Free Food

Tim_L Posts: 3,816
First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
edited 25 April 2016 at 10:57AM in Shop but don't drop
This is a slightly tricky one, but it works for me.

Anyone who works in an office to which customers, CEOs or important-looking-executives-in-a-hurry pay visits will know that often very large quantities of buffet food are provided at mealtimes. About three quarters of this is usually wheeled straight back to the canteen bins after the meal break, I would guess because high powered executives would rather make big deals than pick bits of satay stick out of their teeth.

So, the problem is: how to get one's hands on the food?

One obvious technique is simply to get invited to the meetings. For engineers such as myself, this can be surprisingly easy - one just has to express an interest in "customer facing activities", and whoosh, meeting requests fly in from marketing people delighted to be able to parade a tame engineer who can dazzle their clients with a few incomprehensible buzzwords while forcing down a mini chocolate eclair or eight. However, this has certain disadvantages; firstly it is difficult to sit through a 3 hour meeting with marketing people without dropping off at some point (and risking missing the feed). And then, for some reason, the food just doesn't taste as good if you're actually invited.

Raiding the bins, I have discovered, although promising in prospect, is rather dimly viewed by one's co-workers. Which is a shame, because I did once find a rather nice bench power supply under a mound of cocktail sausages. I believe this is what is known as a win-win situation.

So I have devised another technique. This can take a little time to work through, but bear with it, as the results have exceeded my wildest expectations.

Phase 1 is to arrange a seat on the route of the trolley to and from the meeting rooms. Obviously, forewarned is forearmed, and it's very worthwhile being in position to count the samosas in as a good way of ensuring that you are, as it were, present to count them back out again. Anyway, it took me three changes of project and a moan about having to sit next to smelly hardware engineers to get the optimum spot, but I now have it.

Phase 2 is to explain to the canteen person pushing the trolley back and forth how delicious it all looks, and how their work is wasted on the denizens of the meeting room. A request for small morsels follows (with suitably ecstatic moans whilst crunching on the mini-Kievs). And at the end of a couple of weeks of this, they will literally be chucking the tin trays off the trolley at you, delighted to find someone who appreciates them at last.

I have now even developed disciples (not to mention a rather large waist), who in rather a Pavlovian manner, turn up dribbling at the sound of creaking wheels (and how disappointed they look when it turns out to be someone from goods-in delivering PCBs to the next cubicle!), in the hope of a danish or a curling ham and cheese sandwich. They were slow, at first, almost diffident, leaving the choicest morsels to me, but now, I regret to say, it's what one might term scoff factor 10 and everyone for themselves.

One side effect of all this is that because no food is now returning from the meals, the canteen manager is starting to believe he is not sending enough and therefore increasing output. I believe that exponential growth can be sustained by this method, but worry that the world supply of scotch eggs may be exceeded before the turn of the year.

I hope this works for you. Do let me know what successes you have.

NB: This is best combined with a company BUPA subscription as there is some increased risk of coronary heart disease caused by fried prawn balls and mozzarella sausages (sound wierd, but truly God's own finger food, believe me).

Update Note from Martin 5 October 2004 It suddenly occured to me this thread had been forgotten - a sad fact. !So I've added it to this week's Money Tips. If you have a few minutes and want to brighten your day have a read. !However would like to disclaim all responsibility for fat waists and lost jobs that may ensue.


  • Tim_L
    Tim_L Posts: 3,816
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    A slight PS. Readers may be puzzled to know what "thingytailed sausages" are, as referred to in the preceding tip. These are in fact not the delusions of an overnourished imagination, but the results of what appears to be a slightly over zealous (perhaps Scottish Presbyterian?) rude word remover on Martin's site.

    This has replaced a word which *almost* rhymes with kirk and could be held to describe a certain piece of male equipment usually found hanging between two other round thingys (ahem). Though on this basis, I suppose thingythingied thingys on sticks might be a less controversial arrangement of the whole thing, since both tails and sausages have been used as terms for the anatomical structure in question.

