How to get food for free

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free food

Next to getting free transport and a place to sleep at a locals home, finding food for free is another challenge for the traveler on a no-budget.

As with everything when it comes to traveling on the cheap, it is all about being creative. There are several ways to get free food when traveling:

  • Dumpsterdiving

Dumpsterdiving or skipping is definitely a great recourse for free food. Especially in western countries supermarkets throw away lots of food that is still perfectly eatable, just because is has reached the displayed expiration date. Dumpsterdiving is not something only homeless people or people who don’t have money would do. If you see how much good food is being thrown away you might consider dumpsterdiving out of environmental and political reasons as well. Many activists dumpsterdive, make meals out of the food they find and give them away for free or on donation basis to give attention to foodwaste.

There are in general two different ways to get ‘trash’ food: Getting dumpsterfood from supermarket chains or from food and vegetable markets on the streets. Dumpsterfood from supermarkets can be found in the big containers next to the building. Sometimes they will be closed or locked, so you might have to try several supermarkets. In some countries it can be illegal to ‘steal’ trash, so make sure you know the rules as well. A great resource to find places to dumpsterdive is trashwiki.

Getting food from markets on the street is another way to dumpsterdive. It is best to go to the markets near closing time, when many street vendors will leave their unsold food near the road. Veggies and fruit that are slightly damaged cannot be sold anymore and are free to take.

  • Food not bombs

The food not bombs organization collects foods that would otherwise go to waste (from dumpsterdiving, collaborations with supermarkets and bakeries, etcetera) and makes them into warm meals to serve on the street to anyone who wants them. They usually serve vegan and/or vegetarian meals.

The group beliefs that governments and corporations should spent as much time and energy on feeding people as they do on war, that there is enough food in the world to feed everyone (although a lot of it goes to waste) and that vegan food is healthy and nonviolent.

You can volunteer or join one of the events of a local food not bombs. Locations can be found here or on facebook by typing *place* + food not bombs.

Amsterdam’s version of Food not bombs is Guerilla Kitchens. They collect food, make meals and distribute them to whoever wants to eat. They were also at the nomads gathering in Amsterdam to show how dumpsterdiving at the street markets looks like:

  • Pay as you wish/can/feel restaurants

There are several restaurants that work with a so-called ‘pay as you wish’ concept. In these places you can decide yourself how much you want, feel or can pay. Examples are the Trust cafe in Amsterdam, Der Wiener Deewan in Vienna, Lentils as anything in Australia and Karma Kitchens in several places in the world.

  • Working in exchange for food

Through websites such as workawayhelpx and others, you can find hundreds of opportunities to work in exchange for accommodation and food. Ideal to have a break from traveling from place to place, meet other travelers or interesting people, work and live for free.

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