Foodies rejoice! You can actually get paid to eat.
With people sharing their food adventures on social media and their own blogs, it’s no surprise that brands are taking notice and bringing their marketing to another, consumer-friendly level.
Now, people can get paid to eat the newest food products, at the hottest restaurants, or even delivered straight to their doors.
7 Ways to Get Paid to Eat
Did I get your attention yet?
If you’re ready to start, here are 7 ways you can put your taste buds to the test:
1. Join Restaurant Mystery Shopper Agencies
Restaurants, bars, ice cream houses and other establishments that sell food sometimes want to check if their employees are working properly and to the company’s standards.
These establishments then hire a mystery shopping agency to send mystery shoppers (in this case: mystery eaters) to go to the restaurant, order food, inquire services, or perform other tasks indicated in the assignment.
Restaurant mystery shoppers (yup, that’s you!) will have to take a photo, video, send receipts, answer a survey or just fill out a report form and sent to the agency, which will then forward the results to the restaurant owner.
You’ll be paid directly by the agency (not by the owners of the establishments you’ve visited).
How much can you earn?
As a mystery shopper for the food business industry, you’ll get to eat out without having to pay a cent.
In some cases, this also includes all your drinks and stay at the hotel (if you’re assigned the hotel’s restaurant).
However, some mystery shopper agencies pay extra cash on top of your free food, drinks and hotel stay.
Where to Find Restaurant Mystery Shopping Gigs
If you’re new to this industry, don’t skip MSPA Americas and absorb everything you can learn about mystery shopping.
This website also has a marketplace and job board, so check out possible assignments there.
Other popular dining-related mystery shopping sites you can try are:
- Mystery Dining by HGEM
- Coyle Hospitality Group – Earn $20-$40 per task
- MarketForce – Pays $15 to $35 via check or direct deposit
- Guest Check
- Regal Hospitality Group
- TrendSource – Available in the UK, Canada and US. Pays mystery shoppers up to $40 per assignment
- Satisfaction Services Inc.
Note that general Mystery Shopping websites cater to everything from retail stores to groceries, but you may also find assignments there that cater to restaurants and the food industry.
★ Steve’s Top Pick: Survey Junkie ★
At Survey Junkie, you work with brands directly as an influencer to help them shape their products while getting paid to give feedback.
Members earn bonus points for every activity completed. They can then redeem these points for gift cards or straight cash via Paypal.
Survey Junkie is free to join and the points never expire, so it’s worth creating an account just to see what offers pop up.
2. Become a Food Tester
Food tasting is a job a bit more technical than a restaurant mystery shopper.
As a mystery shopper, you get to check how food is handled or presented, how customer service is maintained, and how the venue looks from your perspective.
Almost anyone can become a mystery shopper, as long as he/she is near the assignment location.
On the contrary, food testers must have special skills in taste and odor recognition, have no food allergies, and have unique ability to describe the food as clearly and precise as possible. Food testers must also be in legal age and residing near the testing location.
How much can you earn?
The food tasting, food tester part-time gigs are rare, but if you see sites that invite people regularly, these gigs usually won’t earn you cash, but rewards that can exchanged for gift cards.
Food tester positions are more available as full-time jobs, and listed as many names such as “sensory panelist,” “food taster,” “sensory tester,” “food scientist,” “food tester,” and so on. Watch out for these positions of regular job boards such as Indeed.com.
If you do land a full-time food tester job, you can reportedly earn around $16 to $20 an hour with interesting assignments like trying out frozen food throughout the day. Ooni oven paid $300 to $1000 for people to eat different kinds of frozen pizza for a month.
Where to Find Food Testing Jobs
Aside from regular job boards, you can check out openings from these companies:
- Contract Testing Inc. – Pay depends on the length of testing.
- Northland Laboratories – Check if you’re near Northbrook, Illinois. Assignments lasts 10 minutes to an hour.
- National Food Laboratories – Full-time positions are filled in super-quick. Probably have to do with the benefits it comes.
- MMR – New York-based and requires experienced sensory testers.
Sometimes, companies don’t outsource product tasting to third-party companies.
3. Get Cashback When You Eat Out
There are numerous things you can do to earn cash-backs.
From doing online groceries and exchanging your receipts, to dining out using cash-back cards to get back 1% of your total receipt, you’ll be amazed at the money you’ll either earn or save.
If you’re just discovering the world of cash-backs, it can easily get you overwhelmed at how much food-related rebates are available.
To keep things simple and organized, download an app like Ibotta and check it out before choosing a place to dine out.
4. Join Food-based Studies
I talked about online research studies in the past, but this one I’m referring to is always food-related.
For example, Southern Californians were invited for a 6-month trial about the benefits of eating avocados per day.
hese research studies are often conducted by universities, so keep updated with local news and universities near you.
5. Get Paid To Review Restaurants
If you got a flair for writing and an adventurous palate, you can get paid to review restaurants and eat a good meal too (if you’re lucky).
As a food critic, you visit restaurants, order food items, eat them all up, and review everything from taste to service.
You can do this as a freelancer and use your blog to earn money from the reviews, or get hired by online newspapers, magazines, travel guides and so on.
6. Eat Competitively
Competitive eating is a legitimate competition where people train months-long to increase their stomach capacities and improve eating speeds of various foods.
The prizes of up to $10,000 for a day or two of competing definitely makes competitive eating appealing, even if the “sport” has been criticized as promoting obesity and encouraging people to join even with known dangers (choking, weight gain, high cholesterol, etc.).
7. Get Paid To Eat On Camera
This one is huge in Korea – it even has a name “mukbang” (two Korean words that mean “eating” and “broadcast.”
In mukbang, a person eats a ton of food while interacting with an online audience and broadcasting the entire meal live.
But it’s quickly spreading around the world and if you’re interested, you can also get paid to eat on camera.
One of the most popular Korean mukbang eaters is The Diva, real name Park Seo-Yeon, who devours four boxes of pizzas or a dinner of 3-kilo beef.
She reportedly spends more than $3k for the food she consumes, but earns a whopping $10,000 or more each month for her broadcasts alone.
If you want to follow The Diva’s footsteps, choose a platform (Facebook Live, Instagram, YouTube, or other live streaming platforms like AfreecaTV), then broadcast your feast regularly.
Every platform has different terms for earning cash, so learn how to monetize appropriately.
Food Blogging for Passive Income
Aside from becoming an eating sensation on Youtube (and other video streaming sites), you can also use food as your main source of income by blogging.
However, don’t expect to get paid overnight for your blogging efforts.
Sometimes it would take a year or so for your writing to bear fruit, but once it does, you can earn continuously for as little as $10 a month to $1,000 or more.
Some of the biggest food bloggers also earn sponsorships from food brands, or freebies to review on a regular basis.
There are two things to improve when you’ve begun food blogging – photography and social media marketing.
Eat Your Way while Earning Extra Cash
Did you even get surprised that there are ways you can get paid to eat?
Of course, aside from the list above, there are other traditional jobs that involve eating, but you’d have to study, master your craft and the whole shebang in becoming a chef, food scientist, artisan food buyers or other professions that would require formal training.