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Free Food in NYC


Free food in NYC?

If you’re willing to do things in a less than ordinary fashion, you could find yourself eating well and spending $0.

Breads, Pastries, Sandwiches Soups, and Salads

Price: free

Where: Pret, Maison Keyser, Pain Au Quotidien, Hale and Hearty, Juice Press, Starbucks, and other stores that toss their less a day or two bfood at closing. Often these items are tossed sealed in plastic wrap or containers. Just bring a bag or find a cardboard box on the street in the recycling to collect your items. We have shared this top with many of our work exchange guests who stay with us for free in our Bnb in exchange for helping out with odds and ends, and some nearly stay a few months in NYC on a near 0 budget, other than transportation and entertainment.

I could live off of solely this scavenged food, if not for being vegan and enjoying fresh produce so much!

And oh yeah, search those bagel shops for trash bags filled with bagels.

There’s Sandy loading up. We recommend Ess A Bagel and Brooklyn Bagel

Fruit and Vegetables

freegan produce

Not a bad haul.

Many grocery stores chuck produce that is on the cusp of going bad, or that isn’t pretty. This may be a messier acquisition, as they could be mixed into a bag with cut up or actually rotting produce. Be ready to wipe your hands on your pants, or bring a towel or rag to wipe your hands on. You may want to bring a plastic bag your co-workers have tossed (because surely you only use reusable totes or your schoolbag when shopping) to collect the produce in without destroying the inside of your bag with muss.

Not a bad haul. Easy when the edible veggies are placed right on top of all of the yuckier stuff

Or visit a Farmer’s Market where you’ll be delighted/horrified to find perfectly edible, buy imperfect product in vendor waste bins.

Popcorn, Soda, and other Snacks

That isn’t butter

Where: Movie Theatre – Check the garbage bin. Many people toss their half-full buckets of popcorn in the trash. If you don’t mind other people’s hand germs, like my husband, you can make a meal out of this salty And vegan mess (popcorn’s buttery flavor is not butter). Once he did accidentally chew someone’s already chewed and discarded (into the popcorn bag) gum, but otherwise the only other thing he finds in the popcorn, after years of doing this, are people’s self created medlies of popcorn mixed with M&Ms or Reese’s Pieces.

Not the worst combo

For soda at theatres with unlimited refills, wash out cup in bathroom with soup. Get refill.


Have more suggestions on how to get free food in NYC or elsewhere in the world?

Comment below!