March 10 2010|07.43 PM UTC

Samantha Eckles

The Guerrilla Guide to Cheap (and Sometimes Free) Eats

Category: Featured, SavingsTags: , , , ,

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

(Above: Food @ IKEA Source)

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.

Get your Fast Food From a Grocery Store


If you are on the run, it is easy to think of fast food restaurants as the only option to quickly filling that empty stomach. However, grocery stores offer much larger selection, and you’ll be surprised at how affordable it is to run in and grab some fresh fruit and/or something else light. It will be much healthier too.

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.

Go Out to Lunch Instead of Out to Dinner


A lot of people realize that dinner menus and the lunch menus are priced differently, but they usually realize it when they are at dinner. For some reason, dinner prices can range 25-30% than lunch, for the same food items; but the only real difference is that they are being consumed at night. Going in at lunch keeps the price low, as well as the gratuity.

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 embarrassing 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.

Become a Mystery Shopper


One great way to get food for free is to become a mystery shopper. In many cases, you can get paid for it. Lots of these programs give their participants a dollar amount they are to spend say $5.00, and $20.00 to spend it. They are often allowed to keep the difference, along with the purchased item. Imagine getting paid money to buy food, and then getting to eat food.

Free Samples


Free samples, alone, equal one morsel of tasty goodness. However, 20-30 free samples can equal a filling meal – that is entirely free. Many places such as Whole Foods, Trader Joe’s or Costco have more samples than usual during the busier retail hours/days. Figure out which days these are, and make your rounds: Costco on Satudays, and Whole Foods on Sundays.

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.

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{ 102 comments… read them below or add one }

Jewzilla November 16, 2009 at 4:18 pm

I will not tip on to-go orders! You haven’t given me any damn service, why should I tip you? Should I tip the pimply teenager giving me a whopper? No! Then why should I tip the 30 year old counterpart? You are getting paid not by my tips, but by your employer! Why does the onus fall on me? I’m already paying for the food.
Realize that this is a guerilla guide to saving money, guerilla implying “by any means necessary.” The people needing to do this do not have a lot of money to begin with, so shut your mouth that you won’t be able to buy the new season of grey’s anatomy on dvd, people are worse off than you. AND if you can’t afford to live solely off your wages, then get a better paying job.
I’m really starting to dislike the fact that tips are not thought of by wait staff as something extra to reward great service, they are thought of as mandatory! Also, don’t forget you came to a website called BILLSHRINK you neanderthal! BillShrink guy don’t feel like you have to edit your own article to conform with these waiters, you should feel free to say that here, if no where else!

Thank you BillShrink, this is the first time at this website and I will be returning in the future for further guerilla tips. Thank you!


Tommy November 16, 2009 at 4:31 pm

There is free food everywhere if you know your edible local wild plants (unless you live on the north pole, but then you can always raid santa’s elves for cookies)


AJW November 16, 2009 at 4:32 pm

Why tip people that don’t pay their fair share of taxes anyway? tipping waiters and waitresses is just a scam.


Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 4:33 pm

If you don’t feel like tipping at a to go place, then don’t go. In fact, stop going to these places and eat at home or go to a fast food place and not worry about tipping.

Of course if the restaurant closes because of decreased overall revenues, oh well.


Lucas November 16, 2009 at 4:40 pm

You guys didn’t even list the best one… partycrashing! =D rock up to wedding receptions and chow down casually, if someone starts talking to you and realises they don’t know you, say you’re Sarahs friend. Or batman if you feel brave.

Oh and in Australia, summer means BBQs on pretty much every street, even stores have them for customers. $1.50 sausage in bread with a tonne of onion, thanks!

At the end of business days, Japanese places tend to pan off their sushi like crazy since its only good for one day. For about $5 you can pick up some trays of completely fine sushi.

