small and served uncut. Toppings are available for an extra charge.
Papa John’s: Heart-shaped pizza is available for a limited time. Order using promo code VALENTINE to get for $11. Get the heart-shaped pizza with a heart-shaped brownie for $16 with promo code BEMINE. The pizza comes uncut.
Papa Murphy’s: The HeartBaker Pizza is available through Sunday.
Pizza Hut: Heart-shaped pizza is back through Sunday. Get a large heart-shaped pizza on its own for $11.99 or bundle it with a dessert for $17.99.
Heart donuts, bagels and more: Dunkin’, Krispy Kreme, Red Lobster
Auntie Anne’s: Heart-shaped pretzels are buy one, get one free Friday at participating locations nationwide for Pretzel Perks app users.
Bojangles’: For a limited time, Bojangles’ has Heart-Shaped Bo-Berry Biscuits.
Bruegger’s Bagels: Heart Bagels are back and available in plain, cinnamon raisin and blueberry. The holiday bagels can be purchased individually or by the dozen through Friday.
Chick-fil-A: Through Feb. 29, get 30-count nuggets, 10-count Chick-n-Minis or six-count chocolate chunk cookies in heart-shaped containers.
Cinnabon: Heart-shaped CinnaPacks are available for a limited time at mall bakeries and Pilot Flying J locations nationwide.
Dairy Queen: Special February items include the Double Fudge Cookie Dough Blizzard and the heart-shaped Double Fudge Cookie Dough TreatHeart Cakes.
Dunkin’: Get heart-shaped donuts and Valentine’s Day pink drinks – the Pink Velvet Macchiato and Pink Velvet Signature Latte. Through Saturday, get a free half dozen of donuts with free delivery when you place a $10 minimum order through Grubhub. Plus, for a limited time, get a 10-count box of Munchkins donut hole treats for $2.
Einstein Bros. Bagels: Through Friday, the chain will have heart bagels in plain, chocolate chip and cinnamon raisin.
Krispy Kreme: Get heart-shaped Conversation Heart doughnuts through Valentine’s Day with a limited-edition gift box, while supplies last. The heart-shaped doughnuts have four different fillings and are topped with one of 24 sayings.
Portillo’s: Through Sunday, get a heart-shaped version of the restaurant’s Famous Chocolate Cake for $15.99.
Red Lobster: The chain has limited-edition “You’re My Lobster” heart-shaped boxes with Cheddar Bay Biscuits.
Slim Chickens: Through Saturday, the chain has heart-shaped waffles.
Tim Hortons: Buy a beverage from 2 p.m. to close Friday and get a free heart-shaped donut.
Popeyes’ Red Velvet Cake Cup
For a limited time starting with Valentine’s Day Friday, Popeyes has a new seasonal dessert – the Red Velvet Cake Cup. The dessert features red velvet cake covered with vanilla frosting. It’s available in Popeyes restaurants nationwide at a suggested price of $2.49.
Olive Garden breadstick bouquet and more
Boston Market: Stop by your local Boston Market and pick up a “BAE-by Back Ribs Bouquet,” an arrangement with a dozen baby back ribs glazed with Sweet Baby Ray’s hickory barbecue sauce. The bouquet only available Friday is $29.99.
Olive Garden: Starting Thursday, get a bouquet of Olive Garden’s buttery breadsticks in its Valentine’s Day ToGo Dinner for Two. At $34.99, the deal also includes soup or salad, five cheese marinara or alfredo dipping sauces, shareable Five Cheese Ziti al Forno or chicken alfredo, and a shareable Black Tie Mousse Cake or Tiramisu for dessert.
Tyson: The brand is holding a “Chicken Nugget Bouquet Contest” with a chance to win a grand prize of $10,000 for a romantic getaway and a year’s supply of Tyson chicken nuggets. To enter, create a chicken nugget bouquet and share a photo of the finished product by tweeting @TysonBrand with the hashtag #nuggetbouquetcontest. The deadline is 8 p.m. ET Feb. 17. Residents in Arizona, Connecticut, Maryland and North Dakota cannot participate, according to the contest rules.
Contributing: Megan Marples, Arizona Republic
Follow USA TODAY reporter Kelly Tyko on Twitter: @KellyTyko