In this day and age, we’re all constantly searching for methods of stretching every dollar that little bit further. Luckily, there are a myriad of ways to do just that and even some ways of picking up great items for free. In truth, you may be shocked at just what you can get in this life without paying a cent. Here are 40 genius life hacks that will get you food and stuff for free.
40. Become a mystery shopper
Many restaurants are eager to find out how well they are serving their customers, so they will hire mystery shoppers to visit them. These secret customers will evaluate the food, waiting staff, ambience and so on and fill out a survey. The diner will be paid for his or her trouble, which means they eat for free and make some cash into the bargain. A website called volition.com is a good starting point for finding legitimate mystery shopping companies to which you can apply.
39. Use coupons
Lots of people use coupons to get great discounts on items in stores and online. But did you know there are also plenty of coupons out there that can be redeemed for free food? Keep an eye out in newspapers, e-mail newsletters and coupon apps, and you could get a free meal from your favorite local restaurant or snag free items the next time you hit the grocery store. Coupons Plus Deals is a great website to check out too.
38. Offer to help someone with their vegetable patch for a cut
Vegetables mightn’t be the most expensive thing in the grocery store, but they’re vital parts of a balanced diet and will always be on our shopping lists. To save a bit of cash, if you know someone who grows their own fruit and vegetables, why not offer to help them? You could also try taking a look at Facebook vegetable patch groups to see if anyone needs some assistance. They will likely have surplus they’d be happy to offload and will always welcome help with the labor.
37. Keep an eye out for events serving free food
If you have a keen eye, and a lack of shame, you might be able to eat for free by showing up to events in your local area. Store openings, festivals and markets all tend to offer free hors d’oeuvres and finger food to their guests. It’s simply a matter of talking your way into the party and then you can snack on as much delicious free food as you can manage. Feel free to take a look at the Food Reference website too, which lists food festivals by U.S. state.
36. Start your own garden of perennial herbs, fruits, and vegetables
If you are really dedicated to eating for free, growing your own garden of perennial herbs, fruits and vegetables is a great idea. Herbs such as chives, ginger, mint, sage and thyme; veggies like asparagus, artichokes, and rhubarb; and berry fruits all only need to be planted once but can be harvested for years afterwards. Now it’s true that patience is a virtue here – some may take years to yield, but they’re low-maintenance and will pay off in the long run. Joy US is a useful website for advice when figuring out how to start a perennial garden.
35. Fill out surveys
The next time you are paying your check in a restaurant, don’t just throw the receipt away immediately. Quite often there are details about an online feedback survey at the bottom of the slip. If you actually take the time to fill this out and let the restaurant know about your experience, you could be rewarded with discounts or even a free appetizer or dessert on your next visit. Outlets such as Dunkin’ Donuts, Warrior’s Path, McDonald’s and Hardee’s tend to run such surveys.
34. Become a product tester for new foods on the market
Would you like to get paid to taste test new foods that are being prepped to enter the market? Of course you would – it’s free food! Many companies mail out test products to customers in exchange for filling out an online survey with their thoughts, and it’s a sweet gig. According to The Balance Everyday, General Mills does this kind of consumer testing. Free breakfast cereal? Score!
33. Visit the free sample sections at supermarkets
The bigger grocery and warehouse stores like Costco and Sam’s Club always have a few stands with free samples in operation. Most people will maybe take a small piece of cheese or whatever is being offered and be on their way. But there’s really no rule against you taking multiple samples from multiple stands. The samples are just going to get thrown away if customers don’t eat them, so you might as well try your luck.
32. Enter sweepstakes
You might think “I never win anything,” and therefore be reluctant to enter competitions, but we’re here to tell you that’s the wrong way to think. Someone has to win these things, so entering sweepstakes is a valid way to get free swag if you’re lucky. Restaurant meals, vacations, video game consoles and gift cards are all out there to be won, and, as the old saying goes, you’ve got to be in it to win it. Entertainment Weekly, Avon and Toys R Us all regularly hold sweepstakes, for example.
31. Download the California Pizza Kitchen app
The California Pizza Kitchen app is an awesome gateway to free food and other offers. Once you’ve had your first meal there, you will receive an activation code which can be entered into the app. You’ll then receive a free small plate the next time you visit a restaurant and 20 bonus points. You get 1 point for every dollar spent in-restaurant, and every 75 points equates to a free $5 reward. Nice.
30. Download the Auntie Anne’s app
Buy anything at an Auntie Anne’s location that costs a buck or more and you can then get a free pretzel by joining up to the company’s Pretzel Perks app. From that point on, every dollar spent is equivalent to ten points. You earn another free pretzel with every 250 points gained, so for every $25 spent you’ll be rewarded with a delicious sweet or salty perk.
29. The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf offers a free brewed coffee or hot tea
Los Angeles-based The Coffee Bean & Tea Leaf provides a neat gift for signing up to its Rewards app: a free brewed coffee or hot tea. No one should look that gift horse in the mouth. In a similar vein to other reward programs, you then earn one point for every dollar you spend drinking its beverages. Over time this will translate into exclusive extras and promotions that regular customers won’t get.