I’m not sure which stores exactly do this, but I know for a fact Coles supermarket does here in Australia. If you go to purchase an item which scans at a higher price than what was labelled where it was stocked, Coles promises to give you the first item of that quantity for free and any others you’ve purchased at the lower, labelled price. Its essentially literal bargain hunting, grab a basket and look for food items you know are in the wrong section or at least poorly laid out sections. Again, if you’re really brave, swap some of the little “SALE!” tags around yourself.

And if we’re talking loss-of-dignity-savings, there’s really no roof on the potential savings. Go home and stay with parents for a while, family company and they’ll be doing backflips to cook for you! Pretend you’re a hobo and hit the soup kitchen. Go on an exchange program and stay with a family in another country, after the initial cost, you get to eat free for a year! Whackadoo!


Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 4:42 pm

There is no need to tip on a takeout order! Sorry, but the majority of work is done by the cooks in the kitchen. The “waiter” or “waitress” in this case is nothing more than a cashier. Assembling the order…pffffft…grabbing a to-go box and putting it in a bag? Puh-lease. I certainly don’t tip the cashier at my local Publix when I get a sandwich from the deli.

And for that matter – stop tipping everywhere unless you are sitting down at a restaurant! You don’t need to tip at Subway, Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, etc. These folks are getting an agreed to wage for their work – not lower than minimum wage as a waiter or waitress receives for their work. It might be nice – but it isn’t required at all.


Mike November 16, 2009 at 4:58 pm

You don’t tip at McDonald’s or Subway or any other place where you pick your food up at the counter, so why should you tip on a to go order when you don’t get table service? To me the tip is what you pay for good table service, not because your food was assembled in a cardboard box properly. I can’t imagine someone would expect a tip for answering the phone and putting the food in a box. I have worked a number of pizza delivery jobs where I relied on tip, but I also took the to go orders and it certainly wasn’t as difficult as you make it out to be. I guess I should start tipping the guy at blockbuster because he has to ring me up.


no obligation November 16, 2009 at 4:59 pm

Tough shit if the management is scamming you into only accepting wait-staff wages with tips to supplement when you work at a to-go window. I don’t tip the folks at McDonald’s or the chefs in the back of any establishment so I’m not going to tip you just for typing my order into a machine.


humanfly November 16, 2009 at 5:15 pm

Who in their right mind tips on take out? You get paid to serve food. That’s your job. You only get a tip if you give good table service. If I’m taking the food home, I’m not taking up a table, I’m setting my own table, and cleaning up my own mess. I’m sorry, but if you want more money, here’s a real valuable tip: get a better paying job.


a-n-o-n-y-m-o-u-s November 16, 2009 at 5:28 pm

potlucks are on the list under community events, read a bit closer =P


jasper November 16, 2009 at 5:32 pm

Why don’t restaurants just pay their staff a fair wage and increase the cost of their items 15-20%? Why do the consumers have to look like the bad guys when they don’t properly make up for the wait-staff’s paltry wages?


Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 5:58 pm

Is it just me who doesn’t give a damn about waiting staff and their tips?
I don’t live in the US, granted, but this advice is on how to get food cheaply, isn’t it? It’s not about how to subsidise the low wages of service-industry front-liners!


Keith November 16, 2009 at 6:24 pm

Can someone please explain to me why servers act like they are entitled to a tip? It’s not my job to pay your wages, it’s the restaurant’s job.


John November 16, 2009 at 6:26 pm

I have never heard of tips for to-go food. It’s definitely not standard practice up here.


marius November 16, 2009 at 6:30 pm

I reckon the people bitching about tips live in the us.

“their wages are dependent on tips just like any other server.”

Might be true in the us. In Norway, you leave a tip if the experience was something extraordinary. Fast served, excellent food, polite waiters and staff. Its not normal to tip in restaurants, and NEVER at fast food joints. More common in bars though.

“For the love of God, learn about living in the modern world before you go spouting off like you know something!”

