With inflation every year, everything seems to cost a lot: gas, utilities, groceries, clothes, etc. If you could find easy ways to save money each month, you could use those funds for something else. Wouldn’t it be nice if you could cut some of your expenses on food each month? Imagine how much you can save in a year!
When you find ways to get free food, you can put money aside for other things: emergency funds, entertainment, investing, other bills, or your credit card debt. You can eat delicious meals that won’t hurt your wallet if you know where to look. If you can score one free meal a week, you can save an average of $13, which adds up over time.
Here are 11 ways to get free (or discounted) food.
Whether your parents, friends, or coworkers, you should always accept a brunch or dinner invitation. How can you say “no” to food, right? Nothing tastes better than other people’s cooking. Homemade meals that you don’t have to cook sound divine because you don’t have to worry about what to eat that day.
Nothing beats eating at a nice restaurant if no one wants to cook. If they treat you when dining out, that is even better because you don’t have to pay for a meal. However, don’t be greedy and make the mistake of ordering the most expensive thing on the menu because that might be your last invitation.
Attend Work Parties
When working at a big corporate firm or small company, there will always be some party or event throughout the year. There will likely be free food, gifts, and fun games for the employees. You should always participate whenever there is a party or an event because who doesn’t want to eat delicious food and build stronger relationships with your coworkers? When you have a chance, why not take it?
There are many food holidays throughout the year, and you should use this to your advantage! Not all restaurants will give you free food, but some will have exciting activities, deals, brand promotions, etc.
Check out The Nibble to keep track of all the American food holidays by month. Many people miss out on food holidays because they don’t know it is a thing. Now that you know, you can take this as a great opportunity.
Coupons save you money and time looking for deals. Whether you are looking for ways to shop and save, coupons can be your friend. Most fast-food restaurants send coupons to your homes so that you can see what deals they have. Many people tend to throw things away from the mail because most are usually advertisements. Before throwing anything away, make sure you save the coupons. It doesn’t hurt to keep them in your wallet or purses for future purposes. If you are able to get free food and buy other things off their menu, you should take it. Coupons are always lovely to use to get free stuff.
Grow a Vegetable Garden
If you have an empty and big backyard, why not make it into a garden and grow your fruits or vegetables? It is a healthy lifestyle that can save you so much money in the long term. The food will be healthier and cheaper since you grow them yourself. You can grow so many things like green onions, herbs, lettuce, tomatoes, strawberries, tangerines, etc.
If you don’t have a garden yet, put it on your bucket list. Everyone should try growing something in their life. It doesn’t matter what age you are; everyone can start their garden in no time. It is an excellent skill if you plan to have a garden in your own home one day.
You can earn gift cards to your favorite restaurants by taking online surveys. You can trade them in for gift cards whenever you get enough points. Of course, it will take a while to earn points, but if you do it consistently, you can get gift cards. However, if you think this is a quick way to get free food, you are wrong. Taking a survey can take a lot of time. Some survey sites or apps you can use are Survey Junkie or Swagbucks.
Go To Your Local Church
If you attend church or go to a church activity during the week, there is often free food available. For example, if you attend Mass on Sunday, the church might offer free coffee, snacks, or donuts. It can be different depending on where you live and what church you attend. There might be scripture study, fellowship events, and holidays party that people can join. If you join a church group or are involved in the church, you’ll likely get some free food for volunteering.
You can get freebies or deals at restaurants when it’s your birthday. Not every restaurant will have birthday freebies or discounts, but it is always nice to call to ask. If your birthday is coming up, you should take the time to find a restaurant to go out and eat. You might get a free dessert, meal, or drink. It depends on the restaurant and if you are part of the rewards program. If not, you might get a discount which is still better than paying the total price. You need to take this advantage whenever your special day comes around because birthdays are only a once-a-year thing.
Have you ever been to Costco or Sam’s Club? You can eat an entire meal for free by walking around the sample stations. You get to try delicious samples as you shop. How cool is that? People do it all the time because they are either hungry or want to try the food. Knowing the best time and day to go can help you score a meal of tiny free food bites.
Become a Mystery Shopper
If you become a mystery shopper, you can either get paid for your service or have your meal paid for. You might eat at a fast-food place or a luxury place and be asked to taste a particular food on the menu. Everything depends on when you sign up to be one, and the rules can vary too.
When you are a mystery shopper, your goal is to collect data on food, employees, atmosphere, services, etc. You can find opportunities by going through mystery shopping companies. There is usually a list and application to fill out if you want to try. The number of openings depends on where you live too. If you live in a small town, you might or might not have this opportunity. If you live in a big city, there are more opportunities.
Here are some best mystery shopping companies:
Festivals and Events
It doesn’t matter where you live. Whether you are a local, new in town, or just passing by, there is often some kind of free festival or event nearby for the community. Almost all cities have festivals for their people to come, socialize, and have fun. You can always check online to see what new event is coming up. You don’t want to miss an opportunity to enjoy the music, cuisine, activities, and people. Even if the festivals are not free, you can get in for a small price.
Eating is expensive but you can’t avoid it. Now that you know ways to get free food, you’ll surely save some money throughout the year. Of course, you won’t gain financial freedom by doing these things, but you can save some money. If you give these methods a try, you’ll see what works best for you.
This article originally appeared on Wealth of Geeks.