Where to find free and cheap groceries

The United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization revealed that nearly 40 percent of food wasted comes from consumers in the United States. Aside from having a negative effect on the environment, it also affects the budget of ordinary Americans. But, we can reduce this waste by reusing edible and delicious food, which may include some gourmet food. This can be done by making some minor changes in how we shop.

Aside from saving the environment, we can also save a good amount of money each year. The following are places where you can find cheap groceries.

1. Discount grocery stores

Discount grocery stores are also called salvage grocery stores. These grocery outlets store items that cannot be sold by other food suppliers. The items stocked in these stores include food close to expiration, packaged food with dings and dents, overstocks, and items that are not anymore in season.

Salvage stores normally offer name-brand items with a 50 percent discount. Some stores offer a bigger discount on some items depending on the appearance of the package. Coupons are also accepted by some discount grocery stores that add to the discount offered on some items. It is important for you to talk to the staff if you are new to shopping in a salvage grocery store so you can save more.

Some people are shopping exclusively at discount grocery stores. But, these shops continuously change their inventory. This means the items available at the store can vary from one day to another. You can check the delivery schedules with the store staff. This will allow you to schedule your shopping and get the freshest produce for your kitchen each week.

Grocery reclamation centers are the sources of the merchandise sold at discount grocery stores. These shops are inspected and regulated like regular groceries. This means the groceries you buy from these stores are safe to consume.

2. Markdown racks

Discount racks of merchandise are normally a part of the display of many regular groceries. These items include mint-condition item closeouts and near-expiation milk. The rack may be positioned near the back section of the store after a holiday. But, it may occupy a number of aisles filled with different items. Some people buy a good number of Easter candies after Easter Sunday. They would use the chocolate eggs for cookies and cakes they serve during dinner. National chain stores normally offer discounts ranging from 30 percent to 50 percent off the regular prices of items display on the discount rack.

3. Imperfect produce

Imperfect produce is a farm box service offering weekly home deliveries to its subscribers. Imperfect produce include curved cucumbers that cannot be stacked properly as well as huge or miniature avocados. These are basically fruits and vegetables that are not consistent which makes them imperfect. Imperfect produce are typically priced 30 to 50 percent lower than prices at grocery stores. The boxes can also be customized by subscribers unlike many Community Supported Agriculture or CSA farm box programs. This allows you receive the fruits and vegetables you want in your order.

4. Farmers market

Farmers put in a lot of time and effort in bringing their products to the market. They also invest a lot of money to do this. In addition, they also put in time, energy, and money to bring back unsold produce or even in disposing them. If you want to get the best discounts, you can visit the farmers market at the end of each day. Farmers opt to sell their produce at a loss rather than not being to sell them.

Regular market customers normally get free products from many farm stands at their local farmers market. Instead of disposing unsellable and bruised products, farmers give any damaged goods to regulars. These products can be made into salads, jams, and pickles.

5. Farms

People living in rural areas can go directly to the source rather than visiting the farmers market. Farms normally offer produce to their staff as one of their perks. Due to this, some people work four hours each week as a farm hand or beekeeper at their local farm.

During an avocado shortage, some people were able to get free avocados that fell from the trees after a windstorm. Some of them got $350 worth of avocados. There were others who took home hundreds of pounds of fee plums. On some months, they can take home baby carrots and small lettuces. These are products that are too small for them to be sold at farmers markets. They can use these free produce for salads.

A list of organic farms around the world is available at the Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms or WWOOF-USA. This list shows farms offering food and lodging for people in exchange for work.

6. Refrigerator

Over $1,500 worth of food is thrown away each year by an average American family. This is a huge amount that a family can use for other purposes each year.

You have a number of options in managing your food to reduce expenses. There may be some leftovers you can salvage even if you do not like meal planning or preparation. You can use an ingredient calculator for recipes to allow you to use the food you already have. There is always the option of eating leftovers for lunch. You may also want to try making the Thursday Night Soup.

As a reminder, some people would label leftovers in their refrigerator so they can bring them to work for lunch. They would put leftovers nearing the “eat by” date on the topmost part of their refrigerator. The top shelf would be the first leftovers to eat. It is a simple method to reduce food waste in the house.

7. Dumpster

Dumpster diving has become a new type of recycling method. It is actually an old activity revealed by activists, professors and even TED Talkers. They discovered how to eat like a king even with a budget of a pauper.

It is better to dumpster dive for food than for anything else you can find in a dumpster. One reason for this is the fact that dumpsters of most groceries only contain food. And more often than not, they are placed in plastic bags to protect them from the elements. It also prevents cross-contamination. These dumpsters do not contain things like medical waste. Since food sellers are on the lookout for rats, many stores ensure their garbage is protected from vermin.

Sustainable living activist Rob Greenfield went through US cities on a bike. During his visit, he dumpster dived for food in 300 different locations. The blog he owns has a number of photos showing the quantity and quality of food found in these dumpsters. These photos showed the food is suitable enough to eat.

Similar to other kinds of foraging, dumpster diving has its learning curve. If you find this activity challenging to do on your own, you can join Facebook and Meetup groups. These groups have foodies who manage dumpster tours regularly. They also have dinner parties using rescued food. This activity is becoming more accepted and common. Many urban dumpster divers even find reviews on Yelp about dumpsters in nearby areas. There is also a directory of dumpsters New Yorkers can check close to their areas.

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