Meh. We kinda get paid by our bosses over here, not by our customers. But hey. I know we are not living in the modern world. You know. Wages paid by our bosses, paid sick leave, free health care, taxes.

I got a tip for eating cheap: Go to the store once a week(never when hungry). Buy a lot of stuff that you like. Meat, veggies, fruit, bread, soups etc. A lot of the stuff you buy can be used both for breakkie, lunch, dinner and supper. Like tomatoes, bread, bacon, lettuce, eggs etc.


Sarah November 16, 2009 at 7:08 pm

Lord…the tip issue? Really? So, everyone should sit down and eat PURELY to pay someone a tip to help someone’s income? Are all people who get takeout food the devil? Honestly, the tip war is starting to sound borderline greedy. If you get a glass of water at a restaurant – TIP. If you set foot inside a restaurant and don’t buy anything – TIP. If you even look at a restaurant – TIP.

Honestly, every article that ever mentions food gets attacked by the waiters of the world, bullying people into tipping, reminding us all that the restaurant industry pays you terribly and that if everyone doesn’t tip, you will die in a gutter.

As much as I love the “you’re probably a terrible tipper who doesn’t know what it’s like working in the industry” response, I over-tip to a fault and I have waited tables. I knew exactly what I was getting into.


Anonymous November 16, 2009 at 7:18 pm

Isn’t becoming a mystery shopper the same as GETTING A JOB?


CRIS November 16, 2009 at 7:42 pm

Tip: Get a brita filter as opposed to buying bottled. Or, even better, save jugs/big bottles and find a community well…some parks even have “jug fillers” attached to their water fountains.

It’s AMAZING how much $$ you save.


confused November 16, 2009 at 8:07 pm

Wait, tipping for takeout? Whatever for? Have you all entirely forgotten what tipping is? It is a gratuity, and it represents appreciation for service well-done after a meal. How, exactly, should I tip someone when I am not receiving meal service?

If a tip is “required” before a meal is even seen or consumed, then it is not a gratuity for services rendered, it is a fee.

If tipped earners are preparing take-away meals, thus requiring them to work in a manner that reduces their tip-earning potential, that is an abuse of managerial discretion, and I *WILL NOT* be held accountable for the brokenness of restaurant industry practices. If they choose not to pay their people correctly, and it IS incorrect to have tipped earners working a non-tipped position, that is an HR problem that tipping or not tipping for take-out does not fix.


Dale Clark November 16, 2009 at 8:33 pm

ahh thanks for the great tips..also buying day old bread and what not from say wal-mart is good..


Nam November 16, 2009 at 9:30 pm

Really full tip on the togo?

I do 15-20% dine in
5-10% for delivery (pizza/chinese)
3-5% for togo

It always seemed to me to reflect the level of the dining experience…


Hiroller November 16, 2009 at 9:44 pm

I’m surprise they left out stopping by fast food restaurants at closing time. Buy something – anything – and they’ll unload everything they’d otherwise send to the dumpster. Just ask.


Stephen November 16, 2009 at 10:24 pm

I for one am tired of restaurant workers complaining about low tips or how a certain tip range is “required”. A tip, in my opinion, is for servers that go well above and beyond the normal duties of their job — either by being genuinely very friendly, or taking the extra step to help their customer out. Otherwise, I’m not going to be the one to pay YOUR income, that’s your employers responsibility.

There are plenty of entry-level jobs that don’t require you to hang your income hopes on the tips of others, and by choosing a job that DOES, you are making the conscious gamble on the ups or downs of such a system. So if you’re not getting enough pay because of low tips, maybe you should a) improve your work skills, or b) find a job where you get paid a normal wage like everyone else, and stop BITCHING every time someone gives you less than $5. You smiled and brought my food over to me, don’t get too full of yourself.


