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10 Ways to Eat Free

10 Ways to Eat Free

I’ve been homeless and had no money, but it’s comforting to know that there are ways to stay alive and keep chugging on if you fall on hard times. If you ever find yourself down and out, here are ten ways to feed yourself for free, at least in the US.

1. Pizza Joints

Pizza Hut and other pizza joints are often amenable to giving away extra pies that result from ordering mistakes. Go in the morning and ask them to put aside any mistake pizzas for you, then swing by later that afternoon to see if they have anything. If you’re friendly, they may give you a slice even if they had no mistaken orders that day.

2. Soup Kitchens

The US is littered with soup kitchens, even in small cities. Usually, there’s an unwritten schedule, meaning that the soup kitchens stagger their service days and times to coordinate with one another so that there’s a meal in town on most days. The homeless in your area will know which kitchens are the best and can recommend a schedule of when to visit which ones. Soup kitchens are a wonderful source of a free meal. You’ll meet some nice people at them, and they may even have canned goods to take with you.

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3. Catholic Missions

Catholic Missions often have a day of the week (typically Sundays), where the poor can come by to pick up cans of food. These Missions collect food donations from their parishioners throughout the week. Many church attendees brings extra cans of food with them to the Sunday service. You may be asked to sit through the service before donations are given out, which is a nice time to give thanks for life and consciousness. And if you’ve been homeless long enough, you may look something like the great man portrayed on the wall.

4. The Dumpster

It’s not as gross as it sounds. Supermarkets must throw out food that has passed its expiration date because they can no longer sell it. If you can fish it out of the trash on the day it is thrown out, the food is still good. This is particularly true of frozen items. There is typically one day per week when market staff throw out items from the frozen section. You want to know that day, and visit the dumpster that night, or early the next morning. The food may even still be cold. If you have a pet, you can also find great dog or cat food this way. Since supermarket dumpsters are typically large and hidden behind the store, not too many folks will see you rummaging, and if you know the market’s schedule, you can make a quick, strategic strike.

5. Restaurants

Go around to the back of restaurants and find the service entrance. You’ll often see cooks and sometimes waiters setting up for service or smoking. Ask them politely if you could come back after closing and pick up any left over bread they would normally just throw out. They may be happy to give you a bag of bread at the end of the day, or they might even have a plate of food waiting for you. Look for small, friendly restaurants, especially those with a hippie vibe. Even in jurisdictions where restaurants are not supposed to give away left over food, the small, local joints may still work with you.

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6. Ashrams, Communities and Temples

Many intentional communities will exchange meals for volunteer help, especially physical labor. You can work in the garden, in construction, feeding animals, or cutting vegetables. Most of these communities will also require adherence to and participation in the community’s spiritual life and practices. If you’re open to different cultures and experiences, you can have an interesting learning experience, make a few friends, and stay fit, full and healthy while you plan your next move. Or you might just stay.

7. Food Pantries

Food pantries are larger commercial operations that supply soup kitchens and charities. They often receive donations in great quantities from food distributors and manufacturers. While they may be outside of town or a little out of the way, you can ask to volunteer at these sites as they often need help sorting through donations to check for spoiled food, broken containers, expiration dates, and any signs of the food having been excessively exposed to the elements. They are typically happy to exchange food for service, and you may even have access to a greater amount of food that is determined to not pass muster for their use.

8. The Hippie Circuit

So you have all these cans of food. Where do you cook them? Many campgrounds or wooded areas around towns, and in particular state and national parks, have small groups living in them that share food and camp together. There is often a communal fire and meal pot at the end of the day, where donated cans of food may be combined to make a great stew or soup for everyone. In addition, hippie gatherings such as regional Rainbow Family events, often have free kitchens that serve whoever shows up. You can even follow these groups of nomads and kitchens from place to place if you can catch a ride. Or heck, join a tribe and become a permanent nomad!

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9. Spange

Spanging (asking for change on the street) does not have to be demeaning to you or annoying to others. Think of something creative that brings a smile to others, and be clear you are in need of donations. It could be as simple as singing a song, reciting poetry, or making a clever drawing with a riddle on it. Collecting spare change is not too hard, and a good two hours at a busy location should provide you with enough change to buy a meal.

10. Ask Nicely

There are many generous souls in this world who will help if you ask respectfully and sincerely. You can park yourself outside a Subway sandwich shop with a sign that reads, “If you don’t need the other half, I’ll eat it.” Asking works best at sandwich and sub shops where people can get a 12″ instead of a 6″ and give you half, or give you the other half of their sandwich they were just going to throw out. Asking nicely applies to every aspect of being down and out. If you need a blanket, a jacket, boots, or help finding work, try keeping your head screwed on straight and asking for help.

