With the price of food rising lately, there’s never been a better time to explore ways of getting a few foody freebies. We’ve put together a list of some of our top tips on how and where to get free food and drinks
Club Cards & Loyalty Rewards
Many brands offer club cards that allow members access to exclusive discounts, offers and freebies. This includes fast-food brands, restaurants, and retail stores selling your favourite goodies.
Every brands reward programme is unique to them and with a little time invested into learning how a brands loyalty programme works, you will be able to make the most of them and to take full advantage of the deals, and sometimes freebies that they offer.
In a later article we will try to delve into some of our top pick programmes to help you, but for now we will go through the ones that offer you free food and drinks and how to get your hands on them.
First Order Discounts – Welcome to the Club
Whilst club cards are a great way of saving money as you shop, or once you’ve proven your loyalty by reaching a certain milestone, not all of them offer freebies right from the get-go. This doesn’t mean the club cards are not worth joining, but we thought you might like a list of some of the ones that do give you those much-loved welcome freebies.
|Krispy Kremes||Free doughnut when you join their loyalty program|
|Greggs||Free hot drink and bake when you join their loyalty program|
|TGI Fridays||Free dessert when you join their loyalty program|
|All Bar One||Free cocktail when you sign up to their newsletter|
Quite often, birthday freebies are perks and rewards that are earnt as a part of a brands rewards programme, but not always. Some brands also offer birthday freebies to customers that simply sign up to their newsletter.
The trick with Birthday freebies is to be prepared. Firstly, you only have one birthday a year, and you can only eat so much food in one day. Many birthday freebies can be redeemed for up to one month, so if you plan when you make use of them, you can bag yourself quite a few freebies both before and after your birthday.
Below is a list of some food & drink related birthday freebies, grouped by how long they last, to help you plan when to use them.
Birthday freebies available only on the date of your birthday
|Kaspa’s||Free cake or milkshake||Simply show your ID to a staff member and you can claim your freebie.|
|Starbucks||Free drink||Available to Gold star members of the loyalty programme only.|
Birthday freebies valid for 7 days
|Lidl||Free doughnut||Available for 7 days from your birthday.|
|Costa||Free cake||A ‘Cake Voucher’ will be emailed to you on your birthday and will expire 7 days after issue.|
|Boost||Free juice||You must be a member of their loyalty programme and the freebie can only be redeemed 3 days before, after or on your birthday.|
Birthday freebies valid for 2 weeks
|Café Rouge||Free drink||Usually, a voucher is emailed to you roughly 1 week before your birthday and is valid for up to 14 days.|
|Las Iguanas||Free meal||Vouchers are usually issued 7 days prior to your birthday and are valid for up to 14 days.|
Birthday freebies valid for 1 month
|Krispy Kremes||Free doughnut||Available during your birthday month|
|Greggs||Free sweet treat||Valid for up to 1 month from the date of your birthday.|
|Frankie & Benny’s||Free meal||Issued via email roughly 10 days prior to your birthday and is valid for up to 30 days from the date of issue.|
|Muffin Break||Free muffin||Available during your birthday month|
|Hot Chocolat||Free chocolate worth £5||Issued 2 weeks prior to your birthday and available for 30 days from that date|
|Zizzi||Free meal||Usually issued 2 weeks prior to your birthday but is valid for 28 days from the date of being issued|
|Pizza Express||Free prosecco or pizza||Available during your birthday month|
Food & drink products are not the only birthday freebies out there. Visit here to explore more.
Free Food Via O2 & Vodafone’s Rewards App’s
Vodafone, O2 & Virgin Media customers all have access to offers, freebies and discounts via their rewards apps. Including free drinks, food and much more.
O2 Priority is the app for O2 customers, including Virgin Media Broadband customers. Previously, they’ve had deals such as a free coffee from Greggs, free drinks at All Bar One, discounted food from Prezzo and much more.
VeryMe Rewards is the rewards app for Vodafone customers where they offer exclusive access to discounts and offers when you eat out.
Kids Eat Free Schemes
Many brands run offers that allow kids to eat for less or even for free. Quite often you will see them during school holidays, but some run them consistently throughout the year.
Generally, taking advantage of kids eat free schemes does rely on you purchasing at least one adult meal, but not always and it is still a great way of feeding the kids for free, whilst also enjoying a trip out. Not to mention the added benefit of not having to cook.
|Brewers Fayre||Two kids get a free breakfast for every adult breakfast purchased.|
|Beefeater||Kids get a free breakfast for every adult meal purchased.|
|Table Table||Two kids under the age of 16 can get a free breakfast with every adult breakfast purchased.|
Free main or all day deals
|The Real Greek||Kids can eat for free on a Sunday. The offer includes a free main from the kid’s menu, a free drink and free ice cream/sorbet.|
|OK Diner||All day everyday kids under 10 can get one free meal for every adult meal purchased.|
|Purezza (Vegan)||One free pizza for children under the age of 10 for every adult meal ordered.|
|Dobbies Garden Centre||Free meal for children with every traditional breakfast or main adult meal purchased.|
|Preto||Kids up to the age of 10 can eat for free with every adult meal.|
|Morrisons||Kids can eat for free from 3pm every day when you purchase one adult meal.|
Free meals during summer holidays
|Angus Steakhouse||From Monday through to Thursday during school holidays kids can eat for free with every adult serving.|
|Yo! Sushi||Monday to Friday, during half term, kids can eat for free with every adult meal purchased.|
We’ve only listed here the deals which provide a free meal. We have plenty of other offers to explore which will reduce the cost of kids’ meals to as little as £1 in some cases.