Waiterhater November 17, 2009 at 1:34 am

Tipping is retarded it was introduced to subsidize workers earnings when they were getting paid bare min wage.. nowadays waitress/waiters get a fair wage and tipping should have gone away with the dinosaurs. And i hate retarded waitress/waiters who think its their god given right to a tip, pull you head out of your ass and earn your money.


Carlos November 17, 2009 at 2:29 am

What’s with the ridiculous expectation of a tip?

Tip’s are something given for exceptional service! They are not something that should be expected just because you walk around and bring plates of food to a customer’s table! That’s just ridiculous.

I’ve worked as a waiter before and did not expect people to give me tips. I treated everyone the same and gave exceptional service period. And I was tipped very, very well but I didn’t expect it as my due for being in the restaurant business.

These days tips and the promotion of their being given by all as an expectation have become a cheap way for restaurants to not pay their employees a fair wage.

It is not the public’s job to supplement the wage that restaurants give their employees. It is the public’s perogative to give a tip for what they consider exceptional service far and above the minimum service expected of a good employee.

When a gratuity becomes an obligatory part of the meal cost it’s not longer a tip is it?



Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 3:35 am

learn to get a job where you’re paid fair wages. damn.


Anonymous November 17, 2009 at 5:56 am

I work a job where I just get paid. If you rely on tips to live then I’d suggest quitting for a better paying gig.


Aaron November 17, 2009 at 6:20 am

You do not deserve a tip for putting a to-go order together. Yeah, I’ve worked in the restaurant biz for awhile. Those to-go workers get an hourly wage equal to pr higer than minimum wage. Want to make money? Wait tables and charm customers. I have never expected a tip for putting food in a bag and handing it to someone-its the chefs who are doing the preparing.


DM/Diddy November 17, 2009 at 9:37 am

Although this isn’t really food, here’s a way to save on coffee drinks. Make them at home!

My wife and I have a latte every morning. At $4 a pop at Starbucks, that’s $2,920 a year. Drop $100=$300 for a decent pump-driven (not steam) espresso machine and save thousands! Payback time for a $300 Gaggia Espresso Color – six weeks! Seriously, it’s a no-brainer.

Also, you save time and expense of not driving to the coffee shop, waiting in line, tipping, etc. With a little practice, you will make a superior latte. And there’s no temptation to buy that muffin!


Chad November 17, 2009 at 10:00 am

“Also… YOU ARE NOT EXEMPT FROM TIPPING ON A TO-GO ORDER! In restaurants, people working carry-out do quite a bit of work to assemble your order, and their wages are dependent on tips just like any other server.”

You do not get a %10-%15 tip for putting my food in a bag and handing it to me, sorry.


Jesse November 17, 2009 at 10:04 am


Tipping isn’t mandatory, it is earned by delivering quality yes, you can exempt yourself from tipping any time you please.


Lance November 17, 2009 at 11:28 am

At the cinema it costs $5 for a small popcorn, along with a $4 small drink, and a $2 candybar, so all of those together make around $11.

But there’s also something on the menu called something like a “fun box” (something like that). Basically it’s a children item that is a box with nick toons covering it, and they put in a small drink, small popcorn, and let you choose a candy. It costs around $6.50. So I get to save almost $5 just by slightly embarrassing myself with a box with Dora all over it :)


Anklesneeze November 17, 2009 at 2:27 pm

Here’s a fun tip. Make other items on the menu at fast food restaurants from thier dollar menu. Get a McDouble minus

ketchup then add shredded lettuce and mac sauce and the the equivent of the big mac w/o the center bread and will cost any

where from a $1 to $1.60 depending on whether the individual restaurant charges for those ingredients some do some don’t.

