Free Food is Always the Best Food
By Lucia Rossi
Let’s get real. CSI’s tuition is getting more expensive and we students are not making nearly enough money to compensate for the change. However, we can forget, and most importantly, combat, our financial troubles with the comfort of finding food at an affordable price.
Luckily, college teaches us valuable lessons that we now need to exercise in order to survive in this economy. These valuable lessons include taking the initiative to do things yourself and cheating the system.
Here are a few ways to get virtually free meals whenever you’re hungry.
Let’s start with methods of obtaining valuable coupons. Start with buying the Sunday newspaper and taking out the coupons in the comics section. It’s not much of a discount, but it will help you get in the habit of collecting them. You can get restaurant coupons for places like Olive Garden, McDonald’s, Burger King, Boston Market, and Friday’s.
Another option is buying an Entertainment book. The book costs about $20, but the amount of savings you get will make up for that really quick.
The only catch is that you have to read the fine print to see exactly what restaurant locations accept them.
You can save on local restaurants by signing up for Valpak. Valpak sends you coupons in the mail every month for local places like Wing World, Village Maria Pizzeria, New Dakota Diner, Goodfella’s, Hibachi Grill Supreme Buffet, and more. Deals like these are really great for dates and going on group outings.
Get yourself acquainted with RetailMeNot online. This should be your go-to tool for online codes when shopping and is a good way to get filled in on new and current meal deals for restaurants.
If you want to stay ahead on new restaurant specials, then keep yourself updated with Eat Drink Deals and Deal News.
Something better than coupons are gift certificates. The two best places to buy gift certificates and vouchers are Groupon and Restaurant.com. Groupon is great when you’re willing to eat double the amount of food you normally would or when you go out with friends. The amount of food you get for the value is amazing, plus they really support local privately owned places. I love buying the Groupon for O’Neil’s which you pay $20 for $40 worth of food.
Restaurant.com is similar, but allows you to pay insanely cheap prices for gift certificates. For instance, I love Towne Deli & Pizzeria in Tottenville. Every time I go, I buy a $10 voucher for $4. And when I went to Desert Rose Bar & Restaurant in Eltingville I brought a $15 voucher that I bought for $6. There are also $25 vouchers available for $10.
The prices for vouchers vary from restaurant to restaurant, but if you’re interested in trying local places, this is the best website to go to.
Now onto reward programs. Big companies give customer reward points as a “thank you” for eating their food, and we continue eating their food because they give us free stuff. What’s not to like?
There are so many programs out there, but you should belong to local ones like Dunkin Donuts, Starbucks, Teavana, Red Robins, Charlie Brown’s, Chili’s, Panera Bread, T.G.I. Friday’s, Dominos, Papa John’s, and Auntie Anne’s. Each program has special offers that are really difficult to refuse.
Rebates aren’t just for retail anymore. You can get cash back just by going out to eat or ordering from online food websites. Rebate websites you need to sign up for ASAP are Cash Back House, Dollar Dig, and Rebate Giant. You can get rebates from food websites like Peapod, Groupon, Restaurant.com, Teavana, Drugstore.com and more. That is savings upon savings!
UPromise is the number one website that is best for student use because your cash back savings can pay your Sallie Mae loans, or you can just get a check in the mail. With UPromise, you can eat at local restaurants like Jimmy Max, Joe Broadway’s, Nucci’s, Burrito Bar, Marie’s Gourmet, and Campania. You earn five percent cash back from your bill by using the credit or debit card that you link on the website and you can also link your loyalty cards for drugstores and supermarkets for extra points, too.
You can buy restaurant gift cards for free using money-making apps. The top four I suggest are Lucktastic, Media Insiders, Swagbucks, and mPoints.
Lucktastic is only for people with Apple devices. All you do is use scratch-off cards every day to get points. They have gift card payouts for places like Burger King, Restaurant.com, Dominos, Papa John’s, Applebee’s, IHop, Chili’s and select movie theaters.
Media Insiders is an app you can access on any device that allows scientists to monitor what you do on social media. They are studying how people use digital devices. They never share your personal information and you literally do nothing to earn points every week. Just forget that you have it, check on it months later, and you’ll see the thousands of points you racked up to spend on restaurant gift cards.
Swagbucks is an app where you do things online, like surveys, watching videos, and playing games to earn points. These points get you gift cards to Starbucks, Burger King, Panera Bread, Dominos, Applebee’s, Restaurant.com, Buffalo Wild Wings, Outback Steakhouse, and many more.
Lastly, there’s mPoints. You get mPoints by downloading really silly and simple video game apps which allow you to accumulate points just by using them. Do this, and you can quickly earn points for Starbucks, Buffalo Wild Wings, Cold Stone, IHOP, Papa John’s, Chili’s and other places.
Could saving money, making money, and getting free meals take time and patience? Yes. Is it worth it? Absolutely.