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15 Ways to Eat Free That You Probably Didn’t Know

15 Ways to Eat Free That You Probably Didn’t Know

Getting enough food can be a challenge in today’s economy. They say the average American makes nearly $40,000 per year but for it to be an average means that people need to make more than that and a bunch of people make less than that. Most of us aren’t so broke as to starve but getting enough to eat is important when you want to be healthy. Here are some ways you can score some free grub.

1. Accept invitations to eat with friends

Kirby eating food gif

    People are always throwing dinner parties or asking if anyone wants to accompany them to go out to eat. You should start saying yes to these invitations. Even if they don’t pay for a full meal like they do for themselves, you can still gorge on free stuff like salad and bread sticks or enjoy an appetizer at their expensive. Dinner parties rock because you can not only eat your fill but they’ll usually be cool with you taking home some leftovers.

    2. Accept invitations to eat with your boss.

    It can seem like a bad idea but your boss doesn’t pay for their lunch, the company does. If you don’t mind the awkwardness of talking to the person who bosses you around all day long, you can end up with some pretty good food. Some of your coworkers may call you a brown-nose employee but free food is free food.

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    3. Work in the food industry.

    This is by far the easiest way to score some free food. Restaurants don’t have to feed their employees but it’s always easy to score free food pretty much all day long. In many cases if you close, your restaurant may throw away a lot of perfectly good food at night. While it’s typically against regulations, you can sneak that food home and eat it later. I used to do this all the time with the 3 am doughnut throwaway at Tim Horton’s when I worked there. In sit-down restaurants, things like send-backs can be a free meal for you.

    4. Take home leftovers

    In those cases when you do buy food, make sure you bring your leftovers home. A good strategy (especially for places like Red Lobster and Olive Garden with their unlimited bread items) is to ask for the free menu items before asking for a doggy bag. There’s nothing wrong with taking home a cup of pasta, six breadsticks, and a mound of free salad.

    5. Ask others for their leftovers

    When eating out you may notice people leaving their food when they get up to leave. It’s a little humiliating at first but eventually you’ll get the hang of asking people for their leftovers. Most are pretty understanding because these are tough times. Some may be offended but you can’t let them get you down. If you snipe a couple of good tables, you can get two or three days worth of food for free that would’ve been otherwise thrown away.

    6. Find free samples

    Large stores like CostCo, Walmart, Sam’s Club, and more regional stores like Publix often have free samples available for you to try. We’re not saying you should raid the plate because that’s a horrible idea and you’ll likely get thrown out. A better strategy is to browse and eat everything. If you do it right you can usually find a few hundred calories worth of food which can make a good snack or a decent light lunch.

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    7. Carefully browse your local restaurant dumpsters

    This one can also seem humiliating but there are actually groups of people who do this on a daily basis. They eat very well and pay nothing for it. Remember earlier when we talked about how people leave their food on the table and it just gets thrown away? Well you can still get to it via the dumpster. Many stores also toss a bunch of perfectly good food at the end of every night. It can seem a little gross and you should absolutely and thoroughly cook anything you find, but you wouldn’t believe how much perfectly good food you can find in the garbage on a fresh run.

    8. Go hunting or fishing

    Our ancestors were eating free long before grocery stores by killing animals and eating them. You can eat almost anything as long as it is properly cooked. If you can go knock off a good sized deer then you can end up with pounds upon pounds of lean, protein rich meat. You can then dry it out, turn it into jerky, and that can last you for months. Fishing is equally effective and it’s relatively easy to do. Filleting a fish isn’t difficult and cooking them can be fun. In most states, you can get a hunting and fishing license for cheap.

    9. Barter services for food

    eat free

      This is one I do on occasion that can be a lot of fun. Offer to do the dishes for a sandwich at a friend’s house. Offer to mow the lawn for a little bit of groceries. People always have jobs to do but maybe not the cash to pay you for the work. However, almost everyone has food that they’re willing to trade. I’ve done laundry, cleaned houses, mowed lawns, and even shoveled driveways in the winter for food. It seems like it’s humiliating and it may be hard to ask but remember that you’re earning your food so it’s not begging.

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      10. Find public events that offer free food

      Many communities toss events that have free food. In my community, we have a little park that has a forest trail and some baseball fields. A couple of times a year, people get together, have a BBQ, and we walk through and clean the place up. With so many people tossing burgers, ribs, chicken, and hot dogs on the grill, it’s very easy to get someone to give you a little bit. Find similar events in your area and attend. You can not only eat like a champ but take your Tupperware set because people always bring too many chips or make too much pasta salad. That can be yours for the low, low price of free.

      11. Find soup kitchens

      Finding a soup kitchen can net you a free meal immediately if you need it that badly. It’s free calories and you’re around people who understand the idea of needing a hot meal. If you’re feeling good, you can also offer to help out and volunteer at the soup kitchen so you can help feed the homeless and yourself simultaneously. These places usually use their food until it is gone so it’s unlikely that you’ll take any home with you. Plus, this food is going to help people eat. It’s probably not a good idea to take it anyway.