Or use some packets of 1000 island dressing(mac sauce)you saved from getting with a salad somewhere else.
Also get the McChicken and a side salad break up the chicken and put on salad for a crunchy chicken salad.
Try the McChicken without dressing and ask for dipping sauce take the patty and eat it with dipping suace like the

McNuggets!you can get 3 mc chickens for the cost of the mcNuggets (prices vary)

As far as tips go… I worked as a Dishwasher/busboy in high school and tho the waitstaff was supposed to share a % of

them with us and never did… so I’m a little bitter. I would be curious if those wait ppl complaining are sharing their

tips or not??
Though I do tip 15%-20% BUT I don’t spend more then I need to on a meal just so they get a better tip… in fact since I

have had 3 kids I rarely eat out with the family ever.


chad November 17, 2009 at 3:11 pm

Wonderful post. Its about time like minded people like me have their say. Plenty of restaurants squeeze you with horrible margins. Its not the consumer’s fault management is not paying the ‘servers’ well. That should be calculated into the overhead of the meal, guilted upon the consumer. Whenever I go out, I look at reducing their margins, and preserving my wallet. Consumer power! Most people consider customers as stupid and like to herd them through gates of manipulation, instead of providing value. A serious problem in our economy.


davesworkout November 17, 2009 at 3:14 pm

If you are THAT cheap that you resort to stiffing your waiter, sharing a meal intended for one, etc…. Maybe you need to adjust your spending habits in a way that doesn’t screw other people out of their income! Those “curbside carryout” people generally make ~$2-$3/hr. The waiter who gets your $.50 15% tip off the $4 check because you had water+bread and a soup could have made ten to twenty times that off a table who wasn’t a cheapskate!

If you are totally poor – you can go to the store for about $2 and buy dry brown rice and dry beans. Add another $1 for a bag of frozen mixed vegetables, and you can feed a family of 8 a healthy nutritious meal. There is absolutely no excuse for going out to eat and trying to scam some free food – it is SO cheap to eat healthy! There’s not a grocery store in the world where you can’t buy cheap beans and rice and frozen veggies!


Shaun from Australia November 17, 2009 at 8:16 pm

Um… Maybe you waiters, waitresses, etc in the USA should just, oh I don’t know… demand a living wage?

We’ve had a living wage in Australia for decades and apart from a very few cases, there are no “working poor”. We also have things like free “socialist” health care, a decent welfare (social security) system, fantastic cities, and a working and robust economy. Perhaps if enough people realise that maybe the USA isn’t the greatest place on Earth, they might just get around to thinking of ways of improving the situation you folks are in.

Or just move to Australia ;)


Brandon November 19, 2009 at 8:19 pm

First, in response to Chris; B.S. (2004 Biology) Master’s (2007 Wildlife Pathology), waiter (1999-present).

The job: We in the service industry enjoy the fast-paced environment. I don’t continue to do it because I love slaving over your coffee, shoes, car, lunch, etc. I do it because I enjoy helping others, I have a particular skill set that allows me to put up with abuse from bosses and patrons alike and I enjoy the company of my peers. I’m paid to serve you, not grovel under you.

The pay: We work To Insure Proper/Prompt Service (TIPS). The guy who delivers your pizza? The bartender slinging your drink? The plumber fixing your leak? We remember you. You pay our bills. Short us, and you might get served with a smile, but you should see how well we do our jobs to those cordial individuals who do right by us. Quid pro quo.

The tipper: The reason college students, the poor, frugal families and my cohorts in the service industry tip better than you do? We’re here working to make ends meet so you can enjoy your Sunday Brunch. Ask us the last time we’ve had Sunday off.


Kim December 1, 2009 at 7:36 pm

Wow. I have never seen so many ignorant people in one place say that servers think they’re “entitled” to tips they don’t deserve for “just doing their job” and that if they don’t like it they should “go to school” or “get a better paying job.”

Servers make $4.21/hr in the US. Yes, in our society, whether we like it or not the onus IS indeed on the customer to tip servers.

Most non-trustfunded students work in restaurants to support themselves through school. And if your server/bartender/delivery driver is older than college age that does NOT generally mean they are a lazy/idiot/inferior being. Some people actually LIKE it.

