July 21, 2010 by Ashlee Clark Thompson
The only thing better than cheap food?
I learned a lot about scoring free food in college during those dark days when my meal plan and bank accounts were exhausted. It was easy back them — there was always a friend from whom I could pilfer, a student organization using food to entice new members and the occasional care package from my mom.
Free food has become harder to find as a real grown-up. But here are a few events and places where I have gotten something to munch for nothing out-of-pocket.
- Tweet-ups. These meetings of the mind are publicized via the social networking website Twitter and attendees usually RSVP on a secondary site such as Twtvite. I usually hear about these events via the people I follow on Twitter, natch. This week, I attended a monthly tweet-up organized by the Social Media Club of Louisville at Patrick O’Shea’s downtown.
There were free hors d’oeuvres (buffalo chicken dip and a cheese platter) and Verizon reps (the sponsors of the event) were there to show off the Droid X. Plus, I met a load of techies, bloggers and other neat people based in Louisville, so the event was a success.
- Trolley Hops. These events encourage attendees to park your car, hop on a trolley (for free) and stop by various local businesses along the trolley’s route. Many of these businesses, which include art galleries, restaurants and retailers, offer up free snacks (and sometimes alcohol) for visitors. Earlier this summer, some friends and I attended the First Friday Trolley Hop, which takes place from 5 to 11 p.m. on the first Friday of each month along the Market and Main street area in downtown Louisville. In one night, I had a glass of wine, a can of diet Coke, some tasty coffee cake and even more samples of wine — all for free. Next weekend, I’ll be on another trolley for the F.A.T. Friday Hop on Frankfort Avenue.
- Places of worship. Whatever your religious or spiritual preference, you can usually find some yummy, free goodies where you go to get your praise on. When I recently got baptized, the church set up a reception with cake, punch and hors d’oeuvres. Michelle over at Consuming Louisville shared with me recently that her synagogue serves up a full lunch after services.
- Corporate volunteer days. I’m going to let you in on a little secret I’ve learned from working at a non-profit and organizing big groups of volunteers. If your employer wants to devote a day to community service, do it. Not only are you providing some much-needed assistance to a worthy agency, but you will more than likely get a nice lunch from your boss. Forget PB & J, I’m talking Panera and Jimmy John’s. So volunteer — your community and stomach will thank you.
- Your mother’s (or father’s) kitchen. Yes, it’s obvious, but some of the best meals I’ve had in Louisville have been straight from Mama Bear’s stove. If you have parents or relatives in Louisville who are great cooks, visit them. Often. The more you visit, the greater your chances of dropping in on a day when the chef of the house has whipped up a classic. I went to my parents’ house in Shively after a long day at work a few weeks ago, and there was a pot full of spaghetti and meatballs waiting for me on the burner. Heck. Yes.
There are probably more free food finds that I have yet to discover, so share your suggestions in the comments.