How to get free and cheap food and drink – top tips and best apps

How to get free and cheap food and drink – top tips and best apps
How to get free and cheap food and drink – top tips and best apps
Small changes can add to big savings. (Picture: Getty)

Watch the pennies and the pounds look after themselves.

Whether you’ve always been frugal and someone to put in the legwork to save on a purchase or you’re the complete opposite and you need a bit of guidance on how to start small, a good place to start is saving money on your food and drink.

It’s a great way of learning tips that don’t restrict your social life (because going out is actually good for us) and treats but still helps you cut down on spend, building habits to apply to other aspects of your spending and saving later on.

So, let’s tuck in. We can’t quite promise two years of free food and drink (though we applaud the hustle) but these tips can get you started on saving…

How to save money on food and shopping

Below, we’ve compiled a selection of tips that will cover everything from getting cashback on any supermarket groceries to eating out for free at major restaurants.

Supermarket cashback apps

A cashback app or initiative boils down to the concept that, on certain items (that often change weekly or daily) you can claim back all or some of the cost.

young woman shopping in supermarket and checking phone
Using cashback apps can help you make back some or all of the purchases for various products. (Picture: Getty)

You do this by scanning the barcode, registering the details or following other details usually made clear depending on the app or site you’re using.

To use a cashback app:

  • Download and open up one of the apps to see what items are eligible for cashback (and which shops are taking part)
  • Head to the nearest participating store and purchase the items (making sure to keep the receipt)
  • Scan the receipt and, if necessary, the barcodes using the cashback app
  • Wait for your cashback to track (this can take up to a week)
  • Withdraw the money to your bank account or PayPal account

Some of the most popular cashback apps that can be used on food and drink from the major supermarkets are:

  • Shopmium
  • CheckoutSmart
  • QuidCo ClickSnap
  • TopCashBack

Dine out for free as a mystery diner

One of the best ways to eat at some of the finest restaurants is to go there undercover.

Group of friends eating out at a restaurant
Dine out on someone else’s dime! (Picture: Getty)

A common tactic deployed to keep standards high, restaurants will hire agencies to send in mystery diners, who are there to report back honestly on service and food quality.

The best part? If you get picked, you get your meal comped.

Sign up online.

If you’re relatively young-looking, you can also get a pub session for free the same way.

Friends drinking beer at restaurant
Never neglect your skincare routine – a fresh face could afford you a free pub trip. (Picture: Getty)

Sign up for Serve Legal as a pub tester and you’ll get to have a few drinks comped – the only caveat is, because the nature of the job is to check that pubs are ID’ing people who look under 25, you’ll need to have a baby face to qualify.

How get discounted food through food waste apps

You’ve probably done this yourself before – you’ve bought a whole loaf of bread or a mass of fruit on a whim. Come the end of the week, most of it is just going off as you haven’t had chance to eat it all.

Because everyone’s done it at some point, shrewd entrepreneurs decided to make apps that ensure food waste doesn’t, well, go to waste.

box of vegetables
Get a load of food going spare from your neighbours. (Picture: Getty)

Apps like Olio and Too Good To Go allow people to prevent food going to waste.

Olio is more person-to-person based, and you can find raw ingredients, leftovers and other stuff from people near your area.

Too Good To Go partners with major restaurants and businesses, like Pret, Costa and local supermarkets to offer expiring products at a big discount.  

Sign up for newsletters from your favourite takeaways and restaurants

The truth is, despite many not wanting to be spammed with emails, when you sign up and register a profile, you’ll be the first to receive special offers.

In fact, plenty of restaurants will send you a special code around your birthday, for example.

A top tip is to set up an email account specifically for newsletters; this way you won’t lose any important work emails in your main account.

Four young women sitting round a table, eating pizza.
Sign up your friends and start saving. (Picture: Getty)

Refer a friend

Apps like UberEats and Deliveroo will reward you for referring a friend (or friends).

If you know you’re planning a takeaway together anyway, see if you can get a friend to open their first account with one of the apps and you will both usually get a special discount or cashback.

Learn when your local supermarket puts out reduced food

Less technologically advanced but an evergreen tip, suss out the scene in your local area in terms of when supermarkets, restaurants and cafes offer discounted food.

Major supermarkets reduce fresh food and food reaching its sell by date. A bit of recon will give you the best chance to find out what time this usually is.


MORE : Take control of your finances with these simple money-saving tips and tricks


MORE : Savvy offers and lifestyle hacks to help you save money this week

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Author: Jack Slater