5 Ways to EAT FREE in London

Look at these cheeky friends, they’re laughing the bill away! Copyright food-freedom.co.uk

(and if not free – then for very very little)

I’ve kind of got over pretending that I can afford my lifestyle. People who don’t live in London always ask ‘But isn’t it so expensive?’ and you reply ‘Yeah but…[insert justification as to why you didn’t eat for three days this past week]. London is f***ing expensive and sometimes you know, girl gotta eat.

But instead of blowing all my money on eating out…which if I total up how many lunches, dinners, snacks and afternoon nibbles I’ve spent money on over the past two years living here would give me heart attack – it would probably be a bill in the thousands – I’ve found some thrify ways to pig out on a small or non existent price tag.

So, here’s my short but sweet list of how to eat free in London, or at least close enough to it that you won’t actually have to consider homelessness.

1. Sign up to Ultra Vie. This nifty little site started up earlier this year and is the way forward in getting to exclusive restaurant openings and bagging a nice restaurant for you and a plus one. The concept is simple, sign up and you receive an RSVP each month, or you can go premier for a small fee (Approx £30 p/a) and you get 4 RSVPs per month. I got an exclusive to Marco Pierre White’s infamous Rib & Oyster restaurant and took The London Adventurer as my plus one and this week I’m attending the Olympia Arts Fair Previews – not food but I’m hoping on a free canapé of some sort.

Pros: Exclusive invites to events and restaurants you wouldn’t normally be able to afford.

Cons: Site like these are becoming very popular very quickly, it’s literally fastest finger first.

2. Secret dining. Secret Dining is Mystery Shopping cool younger sister. You sign up to one of these sites like Secret Squirrels or Service Scan and you get a brief to go to a restaurant where you keep a beady but unassuming eye over the service, food and atmosphere, write up a report and get your meal reimbursed. You can even earn up to £20 per visit for some sites.

Pros: You get a lovely hearty meal, and all you have to do is fill out a form as to whether it was good or not.

Cons: The restaurants are a little samey samey and if you don’t submit your report in 24 hours you run the chance of not being reimbursed.

3. Hang out at BBQs. Now this one can get a little shady, but if you’re going to a BBQ at a friend’s, you’re entitled to eat the food. Yeah sure you look like the person who didn’t bring anything but themselves, but hey, they’re your friends, surely they understand how poor and hungry you are right now right?

Pros: Like an all you can eat buffet and friends are there too.

Cons: You will eventually be sussed as the friend who brings nothing to the table and subsequently is dropped by said friendship group.

4. Scout around on social media. There’s a lot of resturants in London and if they’re going to get anywhere promoting themselves, they will be doing on social media. Look out for Focus Groups where you go and east a meal and give feedback during as well as exclusive offers like ‘First 50 customers’ and even opening nights of new ventures. the possibilities are endless.

Pros: The possibilities are endless, you have to try before you buy.

Cons: You could get your hopes and dreams set on something free and then you don’t win. Sh*t happens.

3. Your friend is a food blogger. Chances are, if your friend is a good food blogger, you probably know all about the tips and tricks mentioned above already, and if you don’t, no offence but your friend isn’t a good food blogger. Food bloggers get invited to swanky events and normally because food is involved and so much opinion surrounds food, they usually get a plus one.

Pros: Your friend is a food blogger. Lucky you, you’ve hit the free food jackpot. Keep your diary free, you could be doing something last minute.

Cons: Your friend is a food blogger. They have friends too. Keeping your diary free might result in you not being #1 plus one choice that week and you’ll end up crying eating a Rustlers alone. Dear god, please do never eat a Rustlers.

If you want to look at pictures of my shit cooking check out my Instagram ecarg_h

If you want to laugh at my life follow me on Twitter g_hetherington

If you want to become my m8 and collabor8 then drop me a line grace.hetherington@hotmail.co.uk

Boring stuff: Free Food picture is from Google Imaging ‘Free Food’ and choosing this RAD dude and the companies mentioned aren’t endorsing me, I’m just hoping to get free food out of them and bring it to the masses, like a modern day Mother Theresa with chips.

3 Free Things to do in London this Summer (because you broke, i’m broke, errybody broke)

Recently I’ve been participating in a lot of things that aren’t free and my recent house move and lack of money anyway have left me in a position where the only way I’m intending to have a social life this summer is by doing stuff that’s actually FREE. Here are 3 things that I’m definitely intending to attend in terms of swigging warm red wine from a Sainsbury’s bag and walking home because I can’t afford the tube.

Going to all the carnivals, all the street parties, all the parties in the parks.

Okay, so obviously you can buy things at each of these places, but the great thing about them is that you don’t actually have to.

Notting Hill Carnival on the 30th and 31st August is completely free to enter, and is a great day out for seeing the famous carnival that started in the sixties as well as listening to different types of music street by street.

Expect to see: Local entertainment in the form of street acts, mental homeless people and the LADS from Surrey who urinate on the street and are arrested by the met at 7pm.

Brixton Splash on 2nd August (rumours of a cancellation, I’m refusing to believe it) has great food which is actually sometimes free in this generous community, great music and great people.

Expect to see: A lot of flags, a lot of vibrant colours and smell a lot of different smells.

Then coming up this Saturday 20th June is Swedish MidSummer, a massive event held unofficially in Hyde Park each year, and is the largest party outside of Sweden each year. It’s BYOB, BYOF, and BYOM (Bring Your Own Maypole) to this delightful and dizzy party.

Expect to see: Gorgeous Swedish people, and not so gorgeous non-Swedish people trying to fit in with said gorgeous swedish people.

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If you want to zig a zig ah, email me grchthrngtn@gmail.com