28. Download the Jimmy John’s app
Jimmy John’s is a gourmet sandwich chain that specializes in delivering directly to you. If you sign up to its Freaky Fast Rewards app and make your first order, you will receive a totally free eight-inch sub sandwich as a thank you. As the company says on its website, “As a member, you’ll be rewarded for doing what you already do – eating sandwiches.” Can’t argue with that.
27. Join the loyalty club at Halo Burger
Joining the Halo Rewards program will get you a free Quarter Pound burger after your first visit to the restaurant, which is pretty cool. If you refer a friend through the Rewards app, you’ll also get another totally free QP burger. You earn points with every purchase, which over time will equate to even more free food. What’s not to love?
26. Free kids’ meals at B. GOOD
Health Food restaurant B. GOOD pledged to support families eating healthily during the recent global health crisis by expanding its children’s menu offers. On an ongoing basis, it is offering up to two free kid meals for every adult meal ordered either online or in-store. This amazing offer will help the whole family eat well for less during this troubling time.
25. Free small quesadilla with the Taco Cabana MYTC loyalty program
If you are from Texas and you fancy eating some tasty Mexican food for free, you should sign up to the Taco Cabana MYTC loyalty program. It offers a free small quesadilla upon joining, and after that you will get one point for every dollar you spend in-store. After gathering 75 points, you’ll get a $5 reward to be used for another free quesadilla. Or burrito. Or chimichanga. Your choice!
24. Krispy Kreme offers a free donut for signing up to its rewards program
Everyone loves donuts: that is pretty much a universal truth. This is why it stands to reason that you should sign up for the Krispy Kreme Rewards scheme online or by downloading the app. Once you do that, you will receive a totally free donut when you next visit a store location. From that point on, every purchase will get you one credit. When you reach 12 credits, you get another free donut.
23. Email companies to ask for free samples
This tactic for getting free stuff seems obvious, but fewer people than you might expect will try it. It’s super simple: just ask. Lots of companies are happy to send customers free samples to test out. All you really need to do is e-mail, say you’re a big fan of the company, and ask nicely for samples. The worst thing that can happen is the company says no. But if it says yes, then you’re in business. Freeflys has a handy list of companies that are amenable to this.
22. Neutrogena will send you free swag
The Freeflys website claims that Neutrogena will send customers free samples of body oil and shower/bath gel if they request them. This is backed up by the official Neutrogena website, which has a whole section dedicated to ordering samples and coupons. You simply need to create an account on the site and free beauty product samples are just a click away.
21. Tom’s of Maine Toiletries will send you free toothpaste and soap
The “Contact Us” section of the Tom’s of Maine Toiletries website says, “We want to hear from you! Whether it’s about one of our products or an interest in our company – your input is important to us.” According to Freeflys, you should take Tom’s at their word. Why? Because it says that if you send a message, the company may mail you a free bar of soap and toothpaste samples.
20. Email Eden Foods for a box of free samples
Eden Foods is a Michigan-based natural food company that offers “the finest food that can be procured and shared, from growers and handlers we know and trust.” Whole grains, sea vegetables, miso, seed and nut butters, beans; it’s all there. If that sounds like your thing, take Freeflys’ advice and try contacting Eden for a box full of free samples.
19. Pure Protein Bars will send you a couple of free bars
Holbrook, New York health and fitness food company Pure Protein offers a wide selection of protein bars. With varieties including Maple Caramel, Lemon Cake, Greek Yogurt Blueberry and Chocolate Peanut Butter you can nab a tasty treat that is much better for a healthy, active lifestyle than a candy bar. Freeflys says that you can get two free bars mailed to you if you contact the company through its website, so why not give it a try?
18. Free almonds from Blue Diamond Almonds
Blue Diamond Almonds make a wide range of products, all themed around delicious almonds. From the classic snack almonds to the Nut-Thins and almond milks, it’s all super-healthy as well as tasty. If you fancy trying your luck at being sent two free almond packages, Freeflys claims the company will oblige if you contact it and say pretty please.
17. You can get two free candle holders from Colonial Candle
Colonial Candle’s website contact section reads, “We love to hear from you on our customer service, merchandise, website or any topics you want to share with us. Your comments and suggestions will be appreciated.” Well, we’d like to suggest that the company sends us two free small candle holders, please. You know, like Freeways says we can get.
16. Corona will send you bottle openers and branded beer sleeves
According to Freeflys, you could have some cool Corona merchandise sent to your house to enjoy along with the company’s delicious cervezas. If you inquire nicely, the site claims that the Mexican beer purveyor may mail you Corona-branded bottle openers and beer sleeves. There is a contact form on the Corona USA website, just patiently waiting for you to ask.
15. Free samples are available from Earth Therapeutics
Earth Therapeutics has been selling high-quality bath and body products to its customers for more than 20 years. Many of its products are suitable for vegans and are organic, while all of the packaging is made from recycled, non-toxic plastic. Why not drop it a line and ask for the free sample Freeways says you can get?
