Table dive

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Table diving is the act of getting a free meal from a restaurant by scavenging other people's tables for unfinished food. For the environmentally conscious and/or unashamed, table diving is no problem.

How to table dive

  1. Go anywhere where large quantities of food are consumed. This could be a food court, a large restaurant, a mall, it doesn't matter as long as a lot of people are eating there. It helps to target an area which is rather discrete, if one wants to avoid alerting others. If not, try to do something like look at your phone or read a book do it doesn't look like you're loitering.
  2. Keep an eye on where people are in their meals. Take note of people who are close to finishing their food, or look ready to leave.
  3. At this point you can do one of two things:
    1. Hope they don't throw their food away, and if they don't, get it off the table quickly. If they don't,
    2. Approach them before they reach the trash and ask for their food. This might seem strange, but what's more strange is the idea of throwing away perfectly good food. Try not to be embarrassed if they politely (or impolitely) decline.
  4. Sit down and enjoy your free food.


  • Be fast and outgoing, if you're quiet and shy food will get thrown out before people hear you ask for it.
  • Go to places where servings are large so you have more chances of finding unfinished food. If one wants to be more strategic, target tables with types of food that are easily filling. Use your gut on this one (no pun intended).
  • Smile and be polite when asking for food - not seeming weird is the key!


  • A lot of managers/owners/staff might not be happy with you table diving because of concerns over liability or public image, so be quick! If you feel it's necessary, eat elsewhere and return the plate.
  • Some people might look down on the idea of leaving left overs. Then again, some people might look down on the idea of wasting food. When in doubt, lower your inhibitions. Try to frequent places you wouldn't normally go.
  • Be patient, but realistic; if everyone is eating their entire meals and throwing their food away, it might just be a bad day to table dive.
  • Keep cultural differences in mind; what may work in one country, may not work in another.