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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 August 20, 2019

      How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

      How to Set Financial Goals and Actually Meet Them

      Finances can push anyone to the point of extreme anxiety and worry. Easier said than done, planning finances is not an egg meant for everyone’s basket. And that’s why most of us are often living pay check to pay check. But did anyone tell you that it is actually not a tough task to meet your financial goals?

      In this article, we will explore ways on how to set financial goals and then actually meet them with ease.

      5 Steps to Set Financial Goals

      Though setting financial goals might seem to be a daunting task but if one has the will and clarity of thought, it is rather easy. Try using these steps:

      1. Be Clear About the Objectives

      Any goal (let alone financial) without a clear objective is nothing more than a pipe dream. And this couldn’t be more true for financial matters.

      It is often said that savings is nothing but deferred consumption. Therefore if you are saving today, then you should be crystal clear about what it is for. It could be anything like kid’s education, retirement, marriage, that dream vacation, fancy car etc.

      Once the objective is clear, put a monetary value to that objective and the time frame. The important point at this step of goal setting is to list all the objectives, however small they may be, that you foresee in the future and put a value to it.

      2. Keep Them Realistic

      It’s good to be an optimistic person but being a pollyanna is not desirable. Similarly, while it might be a good thing to keep your financial goals a bit aggressive, going out of the line will definitely hurt your chances of achieving them.

      It’s important that you keep your goals realistic in nature for it will help you stay the course and keep you motivated throughout the journey.

      3. Account for Inflation

      Ronald Reagan once said – “Inflation is as violent as a mugger, as frightening as an armed robber and as deadly as a hitman”. And this quote sums up the best what inflation could do your financial goals.

      Therefore account for inflation whenever you are putting a monetary value to a financial objective that is far away in the future.

      For example, if one of your financial goal is your son’s college education, which is 15 years hence, then inflation would increase the monetary burden by more than 50% if inflation is mere 3%. So always account for inflation.

      4. Short Term vs Long Term

      Just like every calorie is not the same, the approach towards achieving every financial goal will not be the same. It is important to bifurcate goals in short term and long term.

      As a rule of thumb, any financial goal, which is due in next 3 years should be termed as short term goal. Any longer duration goals are to be classified as long term goals. This bifurcation of goals into short term vs long term will help in choosing the right investment instrument to achieve them.

      More on this later when we talk about how to achieve financial goals.

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      5. To Each to His Own

      The journey of setting financial goals is an individualistic affair i.e. your goals are your own goals and are determined by your want to achieve them. A lot of times we get on the bandwagon of goal setting only to realize later on that it was not meant for us.

      It is important that your goals are actually your goals and not inspired by someone else. Take a hard look at this step at all the goals you’ve set for after this step, you will be on the way to achieve them.

      By now, you would be ready with your financial goals, now it’s time to go all out and achieve them.

      11 Ways to Achieve Your Financial Goals

      Whenever we talk about chasing any financial goal, it is usually a 2 step process –

      • Ensuring healthy savings
      • Making smart investments

      You will need to save enough; and invest those savings wisely so that they grow over a period of time to help you achieve goals. So let’s get down to ensuring healthy savings.

      Ensuring Healthy Savings

      Self realization is the best form of realisation and unless you decide what your current financial position is, you aren’t heading anywhere.

      This is the focal point from where you start your journey of achieving financial goals.

      1. Track Expenses

      The first and the foremost thing to be done is to track your monthly expenses. Use any of the expense tracking mobile apps to record your expenses. Once you start doing it diligently, you would be surprised to see how small expenses add up to a sizeable amount.

      Also categorize those expenses into different bucket so that you know which bucket is eating the most of your pay check. This record keeping will pave the way for cutting down on un-wanted expenses and pump up your savings rate.

      2. Pay Yourself First

      Generally, savings come after all the expenses have been taken care of. This is a classical mistake which almost everyone of us do. We pay ourselves last!

      Ideally, this should be planned upside down. We should be paying ourselves first and then to the world i.e. we should be taking out the planned saving amount first and then manage all the expenses from the rest.

      The best way to actually implement is to put the savings on automatic mode i.e. money flowing automatically into different financial instruments (for example – mutual funds, retirement corpus etc) every month.

      Taking the automatic route will make us lose control of our money and hence will compel us to manage in what’s left with us thereby increasing the savings rate.

      3. Make a Plan and Vow to Stick with It

      Budgeting is the best to get around the uncertainty that financial plans always pose. Decide in advance how spending has to be made.

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      Nowadays, several money management apps and wallets can help you do this automatically. It’s easy and who knows, you may just end up doing what people fail to do.

      At first, you may not be able to stick to your plans completely but don’t let that become a reason why you stop budgeting entirely.