Shop With Olio, The Zero Waste App
Olio, with an emphasis on reducing food waste, is an app where people can find free food given away by their neighbours, local bakeries, restaurants and retailors to avoid the food going to waste.
Whilst I’m sure some of you may not wish to eat your neighbours’ leftovers, I wouldn’t rule the idea of Olio out completely. Many people are giving away tinned food and freshly grown produce. It’s a bit like going to TK Maxx, sometimes they have loads that you love, sometimes nothing at all.
If you’re lucky, you may also live near a business giving away free food. Olio have food safety trained volunteers who collect and redistribute unsold food from businesses happy to give it away. You’ll find some big brands like Tesco and One Stop.
How To Use The Olio App
Downloading the app is super easy. Like you would any other app, go to your app store or head over to their website to download their online web app.
Once you’ve installed the app, it will ask you for your name, email and to create a password, along with access to your home address. This is so that the app can work out who your local Olioers are allowing them to suggest to you the freebies closest to your home.
Using the app really requires no explanation because you will immediately be fed your local listings. You can edit the filter above the feed if you wish. Inside this filter you will see a source option, if you select “Food Hero” here is where you will see listings from local businesses and published by their volunteers.
Once you’ve found what you’re looking for, you can reach out to the person that has listed the item via the messenger feature within the app, arrange a time for collection and go and collect the goods yourself. Olio users generally will not be open to delivery.
Users are allowed to add food that is past the best before date, but not passed the use by date. Please be mindful that independent users of the app are not bound by the same rules as retail store so you may need to judge for yourself if the quality suits your own standards.
And don’t forget, if you have any food in your own cupboard that you know is going to go to waste but is still edible, you too can list what you have to help out your locals and the community you share.
Become A Mystery Diner
A mystery diner is someone who can get a free meal at a pub, café, or restaurant in exchange for a review of the service and goods. You will initially need to pay for the meal yourself and later be reimbursed for the purchase. Generally, you’re given a budget that they agree to pay you back, so if you stick to the budget, your meal will be free.
Being a mystery diner will likely not make you rich, but it is a great way to get a few extra meals for free and in some cases, you may also get paid a little on top too.
This is a wonderful idea for those who love to eat out (like myself) because being a mystery diner is not necessarily the quickest task. If you were to view this as a job, the amount you save per hour you invest is not necessarily equal to minimum wage, but if you enjoy it, it certainly will save you money on what you love.
You will not only need to go to the restaurant for the meal, but you will need to set some time aside to answer a list of questions about your experience, so you will need to allow a good 30 minutes to 1 hour for this. Only once you’ve fulfilled your side of the arrangement will the company reimburse you for your meal, so make sure to read and answer their questions clearly and carefully.
Become A Mystery Drinker
You heard me. If you’re aged 16 to 20, you can consider becoming a compliance auditor for Serve Legal, a company employed by brands to send mystery shoppers to drink in their pubs, bars & restaurants to ensure their staff are asking for ID when they should be.
You’ll be paid for your time whilst on an audit, usually starting from £6 per visit, plus expenses. They generally don’t take too long since it’s only a drink that you’re ordering so it could be an easy £6 to make. Of course, you do have to consider traveling to the location, so closer to home is likely more cost effective.
Of course, this also mean for the aged 18 and 19, you’ll get a free alcoholic drink whilst performing your audit too.
Forage For Food
Every year it surprises me how few people take advantage of the wild food out there. When you start to explore the world of wild foods you quickly realise that there are lots of it and it can really push you to get creative with your cooking too.
There are a few things to be mindful of when foraging.
Do you have permission – If the land that you’re planning on harvesting from is privately owned you will need to request permission from the landowner before gathering. In fact, most land in the UK is privately owned. You will likely find that a lot of public footpaths in the UK are on privately owned land, so do make sure to check this beforehand.
Know the law – To preserve nature and the existence of the environment around us, wild plants are protected by the Wildlife and countryside Act (1981). According to this legislation, it is illegal to dig up or permanently damage a plant from the wild. Additionally, as per the Theft Act (1968), harvesting for commercial purposes would be considered theft.
Caring for nature – Its good practice to only collect from areas with plenty of supply and to only take what you need and will consume. Leave enough behind to feed and support the wildlife around because birds and other animals also survive off wild plants and berries.
