Food For Free

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We are focused on finding free, or cheap sources of food. We have found huge amounts of fruit in our local parks and by the side of the road. If you have fruit trees on your property consider planting decorative ones and let them go wild. You can feed yourself for just a few pennies per day taking advantage of what is already around you.

Food For Free

woman eating doughnuts

These are the best ways to get free food and drink:

  1. Use supermarket cashback appssupermarket cashback appsSupermarket cashback apps don’t always guarantee free food – but at any given time there’s usually a couple of freebies across each of the apps. And even when you’re only getting a discount, the savings can be substantial.All you need to do is download the apps, view the offers and check the eligibility criteria (like which supermarkets are taking part). Then, once you’ve bought the product, simply scan the receipt (and sometimes the product’s barcode) and voilà – you’ve got your cashback!As we said, not every offer will get you 100% cashback on your food but the savings are usually at least around the 50% mark. However, if you use Shopmium to its full effect, you could get referral credits that’ll cover the rest of the cost too.Check out our guide to the best supermarket cashback apps for more details on how to get free food in your weekly shop.
  2. Become a mystery dinerFancy getting free food from your favourite restaurants? Well, look no further than mystery dining. All you need to do is sign up to an agency, wait for them to give you an assignment at a local restaurant or food chain and then write a report on your experience.These agencies are paid by the owners of the establishment to ensure certain standards are being met and, in turn, the agency ‘pays’ you for doing all the hard work.The reason we say “pay” with a pinch of salt (pun intended) is that agencies will only cover your grub and you won’t be paid in cash for your efforts.But if you’re just in it for a free meal, what’s the harm? Find out what you need to do to sign up here.
  3. Sign up to restaurant newsletters and appsLoads of restaurants and fast food joints offer something free when you download their app or sign up to their newsletter, including the likes of Be at One, GBK and KFC (and it’s worth noting that there are tonnes of other ways to get cheap and free KFC too).Other chains are a little more sporadic in their offerings. Take Subway, for instance, who regularly give Subcard holders free sandwiches, cookies and other treats for all kinds of reasons (including, unsurprisingly, National Sandwich Day).McDonald’s are pretty generous with their app, too. They’ve previously given away Cheese Dippers, fries, McMuffins and to app users, as well as massive discounts on other menu items. Check out our guide to getting free McDonald’s for more tips like this.The lesson here is: if you like eating somewhere, see if you can get involved with their newsletter or app (using an alias email to avoid the spam). Even if there aren’t any freebies right now, you never know when they might decide to treat you with some free food…
  4. Cashback sites offering free takeawayscashback sites free food takeawayCredit: Paramount PicturesIf you’re looking to get free food online, then look no further than our deals section – we’re always featuring offers for free meals just for signing up to cashback sites like Quidco and TopCashback.When we say that we’re “always featuring” these offers, we’re barely exaggerating, either. Most weeks there’s an opportunity for new customers to register for a free account and be rewarded with a reasonably large spend at a takeaway company.Typically it’ll be something like £15 off at Domino’s or Just Eat, which can often be enough to cover the whole order! Free food delivered right to your door. The dream.Using cashback sites is just one of our favourite ways to get free Domino’s.
  5. Look for food waste supermarketsCheck to see if you have any food waste supermarkets in your area (yes, they really do exist!).Essentially, food waste supermarkets have a deal with major supermarkets and restaurants meaning that any food that isn’t up to their lofty standards – but is still perfectly edible – is donated to their warehouses.This stops crazy amounts of food being wasted, and the products they have are amazing!The Real Junk Food Project have warehouses and cafes popping up all over the UK, all of which operate on a ‘pay as you feel’ policy. This means you can either pay by donation or offer some hours of your time volunteering in the warehouse in return for your purchases. So, as long as you don’t mind a bit of hard graft, you could be in for a load of free food!
  6. Use zero-waste apps for leftover foodWe’ve all been there. You drastically overestimate just how many oranges you’ll eat in a week, and all of a sudden it hits you – they’re gonna go off before you get a chance to eat them.Fortunately, precisely because we’ve all been there, there’s now an app for you and everyone else to get rid of their excess food for free!It’s called Olio, and what’s on offer will vary based on what people in your area have going, ranging from raw ingredients to leftovers from a cooked meal. Sometimes they may ask for a small donation to charity as payment, but more often than not there are freebies to be had!And, in the spirit of Olio, it’s worth checking out Too Good To Go and Karma (although this is mostly only available in London and the South East), too. These apps let cafes and restaurants sell their excess stock at a cut-price, and while you’re unlikely to get anything for free, you’ll almost certainly bag yourself a bargain!
  7. Get paid to go to the pubIf eating for free isn’t quite enough for you, it turns out you can even get paid to go to the pub now, too.Sign up as a pub tester with Serve Legal and you’ll be asked to visit pubs and confirm that they’re checking the IDs of any young people buying alcohol.Due to the nature of the work, Serve Legal are primarily looking for applicants aged 18 or 19 (as teenagers are more likely to look like they need to have their IDs checked). But, if you fit the bill, you could be paid £5 – £50 per audit – free drink and hopefully a tasty profit to go along with it!
  8. Get first-order discounts on takeaway appsdeliveroo app iconCredit: Ink Drop – ShutterstockLoads of takeaway companies offer free food when you first sign up to their app.For example, delivery services Deliveroo and Uber Eats both offer money off your first order with them and, depending on how generous they’re feeling, that can sometimes mean getting a meal for free!

