How to get free food

How to get free food

There's a lot you can cut out of your life to save on dosh, but food simply ain't one of them (until they invest food replacement pills). And it's only till you actually have to start shopping for yourself do you realise just how much money food costs. So we're going to show you that there is such thing as a free lunch - you just have to know the tricks.

Seek out free meals

There is always an event to go to where you can blag some free food and drink, so if you’re after a free meal (and are willing to sit through potential boring talks), you could go to seminars, lectures, networking events, festivals, church events, meetings, openings, receptions, university society events, etc. Check for upcoming events, and remember, if it is sponsored by someone, it means its more likely to provide refreshements.

Ben and Jerry’s have Free Cone Day, which is it's a way to celebrate and say thanks to the people who buy its ice cream, so keep an eye on the Student Money Saver website, and we’ll let you know when this amazing offer comes up again.

If it’s your birthday, you can get a load of tasty food freebies, incl:

  • Free shake at Ed’s Easy Diner
  • Free cake/doughnut/cream cake from Greggs
  • Free cookie from Millie’s Cookies
  • Free Krispy Kreme doughnut
  • Free Patisserie Valerie cake
  • Free juice/smoothie at Boost Juice Bars
  • Free burrito at Barburrito

Check out our birthday freebies guide for a full list of fabulous freebies.

birthday freebie food

Go foraging

Be careful with this one as we don’t want you hurting yourself - so stick to obvious things such as blackberries and nettles, rather than risking it with mushrooms etc.

Try and join a free club (or really cheap one) that will take you on a food tour of your local countryside/park, and keep an eye out for edible weeds. Sure, weeds don’t sound particularly appetising, but they can be seriously tasty.

Top weeds include:

Blackberries - You can not only eat the fruit, but also the leaves and roots (who knew eh?).

Bulrush - Which is a tall reed-like water plant (Google it - you’ll recognise it).

Chicory - You can eat the flowers, leaves and roots.

Dandelions - You can eat flowers, leaves and roots

Make sure you only pick and eat weeds that you can positively identify and know to be edible, or you’re really asking for trouble. Also, avoid picking weeds close to roadways as they’ll have absorbed exhaust fumes, or too close to pavements, because you never know what animals have been to the toilet on your dinner.

food foraging

Restaurant tastings

New bars and restaurants often hold free tasting events. Use Twitter to find out about them by searching for ‘food tasting’, ‘wine tasting’ or ‘free tasting’. Filter the results by clicking ‘near you’.

Sign up to the Beefeater newsletter, because every few months they run free steak promotions where they give away over 20,000 steaks.

free steak

Become a mystery shopper

Becoming a mystery shopper not only means you (and a guest) will get free meals in restaurants/drinks in bars, but you get to judge the place as well. It’s like being Mary Berry without the tent.

You need need to have any qualifications or experience as a critic, just observational skills and a decent memory, as the agencies ask that you don’t write notes or make what you’re doing obvious while you’re working, you’re supposed to do it in the evening or the next day.

You get to pick how much work you do, so you can do it around your studies, so it’s an ideal way to not only get free food, but to also get some money on top.

The biggest mystery shopping companies include:

Market Force



Make sure you never pay to sign up to a mystery shopping company, as the legitimate ones are totally free, and pay you.

restaurant mystery shopping

Grow your own

If you have a patch of land you can use, there’s no reason why you can’t grow your own food totally free.

Keep an eye out for free seeds online. Heinz give away tomato seeds every year in the summer for example. You can also get seeds from fruit you eat. If you have a tomato, take out the seeds and sew them. The same applies to avocado, pumpkin seeds etc.

[Really they’re NOT realistically going to get food from these, probably better to suggest lettuce, spring onions etc, that you can grow from the base of one you already own]

Your neighbour have an enviable apple tree? Ask for a cutting. Scour your family and friends’ gardens and get them to give you bits of their plants to grow in your own garden. It’s definitely a bit of a faff, but you’ll get free food later on in the year.

Need compost? Well, get composting. Any food waste put in a compost bin, and in no time at all (well… months), you have lovely compost to grow your free plants.

It’s also totally possible to regrow vegetable scraps, into brand new veg. Spring onions, garlic are super easy to regrow as you just stick them in water. You can also regrow pineapples, onions and ginger if you’re up for a challenge. Check out Buzzfeed’s tips on How to magically regrow vegetables.

grow your own food

Get couponing

If you’ve never printed off a coupon and got a freebie, you’re missing out. We’ve an awesome guide on extreme couponing, which will help you stock up your cupboard with free goodies.

Make sure you sign up to our weekly newsletter, so you never miss out on a couponing food freebie.

food coupons

Ask for freebies

Brands love to hear how wonderful they are. So tell them how much you love a product, and there’s a really good chance you’ll be sent some coupons to get the item free.

A writer in America did an experiment where he sent 100 letters to companies telling them how great its products are, to see what he would get back - here’s what happened.



Of course, there are no guarantees you’ll be successful, but there are hundreds and thousands of competitions out there where you can win food.

First off, go to all the food product pages you like, and see if there are specific competitions for them. The same goes for foodie sites, such at BBC Good Food, and Good Housekeeping.

You can also try competition forums, where people list all the competitions they find online (with often the answer). MoneySavingExpert’s Competition Time forum, and HUKD’s board are great places to enter.

If you plan on really getting into ‘comping’, consider creating yourself a new email account, because trust us, you’re going to be spammed.

For food freebies, discounts and competitions, check out our dedicated food offers page

And, if you like free stuff, then check out our main freebies page.