      12. Use social media

      Social media sites like Foursquare are awash in free food deals. It’s an amazing place for restaurants to advertise and many will pop up a Foursquare deal that gives people who check in for their first time a free dish. It gets people in the door and gives them a chance to sample the wares to see if they’ll be repeat customers. This is a great opportunity to not only score some free food, but scope out some of the lesser-known restaurants in your area for those times when you do pay for food.

      13. There’s a reason people love continental breakfasts.

      When you travel, always book a place with a continental breakfast. You can get some free bagels, cereal, waffles, and other breakfast items. With stuff like bagels, bread, and cereal, you can always grab a bit to take with you for a snack later. If you’re really down on your luck, you can always try to crash a continental breakfast and grab something small.

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      14. Grow some food

      Another great way to get free food is to grow it yourself! You can obtain seeds from other vegetables or from seed stores for relatively cheap. Then you grow it, harvest it, and save the seeds for another round of growing. Once you get that original garden going, it’s easy to get materials to grow more later. Depending on the size of your yard or your plot of land, you can get a fairly decent amount of vegetables.

      15. Gather naturally growing food

      If growing things aren’t your thing, you can always find the plants that nature has grown for you. There are a metric ton of fruit trees and bushes practically everywhere. Make sure you do your research to make sure you’re not picking something that’s poisonous. When I was a kid, my grandmother’s house had a bunch of blackberry bushes in the woods behind the house. We would go and pick them by the basket and use them to adorn pancakes, make pies, or just rinse and eat. It’s nature and it’s free.

      Never should you break the law to obtain food. Using these tips you can take a sizable chunk out of your food budget and still eat.

      Featured photo credit: Flirt Pattaya via flirt-pattaya.com

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      Joseph Hindy

      A writer, editor, and YouTuber who likes to share about technology and lifestyle tips.

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      Last Updated on July 10, 2020

      The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

      The Definitive Guide to Get out of Debt Fast (and Forever)

      Debt can feel crushing, like a weight that is always weighing you down. Looking at those numbers, it can feel as if you’ll never get out from under it. However, if you really want to learn how to get out of debt, it is possible with a great deal of focus and self-control.

      Getting out of debt isn’t impossible. Like any big goal, all that it takes is an action plan to identify where you are and creating a plan to zero out your debt.

      Identifying All of Your Debts

      The first part of paying off your debt is getting a complete picture of what you owe. When you have everything written out in front of you, it makes it much easier to create an action plan. Depending on how much you owe, it might also help you realize it’s not as bad you might have originally thought.

      Here’s how you can get started identifying your debts:

      1. Own Your Debt

      Before you start identifying all of your debts, take a moment to process that you have debt but want to get out of it.

      Forgive yourself for any past mistakes, missed payments, or overspending. It might be painful to accept how much debt you have at first, but you must own it.

      2. Make a Debt Tracker

      It’s astonishing how few people ever created a tracker to understand their total debts. Most likely, it comes from not wanting to accept the guilt of having debt, but, if avoided, it can make it nearly impossible to get out of debt.

      Open up a new Google or Microsoft Excel sheet and list out all of your debts. Start with the name of the creditor, interest rates, total balance, loan term length (if any), and the minimum amount due each payment. This will include student loans, credit cards, and any other type of debt owed.

      3. Get Your Debt Number

      Once you’ve made your debt tracker and taken the other steps, identify your total payoff number. This is crucial, as you will have a starting point and a clear goal that you are trying to achieve.

      Prioritizing Your Debts

      All debt is not created equal. It’s imperative to understand that there are different types of debt.

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      1. Understand Bad and Good Debts

      Bad debts are usually paying for things you want instead of always need. While there might be some emergencies that max out your credit cards, often times it’s excessive spending[1].

      There are three main types of bad debt:

      • Credit Card Debt: The average American household owes over $16,000 in credit card debt!
      • Auto Loan Debt: According to CNBC , the average auto loan in the US is $30,032!
      • Consumer Loan Debt: Consumer loan debt isn’t as common as credit card and auto loan debt, but it’s still considered bad as interest rates are usually between 10-28%.

      Good debt is identified as investments in your future. Here are three common types of good debt:

      • Student Loan Debt
      • Mortgage Loan
      • Business Loans

      2. Decide Which Debt to Pay off First

      Once you know each type of debt and their interest rates, you can begin to pay off debt quickly.

      Focus on paying off bad debt first, regardless of if it is a credit card or auto loan. Start by paying off the loan with the highest interest rate first.

      If you have several credit cards with different interest rates, you want to focus on the one with a higher APR. You will actually save more money by eliminating the card with the highest interest rate.

      3. Don’t Pay the Minimum Amount

      Paying the minimum amount digs you into a hole as interest rates will offset your payment. Even a small amount more than the minimum can help you pay off debt much faster.

      Removing Obstacles to Pay off Debt Quickly

      Creating a debt tracker and prioritizing a plan is simple, but avoiding temptation can be difficult.

      1. Set a Reminder to Track Your Debt

      “If you can’t measure it you can’t manage it.” -Peter Drucker

      It’s so important to track your debt to ensure that you get it paid off quickly. Similar to working out and measuring your results, you need to track your debt constantly. Start with a weekly reminder, where you sign on and log your updated number. Did you increase, decrease, or stay the same?

