Free food is hard to come by, or at least that's the impression. However, it's surprisingly easy to eat for free if you know where to go and what to do. In most cases, it takes very little effort to make it happen other than just showing up. If you want to eat for free, you don't have to dig through the trash.
Work at a restaurant
Restaurants don't have to give their employees free food, but many do. When I was a waitress years ago, my boss would insist I take food, even if I didn't eat it there. Not only do you get to eat for free, but you'll earn money in the process for your work.
Order alcoholic drinks at bars
There are many bars that will give you free food when you purchase alcoholic drinks. Long gone are the days of stale peanuts as the only food you'll receive. Now, you can get everything from free pizza and appetizers to hummus and hot dogs. Search online for bars in your area that give you some good food for the cost of one drink.
Grow your own
Whether you have a garden outdoors or have a few planters indoors, you can grow some of your own food with only a little effort. In some cases, you won't even have to pay for seeds if you barter with a friend.
Attend church functions
Many churches will offer up free food after services or at an event, so if you're a member of a church, see what's available. It's also a great way to meet new people, especially if you just moved to the area.
Get a hotel breakfast
Most hotels will offer a free continental breakfast to guests, so even if you have to get up a bit early, it's better than getting up late and having to pay for your food. If it's you and one other person, you could end up saving $20 or more between the two of you.
Sign up for newsletters
Some restaurants let their subscribers know via email newsletters when they'll be giving out free food. Make sure you sign up, so you can grab the food while it's available. For example, on National Pancake Day in February, IHOP gives away free pancakes but requests that you make a donation to the Children's Miracle Network. There are quite a few restaurants that do similar promotions, so keep an eye out in your inbox.
Register your birthday
Many restaurants offer a free meal, appetizer, or dessert on your birthday if you're subscribed to their email newsletter. All you have to do is print out the email or show it to your waiter via your phone, and you're all set.
Go on a date
I don't recommend dating for free meals like some people do, but if you're ready to dive into dating with the intention of meeting someone, going to restaurants on dates is one way to get free food, considering many guys still insist on paying for dates. If there's a restaurant you've been wanting to try, let your date know where you'd like to go and see if he's interested.
Use social media
Using social media sites from Twitter to Facebook is a great way to get free food. All you have to do is follow their page to stay informed. Depending on the promotion, they'll offer the free food outright or you'll have to check in to get it.
Volunteer your time
I volunteered a month ago at an event and ended up getting free pizza out of it as well. Volunteering is a great way to give back to your community and meet new people, but many organizations are also kind enough to give back to their volunteers by providing free food and drinks.
With so many ways to get free food, you can significantly shrink your food budget each week and keep that money in your pocket. It may take a little planning and preparation, but it's worth it if you can keep that cash to yourself.
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