Monday, May 10, 2010

Cheap And Sometimes Free Eats

Buzz this
There is no shortage of cost saving tips these days. They mostly focus on simple ways that consumers can reduce costs by cutting out the purchase of things that are not absolutely necessary. But for those who still like to eat out, those who have busy lives’ that dictate their eating on-the-go, or for those who are currently really feeling the strain of the current financial situation, there are alternatives. There are ways to cut down or, in some cases, eliminate food costs while not cooking every single meal at home. Of course, some examples require a bit more creativity, or even some pride-swallowing. In any event, these should be considered fun ways to save money, and for those really in a bind, they can actually be quite useful. This is the guerrilla guide to cheap (and sometimes free) eats.

Eat at Non-Restaurants

There are many nationwide non-grocery chains that offer cheap eats just to get you in or near there doors. Examples include the food court at Costco, and the cafeteria at Ikea. At these types of places, it’s not uncommon to find a meal for under $1.00, with usually a more-deluxe version of the mea costing about $.50 more. The food is usually pretty good too– as evidenced by the usual long lines.

Order Kids Meals

While we do not advocate anything unlawful, most restaurant employees do not care if patrons order off the kids meals. Some will even let people order off the senior menu! In most states it is unlawful to exercise price discrimination, so just politely ask if you can order off a particular menu – you’ll maybe even get a free toy with it.

Cut out the Soda

The bottom line is, soda is bad for you. Therefore, you should attempt to cut out your consumption of it, or at least practice moderation. If you are at a restaurant – fast food or sit-down – ordering a water instead of a soda, is one way to shed a few dollars from your total bill.

Participate in Community Events With Free Food

Most communities have numerous events that are open to the public. This can include, church or rec center pot lucks, fire department BBQs, conventions, and even strangers’ birthday parties in the park (half—joking). If there’s free food available, chances are that the people who bought the food bought in bulk, and they got a good deal. Why not help them consume all the extra?

Say its Your Birthday

Plan your eating out around your birthday or the birthday of your friend. There are lots of restaurants that will offer you a free meal or at least a free desert on your birthday. Some people also make a habit out of doing this, even when it is not their birthday – it can be embarassing if the server asks for an ID, however. Use discretion.

Order Soup and Salad – Fill up on Bread

Lots of restaurants offer affordable soup and salad combos. One good way to make this cost efficient, is to share this with another person – think affordable date night. You can typically also fill up on bread to subsidize your half-meal.

Themed/Discount Nights

Lots of restaurants try to make special themed nights on what are typically the slower days of the week. For example, a Mexican restaurant may have a ‘Taco Tuesday’, and a bar may have a ‘Thirsty Thursday’. This can mean $1.00 tacos, or a $1.00 cocktails – typically much cheaper than what the products are sold for on other days.

Take it To Go

If you are in the mood for a gourmet meal, and don’t want to cook, there are alternatives to eating at a restaurant. Order to go, pay with a coupon and pick it up at the restaurant. You can have wine or your beverage of choice much cheaper at home, and you’ll also be able to avoid the larger dine-in gratuity. Its a big way to cut your bill nearly in half.

Give Blood (or Plasma)

Practice moderation: giving blood can be a good way to get a free cookie and feel good about yourself. Selling plasma, can be a good way to do both of the above, and make a few extra books. Most nurses are nice, and will give you an extra cookie if you are polite.

Get Free Baked Goods at Bakeries

It may still be a secret to many, but those who have worked in cafes and coffee shops know that many of these places get daily deliveries of baked goods. And, at the end of every night, throw or give away the leftovers. Its not unusual to see people at a Starbucks or Coffee Bean at closing ,walking away with a trash bag full of baked goods. For those places that do not give away their food (or prefer to give it to employees) baked goods may be had at half-price towards the end of the evening, or after a certain hour in the day. Either way, ask around. See more..


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