A friend of mine recently asked me, “So, where can I get free food?” Of course, this was just too good of a challenge for me to just let go.
The fact is that there are lots of ways to get free or deeply discounted food. I will start with deep discounts and work my way down to free.
- Grocery store clearance. Fresh & Easy grocery stores discount food on the day of expiration. They discount up to 75% off and place them in a clearance section of the store. More ways to save on groceries.
- Vendors at Farmer’s Markets offer deeply discounted fresh fruits and veggies in the last 15-30 minutes of the market.
- Become a coupon expert. With a good knowledge of couponing, one can get extremely cheap or free items. The trick is to make sure that you are getting things that you actually need/want. It is not a bargain if you don’t really want it.
- Join a food coop. Find a coop near you. It’s almost always cheaper to buy in bulk and get rid of the middle man.
- Coordinate your friends and neighbors to cook potluck style. Get your friends to each make a big dish of something and put into individual containers. Then trade. With a group of 7 people, if each person makes one large entree (like a stew or soup), then each person could end up with a full week’s worth of food.
- Go dumpster diving. If the Bargain Babe can do it, so can you. The fact is that lots of perfectly good food gets tossed into dumpsters every night. (Note, check in your state if this is legal.)
- Work on a film or tv shoot. If you happen to be in an area of the country that has film productions (and most of them do now), get yourself booked as an extra. They always feed the cast. Sometimes they feed the cast really well. Sometimes you will even get paid a bit of money. Look at your local Craigslist under gigs and search for “extras” or “casting.”
- Get a job working in a place that serves food. One of the perks of such a job is that you get to eat. If you don’t want a job every day, then hook up with a catering service. Then you can pick and choose your availability. However, you don’t have to be wait staff to get fed. You could work the door, security, parking, entertainment, etc. They all get fed.
- Get invited to parties. Hey, there is always food at parties. Become a social butterfly and get yourself invited to parties. Make sure you learn how to be a great guest.
- Food banks and soup kitchens. Every state in America has some sort of food bank program. You can use the food bank locator to find one in your area. There are tons of links to other programs listed on the FeedingAmerica.org site. Perhaps you need a meal or perhaps you want to help others receive meals. Help feed the homeless and then eat dinner with them. It’s good in so many ways.
OK, so some of these ideas might not be for you, but believe me, I left off some ideas I had, like “crash a wedding reception” or “pan handle.” What ideas for free or deeply discounted food do you suggest?
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