    We now return you to your normal programming.
  • System
    System Posts: 178,068
    Photogenic Name Dropper First Post
    Community Admin
    I laughed my socks off, reading this ;D

    Please let us know how the diet goes, i'm sure you'll be on one soon!! ::)
  • hellomoto
    hellomoto Posts: 281 Forumite
    I laughed my socks off, reading this

    Me too, in tears

    [move];D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D ;D[/move]
    Thanks!! :D:D:D
  • pakman
    pakman Posts: 25 Forumite
    Where do we send the doggy bags. I will ofcause enclose a pre-paid envelope.

    Please don't think of it as begging, more of starting an outreach post of UR religion.

  • MSE_Martin
    MSE_Martin Posts: 8,273
    First Post First Anniversary Combo Breaker
    Money Saving Expert
    The tears are streaming for me too - brilliant Tim.  David brent would be proud!  Makes me wish i worked in an office.

    And as for your thingy tailed sausages, perhaps you could start a brand. It's got to be a winner.
    Martin Lewis, Money Saving Expert.
    Please note, answers don't constitute financial advice, it is based on generalised journalistic research. Always ensure any decision is made with regards to your own individual circumstance.
    Don't miss out on urgent MoneySaving, get my weekly e-mail at
    Debt-Free Wannabee Official Nerd Club: (Honorary) Members number 000
  • Pal
    Pal Posts: 2,076 Forumite
    This is a great post - good stuff Tim.

    The way it works at our work is that anyone who is in a meeting brings the spare food out for the people on their floor.

    The main problem with this is that the food arrives after everyone has already eaten, so it tends to go stale until the cleaners throw it away the next morning.

    The only exception is, of course, the biscuits, which get eaten in seconds by the secretaries, who decend on them like vultures.  I believe this is because biscuits are small and so do not contain calories.  Even the chocolate ones.  I guess it makes up for the low calorie M&S sandwiches they eat for lunch.
  • Adam_4-2
    Adam_4-2 Posts: 34 Forumite
    The only thin is get to the trolly before it gets to the reception. It really is amazing just how much those young and slender receptioinst can really eat, especially if it is coated with chocolate.

    What you need to do is add salty water to one of the wheels. this will remove the oil and start rusting. This will have the affect of causing squeaky wheel syndrome. This will then supply an 'early warning system' for when the trolly is approaching. To stop all your colleagues getting to the food first, use the switchboard to call them all at once at the touch of a button, meaning they will be interrupted and will have to answer the call, giving you the all important head start.

  • Great post Tim. Takes me back to my pre-retirement days when I was senior exec secretary. It's amazing how many times this old bird was chatted up by the young engineers, but only when I was pushing the trolley containing the working lunches.

    Still I always was a sucker for the young, poor engineers who lived a batchelor life - they would always get first dibs on the left-overs. They represented my sons out in the wide world in the same position - I always hoped someone would look after them. :)

    I was always too full after lunch to take advantage of the left-overs, though I did master the art of pinching a couple of sandwiches before the trays went in and re-arranging the remainder to cover the evidence!

    I didn't visit our canteen very often but would always note that the young single guys would make the most of the subsidised food. I never knew you could get so many chips on a plate. :o

  • Great post Tim - there are lots of people like you who work in my office :)

    You may even work in my office ;D, in fact you might be my boss, who funnily enough is called.....

    ......Timothy! ;)

    Xcept he has a penchant for profiteroles rather than pavolvas :P

    something missing
  • Tim_L
    Tim_L Posts: 3,816
    First Anniversary Combo Breaker First Post
    I confess to being surprised at the hilarity with which my carefully crafted and *entirely serious* instructions for the provision of limitless quantities of free food has been greeted.

    So much so that I shall now sulk, and keep the follow up tip (i.e. the joy of business travel to that magical country, expenses land, where everything is free) completely to myself <burp>.

    You're all a bunch of thingy thingied thingers, really!
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