Sometimes it’s a case of more month than money. Other times, it’s all about challenging yourself to trim your budget.
Whatever the reason, taking advantage of ways to get free groceries is a great way to make your money go further when it comes to what you eat.
10 Ways to Get Free Groceries
If you’re looking to stretch your grocery budget, start with these strategies to get free groceries.
Learn to use coupons.
One of the best ways to get groceries for free is to learn how to use coupons. It’s not always easy to do, but with a little effort, you can find deals and combine them with manufacturer and store coupons to get items for free.
There are many smartphone apps and store apps that allow you to get groceries for free. For example, Cub Foods offers a free grocery item every Friday. You simply add the free item to your My Cub Rewards card on Friday and then pick up the item with your card during the week. I’ve gotten things like free French bread, free cinnamon rolls, free canned beans, fruit snacks, popcorn, and much more. Other grocery stores offer similar freebies through their store apps, so be sure to check them out.
Apps like SavingStar and CellFire regularly share free e-coupons you can use to get free grocery items. And don’t forget to use cash-back apps in combination with coupons and sales to get groceries for free.
Take advantage of loyalty programs.
Sign up for loyalty programs like Kellogg’s Family Rewards or My Coke Rewards to earn free products, high value coupons, and other free stuff. Even if you don’t buy a particular product that has a rewards program, you can still ask others to save the points for you or visit your recycling center to gather up the points. I’ve gotten free crackers, cereal, and soda simply by saving codes and points from products.
Request free samples.
Companies often give out free samples in order to get their products in front of new customers. Take advantage of these opportunities to try new products and to stretch your budget. You can often find free samples at the stores, or you can look for them online. Some of my favorite places to check for free samples to request are Target, Walmart, and SampleSource. You should also check out blogs like Freebies 4 Mom and Hey, It’s Free! for places to find legitimate freebies you can eat.
It’s a bit old school, but mail-in rebates still exist! You can find mail-in rebates for free groceries in coupon inserts, on company websites and in stores. Simply purchase the item, save your receipt, and then follow the directions on the rebate form to get your money back by mail. This takes a while, and often costs you the price of a stamp, but is a good way to stretch your grocery budget and get things for free.
Compliment a company.
If you love a particular food item, call the company and tell them! Sometimes your kind words are rewarded with free food. I’ve scored coupons for free crackers, chips, and household cleaning products, simply by taking the time to share some genuine praise.
Check your receipts.
You know those little coupons that shoot out of the cash register with your receipt? They’re called catalinas, and it’s worth checking your receipts to see what they’re offering. These catalinas are often high value coupons you can pair with sales to get items for free or nearly free, and on a few rare occasions, I’ve even gotten a coupon for a free trial size of a food item.
Make friends with folks with hobbies that produce food, and chances are good that you’ll be blessed by their kindness. My gardener friends always seem to be happy to pass on some of their excess zucchini at the end of each summer. Other friends may share some fish they caught or berries they’ve picked. If you’re at a potluck and someone wants to send leftover food home with you when the party is over, graciously accept. Just remember to share whatever bounty you have with your friends from time to time and it will come back to you.
You may be able to barter for free food. You could trade your time or a skill for someone else’s food. For example, you may be able to get free strawberry jam in return for helping someone pick the strawberries. You may be able to help a neighbor with some yardwork in exchange for some of their garden harvest, or get free eggs in return for caring for a friend’s chickens while they are out of town.
Be a gatherer.
There is free food all around us in nature. We just need to know where to look for it. Learn where to legally pick wild edibles like blueberries, raspberries, or nuts. Ask friends and family with fruit trees if you can pick some of their fruit. You can also check out FallingFruit.org, a collaborative website that shows where you where can find fruits, vegetables and nuts that are free for the taking.
Finding free groceries does take time, but when your budget is really tight, it can be easier to find the time to look for free groceries than it is to find the money to buy them.
Your turn: How do you score free groceries?
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