How To Get Free Food Near You

Today I want to tell you how to eat for free around the world. Although I talk here about my own experiences in cities such as Melbourne, most of these are applicable across the world. It’s easy to fill your stomach on a budget, or even with no budget at all, take a look for yourself…


Couchsurfing is a great way to meet new people, and get fed, watered and sheltered for a bit of cleaning up or cooking every day. Be wary though, not all couches come with food, and you should only use CouchSurfers with good reputations. See their website here

Work somewhere that serves food
Simple, really. If you work at McDonald’s you get free meals. If you work wrapping souvlaki’s for a street vendor I’m sure you can work something out. See an example of these jobs here


WWOOFing is similar to couchsurfing, except you usually get a bed, and nearly always have food and water provided. Do some agricultural work, get free accommodation and grub. Normally associated with the wilderness, believe it or not there are some WWOOF hosts very close to the centre of Melbourne. See the website here

Alternatives include: WorkAway, HelpX and HippoHelp

Don’t let them waste
Restaurants, cafes and many other places that sell ‘fresh’ food always have a surplus. Sometimes it’s a feast, sometimes it’s a nibble. Either way, with some eyelash batting and polite persuasion they will usually let you take whatever is to be thrown away. A long time ago I went to one place so often that we ended up agreeing a deal, I would pay 1 dollar every time I went, no matter what was available. I ended up getting an average of $12 worth of munch for a dollar.

Offer to cook
Housemates, friends, colleagues…ask them what they’re doing that day for food. If it involves cooking, offer to cook it for a slice of the goods. Some might need the washing up doing to swing the decision. I was a terrible cook, so only did this once. Make sure you know how to cook what they are having.

Use free restaurants
Free restaurants are more common in some areas than others. Lentil As Anything is a donation only restaurant in Australia. This was my favourite place to go for food in Melbourne. The food is vegetarian and there are 4 locations across the city. Don’t do what I did and buy your own sliced ham, then pop it on your plate next to the served food. They find it rude and looking back I can see why. Sorry guys, I’ve grown alot since then! I tried to donate at least $5 each meal, but when I was stone cold broke they got nothing, and that is what they are there for. See their website here
Prasadam Hall also serves 3 free meals a day, from a Hare Krishna menu. I never went myself, but have heard good things. See their website here

Of course, usually a simple Google search for ‘free restaurant in ….’ will show you where your nearest one is.

Have you tried any of these? Got any other ideas? Leave a comment…

5 thoughts on “How To Get Free Food Near You

  1. Some interesting ideas!! I actually worked at Maccas for 5 years across two different restaurants and never got a free meal. DIfferent restaurants have different rules, but I only got 50% off, which was still pretty good and I ate way too much McDonalds during those years!

    1. Yes there’s a few factors to think about. Not many people are as brazen as I was to ask for food that was about to be thrown away. The donation only restaurants are great, the atmosphere was always chilled and friendly, usually with a musician strutting their stuff in the corner. I was under the impression McDonalds offered free meals worldwide, so thanks for pointing that out. I suppose the trouble with eating where you work is lack of variety, and health issues if it’s fast food!

  2. This is such an interesting article idea! I did something similar to WOOF called HelpX which was also a volunteer in exchange for room and board program. Not a bad deal at all 🙂

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