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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

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    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

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      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 April 19, 2021

      40 Healthy And Really Delicious Meals You Can Make Under $5

      40 Healthy And Really Delicious Meals You Can Make Under $5

      Ever had those moments where you really wanted to eat something delicious and healthy but didn’t have the financials means to do so? Whether you’re a student or parent, this compilation of 40 great, healthy, and inexpensive recipes will make every night special and help you get fit! No more meals where you have to force the food down! It’s time to make that budget your best friend and turn it into great recipes. Enjoy!

      1. Fish Tacos in Crunchy Shells ($3.56 per serving)

      Is there a better way to end the day than a Fish Taco dinner filled with protein and nutrients and is easy on the wallet? This recipe calls for a boys’ or girls’ night in front of a good movie or game.

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        2. Mini-Meatball Noodle Soup ($3.43 per serving)

        We’ve heard of the delicious spaghetti and meatballs recipes, but imagine having that same meatball goodness in a soup? It’s like Christmas in a bowl. Healthy, warm, and only $3.43 per serving.

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          3. Spaghetti and (Vegan) Meatballs ($2.13 per serving)

          Now it’s time to look at the traditional spaghetti and meatballs recipe, but with a little twist: vegan meatballs. This way, you can enjoy the Italian tradition without adding on the extra calories. I’m sold!

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            4. Kabocha Squash and Lentils ($3.12 per serving)

            Absolutely delicious way to end the day with a Kabocha Squash and lentils dinner. The beauty of this recipe is that you can actually make many other things from the mixture, from dips to full-on meals. All under $5 per serving.

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              5. Baked Coconut Lentils ($0.91 per serving)

              Coconuts are always a good idea, but it doesn’t have to be eaten only for dessert or breakfast. With this great recipe, you can now eat a lunch or dinner filled proteins and a coconut twist. Yum!

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                6. Easy Marinated Roasted Chicken ($3.40 per serving)

                We love chicken and at less than $5 per serving, we are in heaven with this recipe. Add some vegetables and rice on the side and you’ve got yourself a full meal!

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                  7. Organic Greens and Goat Cheese Gratin ($2.36 per serving)

                  This is absolutely divine. You get in your healthy greens and your fat macros with this great recipe. Takes only a few minutes to make and it’s easy on the wallet. Bon Appetite!

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                    8. Beef Pot Roast ($3.22 per serving)

                    One word: perfect. This meal will warm your insides and fill you up with the high protein content.

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                      9. Fajita-Style Quesadillas ($0.43 per serving)

                      If you want to eat Mexican tonight but want to stay in your budget, this Quesadilla recipe is your best friend. It’s tasty and filled with healthy ingredients for less than a dollar per serving.

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                        10. Fish Tostadas with Chili Lime Cream ($2.82 per serving)

                        Another great lunch idea for the busy days ahead. Prep this in the morning or the night before and you’ve got yourself a healthy and cheap lunch meal!

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                          11. Beef and Black Bean Chili ($1.36 per serving)

                          Might not look like much, but this amazing chili is actually extremely healthy for you. The protein from the beef and the carbs from the black beans will fill you up in no time, and keep you full for a long period of time. Delicious and warm, just right for the winter!

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                            12. Crispy Fish and Peppers ($2.18 per serving)

                            Amazing recipe for anyone looking to change up their meals while keeping their macros in check and not going overboard on spending. Satisfies your crunch tooth (see what I did there?) and gives you all the protein you need to stay full and lean.

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                              13. Vegetarian Gumbo ($1.50 per serving)

                              You have the perfect macro mix here with the carbs, fats, and proteins. At less than $5 per serving, you’ve got yourself a meal that will last for the whole week!

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                                14. Mexican White Bean Soup ($0.99 per serving)

                                With the cold weather creeping in, it’s not a surprise that soups are coming back in style. This great Mexican White Bean Soup dish will keep you warm for winter without making a hole in your pocket.

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                                  15. Black Beans with Mango & Cilantro ($0.38 per serving)

                                  Mangoes make every dish a little bit sweeter, which is why we absolutely love this recipe. A normal rice and bean dish might be a little meh, but add the sugary taste of mangoes and you’ve got yourself a party!

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                                  Black-Bean-Cilantro-Mango

                                    16. Bean Burritos ($0.71 per serving)

                                    If you’re having people over tonight and don’t want to spend too much time or money on food, this dish is a great option! You can even cut up the burritos into pieces and make finger foods while everyone’s watching the game or gossiping.

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                                      17. Five-Spice Beef Kabobs ($2.43 per serving)

                                      The spices in this recipes add a delicious twist to the beef kabobs, which is definitely worth trying!

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                                        18. Cornmeal Crusted Pork ($1.92 per serving)

                                        If you like the fried crunch but want to opt for a healthier alternative, cornmeal is your man. This healthy recipe will satisfy all your fried desires without making you pop open your pant’s button.

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                                          19. Chicken, Tomato & Cucumber Dinner Salad ($2.57 per serving)

                                          Easy to do, extremely healthy, and super delicious. A must-try!

