My Frugal Life - Free Produce... Saved From The Dumpster

Just how frugal am I? As a confessed "dumpster diver", I have taken my passion to a whole new level.

I am an avid gardener already and spend hours picking and canning vegetables. However, it occurred to me that the local grocery store throws away bruised fruit and spotted veggies everyday that I could put to good use if I prepared them right away. I met with my local produce manager and, while he gave me an odd stare, he agreed to call me once a week after he pulled un-sellable produce from the shelves.

My Frugal Life

The first week, he helped me load my van to the brim with boxes of ripe avocados, bruised peaches, overripe bananas, etc. I set aside several hours to freeze the bananas, to be used later for banana bread. I made guacamole for my family with the avocados and made peach preserves with the bruised peaches.

As the weeks went by, I learned to make most anything out of the gleaning! The produce manager and I developed a friendship and regular system and I fed my family well! I obtained produce items that I would've never even thought to buy like mangos, rhubarb and ginger. With these, I learned to make all sorts of jellies, pies, cobblers and dried spices.

If you have a little time and a frugal mind, you can decrease your food budget and increase your family's palate. Try talking to your local produce manager when you see him in the aisles. You may get an odd stare... and a trunk full of groceries!

Shealynn from Kansas City, KS

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June 21, 20060 found this helpful

Well I am truly amazed and astonished. And here I was thinking I was frugal. I want so badly to start canning and freezing, but am having to wait till we move. This tiny apt is holding me back, but once we move watch out. Though I will have to think a little on the dumpster diving, lol. Great Job!!

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June 21, 20060 found this helpful

I hope the produce manager is also gleaning rewards from your labors to show your appreciation for all that he gives you.

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June 21, 20060 found this helpful

Dear Micksgirl,

Best wishes on canning,etc. in your future home !

I know dumpster diving sounds extreme but you're a prime candidate while living in an apartment. The community trash dumpster's are brimming with treasures. I lived in an apartment in a fairly nice neighborhhod two years ago. I never actually got IN the dumpster, people would just lay their unwanteds outside the dumpster. I obtained a beautiful set of lawn furniture, end tables which I refinished and a set of dishes still in the box. It's crazy what people will throw away just becuase they don't have time to go drop off stuff at the Goodwill Store.Maybe it's not for you but I 'll bet I got you thinking ! :)

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June 21, 20060 found this helpful

I agree with Dede that the produce manager should be appreciated for his kindness. So far he has benefitted from a loaf of banana bread from the bananas, a jar of home made blackberry jelly and a tip at Christmas. True, I'm cheap but I appreciate those who fuel my passion for frugality. Thanks for your feedback !

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October 2, 20060 found this helpful

Shealynn, my DH found me a food masher from the 50's at a garage sale, so I could "fix" my freezer jam full of seeds! I may take you up on this advice at my local store in town, which is so much more expensive than the one 15 miles away!

Dumpster Diving: when we were kids we found my mom a living room set on a military base, she just had to make new covers for the cushions! My DH and I always keep looking out for roadside freebies, especially because he is a Mr. Fix-it!

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September 14, 20070 found this helpful

Thannks SOOOOOO much for this tip!! I asked my produce manager just the other day if I could have the old produce. I had to say it was for my compost pile because the store could not LEGALLY give me "bad" food to eat.

The first day, I didn't get very much. A couple of heads of lettuce that could be salvaged, some celery, and (my personal fave) some pineapple tops.

Since we only have vehicle and hubby drives it to work, I had a friend take me a coupole of days later. We didn't think we were gonna get much thst time, either. a bag of grapes and a couple more pineapple tops. But, on our way out, we saw a trash can we had missed earlier. It was FULL of bruised apples, bruised pears, and slightly soft tomatoes. Plus, I got athree more bags of grapes and a few oranges.

I cut the zest off the oranges and froze it. Then I cut up the fruit and froze it to add to later. The pears got peeled and cut up and are in my freezer awaiting jars so I can make jam. The grapes are getting juiced for jelly right now and the apples are waiting to be made into applesauce.

OH!! I forgot all of the "ugly" sweet potatoes we got. I peeled them and cut out the bad spots. I now have ten pint jars of sweet potatoes.

Thre were various other things gleaned from those garbage cans in much smaller portions. They have been frozen for later use. Also, Quite a bit of stuff really for the compost pile.

I cannot thank you enough for this tip. Not only have you helped feed my family, but also my neighbor who is pitching in for jars.

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