And the MAJORITY of diners tip decently for good service. If you are an asshole customer with a disgusting sense of entitlement, I will serve you adequately, with a polite smile anyway, and when you don’t tip, I will remember you, and I will never waste my time or effort on you again. If you are a good customer who treats me with basic human respect and tips fairly for the pleasant experience I provided you, I will remember you, and take care of you, throw a free drink every now and again, and keep you coming back to my table.

So if your server hates you, check yourself. We all remember who you all are.


sthwicked December 2, 2009 at 12:13 am

“…many places also deduct the tip for the cooking staff from the cost of the food, not based on the size of the tip, so if you don’t tip, its actually costs the server money, your stealing from them.” Comment by Anonymous — November 16

I find this hard to believe!!! let me get this straight, a restaurant owner has priced a meal, say, 20$. If I don’t tip the meal, you have ordered to go, the server has to pay (in some form) the cook a tip, I have neglected?!

HAHAHAHAHA! I would love to have people like you to work for me. I’d end up charging you for your work at the end of the week, and I’d be extremely angry if you didn’t tip me!



Tam December 3, 2009 at 9:10 am

Tips are a rip off. They should be paying the waitstaff more. I don’t go out very often for just that reason. Prices sure go up, why don’t they compensate their employees?


Anonymous December 4, 2009 at 7:08 pm

i rarely tip at to-go places.


Rick December 6, 2009 at 2:21 am

Tips are for service, if I get my order to go it’s rather hard to see much service worthy of a tip. I’ve sure never seen someone tip at the drive through window.

For those complaining about not getting tips, it isn’t my fault your boss does not pay you enough. If you want a tip you need to go above and beyond what you are paid to do. It is also not my fault you choose to work in a job which provides a wage which you have issues living on. I am not responsible for your wage and should not be expected to increase it just because you did your job. Laws exist for minimum wage, again if you go above and beyond what is expected of you and I can afford to tip I will but you shouldn’t expect it anymore than I should expect you to tip me for being a nice customer. Plenty of jobs pay minimum wage and are not in the service industry so therefore do not involve tips.

Based on the replies from the servers here, to get a pleasurable experience as a repeat customer I must tip….your boss does not pay you to be anything but pleasurable people, AGAIN IT IS NOT A CUSTOMERS FAULT YOUR BOSS DOES NOT PROVIDE AMPLE COMPENSATION FOR YOUR SERVICES OR THAT YOU CHOOSE SUCH A JOB. Kim you have an issue with us mentioning the expectancy to tip yet you show in your post that you have such an expectancy. No matter what you believe the onus of financial compensation is on the business you work for not the customer paying the business for service. Do you tip the guy that changes your oil? How about the computer tech that fixes your computer or the sales person whom works at a big box store?

As for the argument about college students as servers their are other job opportunities open to college students, maybe if servers stood up for themselves against the industries low compensation practices this wouldn’t be an issue.

Not everyone can afford to tip so having the mentality that time and effort is wasted on them just because they didn’t provide you with their money when you provide a pleasurable experience while being paid by your boss without you even knowing their financial situation is bull. Here’s a tip, just because I don’t tip the 1st time doesn’t mean I won’t tip the next, if you were more rude the 2nd time around I would mention it to you and likely give what would have been your tip to someone else whom didn’t have a chip on their shoulder.

You may not like these facts but it seems here that your would be customers are of the same line of thought so it’s time that you up your quality of service to earn those tips. If you need tips to live I also assume you don’t spend frivolously such as having a cell phone, designer clothes, eat out, go to movies etc. Bottom line, it’s a double standard as servers are the only ones that seem to expect tips.


boom December 13, 2009 at 2:30 pm

I order the kids meal all the time. Never been denied. Cheaper, and Usually more healthier too.