Pick carefully – There are lots of berries, plants and fungi that look rather similar so taking care to know for sure that what you’re harvesting is edible is ultra-important. I would recommend picking up a book on foraging and plants that you can take with you whilst you harvest. You will also quite often find books like this in charity shops – that’s where I got mine. Additionally, you can learn how to forage safely from others if you prefer. The Association of Foragers arranges guided tours you could go on where you can learn in a more practical environment and meet new people at the same time.
What & When To Harvest
Naturally, different plants are ready to harvest in different seasons, so knowing what is available when is probably a great place to start. The National Geographic & The Woodland Trust have some handy resources for you to explore.
Grow Your Own Food
Done right, having your own veg garden can be a great way of saving money. The trick is figuring out what grows well in your area, in your soil and in your space. You don’t want to waste time and money on vegetables that are difficult to grow and don’t produce enough for your needs, because this is when the process costs you more than it makes you.
It’s easy to assume that you can only grow your own food if you have a decent sized garden. The truth is, if you get a little creative you can technically grow food with no garden.
Here is a handy checklist of what to consider and some links to some handy guides, but if you wish to keep it simpler than this there are certain plants that you can just plant and leave to grow, year after year. For example, we planted a bay tree in our garden which keeps growing and producing bay leaves with no more effort that a little prune each year. I don’t think we will ever have to buy a bay leaf again.
Establish the space you wish to grow from – Will it be indoors, outdoors and in the ground, in raised beds or in plant pots? Will it be warm or cold? Is it in the light or shade?
Decide on what to grow – Come up with ideas and research if they’re viable for the space you have. For example, a chili plant grows great indoors, with plenty of light and even better in a greenhouse but would struggle and likely die out in the garden during the colder months. Despite loving the idea of growing a chili plant, if you only have outdoor space, its likely not worth it.
Prepare your soil and compost – There are a few different types of compost out there, and which to use will depend on what you wish to grow. Most people generally keep it simple and pick up a multi-purpose compost but if you research your requirements well, and get the perfect combination you could produce more fruit or veg.
Decide what to put where – What can you put in your light spots and what can go in shaded areas? What can be planted next to what? This is also known as companion planting. Sometimes it’s best to keep certain plants away from others to encourage pollination, discourage pests, and generally to maximise your use of space.
Establish a schedule – When do you need to plant what? When can you harvest? Is there anything that can be planted in an empty spot after you’ve harvested from the original plant?
This is perhaps my most controversial suggestion since it’s not the healthiest option. There are many health risks in overeating, and it is not unknown for some deaths to have occurred in competitive eating. So, before you delve in, I would just like to strongly suggest that you do your research before becoming a professional eater.
Truth be told, I wouldn’t suggest this option because to become a professional eater, you will need to expand your stomach to allow you to eat more food. If finding enough food to fill you is already a concern, I don’t see how making yourself even more hungry is really going to help. But this is an article on how to get free food, and that is what this is.
Ever heard of Man vs Food. The popular tv show in America where the host travels the country entering different eating competitions. Well, you could do this yourself. There are lots of restaurants in the UK that have eating challenges on and often, if you enter, you get the meal for free. After a quick google search you’re sure to find one close to you, and for some light-hearted tips, why not check out this helpful guide by Money Magpie.
Get Free Food From Your Local Foodbank
According to the Food Loss & Waste Report produced by WRAP in September 2022, due to our current cost of living crises 5 in 10 people are cutting back on the amount they spend on food shopping each week. When you compare this to the fact that food prices are going up, this is going to result in many households having less food available to them.
There are charities in place that provide food banks to help the most vulnerable. If you find yourself in position where you cannot afford to pay for food that you and your dependents needs, seeking the help of a food bank may well be an option worth exploring.
Generally, foodbanks can only help people who have been referred to them by their doctor, school, a social worker, or the Citizens Advice. If you feel you’re in a position where you need this kind of assistance but are unsure where to start, then your best bet is to contact the Citizens Advice who can talk you through the entire process, and potentially explore other ways they can help you too.
Once you’ve contacted the Citizens Advice, before they will provide you with a referral to your local food bank, the chances are that they will refer you to an internal advisor who will ask you a few questions about your own personal situation, so that they can establish your eligibility for the help. This is quite common and is to make sure the help is distributed to those who truly need it.
When you do receive a referral, this is usually in the form of a voucher giving you access to a food parcel, normally containing enough food to last 3 days. You will be sent your voucher by the one who referred you along with advice of where your local food bank is.
Failing this, you can locate your local Trussell Trust foodbank here. Trussell Trust is one of the UK’s largest charities providing foodbanks to UK residents, so the chances are there is one local to you. This will direct you to the website of your local foodbank too so you can find any contact details and foodbank specific information from there.
Do You Want To Help?
Foodbanks are charities and without the support of citizens they would struggle to help everyone that needs it. In fact, 90% off the food that Trussell Trust food banks distributed is donated by the public. If you would like to help, there are many ways of doing so.
The easiest and most flexible way is to donate a little food on your weekly shop. Quite often supermarkets have a little stall set up where you can add food that you would like to donate. This gives you the flexibility of helping as and when you’re able to. If you choose to help in this way, its recommended that you only donate foods with a long shelf life, such as tinned goods, cereals, etc.