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      Regularly tracking your student loan balance can be incredibly motivating, as well. You will get a huge confidence boost each time you see your total debt amount decreases.

      Set weekly and monthly goals so you can have short term wins and keep the momentum going.

      2. Hide Your Credit Cards

      If your biggest debt is credit cards, you need to eliminate temptation and remove them from your wallet.

      Some people have gone to extreme measures by freezing their credit cards. Why? This would create an ice block around your card, which would require you to chip away at it slowly. This will give you time to think if it’s the best idea to buy that thing you’re about to buy.

      3. Automate Everything

      Willpower can be a huge downfall to paying off your debt. By automating your bills each month, you will ensure that willpower isn’t involved.

      4. Plan Ahead

      Getting out of debt will require some sacrifices, but with enough planning, you can make it work.

      For example, if you know that you have a friend’s birthday or family dinner coming up, plan ahead for the costs. Whether you need to cut back on spending the week before, pick up a side job, or meet them after dinner, do what is needed.

      5. Live Cheaply

      The only way to get out of debt is to make some sacrifices on your spending habits. Find ways to save money each month so you can apply that amount to your outstanding debts. Here are some ways to save money each month:

      • Live with roommates
      • Cook dinners and prepare lunches for work instead of eating out
      • Cut cable and choose Netflix or Amazon Prime
      • Take public transit or bike to work

      Finding the Lowest Interest Rates

      The higher your interest rates, the harder (and longer) it will take you to pay off any debt.

      If possible, you want to find ways to lower your interest rates to help get out of debt quickly. Here’s how you can get started:

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      1. Maintain a High Credit Score

      Your credit score will have a large impact on your ability to refinance your loans and receive a lower interest rate. If you have a low credit score, it’s unlikely you will be able to refinance your loans. Use these credit tips to increase and maintain an excellent score:

      • Never miss a payment
      • Don’t exceed 30% of your credit limit
      • Don’t sign up for more than one card at once
      • Limit hard inquires, like auto-loans and new credit cards
      • Monitor frequently with free credit-tracking software

      2. Find Balance Transfer Offers

      Start by opening a free account on credit.com. Credit.com offers you the chance to open a free account and see what type of balance transfer offers you can receive. Some of your existing credit cards might already have 0% or lower APR balance transfer offers available.

      Contact each of your credit card providers to ask about lowering your rate for a one-time balance transfer offer[2].

      If you do take advantage of this option, make sure that you use a balance transfer and not a cash advance. Cash advances have a ton of high interest fees (15-25%, depending on your credit card) and will only compound your debt problem.

      How to Get Rid of Debt Forever

      Setting up a plan, removing temptations, and getting the lowest interest rates is the first step to get out of debt.

      1. Keep Monitoring and Adjusting

      Once you have a plan, don’t get comfortable. Track your debt payoff plan and make the necessary adjustments when needed.

      Monitor your credit scores with a free site like CreditKarma. The higher your credit score climbs, the more likely you will be to secure a new, lower-interest loan.

      2. Earn More Money

      There are only so many ways to save money. Instead of clipping another coupon or making sacrifices for your morning coffee, find ways to earn more money!

      Think about it…it is much easier to find ways to earn an extra $1,000 per month than find $1,000 to cut from your budget.

      Here are some examples of ways to earn more money:

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      Talk to Your Boss

      Have a conversation with your boss about current salary and/or commission rates. If you’re not satisfied or want a change, don’t be afraid to look around at other positions. Some of them might even have a student loan debt reimbursement plan!

      Start a Side Hustle

      This could be coaching students on the weekends, driving for Uber, or taking paid online surveys. There are tons of ways to make money outside your 9-5. Now that you have a clear plan to pay off your debts, you’ll be more motivated than ever to figure out creative new ways to earn money.

      Build an Online Business

      There are so many websites and blogs that earn money from ads, affiliates, and other online products. Find your niche and get started.

      3. Celebrate Your Wins

      As you progress in your debt payoff journey, don’t forget to celebrate your wins. You need to always reward yourself for the hard work and discipline that is required to get out of debt.

      While you shouldn’t celebrate so big that it increases debt, make sure to factor in little rewards to keep you motivated.

      4. Set New Financial Goals

      Eventually, with a plan and these steps, you can rid yourself of your debt. Once you do, make sure to celebrate your monumental achievement, but don’t stop there.

      Now, you can focus on acquiring wealth and increasing your net worth. Set new financial goals so you have a new target to aim toward. Here’s how to set financial goals and actually meet them.

      These could be anything now that you are debt free! Think about where you want to travel, buying your first home, or saving for your future retirement. Just like before, make sure that your goals are specific, measurable, and achievable.

      Conclusion

      Congrats, you can now set a plan in motion to finally pay off your debt quickly (and hopefully forever)!

      Remember, if you want to get out of debt quickly, it’s not always easy. Just like any big goal, there will be sacrifices, challenges, and problems to overcome.

      More Tips on Getting out of Debt

      Featured photo credit: Pepi Stojanovski via unsplash.com

      Reference

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