Anonymous January 6, 2010 at 11:24 am

I work at a grocery store, and in the produce section customers frequently say they bought some tangerines or something last week and they were awful. Could they please test one to make sure they are better this week? We’re obligated to peel or cut up said fruit to offer them a taste. I also see deli customers asking to sample meat and cheese before they buy it. I’m sure this would work in the bakery section too. It’s not much, but it’s something. Don’t be afraid to request samples!


Terryinhopkins May 3, 2010 at 1:06 pm

Good advise. I am on a fixed income and I need to save all I can. When I eat out, I tip generously, afterall, the staff need to live too. I do order from the kids menu because I can not eat a full sized meal. Never had a problem with that either. If I can’t afford to eat out this week, I stay home and cook or eat a sandwich – - THAT IS MY CHOICE. This article will not apply to each of us in the same way and I guess we all need a chnace to gripe occassionally, BUT, not all articles apply to YOU. Good one – 10 thumbs up.


Jonas August 20, 2010 at 4:47 pm

Great ideas, except they present one false economy in situations of less healthy food – nutrition and energy level are lost for the gain of a ‘random feast.’

I would rather be selective and pass over junky snacks than stuff my face just because it’s cheap. Not taking care of oneself is just as foolish as neglecting one;s money. Both require educating oneself. A healthy lifestyle can even pay off in eventual medical savings.

And – tipping is for TABLE service, get over it. You need to accept the reason many people take out food is there is usually a discount or savings involved – it’s not done to reduce the server’s work and still reward them anyways.


Jenny September 17, 2010 at 7:50 pm

Great post with some great ideas. Thanks for sharing!


Josie September 28, 2010 at 9:09 pm

There are some things we do to save money – for instance if we happen to be eating fast food – try taco bell instead of burger king – our meals at the taco bell are almost always 1/2 the cost of the other and just as filling.

In terms of grocery savings, I read a blog post about someone who was using powdered milk which you can buy in bulk very cheap and it tastes great and lasts a long time. It wasn’t suggested to use it to drink but you can certainly reconstitute it and use it in recipes that require alot of milk. Milk is expensive these days and using a powdered version might allow you to make those yummy puddings, etc. more often!

Also try fresh fruit snacks instead of bagged potato chips, etc. Its healthier anyhow and costs less overall!


Bart October 19, 2010 at 11:53 pm

Yeah, Taco Bell often has good $3 meal packages and such. The Burger King dollar menu is pretty good, though. It’s not something anyone should eat too often, of course.


Judy April 5, 2011 at 12:45 am

Hey dude! I was reading this blog and totally loved the idea of getting all this stuff for free. Now I’m working on a new reality show about people who “Eat for Free” and I wanted to see if you’d be interested in chatting with me about the show! Also, if you want, it’d be cool if you could pass along this info to people who follow this page or just post it up in case anyone is living this lifestyle and wants to chat about it too! We’re super excited to show off this stuff on a major network so definitely let me know what you think! Thanks dude!

Judy Lee
Casting Associate
Bargain Feeders/Eat For Free

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Do you crash events, meetings and open houses
just for the free feast?

This all-new series for a major cable network will explore the lives of people who have mastered the art of eating for free. We will follow individuals who dedicate their lives to acquiring food in crafty ways and revel in the thrill of their success.

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Phil August 20, 2011 at 12:40 am

For all of you that tell the servers to “get a real job” and not to expect a tip:
Imagine a world where you are not entitled to sit down at a restaurant. You have to wait in line. You don’t get ANY service. It’s just like every restaurant is a Subway or other stand-in-line food service place. Otherwise pull up to the next window please!

Servers here in the good old US RELY on tips to make wages. The management pays less than minimum wage in MOST places. If you don’t tip you’re a cheap asshole, and we remember your face. Also tips with COINS suck. We don’t want your filthy pennies and often throw them out, yes in the garbage, with your leftover steak that you ate half of and didn’t want a to-go box for the rest.


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