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                                            20. Lentil Soup with Beef and Red Pepper ($1.90 per serving)

                                            I can’t believe how cheap this meal is, especially for all the nutrients it contains. You can make a big pot on Sunday night and divide it into small portions to last you a whole week.

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                                              21. Smoky Mushroom Stroganoff ($1.90 per serving)

                                              Craving pasta but not sure what to top it off with? How about smoky mushrooms with a twist?

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                                                22. White Bean Tuna Salad ($1.36 per serving)

                                                You can add this White Bean Tuna Salad in your sandwich or just eat it as-is for a quick lunch on a busy day.

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                                                  23. Sausage Eggwiches ($0.80 per serving)

                                                  Who says you have to eat fast food to get an eggwich? This delicious recipe will give you an amazingly healthy eggwich for less than a dollar per portion. Can you say Breakfast?

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                                                  Sausage-Eggwiches

                                                    24. Baja-Cali Black Bean Salad ($1.17 per serving)

                                                    Great snack to add to a movie-night with friends. You don’t have to use chemically-processed salsas anymore, you can now use this homemade salad for your chip dips.

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                                                      25. Gnocchi, Sweet Corn & Arugula in Cream Sauce ($2.24 per serving)

                                                      Italians always knew how to make carbs look good! This delicious Gnocchi recipe will give your lunch a whole new meaning. Easy to make and only $2.24 per serving.

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                                                        26. Vegetable Lasagna ($1.73 per serving)

                                                        If you were looking for a healthy lasagna, you’ve just found it. At under $5 per serving, you can fill yourself up right away without putting on the extra calories.

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                                                          27. Fajita-Ranch Chicken Wraps ($2.05 per serving)

                                                          Don’t know what to make for lunch this week? How about delicious chicken wraps with a healthy ranch? This recipe will make all your lunches, even the quick ones, healthy and colorful.

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                                                            28. Quinoa with Pan Roasted Brussels Sprouts ($1.24 per serving)

                                                            A dish that has quinoa and brussel sprouts can’t be unhealthy, it just can’t, which is why this dish is one to keep in the books. Easy to make, healthy, and will keep you full for a long period of time.

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                                                              29. Butternut Squash Chili ($1.04 per serving)

                                                              You don’t need meat to make chili now that you have this recipe! It’s 100% healthy, filling, and smells absolutely delicious.

                                                              Butternut-Squash-Chili

                                                                30. Fast Shrimp Bisque ($2.03 per serving)

                                                                Seafood doesn’t have to be expensive if you know how to do it right, and this fast shrimp bisque is a great recipe to try if you’re in the mood for some seafood!

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                                                                  31. Chicken-Noodle Casserole ($0.98 per serving)

                                                                  Looks divine doesn’t it? This super easy to make dish will satisfy all your taste buds without burning a hole in your wallet or adding a few extra numbers on the scale.

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                                                                    32. Burrito Cups ($1.18 per serving)

                                                                    Entertaining someone tonight and don’t know what to make as appetizers? These burrito cups are a great alternative to chips or other greasy finger foods. All you need to enjoy it is a spoon and a cup.

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                                                                      33. Lemon-Dill Shrimp & Pasta ($2.45 per serving)

                                                                      Another impressive shrimp recipe under $5 per serving. The lemon-dill twist adds a great taste to the dish.

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                                                                        34. Potato Frittata ($0.87 per serving)

                                                                        If you want to eat potatoes for breakfast but still want it to be healthy, this is the recipe for you. At under a dollar per serving, this potato frittata will make you see potatoes in a whole new light.

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                                                                          35. Grilled Pork and Pineapple ($2.67 per serving)

                                                                          Meat and fruits? Oh, yes. The juiciness of the pork mixed with the liquid sugar in the pineapple will make you wish you knew about it sooner.

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                                                                            36. Greek Honey-Lemon Pork Chops ($2.15 per serving)

                                                                            Another splendid recipe mixing sweet and salty for a healthy meal. Easy to make and absolutely mouthwatering.

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                                                                              37. Jamaican Pork Stir-Fry ($2 per serving)

                                                                              You can add this healthy stir-fry to any dish as a side or amply enjoy it as-is for lunch or dinner. You can even make a wrap sandwich out of it if you’re in a rush to eat.

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                                                                                38. Herbed Salmon ($2.49 per serving)

                                                                                Salmon contains a healthy dose of fats that will boost your metabolism, lower inflammation, and make you happier. At under $5 per serving, need I say more?

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                                                                                  39. Five-Spice Pork Kabobs ($1.96 per serving)

                                                                                  Exquisite recipe under $5 per serving that will most definitely awe everyone at your dinner party.

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                                                                                    40. Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Mango-Black Bean Salsa ($1.24 per serving)

                                                                                    You don’t have to eat sweet potatoes alone anymore with this flavorful recipe.

                                                                                    stuffed-sweet-potatoes

                                                                                      Featured photo credit: Featured Photo Credit: 5 Dollar Dinners via 5dollardinners.com

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