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Alternative Ways To Get The Food You Need

Updated on February 28, 2011
A sample of a summer CSA package.
A sample of a summer CSA package.

If you are like most people, you purchase the majority of your food from the grocery store or a restaurant. This is the most logical and common way to attain the food your body needs to survive. But there are other ways to get the food you need. The grocery store, while having the largest selection does hold a monopoly on food. There are plenty of other sources for food.

  1. Stores other than grocery stores, such as gas stations, drug stores or even restaurants sell food to the public. When I lived in Colorado, the corner gas station routinely had the best milk prices around. Drug stores frequently put food items on sale each week. Just yesterday I got boxes of Lipton tea bags at Walgreens for much cheaper than the grocery store. Some carry out restaurants are willing to sell single ingredients to the public for cheaper than the grocery store. I have a friend who gets her pizza toppings "a la carte" from the corner pizza joint every week.
  2. Have you thought to order food online before? You can order food in bulk from Amazon - particularly specialty foods - for cheaper than the grocery store frequently. Another source for food is daily deal sites such as Groupon. In the last month I have used Groupons to purchase coffee beans, meat packages, fruit baskets, and organic snack foods from online retailers for less than half what I would have paid in a traditional grocery store.
  3. Join a Community Supported Agriculture program - or CSA. Every other Friday I pick up a meat and produce package from a local farmer through our CSA. Everything is locally grown and organically raised. It is nice to get such fresh, well grown foods without ever stepping foot into a store.
  4. Grow your own. Just because you need to eat, doesn't mean you need to buy all of your food. Raising your own - veggies, eggs, meat, honey, and more - is a great way to become less dependent on the grocery store.
  5. Forage for foods in the wild. You have to be careful here and really know what you are looking for. I wouldn't want anyone to accidently eat something poisonous. But you can frequently forage for edible foods in your own neighborhood. We have wild blackberry bushes growing in the park down the street that we frequently pick for a dessert in the summer. You can pick dandelion leaves for a salad, fruit from wild fruit trees or bushes, or mushrooms (be careful!) from the forest.
  6. Hunt your own. This goes along with foraging, but hunting or fishing for your own meat is a great way to get very nutritious foods for very little money.
  7. Barter with a friend. You can barter anything in the world, as long as both parties walk away happy. Try offering your services for some home-cooked meals or ingredients.
  8. Dumpster dive. This will probably be the least popular option out there, but grocery stores and restaurants throw away so much food that is still edible. I hate seeing anything go to waste. There are many people that refuse to pay for food at all and only forage, barter or dumpster dive for all the food they need. Freegans are the most known group of dumpster divers, but many people do it to some extent. And most of the food that is recovered is still perfectly packaged in the original containers.

The less dependent I am on the grocery store to supply my food the safer I feel. I have read in numerous articles that the average grocery store stocks about a three day supply of food. If for some reason the elaborate system that brings food to the store shelves were to get messed up or shut down - it wouldn't take long at all for the shelves to be cleared. Having alternative food sources is a great way to become more self-sufficient.


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    • Jeremey profile image

      Jeremey 7 years ago from Arizona

      Good tips here, maybe if more people used the proposed alternatives here grocery stores would drop their prices a little!

    • ekenzy profile image

      ekenzy 7 years ago

      jenny thats good.

    • bettybarnesb profile image

      bettybarnesb 7 years ago from Bartlett, TN

      Hey Jennifer: Great hub! I have had some of those experiences. Because I have a "picture perfect" memory, I normally remember the exact prices of items I purchase from grocery stores and if I am in a Walgreens or Dollar store, will compare prices of same items. Thank you!

      Be Blessed...

    • Hello, hello, profile image

      Hello, hello, 7 years ago from London, UK

      A great hub auper with tips and remarkable ideas to safe money.

    • katrinasui profile image

      katrinasui 7 years ago

      Great Hub Jenifer! Keep writing.

    • profile image

      TajSingh 7 years ago from United Kingdom

      Hi Jennifer! I think growing your own food is a great idea. You save money and you're sure that their fresh.

    • loves2cook profile image

      loves2cook 7 years ago from Portland, OR

      My local farmer's market offers a co-op food share program, where you get a portion of the farmer's produce depending on what they have to offer each season. Many of them grow organic and biodynamic foods, too. It's a nice alternative to going to the grocery store. Thanks for the hub!

    • Supercellbaebe profile image

      Supercellbaebe 7 years ago from LONDON

      Very inspiring! You've managed to sike me up into wanting to go out hunting and grow all my own fruit and veges now! :)

      Brilliant hub, thank you


    • what_say_you profile image

      what_say_you 7 years ago from Louisiana

      Jennifer I love this Hub...the grocery store is not the only place to get food and it's so true that they toss large amounts of food everyday. I often stop by the local market and look for the daily meat bargains to cook immediately because they are much cheaper...but the most cost effective way to purchase meat is to contact the closest butcher or slaughter house and split the cost of a cow.Often they will freeze it for you as well. Your average household freezer will not be able to fully freeze large amounts of meat for 3-4 days. Having a 17 cubic foot freezer would be optimum and would keep your meat good for about one year.

      I also love to get fresh, local foods from the nearest Farmers Market for so many great reasons.

    • crystolite profile image

      Emma 7 years ago from Houston TX

      Nice hub.thanks for sharing.

    • daffodil2010 profile image

      daffodil2010 7 years ago

      thank you for this nice hub! it is useful

    • Plarson profile image

      Plarson 7 years ago from Alabama

      Jennifer- Wow and thank you. All these suggestions make good sound sense, yet I bet most people, including myself, never think of them. I will try to implament them, being on disability it will come in handy. -Paul

    • KimberlyLake profile image

      Kimberly Lake 7 years ago from California

      I often get left over snacks from my children's daycare and distribute them to people in need. Many schoold district daycare centers have to throw out unused food at the end of the day. You would not believe the amount of packaged food that is thrown away by the schools.

    • sincerely25 profile image

      sincerely25 7 years ago from United States

      Some people also deliver.

    • Earth Angel profile image

      Earth Angel 7 years ago

      GREAT Hub Jennifer!

      For years I helped a blind couple with six sighted children get all the food they needed from what was being thrown away at the end of the day by local grocery stores!

      In the U.S. we are so used to 'perfect looking' food that any little mark or blemish or can dent or box scratch or wouldn't last a week was cause for

      'the offending item' to be pulled from view!

      I worked with two delightful markets and they were much happier to just toss things into a side box for me instead of the dumpster!

      Every two days I had a packed case of wonderful fresh produce and staples to deliver to a truly deserving family! (Great family never once depended upon government assistance!)

      I love this Hub! Thank you so much for the reminders to broaden our perspective when it comes to food!

      Blessings to you and yours! EarthAngel!

    • lbidd54 profile image

      lbidd54 7 years ago from The beautiful Jersey Shore

      Great information! Thank you.

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 7 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      Thank you Audrey for a great hub, to get food from. Thgankyou for sharing. Godspeed. creativeone59