How To Eat Out For Free: 7 Ways To Score Free Meals

The Money Manual
October 10, 2018
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I love free food. Just the thought of Costco sample stands and free pancake day sends a thrill through my system.

But in all honesty, free food is a very serious business. For people living on a tight budget, college graduates paying off their debt, rapidly growing families, and so many others, free food, especially free food at restaurants, is something that can really help to shrink a budget.

Here are some of my favorite tips and tricks to get as much free food while eating out as possible.

1. Hack your way to free gift cards for eating out

Wouldn’t it be nice if someone just handed you a bunch of gift cards so you could eat out for free whenever you wanted to? That’s essentially what the Drop app does.

Just download the app and link it to your credit or debit card, then shop as you normally would with those linked cards. With every purchase you make, Drop will reward you with points that you can exchange for gift cards.

What I like to do is target all my shopping points toward gift cards that allow me to eat out. Recently, I took 10,000 of my points and put them toward a $10 Dunkin’ Donuts gift card. Friday donuts at the office were obviously on me. But you can also redeem your Drop points at Chipotle and Starbucks and many more options.

Get started with Drop to start earning points that you can redeem for free food!

2. Share your opinion and eat for free

Ever wish you could be one of those fancy foodie influencers that get free food just for sharing their opinions on burgers and fries? Survey Junkie allows you to get pretty close to that wish, by asking you to share your opinions on your favorite brands and giving you cash to do so.

All you have to do is send in your email and complete your profile and then Survey Junkie will send you a list of products and services for you to review.  The more you review, the more Paypal cash you earn and the more pizzas you can order. It’s that easy.

Start sharing your opinion and earning money with Survey Junkie today (and then eating for basically free)!

3. Find free food online (seriously)

Who knew that there were ways to collect free food online? By taking online surveys with Ipsos-i-Say, you can quickly earn points that can be redeemed as gift cards at places like Starbucks, Olive Garden, Longhorn Steakhouse, and more.

In addition, Ipsos-i-Say members have the opportunity to enter special contests for even bigger prizes besides just gift cards. From earning upwards of thousands of dollars to winning your own BBQ grill, these contests are no joke.

Start earning your gift cards today with Ipso-i-Say!

4. Make a meal out of free samples

The best grocery stores are not the ones with organic cheese and gluten free cereals: the best grocery stores are the ones that offer free samples. From pretzel chips dipped in hummus to mini deli sandwiches, a couple rounds of sample munching through your local grocery store can get you a pretty sizable meal. Sure it’s not eating out a restaurant, but it’s eating out of your house, and it can make for a really fun date night or a night out with close friends. 

Some of my favorite places to sample-munch are my local farmer’s market, Trader Joe’s, and, of course, Costco. The number of samples that Costco provides is slightly alarming, although you will definitely not find me complaining.

5. Make a mental note of the restaurants with the best free food

Some restaurants are better than others when it comes offering people free food–bread baskets, cheese samplers, popcorn, you name it. While you may not be able to go to one of these restaurants without buying anything, invest in a drink that you can nurse all night long and then get to eating the free food.

6. Join as many food rewards programs as you can

If there is a certain cafe, restaurant, or food chain that you visit often, you should check to see if they have a rewards program. From Dominos and Panera to your neighborhood coffee shops, these reward memberships can get you a lot of free perks.

I’ve been a member of my local coffee shop rewards program for a couple of years now and I get a free cup of joe for every ten that I buy.

7. Watch out for food holidays

National French Fry Day, National Chocolate Day, National Pancake Day, in America there is a national food holiday almost every day of the week. And depending on the food item being celebrated, you can bet that restaurants and grocery stores will be offering a deal on the item.

McDonalds, for instance, offers a free medium order of fries on National French Fry Day (July 13) while IHOP offers a free stack of pancakes on Pancake Day (February 27). Both of these days are marked in red on my calendar!

Feature Image: Twenty20

What You Need To Remember :

Coupon like a pro – Ibotta

Share your opinions – Survey Junkie

Free gift cards for food – Drop

Find free food online – Ipsos-i-Say

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