A student at the University of South Wales in Cardiff managed to keep his fridge—and stomach—full without ever paying for food for two years.
Like many college students, money was tight for Jordan Vidal. The now 25-year-old realized his student loan, and part-time job weren’t enough to cover rent, partying, and grocery shopping.
So, he created a system that kept him full for free, Metro reported.
His freebie food hack started at a Cardiff casino on Mondays. After he learned casino members had access to a complimentary Chinese buffet with soft drinks, he signed up for free and took advantage of the limitless plate rule. He’d be there at 4 a.m. and eat up to four plates.
That sustained him throughout the day but made it harder for him to get to his 9 o’clock class the next morning.
“After three or four plates of noodles, spring rolls, sticky fried rice, and sweet and sour chicken, I’d have eaten enough to keep me going through the next day,” he recalled.
“I had so much to eat that when I woke up, I still felt full,” he continued. “I also had cookies and cakes from the buffet, which I’d eat before university.”
When he finished lectures on Tuesdays, he’d head to the arcades in the town center, where many busy restaurants and cafes were. After building relationships with the cafe owners, he started taking home food that would’ve been thrown away instead.
“Legally, they have to bin any food that was made fresh that wasn’t sold, even if it’s perfectly fine to eat,” Vidal explained. “I’d ask if they were going to throw anything away. And if they did, they’d give it to me.”
Vidal said his fridge was constantly stocked with sandwiches, cookies, and slices of cake. He was rarely turned away and would almost always go home with plenty of food. Staff members eventually got to know him and would sometimes bag up his food in advance.
His routine was the same on Thursday evenings.
The weekend was all about local takeaways. Vidal took home food from spots on Cardiff’s Caroline Street, known locally as Chippy Lane. The street hosts a variety of fast-food restaurants that are open until the early morning hours.
On Friday and Saturdays nights, he took home free chips, burgers, and chicken burgers.
“I would eat it all,” he said, also stating that he doesn’t like wasting food.
Two years of free food helped him grow his confidence.
“I put myself out there,” he said. “My mum has always told me—you have to bite the bullet. The worst thing they can say is ‘no.’ My confidence grew as a result.”
“If you can go out and embarrass yourself like that, then you can go on and do it in other situations,” he continued. “And it gets easier each time. It’s definitely worth a try.”
Ultimately, the once-struggling student was able to save up some cash while eating for free, graduating with about $4,150 in savings he made from a part-time hospitality job.