Let me first establish what qualifies for this "free food". Mainly, I want you to be able to follow in my footsteps, so although it'd be fairly easy to eat free for a week with one-time deals like coupons, contests, and events, I'm not going be taking advantage of them unless they occur on a regular repeating basis. Also, I'm not going to be wearing the T-shirt I use to do yard work to get served at a soup kitchen or church function, and I won't be buying a SMU hoodie to sneak into a club meeting with free pizza. I'm just going to be an average person, walking into the right restaurant, bar, or food venue at the right time, and I'm going to eat real, free food.
"Free" food often has strings attached, either by written mandate or by mere implication that if you're eating their free food you're going to be buying drinks, too. In this week's lineup I'm going to cover the full range of "free", from 100% free with no strings attached, to implied free, to free with required purchase of something else. In all cases I'm going to see what is the least possible spending you can do and still eat free. However I don't recommend everyone run out and take all the free stuff and not buy anything—we don't want to put these great places out of business!
Subscribe and bookmark this blog so you can check back on my progress. You can also get live updates as I visit these places by monitoring the Twitter and Instagram hashtag for this blog series, #FreeFoodDallas, or follow me as @Dallas_Foodie for all good Dallas food info.
Check below for the report on each day as it happens:
- Sunday: EatZi's & Bread Winners
- Monday: Villa-O & Trece
- Tuesday: Frankie's Sports Bar & Grill
- Wednesday: Steel
- Thursday: Nick & Sam's Grill and Free Events
- Friday: Blue Mesa Grill
- Saturday: Dallas Farmer's Market
The Aftermath: What I Learned from Free Food Week
Well, I did it! I ate at least one free meal in Dallas every day for a whole week using only deals that occur on the same day of the week. I normally dine out for almost every meal, so before this week started I stocked up on groceries at home to fill in breakfasts and lunches. I didn't buy anything else to eat until Friday (at two events I had previously scheduled prior to taking on this quest).
I learned two important things from this Dallas free food quest:
1. Starch is cheap. Almost every free food I ate was a starch-based food: bread, pretzels, cake, pasta, pizza (crust), sushi (rice), chips, sandwiches, and quesadillas. Only the chicken wings and farmer's market fruits & vegetables were not starchy foods. Our government subsidizes wheat, rice and corn so that they can be bought for cheaper than the actual cost to produce them. So cheap, in fact, that some restaurants and bars can afford to give these foods away for free.
2. Free foods do not provide enough nutritional value. Starch is empty calories, and even though I ate a normal amount of food, I felt like I was in nutritional withdrawal for the first few days. I had a lot of fruits and veggies previously bought at home, but I didn't have time to clean and prepare them until Thursday, and that's when I finally started feeling back to normal energy and not so hungry. It is absolutely no coincidence that the poorer an American is, the fatter they are likely to be.