(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 firstname.lastname@example.org
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.