Frugal Extremism: Dumpster Diving and Other Thrifty Food Tips

Saving money is all the rage these days. This was very apparent to me today as I took my kids to a newly-built park in an upscale new development. The development included a Whole Foods, FIVE (count them) Starbucks (???), several trendy eateries, including Chipotle, an Aveda Day Spa, a resort-like retirement "community", and a Jewelry Store. Not to mention a whole mall just a block away. And the most interesting thing is that I think there were more people at the park than at all of those stores combined.

People everywhere (myself included!) are cutting down to the essentials; food, the mortgage, water, electricity....and discussions everywhere are centered on how to make even the essentials more affordable. Cutting down on food costs is a challenge that many bloggers, myself included, have endeavored to accomplish. Upon reading an excellent "open reader forum" on Rod Dreher's blog, I found this incredibly interesting video:

Here's how a growing number of folks are saving money (or spending next to no money) on good quality food!

I find it really interesting (and smart) that people are dumpster diving at Trader Joe's for a couple of reasons.

1) TJ's food is all packaged (even the produce), so even a discarded item could be protected from other trash.

2) TJ's doesn't have their own deli or eatery within, as many mainstream grocery stores have. A deli is a great way for stores to funnel their "almost past due" produce and meat, but since TJ's doesn't have a way to do this it makes sense that they may have more "salvageable" goods in their dumpsters.

This all sounds great, but....REALLY? Dumpster dive? That's probably too much for some of you, but something in the thrifty depths of my soul is intrigued by this. I may never have the courage to do this, but I commend those that are able to. I find it pretty reprehensible actually that stores throw perfectly good stuff away like this. I thought I had heard that these places often donate lots of the "almost past due" items to food shelters, Loaves and Fishes, etc.

I'd be curious of any input my intelligent and insightful readers have. I know I'll be trying to find out more about this myself!


Anonymous said...

We never had to dumpster dive, but we had a friend who'd sneak us out food discarded from the grocery store where she worked. It was illegal for her to do that, and we discussed it at length before I accepted the donations. We'd receive nearly molded (but not yet) bread, dented (but not swollen) canned foods and vegetable trimmings. We lived on these foods for the better part of 7 months while my hubby was unemployed.

It wasn't a high point for us dietarily, but we never went hungry.

Sara said...

We have actually been getting dumpster dived organic produce for about 6 weeks now. There is an organic produce resaler who throws out produce every week on the same day. A woman I know has been going to pick it up for a few years now and has permission from the company which is cool. This week I got a bag of apples, pears, a purple cabbage, celery, lemons, beets, potatoes and sweet potatoes. All organic,all for free. Our grocery bill has gone down considerably with this help and I feel really blessed. Each week is a different surprise load of veggies. Most of them are in great shape and the ones that aren't can go in the trash or compost. It is definitely helpful for us at this time financially.

Heather said...

Gosh, I'm surprised to hear that about TJ's. I know that we have friend that gleans bread from them on a regular basis and shares with the homeschool group. The bread is all what cannot be donated to shelters (meaning they can't use it at the time). I really think that TJ's tries other avenues before sticking it in the garbage. At least I'd like to think so!
By the way, I love your blog, thank you!

Carrie @ OrganicThrifty said...

Wow, great insights everyone! I am very intrigued by this, but like Heather, I have a hunch that TJ's tries to do what they can to funnel the goods to good causes before the dumpster....I happen to know a guy who works at TJ's so I'll have to pick his brain as well! I'll update when I know more...

Anonymous said...

One time I was shopping @ Sam's. There was a huge pallet, stacked 5-10 pallets high full of food. At the time I was really strapped, so I asked what was going on with those pallets. They were going into the compacting dumpster. I was appalled. I asked the manager why didn't they donate that food to the homeless shelter? Apparently the homeless shelter didn't want it. Said it was a liability to accept food that would otherwise be thrown away.

I wouldn't have turned it down. These companies who use the compacting dumpsters just to foil the dumpster divers kill me. What difference does it make to you, the store, if people want to pick thru your trash?? Food waste is shameful.

viagra online said...

I can see we can get an excellent time there with our family, also children will be so happy getting all those attractions.

Anonymous said...

Fermenting veggies that are reclaimed from dumpsters is a great way to preserve your finds without refrigeration and improves the nutritional value of the food. All you need are veggies, slat and containers.