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Friday, August 19, 2011

Eating free with thrown-out food

Sorry I did not take a picture. I got a box of discarded food for the hens from a market. In the top were 7 wrapped ears of corn. I rescued that and two good looking tomatoes, each as large as a softball. The rest of the box was dumped in their pen. This is a good, cheap way to feed them and benefit from frugal eating and make my parsimonious heart thump. I saved the two best ears to eat.

When exbf came here on Wednesday, we went to the market in a different place where they instructed us to go to the dumpster and get the boxes of tomatoes just deposited there "five minutes ago." We did. None of it was gross. Little was not suitable to eat. Most was just not saleable anymore.

The exbf brought the boxes of "fresh" tomatoes into the kitchen. I told him to sort salvageable/best ones into a bowl for him, not to save any for me. As he did that, I immediately started washing, trimming, and placing tomatoes into a gallon storage bag set into a bowl. The Romas were the first sorted. Then came the slicing tomatoes. In the end, we had a full gallon bag of  tomatoes to take home. He does not buy fresh fruits and vegetables. Oh, he maybe buys an apple, never anything else.

At the grocery there was a sale on Romaine. For only 99 cents, I purchased a bag of Dole Romaine with three large heads in the bag. Since I purchased two bags, I spent $1.98 on 6 heads. We don't eat a whole one when we each have a salad.

Once a month, I buy a bag of shredded carrots and put them on salads, in soup, in tuna salad. I even throw some in rice or anything with pasta. So, I spend $1.69 for carrots every month or so...  Maybe you remember--I cannot chew and swallow raw carrots like most people. I can eat them cooked just fine and love them. But, when I try to chew raw carrots, they get larger than a golf ball and will not go past my tonsils, even if I cut off a round sliver. I can swallow them if they are shredded small AND disguised.  And, my hands cannot hand the little carrot peeler with safety and without hurting. Sooo....

We had a portion of a cubed steak, two packages with our dinner and for later, all cooked at once. This was purchased reduced to $3 and made 5 meals.

When I get cucumbers, I never eat them. I cut them and put them in vinegar water that has onions, garlic, salt and pepper.

That made a cheap dinner for two
Salad fixings
  Romaine (1/2 of $.99 head) $.50
  Cucumbers free except for reusable vinegar water
    (garlic and onion for vinegar water were gotten from hen box.
  corn on the cob--free,$0

For $1.80 two meals were had. That is less than $1/meal, actually cheaper than the dollar menu at McD! That is $.90 for a nutritious meal.

If I eat alone, I sometimes add a whole can of drained tuna with a bit of Miracle Whip, pickle relish, and celery seeds. The tuna is Star Kist, my favorite. It was $50/can for a while last summer. For me that makes:

Romaine   $.25 (1/4 head)
carrots        .05
tomato        .00
tuna            .50
cheese        .10
                 $.90 for my one nutritious meal

Okay, it is not strictly eating for free. I do often get free bell peppers or red, orange, yellow, and green to put on his salad. Regularly, I also find zucchini and yellow squash to slice on the salad, just not this time. Most of the produce is barely damaged. Some days, I pick up a box that has been sitting. One rotten piece of produce sets bad things in motion when it sits in a box overnight.

The title was not meant to be misleading. I was focusing on the free tomatoes, the one-gallon bag that exbf took home. Plus, I eat free stuff almost every day.

At any rate, the zucchini, squash, and peppers for salads are free. I am very particular and squeamish, so don't assume any of this is bad, going bad, or has been in the vicinity of mold...gag.

Ooops, I forgot--for lunch we had a BLT--free bacon, free tomatoes, cheap romaine leaves, and bread from bread store. Free bacon is another story.
Maybe six gallons of tomatoes went to the hens, but I did not feel like washing, trimming, saving anything. I mostly sat while he was here, working, except for cooking the meat and assembling the salads...oh, and cutting tomatoes.

Your turn
Can you get and eat free food, food that has been discarded?  Now, if you have a garden, that is free except for your labor and materials.


  1. You should look at some You Tube videos on freeganism. Some are so interesting.

    The waste in dumpsters is incredidble and some people eat for free every day. I don't have the courage to do what freegans do.

  2. Yes, I have seen many of those utube videos. The people who do this are not poor. In fact, many are educated. Then, I scoped out a dumpster in daylight. I was getting between $50 and $150 worth of produce, pastry, bread, frozen meat, and even Christmas poinsettias from the dumpster. Maybe I will start once more--going on safari.

  3. Honestly, I've never thought of "dumpster diving" for fresh, edible food. I like hearing about you money saving habits!

  4. tlc, I can imagine your puzzlement. To illustrate "fresh, edible food": I retrieved a head of celery with fresh leaves, still nice and fluffy leaves. Nothing had turned brown. The only thing wrong was a cosmetic problem. One small stalk was broken and hanging. I was horrified that the poor stalk of celery was thrown out. I got an apple or pear that had a dent. ONE dent! Now what on earth could that harm?

  5. You're right... sounds like the food was perfectly fine!

  6. My millionaire aunt is a freegan. She sometimes shares the retrieved food with the less fortunate if she finds a motherlode. Its nothing to be ashamed of and I do know how squeamish you are so I know you are eating good quality food.

    Another source for possibly free food is actually commercial organic farms.
    We just got 4 heads of cabbage and a few pockets full of green beans from our Amish friends. They had used what they needed of the cabbage and the free beans were not up to standard for their organic distributor contract-same with the cabbage.
    They all have to be the right size, the right shape, can't be washed so no mud or dirt on them.
    The boys were picking the beans. My husband went out to chat and found them discarding the beans to the ground. He picked them up and brought them home. They sometimes do have a second bucket for the rejects for themselves but that day was hot and they were short handed. They needed the harvest asap. Try asking around to see if any of the farms don't have the same requirements to fulfill.

  7. OH, yes, I have shared. I had a friend who would take things, even milk and meat. Another friend, PhD and all her friends, all said if I would eat it, they would! My friend up here said she could not tell her husband and son. If she did, they would not eat it. Amazing that fresh picked beans could be discarded on a cosmetic basis. It seems everywhere I ask they already has relatives or neighbors picking the unwanted stuff. Some people would be too proud to get the discards from the ground. Good for your husband.


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