The perfect pairing

Girl at food bothTwo of my favourite words in the English language are free and food. Put them together and I’m in heaven.

This year, we went to the 150th Royal Winter Agricultural Fair to watch Grace, who was selected by her 4H club show her goat Cloud. She did well, placing tenth out of 19 competitors.

Watching the kids from her 4H club do well and seeing all the animals and agricultural exhibits was great, but the absolute best part of the Royal was the food and free samples.

There are two mottos the Swinton family lives by. One is never turn down a free meal. The other is you can call me anything, just don’t call me late for dinner.

Clare and I scoped out our plan of attack early in the day after grilling two regular Royal grazers at the coffee line-up. The morning run was a choice between homemade cinnamon buns or apple dumplings smothered with caramel sauce and ice cream. Mid-day, it was a toss up between the perogies, back bacon on a bun, poutine or rosti, scrumptious potato and onion pancakes with cheese and sour cream. Our afternoon repast consisted of fresh caramel corn, ice cream and fudge.

And the free samplings, oh the samplings. Smoked sausage and pepperoni. Cheese from the Ontario Cheese producers association. Granola and yogurt. Creamy chocolate fudge.

It was a free food for all.

This week’s #HappyAct is to see what free food you can score. The Gourmet Food and Wine Expo is on at the Metro Convention Centre this weekend. Some restaurants or eateries will offer freebies on your birthday. For instance, the Marble Slab Creamery offers a free ice cream to anyone on their birthday. Panera Bread, Cinnabon and Booster Juice will also give you a free pastry or juice on your birthday if you sign up for their rewards club.

If all else fails, go to Costco!

7 Ways You Can Score Free Stuff

Family with free t-shirt and hatsWith cauliflower costing $7 these days, finding ways to save money is a smart strategy. Finding ways to score free stuff is even smarter.

Last night we were at the KROCK Centre watching the Kingston Frontenacs Game beat the Niagara Ice Wolves. It was blue and white night, and after the whistle, they were throwing Maple Leaf t-shirts into the crowds. Home Depot held a drilling competition during one of the intermissions and were giving away free hats. We scored on both fronts at the Fronts!

Then on the way home, we’re in the Tim Hortons drive thru and they made a mistake on our order so we scored an extra two donuts and hot chocolate. It was a banner night in the Swinton household.

Scoring free stuff is great on the pocketbook, but it’s also just pure fun. Here are seven ways you can score free stuff:

  1. Attend a sports event. At the last three or four games we’ve been to, we’ve scored free t-shirts and hats. You don’t have to spend a mint either on the admission ticket. Last year we went to the Queen’s-Ryerson men’s and women’s double header basketball game and scored free t-shirts.
  2. Shop at Costco. Sure, you may wind up a few hundred dollars in the red when you leave the place, but if you try all the samples, you’ve basically scored a free meal.
  3. Sign up for a charity walk or ride. Many charity events, like the Big Bike for Heart and Stroke give you a free gift for different pledge levels—a win-win for everyone.
  4. Look for introductory offers for organizations. As an outdoorsman, Dave takes out an annual membership to the Ontario Federation of Anglers and Hunters. They have this amazing introductory offer where you get a tackle box full of lures, a reel, fishing line and more.
  5. Watch for 2 for 1 coupons on items, especially if it was something you were going to buy anyway. If you don’t need the second item, tuck it away for a gift.
  6. Attend a trade show or fair. These are goldmines for scoring free stuff!
  7. When travelling, research which local attractions are free or have free days. When I was in Washington last year I was surprised to learn that all of the Smithsonian museums are still free to the public. This may not technically qualify as free stuff, but with the high cost of vacation travel these days, finding free things to do is a fantastic score.

This week’s #HappyAct is to see what you can score for free this week. Just be prepared for the inevitable argument when your nine-year old insists on wearing her new Maple Leafs t-shirt to bed when your Canadiens loving spouse bans all blue and white in the house. What’s your best free stuff score? Leave a comment!