13 Ways to Get Food for Free
Be a mystery shopper. Take a walk in the woods. Chat up your green-thumbed neighbor. If you're tired of paying for food, you can stop doing it. Here are 13 ways to get food for free.
Be a Mystery Shopper
Become a mystery shopper and you can enjoy free meals out on the town, or even get paid for it. Restaurants want to know how they're doing, so they pay people to pose as regular customers. You go out to eat, and when you get home you fill out a brief survey. Easy!
To get in on the action, sign up with any of several mystery shopping sites. Then watch their shop boards for restaurant gigs. If you see a gig you want, grab it. The best get snatched up almost as soon as they're listed.
Free offers are abundant on the internet. Find a deal blog that you like and check it regularly to stay on top of the latest food freebies. Every cereal, granola bar, and snack sample you secure is one that you don't have to buy.
Barter for Food
Barter your skills and services for the foods you like to eat. Trade a quick car repair or a bit of mending work for free produce from someone's garden, a cake, a home-cooked meal, or some home-canned goodies. Food is an awesome currency.
Join the Gardeners' Network
Know someone with a bumper crop of zucchini or tomatoes? Let them know you'd be happy to take their extras. Gardeners are always looking for someone on whom they can pass off their surplus.
Festivals, church events, meetings, grand openings, and receptions often include food. Keep a lookout for any social event that offers free food, then join the party. You can easily knock out one meal a week this way, even if it's just light hors d'oeuvres. Free is free.
Annuals get all of the attention in the world of edible plants, but perennials are the real bargain. Start a garden of perennial herbs, vegetables, fruits, and legumes, and every harvest after the first will be free.
Fill Out Receipt Surveys
Don't ignore those surveys at the bottom of restaurant receipts. They're a great way to score free food. A few minutes spent answering questions about your meal could net you a free appetizer, dessert, or entree.
Where do all of those grocery store cast-offs go? Usually straight into the dumpster. There's a thriving subculture known as freeganism, which attempts to put that waste to good use. Join a freegan organization in your town, or go dumpster-diving on your own.
Sign Up for Consumer Test Panels
Become a product tester for food manufacturers and try new products before they hit store shelves. You'll get free full-size products to try, plus cash or a gift card for sharing your opinion.
Eat While You Shop
Warehouse stores and high-end grocery stores are known for their generous free samples. Hit the free sample stations throughout the store, and you may find that you can skip lunch.
Set aside a few minutes each day to enter sweepstakes with restaurant meals and groceries as prizes. Someone has to win, so why not you?