While many of us live in the most wealthy and developed parts of the world, we fear losing our jobs and having no money. We worry where our next meal will come from and where we will live. There are many great places to live free (I’ll do a top ten soon), but this top ten should give you confidence you’ll be able to eat free even if you experience hard times.

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Featured photo credit: 123RF via 123rf.com

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Last Updated on March 13, 2019

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

How to Get out of a Rut: 12 Useful Ways to Get Unstuck

Have you gotten into a rut before? Or are you in a rut right now?

You know you’re in a rut when you run out of ideas and inspiration. I personally see a rut as a productivity vacuum. It might very well be a reason why you aren’t getting results. Even as you spend more time on your work, you can’t seem to get anything constructive done. While I’m normally productive, I get into occasional ruts (especially when I’ve been working back-to-back without rest). During those times, I can spend an entire day in front of the computer and get nothing done. It can be quite frustrating.

Over time, I have tried and found several methods that are helpful to pull me out of a rut. If you experience ruts too, whether as a working professional, a writer, a blogger, a student or other work, you will find these useful. Here are 12 of my personal tips to get out of ruts:

1. Work on the small tasks.

When you are in a rut, tackle it by starting small. Clear away your smaller tasks which have been piling up. Reply to your emails, organize your documents, declutter your work space, and reply to private messages.

Whenever I finish doing that, I generate a positive momentum which I bring forward to my work.

2. Take a break from your work desk.

Get yourself away from your desk and go take a walk. Go to the washroom, walk around the office, go out and get a snack.

Your mind is too bogged down and needs some airing. Sometimes I get new ideas right after I walk away from my computer.

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3. Upgrade yourself

Take the down time to upgrade yourself. Go to a seminar. Read up on new materials (#7). Pick up a new language. Or any of the 42 ways here to improve yourself.

The modern computer uses different typefaces because Steve Jobs dropped in on a calligraphy class back in college. How’s that for inspiration?

4. Talk to a friend.

Talk to someone and get your mind off work for a while.

Talk about anything, from casual chatting to a deep conversation about something you really care about. You will be surprised at how the short encounter can be rejuvenating in its own way.

5. Forget about trying to be perfect.

If you are in a rut, the last thing you want to do is step on your own toes with perfectionist tendencies.

Just start small. Do what you can, at your own pace. Let yourself make mistakes.

Soon, a little trickle of inspiration will come. And then it’ll build up with more trickles. Before you know it, you have a whole stream of ideas.

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6. Paint a vision to work towards.

If you are continuously getting in a rut with your work, maybe there’s no vision inspiring you to move forward.

Think about why you are doing this, and what you are doing it for. What is the end vision in mind?

Make it as vivid as possible. Make sure it’s a vision that inspires you and use that to trigger you to action.

7. Read a book (or blog).

The things we read are like food to our brain. If you are out of ideas, it’s time to feed your brain with great materials.

Here’s a list of 40 books you can start off with. Stock your browser with only the feeds of high quality blogs, such as Lifehack.org, DumbLittleMan, Seth Godin’s Blog, Tim Ferris’ Blog, Zen Habits or The Personal Excellence Blog.

Check out the best selling books; those are generally packed with great wisdom.

8. Have a quick nap.

If you are at home, take a quick nap for about 20-30 minutes. This clears up your mind and gives you a quick boost. Nothing quite like starting off on a fresh start after catching up on sleep.

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9. Remember why you are doing this.

Sometimes we lose sight of why we do what we do, and after a while we become jaded. A quick refresher on why you even started on this project will help.

What were you thinking when you thought of doing this? Retrace your thoughts back to that moment. Recall why you are doing this. Then reconnect with your muse.

10. Find some competition.

Nothing quite like healthy competition to spur us forward. If you are out of ideas, then check up on what people are doing in your space.

Colleagues at work, competitors in the industry, competitors’ products and websites, networking conventions.. you get the drill.

11. Go exercise.

Since you are not making headway at work, might as well spend the time shaping yourself up.

Sometimes we work so much that we neglect our health and fitness. Go jog, swim, cycle, whichever exercise you prefer.

As you improve your physical health, your mental health will improve, too. The different facets of ourselves are all interlinked.

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Here’re 15 Tips to Restart the Exercise Habit (and How to Keep It).

12. Take a good break.

Ruts are usually signs that you have been working too long and too hard. It’s time to get a break.

Beyond the quick tips above, arrange for a 1-day or 2-days of break from your work. Don’t check your (work) emails or do anything work-related. Relax and do your favorite activities. You will return to your work recharged and ready to start.

Contrary to popular belief, the world will not end from taking a break from your work. In fact, you will be much more ready to make an impact after proper rest. My best ideas and inspiration always hit me whenever I’m away from my work.

Take a look at this to learn the importance of rest: The Importance of Scheduling Downtime

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Featured photo credit: Joshua Earle via unsplash.com

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