How to get free (or cheap) food

Eat & drink for FREE

Yes, you really can get totally free food at cafés, restaurants and supermarkets. Here’s how:

  1. Grab free KFC and more via fast-food apps & clubsFast-food chains often offer discounts and freebies to new and existing customers via their apps and membership ‘clubs’. It’s worth joining and keeping an eye out for any new offers which pop up.Here are some of the top freebies currently out there (each freebie can only be redeemed once):
    • New. Taco Bell – free crunchy taco, 12-2pm every day until Sunday 15 May. You don’t need the app for this offer, simply turn up at a Taco Bell between 12-2pm for its ‘Taco Swap’. There’s no actual swap required – you’ll be given a totally free crunchy taco.

      If you don’t already have the app, you could get another free crunchy taco using its regular offer for newbies. Simply download the app and sign up (available for iPhone and Android).
    • KFC – free side when you sign up to the app. You’ll get three free loyalty stamps when you download the app (available for iPhone and Android) and sign up. That’s enough to redeem a free side, including hot wings, popcorn chicken, fries and ice cream sundae. No purchase required. It doesn’t work in motorway service stations.
    • Krispy Kreme – free doughnut for new sign-ups. Sign up to Krispy Kreme’s newsletter and enter your details to get a free original glazed Krispy Kreme doughnut.
    • Greggs – free hot drink when you sign up to the app. In the past we’ve also seen it offer free slices of pizza, sausage rolls, doughnuts and more for those with the app. Available for iPhone and Android.These restaurants also offer freebies from time to time, so it’s worth downloading and keeping an eye on their apps:
    • McDonald’s. If you download the app right now, you’ll get 20% off the first time you use it to order. But in the past we’ve seen it offer freebies such as burgers, fries, veggie wraps and iced lattes. Available for iPhone and Android.
    • Burger King. Currently it’s offering a free Whopper when you spend £3 and use click and collect for the first time. But in the past we’ve seen totally free Whoppers being given away. Available for iPhone and Android.
    • Subway. It’s offered free six-inch subs, for example, on ‘World Sandwich Day’ in November. Available for iPhone and Android.
  2. Get paid to eat out at restaurants by going undercover as a mystery dinerThere’s no need to wear a disguise or fake moustache. Restaurants such as Giraffe, Leon and Wagamama use mystery-shopping companies to keep staff on their toes, and ensure food, service and premises are up to scratch. Not only will you usually get a free meal – in some cases you can actually be PAID too.It sounds too good to be true, but this can really work:In one busy month, I managed to scoff more than £100’s worth of free grub – eating out at least a couple of times a week at big high-street chains.Former MSE AntI signed up to three different companies, and many assignments have come up in my area (though living in London, this wasn’t a huge surprise). The types of places on offer have varied, including mostly lunchtime takeaway spots, some chain restaurants and pubs, and one high-end restaurant.Former MSE LuciaHow do I sign up?You’ll need to apply online to a mystery-dining firm – those below are currently recruiting. You don’t need any previous experience, just good written English, a camera (to take a picture of receipts) and access to the internet so you can file your reports.
    • Mystery Dining by HGEM currently works with over 200 clients including restaurants, pubs and entertainment venues. Unlike other mystery-dining companies, HGEM is upfront about some of the restaurants it assesses – these include Brewdog, Itsu, Leon, Pret a Manger and Wagamama.
    • Service Scan covers restaurants, pubs and bars, plus mystery shopping at retail outlets and other areas.
    • Market Force does mystery dining and shopping across the UK and globally. Read about Former MSE Ant’s experience dining out with Market Force in his mystery-dining blog from 2015.Once you’ve signed up, you’ll need to look out for mystery-dining jobs – you can find these by logging in when you check the site, or looking out for email alerts.Each job comes with specific instructions – for example, order a main meal from the ‘grills’ menu, complete a questionnaire and file a report on your experience. You need to follow all the instructions to receive the payment for each job.
    • How much will I get paid?The way this works is you’ll be given a set amount for each job. This will usually – though not always – cover the cost of your meal. And often you’ll get a small bonus, so you’re actually being PAID to eat out. For example, you might be offered £15 for two main meals plus a £4 bonus.It’s worth doing the maths before you accept a job though to make sure the payment will at least cover the cost of your meal – we’ve spotted a few jobs where it wouldn’t. You’re told what each job pays before you sign up, so pick carefully.Bear in mind that it may take some time to receive your payment as your report will need to be checked and approved – in some cases taking up to a month.
  3. Nab free food from Pret, Costa, local bakeries & more (plus eat neighbours’ leftovers for free… if you dare)Whether it’s burgers, beer or blackberries, a free food and drink-sharing app offers you quality grub for free. The idea is that instead of binning surplus food, people sign up to Olio and offer it to their local community – think Freecycle for food.And while many items on Olio come from people emptying out their store cupboards, major supermarkets and retailers such as Pret a Manger – as well as independent cafes, bakeries and shops – have now jumped on board to offer up leftovers at the end of the day.Volunteers collect any spare food from these stores and list it on the app (you collect food from the volunteers rather than the stores themselves). For example, we’ve seen posh loaves of bread and pastries, plus Pret yogurt pots and sandwiches, all going completely free.Once you’ve found something that tickles your fancy, request it and message to arrange a pick-up. You can sometimes find items listed which aren’t food and drink too, though in most cases these are other items commonly sold in supermarkets, such as deodorant.

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