      Make use of technology solutions you like. Explore options and alternatives that let you make use of the available wallet options and choose the one that suits you the most. In time, you will get accustomed to making use of these solutions.

      You will find that they make it simpler for you to follow your plan, which would have been difficult otherwise.

      4. Rise Again Even If You Fall

      Let’s be realistic. It’s not like the world will come to an end if you made one mistake. This isn’t called leniency but discipline.

      If you fail to meet your budget for a month, don’t give up the entire effort just like that. Instead, start again.

      Remember that flexible plans are the most realistic plans. So go forward and try to follow your financial goals as planned but if for some reason, the plan gets out of hand for you, do not give up on it just yet. This has a lot to do with your psychology rather than any material commitment.

      All you have to do is to stay on the road and vow to stay on it, no matter how much you fall down.

      5. Make Savings a Habit and Not a Goal

      In the book Nudge, authors Richard Thaler and Cass Sunstein advocate that in order to achieve any goal, it should be broken down into habits since habits are more intuitive for people to adapt to.

      Make Savings a habit rather than a goal. While it might seem to be counter intuitive to many but there are some deft ways of doing it. For example:

      Always eat out (if at all) during weekdays rather than weekends. Usually weekends are expensive. Make it a habit and you would in turn be saving a great deal.

      If you are travelling buff, try to travel during off season. Your outlay will be much less.

      If you go out for shopping, always look out for coupons and see where can you get the best deal.

      So the key point is to imbibe the action that results in savings rather than on the savings itself, which is the outcome. Focusing on the outcome will bring out the feeling of sacrifice which will be harder to sustain over a period of time.

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      6. Talk About It

      Sticking to the saving schedule (to achieve financial goals) is not an easy journey. There will be many distractions from those who are not aligned with your mission. And it would be rather easy to lose the grip over your discipline.

      Therefore in order to stay the course, it is advisable that you keep yourself surrounded with people who are also on the same bandwagon. Daily discussions with them will keep you motivated to move forward.

      7. Maintain a Journal

      For some people, writing helps a great deal in making sure that they achieve what they plan.

      So if you are one of them, maintain a proper journal, where you write down your goals and also jot down the extent to which you managed to meet them. This will help you in reviewing how far you have come and which goals you have met.

      Use this journal to write down all essential points such as your short term, mid term and long term goals, your current sources of income, your regular expenses which you are aware of and any committed expenses which are of recurring nature.

      When you have a written commitment on paper, you are going to feel more energised to follow the plan and stick to it. Moreover, it is going to be a lot more easier for you to follow you and track your progress.

      At this point, you should be ready with your financial goals and would be doing brilliantly with savings; now it’s time to talk about the big daddy – Investments.

      Making Smart Investments

      Savings by themselves don’t take anyone too far. However savings when invested wisely can do wonders and we are at that stage where we will talk about making smart investments.

      8. Consult a Financial Advisor

      Investments doesn’t come naturally to most of us therefore rather than dabbling with it ourselves, it is wise to consult a financial advisor.

      Talk to him/her about your financial goals and savings and then seek advice for the best investment instruments to achieve your goals.

      9. Choose Your Investment Instrument Wisely

      Though your financial advisor will suggest the best investment instruments, it doesn’t hurt to know a bit about them.

      Just like “no one is born a criminal”, no investment instrument is bad or good. It is the application of that instrument that makes all the difference.

      Do you remember we talked about bifurcating financial goals in short term and long term?

      It is here where that classification will help.

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      So as a general rule, for all your short term financial goals, choose an investment instrument that has debt nature for example fixed deposits, debt mutual funds etc. The reason for going for debt instruments is that chances of capital loss is less as compared to equity instruments.

      10. Compounding Is the Eighth Wonder

      Einstein once remarked about compounding,

      Compound Interest is the eighth wonder of the world. He who understands it, earns it… He who doesn’t… Pays it.

      So make friends with this wonder kid. And sooner you become friends with it, quicker you will reach closer to your financial goals.

      Start investing early so that time is on your side to help you bear the fruits of compounding.

      11. Measure, Measure, Measure

      All of us do good when it comes to earning more per month but fail miserably when it comes to measuring the investments; taking stock of how our investments are doing.

      If there is one single step where everything (so far) can go wrong, it is at this step – Measuring the Progress.

      If we don’t measure the progress timely, then we would be shooting in the dark. We wouldn’t know if our saving rate is appropriate or not; whether financial advisor is doing a decent job; whether we are moving closer to our target or not.

      Do measure everything. If you can’t measure it all yourself, ask your financial advisor to do it for you. But do it!

      The Bottom Line

      This completes the list of tips for you to set financial goals and actually achieve them with not so great difficulty.

      As you can see, all it requires is discipline. But guess that’s the most difficult part!

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      Featured photo credit: rawpixel via unsplash.com

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