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How To Get Free Produce – For Real!


Okay guys, are you ready for one of my extreme, whacky frugal ideas? Well, if you want to know how to get free produce, listen up! 🙂

This is something Gabriel and I started doing at the suggestion of his aunt, who did it before she moved out of town.

How To Get Free Produce


I’ve quelled my excitement, and waited to tell you all so I could see how it was going to go on a consistent basis.

But oh my gosh you guys! We’re getting so much of our produce for free now that I just can’t hold it in anymore! This completely blows $20 a week out of the water.

So what in the world am I talking about?

Here’s my tip:

Ask you’re local grocery if you can pick up their expired produce when they throw it out.

It’s that easy. You know that statistic that we quote every Wednesday about 50% of the food in the US and Canada going to waste? Well, it’s true. There is so much wasted food! And the tragedy is that so much of it is perfectly good food! 


The funny part is, this whole thing started as a way to get scraps for our pigs. Gabriel went down and asked the produce manager if he could take their scraps off of their hands to feed to the little oinkers.

They agreed to set it out on the dock at 8:00 every morning, and every morning, Gabriel goes and picks it up.

The first day was about 1/3 box of ripe bananas. Gabriel and I like our bananas good and ripe, so instead of sending them straight to the pigs, we took about half of them and froze them for smoothies. Since then, we bring whatever he picks up every morning into the house to sort out before sending it to the pigs.

The next day there wasn’t much, but the day after that, We ended up with a bowl full of beautiful apples, bell peppers, a few pears, peaches, lemons, limes, tomatoes, and even a head of lettuce.

How to get free produce

Today there were red potatoes, sweet potatoes, more peppers, a few bags of salad mix, onions, and I don’t even remember what else. I’m starting to tailor our menu plan to what we pick up, rather than making a plan and then shopping for it.

The quantity of apples has gotten to the point that I’ve broken out the food dehydrator to make snacks for the future.

 The biggest catch is that you pretty much have to commit to picking up the cast off produce every morning, because if you don’t pick it up, the employee has to go back out and throw it into the dumpster. If that happens a few times, they’ll start putting it directly into the dumpster to save themselves steps.

The other catch is that they don’t really want to give it to you for human consumption. I’m not sure if it’s an issue of not wanting to get in trouble if you eat something bad that makes you sick, or if it’s a business issue of wanting you to buy it from them. In any case, you need a better reason than just to eat it when you’re asking the store manager if they’ll set it out for you.

For those of you who don’t have pigs or chickens to feed the true waste to, you can still do this! It’s a great way to get a good compost pile started!

I’m really glad that Gabriel had the nerve to ask the manager if he could start picking up their scraps because to be honest, I’m not sure I would have.

Would you do it?

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  1. The majority of our grocery stores here now give their soon-to-be-expired food to the local food pantries, but several years ago, my family was known to dumpster dive… 😉 If your store doesn’t give to a food pantry, obviously asking them for it would be great – if you want to show up every day. Me? I’d rather just stop by the dumpster every once in a while when I’m in town anyway, haha.

    1. That’s the same dumpster rotten meat and dairy are thrown into, so expect that produce to be covered in salmonella and E.coli. It’s also a thing for some markets to douse food they throw away with bleach to discourage your plan. I find it interesting that it’s actually illegal to throw away edible food in France, yet I had to dump boxes of pretty good produce daily into my then employer’s compacter, since the store no longer gave to shelters. They dump the day’s fried chicken in there, too. So wasteful.

  2. Here’s something else to consider. My friend and I have made a deal with a bread manufacturer. Every Wednesday we take a stock trailer and pick up racks of bread, I mean racks. Many of the items are still in date. We get bread, donuts, rolls and an assortment of pizza crusts and cases of junk food. We don’t eat it but there are plenty of poor people I know that gladly help you out and your able to eat the more expensive breads because not that many people can afford it. Its amazing how much we throw away in this country. You have to convince them your only feeding livestock. Then we have to find other farmers to come take some of the bread off our hands. $40.00 a truckload, so you make a little money on the side. It is a good hours worth of work for about four people.

  3. Unless it’s outright rotten, our local store packages it up and puts it all on a rack, for a deeply discounted price!
    For example, I recently got 5 pounds of assorted carrots (some baby ones, some whole unpeeled), for less than $2.50!!!
    I, also, got a package with 3 lemons, 2 limes, and 2 oranges, for $1.29!!!
    We bypass the produce section until after we’ve checked the discount rack now!!! LOL

    PS – They do the same thing with bread products!!!

  4. How would someone that does not own a farm convince the store that the food is not for human consumption?

    1. You can always compost it for your garden. That’s what we do with the things our pigs don’t like (Yes, believe it or not, pigs don’t eat just *anything* lol).

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