How to Feed a Family for Free

OK, so we’re not a real family, but living on my little farm in Norway, we are a close-knit group of people who eat three meals a day together. While some ingredients are bought, almost everything else is free. Right now, that is eight hungry people who rise at seven in the morning and finish work (volunteering) at six in the evening.

How do we eat for free?

The answer is very simple. We go skipping (dumpster diving) to five or six small shops, once a week.

We find fruit and veg, breads, chocolates, dairy products, and even alcohol. Every day, we eat masses of food and (almost) every day, it is delicious – we take it in turns to cook and try to make good stuff for everyone else. Why should you go skipping / dumpster diving? Because it is fun, free, and reduces world waste.

Let me use the following pictures (with captions) to explain what we find.

Feeding a Family for Free 000

Bread. Every week, we find masses of bread. On this particular day, we found around forty packets of delicious, large wraps. That’s over two hundred wraps.

Feeding a Family for Free 001

Sweets. Chocolate is always discarded on mass and on this particular day, we found a couple of kilos of marzipan-chocolate bars, as well as the bags in the background. On other days, we have found more.

Feeding a Family for Free 005

Fruit and vegetables. Everything that you see here was found in one evening and this doesn’t include the produce that we refrigerated. Generally we get 10-15 kg of bananas and 10 kg apples each day that we go out looking.

Feeding a Family for Free 004

This is one of our fridges after a single evening of skipping. It was practically empty before, save the jars. Note the 3 kg of mascarpone and 1.5 kg of brie. This stash picture doesn’t show any unrefrigerated fruit, breads, or food that we had to freeze.

Feeding a Family for Free 006

Fridge two on the same day as the above image.

Feeding a Family for Free 007

Alcohol. Yes, people throw it away. Yes, we found all of this in one evening. Yes, the Swedish pear cider was delicious. So too was the brandy (just incase you didn’t notice the 12 bottles down the bottom – we already drank two before taking this picture).

I never thought I would eat from a bin until I tried it a couple of years ago. But now, we eat like kings and it costs nothing.

Never say never, eh?

By | 2014-08-05T23:08:55+00:00 August 5th, 2014|Stories, Thoughts and Inspiration|4 Comments


  1. Dave 22/09/2014 at 20:36 - Reply

    This is genius, but it makes me think you were dressed in black throwing rugs over barbed wire and short circuiting CCTV cameras whilst catapulting poisoned steak over the wall to the security guards dog. How much trouble did you go to? In Bolton UK there’re 15 foot walls around the back of supermarkets.

    Still the idea is super. and the haul looks amazing.

    • Jamie 04/10/2014 at 04:07 - Reply

      Ha, not quite! We actually walked up to most of the bins in broad daylight, parking our car near to them, and begun filling up bin bags with food before loading them into the boot. Unfortunately some supermarkets do hide their bins, but look around and you will find some that don’t. Several people I have met who skip do it regularly in the UK. TrashWiki might be a useful resource for advice too. Probably wearing a mask while dressed in black might actually get you into trouble… maybe…

  2. Jason 07/08/2014 at 11:03 - Reply

    Hey Jamie,

    Why is so much just thrown away. Is the food past its sell by date but not past the use by date, making it safe to eat. Those Bananas look perfectly fine.

    • Jamie 25/08/2014 at 09:39 - Reply

      It legally has to be thrown out on its sell by date, but even after that it is often good for a long time. The human body is a great detector of what is good and what is not and I have consumed products many weeks after they were meant to be consumed – even products such as milk which you expect not to last. Often we would freeze food after we found it, halting the process of decay.

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