5 Ways to Rescue Food (without diving in the dumpster)

Dumpster diving is just not your thing. We get it. It takes a special kind of weirdo to stick their head (or body) in a stinky, grimy refuse bin and pull out something to eat. We love being that kind of weirdo, but we also know that if dumpster diving was the only way to rescue food, our food waste problem would never be solved. Luckily, there are other (more proactive) options.

Reduced for Quick Sale Bins

We love the fact that almost all of the grocers around us (and even Walmart) have a rack for day-old breads, pastries, and other baked goods. Some grocers, like Kroger, take that concept a step further and have a quick-sale bin for produce. These areas are our first stop when shopping. On almost every occasion, we’ve been able to find just what we were looking for to fill our weekly shopping list – be it lettuce, apples, bananas, potatoes, or more – on the quick-sale rack.

Clearance Sales

Unlike the quick-sale bin, which usually only offers fresh produce and/or baked goods, your grocer’s clearance rack may have needed pantry items at a drastically reduced price. Kroger, Food Lion, and Walmart (in our area) all have clearance areas for food items. In fact, right now our Walmart is undergoing a remodel and they have an entire clearance end-cap. Items that are no longer going to be carried by the store but are in perfectly good condition are placed here. This week, we were able to stock up on PAM cooking spray (50 cents a can), banana flour ($1 a bag), unsweetened almond milk ($1 for 1/2 gallon), baking powder (25 cents a can), dried cherries ($1 a bag), and more.


On the way home from my mom’s house yesterday, we saw a tangerine on the side of the road. I assume it fell out of a grocery bag or a kid’s backpack and it probably would have rotted there if we had not picked it up and eaten it. Yes, technically that’s not true “foraging” but how often do tangerines just jump out in front of you? Not very often, I would guess. But you’re probably passing perfectly edible foods every day and you don’t even know it. Learn what’s edible in the wild. Pick berries on your walk through the woods. Gather nuts off the ground. Pick apples hanging over a fence row (on public property, of course).


Gleaning is similar to foraging but with permission from the garden owner (in most cases). We have several neighbors who have old fruit trees in their yards. Since they didn’t plant them, most have little to no interest in harvesting the fruit. By simply asking for permission, we’ve harvested buckets full of pears, apples, and peaches. And a few years ago, my mom’s next-door-neighbor completely abandoned his garden and allowed us to glean everything we could get our hands on.

Closeout Stores

Though not my first choice, closeout stores are still a viable option for rescuing food. Many of these stores obtain their inventory from other stores that have gone out of business or purchased too much of a particular item to sell themselves. The foods found here are generally packaged goods – dried fruits, nuts, canned goods, spices, and pastas – and most are at or close to expiration. They are typically 1/2 the price of the same item in the grocery store and most will still be good long past the date on the package.

Food Waste Update
We took a break from dumpster diving this week to go to the mountains for a short vacation.

  • Wasted Food this week: 0 ounces
  • Total Wasted Food in 2018: 38 ounces
  • Rescued Food this week:  .25 US pounds
  • Total Food Rescued this year:  99.17 US pounds

Keep up with our food finds in real time by viewing our Food Find Gallery.

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