14. La Yogurt will send you coupons for four free yogurts
On its website La Yogurt says, “The way we see it, every cup is a choice. It’s a choice to lead a healthy lifestyle and to bring a moment of indulgence to your day.” The company makes five different varieties of delicious probiotic yogurt and Freeflys claims that you can get your hands on four free samples if you make contact through the website. You will be sent four coupons that can be redeemed for four free yogurts. Nice.
13. Check out the ‘free’ section on Craigslist
Have a look at what people are giving away in your local area. Some folks don’t want the hassle of listing items on eBay because they just want rid of them and don’t care if they don’t make any cash in the process. It means you could find unwanted furniture, for example, on the ‘free’ section of Craigslist, and all you’d have to do is drive to pick it up.
12. Take a peek at Facebook Marketplace
Facebook Marketplace is a potential treasure trove for free stuff in your area. While, yes, most listings will be people selling their wares for cold hard cash, you may find a gem of a free item in the mix that someone just wants out of their house. Maybe they have an old DVD collection cluttering up their living room and they want someone to take it off their hands. That someone could be you.
11. Check out what Freecycle has to offer
Freecycle’s slogan is “changing the world one gift at a time” and its mission statement is “all about reuse and keeping good stuff out of landfills.” There are 5,337 groups within the network and over 9 million members all around the world. You can post listings asking for specific items and, chances are, someone out there will be willing to give them to you, while you both save the environment in the process.
10. Download free books to your Amazon Kindle
If you have a Kindle device, and aren’t particularly picky about what you read, there is a whole world of free eBooks on Amazon for you to download. It’s unlikely you’ll get the newest bestsellers, but a huge swath of the classics are available to download for free. You may also find a free title by an undiscovered author about to break through into the mainstream, and you can say you read their book first.
9. Join the Everyday Family website
Preparing for the arrival of a baby is one of the most exciting, but also stressful, periods in anyone’s life. Therefore, if you can join a website like Everyday Family that offers helpful advice and tutorials, it’s a huge weight off. But, even better than that, the website offers the chance to join several of its baby clubs, such as the Everyday Mom Sampling Club, which supplies you with free baby stuff.
8. Use Tubi as a free alternative to Netflix
These days there are a ton of streaming services out there, all vying for our valuable time and money. But, if you don’t have the spare cash to give to Netflix and don’t mind not being totally up-to-date on all the current hot shows and movies, you should give Tubi a try. It has a library of more than 7,000 titles you can stream for free, including movies such as Memento, Road To Perdition and Thelma & Louise.
7. Sign up to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library
If you have a child younger than five years old, you can sign them up to Dolly Parton’s Imagination Library. Your little one will then be sent a free book every single month until they start school. Country music legend Parton started the program in 1995 with the aim of creating a love of reading among pre-schoolers. The program is available in five countries and more than a million books are sent out free of charge every month.
6. Join the Free Birthday Clubs of various restaurants and businesses
No matter how old you get, you will always love receiving gifts on your birthday. That’s just human nature. But did you know that, if you sign up for the right apps or online birthday clubs, restaurants such as Red Lobster, T.G.I. Fridays and Dairy Queen will give you free stuff on your special day? From free meals and drinks to shopping discounts, it’s all out there if you know where to look.
5. Join SwagBucks and InboxDollars
Websites such as SwagBucks and InboxDollars are invaluable tools for wrangling free stuff and getting paid in the process. Signing up to these sites will see you rewarded with cash for your daily online activities, such as playing certain games, filling out surveys and redeeming coupons. You can also request free sample packages and get paid for testing out apps.
4. Walmart and Target give away free sample boxes at different times of the year
It’s a good idea to keep tabs on the Walmart and Target websites, as both retailers offer free sample boxes periodically throughout the year. Walmart’s most repeated offerings are its baby boxes, which come in prenatal, new-born and toddler categories. Target’s free boxes change every month, and you may have to fork out for shipping, but it’s still a darn good deal.
3. Become a Freegan
When it comes to pinching pennies, lots of people purposely search out short-dated items in the reduced section of the grocery store. But if you wanted to take things further, you could become a “freegan” and do your shopping in the dumpsters behind the store. Many of the items thrown away by the staff are perfectly safe to eat a few days after their sell-by date, and there is a subculture of freegan groups out there on Facebook and Meetup taking advantage of this.
2. Join Bzz Agent
If you had the chance to receive free products from companies such as Gillette, Hershey’s, Samsonite and L’Oreal, you’d do it, right? Well, sign up to Bzz Agent and you can do just that. All you need to do in return is voice your opinion about the products on social media. In fact, the more posts you make and the more influential they are, the more samples you’ll be sent. Simple.
1. Forage for mushrooms, vegetables, and fruits
Foraging for food in the wild is a cool way of procuring delicious free mushrooms, fruits, and vegetables. It has gained popularity in recent years, especially amongst people who enjoy a back-to-nature approach to life. If you are new to it, though, make sure you do your research on Foraging.com, which has advice on groups in the U.S. who can advise you on what is and isn’t safe to eat.