Nearly 40 percent of wasted food in the United States is thrown out by consumers. This is based on a study by the United Nations Food and Agriculture Organization. The wasted food has a negative effect on the environment and the budget of ordinary Americans. But, this wastage can be controlled by recovering food that is still suitable to eat through minor changes in the way we shop. This may even result in finding gourmet food at little cost.
Aside from saving the environment, you can also save some money. The following are some places where you can find groceries at little cost.
1. Salvage grocery outlets
Salvage grocery outlets are also called discount grocery outlets or discount grocery stores. They store items that are not sold by other food suppliers. These items include dented packaged food, food that are nearly expiring, and overstocked items. They also store seasonal items that are out of season.
These stores normally offer discounts of 50 percent for branded items. There are instances when they give bigger discounts for items that do not look appealing. Some of these stores accept coupons that offer bigger discounts. For those new to this type of shopping, it is advisable to approach the sales staff so you will know how to increase your savings.
Some of my neighbors shop for groceries in the local salvage grocery outlet. But, there are some disadvantages when shopping in these stores. The stocks in these shops are not the same every day. But, you can find out what are the freshest items in the inventory by getting the delivery schedules from store employees.
Discount grocery outlets purchase the items on their shelves from grocery reclamation centers. These places are also controlled and checked, similar to regular groceries. This ensures the food from these stores is suitable for consumption.
2. Markdown racks
A markdown or discount rack can be found inside many regular groceries. The merchandise displayed includes nearly expired milk as well as brand-new closeout items. These racks are normally located at the back of the shop. But, there are some discount racks located in different aisles inside the store. You can buy a good amount of Easter candy once Easter is done. These Easter chocolates can be chopped and used to make brownies or cookies, and no one has to know about it. National chain stores normally offer discounts of up to 50 percent on items displayed on their markdown racks.
3. Imperfect produce
Imperfect produce is a farm box service offering weekly deliveries to their subscribers. Stores consider curved cucumbers as imperfect produce. These items cannot be easily sacked. Other items include small or large avocados. These are items that are not consistent with the typical size or shape of vegetables. You can get discounts of between 30 and 50 percent when you buy these items. Subscribers to Imperfect Produce can customize their boxes unlike many Community Supported Agriculture farm box programs. This allows you to avoid getting vegetables you do not like.
4. Farmer’s market
Farmers spend time and money as well as energy in bringing their produce to the market. It also takes time, money, and energy in bringing any unsold back home or even to get rid of them. You can get additional discounts when you shop for produce at the farmers’ market at the end of the day. Farmers are willing to sell at a loss instead of not being able to sell their products at all.
Regular customers of farmers’ markets normally receive fee produce from some stands in the market. Some farmers would give away any damaged produce away, which you can use to make salads, jams, or pickles.
Rural area residents can simply visit a farm instead of going to the farmers’ market. Farm employees normally receive produce as one of their perks. Some people would work four hours each week at local farms so they can get free produce.
There are instances when they would receive hard-to-get produce from these farms. Limited supplies of avocado may not be felt by farm employees. They may even take home a good number of free avocados, especially when these fall from the trees after a windstorm. The same thing will happen to plums, which can be made into jams. Some farm employees also get small carrots and lettuces that may not be sold in the markets.
You can get a list of organic farms around the world through Worldwide Opportunities on Organic Farms. These places offer free food and lodging if you work for them.
Ordinary American families throw away food worth over $1,500 every year. This amount, which is tax-free, may be used by the family for other things.
You should manage your inventory of food so you can save money. Using an ingredient calculator will allow you to salvage any leftovers for recipes using the food you already have in your refrigerator. You can also decide on having leftovers from last night for lunch. If you want to have some excitement in your meals, you can also find a recipe that uses all the extra ingredients you have in the refrigerator.
Some people organize food inside their refrigerator according to when these would expire. They will put food nearing their expiry date on top while the ones that are not yet expiring will be placed near the bottom. This allows them to cut food waste down to a significant degree.
When it comes to recycling, dumpster diving is the new way to do it. This is actually an activity practiced by many activists, professors, and TED talkers. They know this allows them to eat like kings without having to spend too much.
It is better to dumpster five for food since it is cleaner than dumpster diving for other things. Most of the garbage in many groceries is food. They are also protected from cross-contamination and the elements since they are placed in plastic bags. Medical waste cannot be found in dumpsters of groceries. Food vendors also want to avoid vermin from getting into their dumpsters. So, they would ensure these are well protected from rats.
Sustainable living activist, Rob Greenfield, ate food from 300 dumpsters while traveling to numerous cities in the US. He showed a photo of the quantity and quality of the food on his blog. The food came from dumpsters of grocery stores across the country.
Similar to other types of foraging activities, there is a learning curve for dumpster diving. If you find it challenging to dumpster dive on your own, you can find groups on Facebook and Meetup that dumpster five regularly. These groups organize these activities. They also hold dinner parties serving rescued food. Dumpster diving has become a more accepted and common activity. There are also some seasoned scroungers who would be surprised at Yelp reviews of some dumpsters close to their areas. There are also some New Yorkers who created a directory showing dumpsters where you can find food suitable for eating.