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There is a free lunch if you know where to look

Samples abound -- if you don't mind looking like a pig.

By Karen Datko Oct 18, 2009 7:45PM

After reading "Filling up on freebies: Where to score free food," at, we thought: Writer Scott Craven wasn't craven -- in fact, he was brazen -- as he scoured the Phoenix area for free food.

From car dealerships and grocery stores to churches, restaurants and probably the most celebrated source of free samples of all (all hail Costco), Scott scored so much free food that he probably put on weight.

He proved that "there is such a thing as a free lunch. Or breakfast. Or dinner." That is, if you know where to look.

First, he set several conditions and expectations:

  • Social agencies giving food to the needy were off-limits.
  • So were places that provide "free" food to paying guests, like hotels.
  • You must be able to withstand glares from people who think you're a pig or a jerk.

Here's just a sample of what he consumed for free:

  • Costco -- chips and salsa, chicken strips with ranch, crab-shrimp ravioli, apple slices, teriyaki chicken, Chinese chicken salad, couscous, a chunk of apple pie.
  • Mexican restaurant -- chips and salsa. The MO here is that you pretend you've been stood up before you can order a meal. Scott, shame on you. Luckily for his conscience, a friend/paying customer showed up.
  • Grocery store -- turkey sausages and cheesy garlic toast, plus sliced smoked turkey, apple and tangerine pieces, malt balls and juice. This particular store has a guy who will heat food items for sale in the store if a customer is curious about how they taste. The manufacturer picks up the tab. Cool.
  • Acura dealership -- chips, bananas and cookies. Pretty paltry for a high-end store. We wouldn't recommend looking for free grub from a Chrysler dealer.

Bonus tip Scott learned from one of the ladies preparing free samples at Costco: "Servers can judge you but cannot stop you from overindulging." Is that enough to prevent a guilt trip?

Published May 4, 2009


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