5 Ways to Get Free Food

GUEST POST| Eating, sleeping and drinking can usually be found at the top of most student’s list of priorities. Students aren’t known for being flush with cash though, so although sleep is free, food and drink can make a big dent in their student loan or wages from a part-time job. 

There are ways to get free food though and below we’ll share five ways everyone can get free food, not just students. 

food buffet

Mystery Shopping/Dining
Have you ever fancied being a spy? Then mystery shopping is for you. Mystery shoppers go undercover to report back on a restaurant’s food, service and facilities and in return you’ll get your meal paid for and sometimes a bit of cash on top. Yes, that’s right - you’ll be paid to eat. You don’t have to limit yourself to mystery shopping for food - all kinds of companies use mystery shoppers to find out if everything’s as it should be but as this article is about free food, that’s what I’m concentrating on here. 

If you fancy giving mystery shopping a go and getting some free food, just Google ‘mystery shopping’ and you’ll find dozens of agencies you can sign up with. As an added bonus, if you take along one of your housemates in your student accommodation for a free feast, they’ll love you forever and maybe cook you something in return - meaning more free food for you! Just be aware though that you’ll be reimbursed for your food, not paid in advance, so remember to keep all receipts as you’ll need them for proof. 

Shopium App
The Shopium app contains a regularly-changing range of items for free or heavily discounted at all the major supermarkets. Download the app and have a look at what they’re offering in your local supermarkets either in-store or online. If there’s anything there you like the look of, buy it, scan the barcode, upload a photo of your receipt and Shopium will reimburse you within a couple of days. 

Olio App
The Olio app is like a Freecycle for food. People in your local community who hate waste give away their leftovers on Olio. When I say ‘leftovers’, I don’t mean you’re getting the scrapings from their plates but, for example, if someone’s got too many carrots in their veg box (which is every single person who’s ever had a veg box) and don’t have any horses nearby, they can offload them to a carrot-loving neighbour. 

It’s not just local residents who are using the Olio app though. Restaurants, retailers and bakeries are all getting on board with volunteers picking up the leftover goods from the stores and uploading them to the app for anyone to claim. A friend of mine got a whole case of Hellmann’s mayo on Olio. True story. 

Foraging works better in the countryside rather than cities. You won’t find many blackberry bushes in central London, that’s for sure. But if you are in a more rural location or you fancy a day trip somewhere green, do a spot of foraging for free food that’s as fresh as fresh can be. 

Although some things are easier to spot than others, e.g. blackberries or wild garlic, some things you will need to know what you’re doing before picking them unless you want to poison yourself, so take someone knowledgeable with you. Also, it’s a good idea not to forage on busy roads that have spewed exhaust fumes all over the bushes or had dogs going about their business on them. 

Shoplift It
If you’re really desperate, you can always shoplift your dinner. This is obviously a joke. Do not do this. Do not steal your housemate’s food from the fridge either.

These are just five ways to get free food but, if you dig around, you’ll find plenty more. And, of course, there’ll be loads of restaurants, bars and cafes in your area offering student discounts as well as lots of ways to save money when you shop online

What other ways have you got free food before?

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  1. Ooh I love this post! It's always worth exploring random local discounts, for example my workplace gives people points for doing exercise- and this can be traded for free drinks and food in local cafés x