Last Update: 9/12/2017

21 Cheap and Cash-Free Food Sources

guy dumpster diving, but you can only see his legs sticking out of the dumpster
How can a vandweller stretch their food budget? By exploiting ALL the fuckin' resources in their damn environment, like a nomad. Here are 21 alternative food sources (in no particular order.)

1. Gleaning – Farmers will sometimes let you forage after the harvest for food left in the field.

2. Hunting/Fishing/Trapping
– Many states have free or cheap education programs to teach you how. Licenses are usually much goddamn cheaper for state residents.

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3. Wild Foraging – Learn to gather wild plant and non-game animal foods. Check local laws. National forests rock for this! (See

4. Urban Foraging – Produce from domesticated plants in yards are often let to rot, e.g., apples, mulberries, and pecans. This happens everywhere from the inner cities to abandoned farmlands. Don’t let that food rot like every other dipwad!

5. Roadkill – Gatherin' roadkill is legal in most states, and there’s lots of info online about how to do this smart'n safe. Vanholio's done eaten roadkill hisself!

6. Charity/Entitlements – If you’re truly hard up, try soup kitchens, food pantries, food stamps (EBT), even beggin'. Fuck pride!

7. Events – Some organizations, especially churches, will give you free food to hear their pitch. You don’t need to come to Jeezus after!

8. Gardening – Can you participate in a community garden? Do you have friends or relatives who’ll let you garden in their yard? Grow your own!

9. Guerrilla Gardening – Why not garden on a vacant lot? In that bit of grass behind a warehouse? On the sly, you can also care for already growing trees and plants, domesticated and wild, to produce a better harvest.

10. Intentional Communities – Many intentional communities farm. See if you can help with the harvest for room and board, and for some food to take with you. If you want to garden or farm yourself, this is a great way to learn. You might even make friends.

11. Dumpster Diving
– Business and households all over the country throw out megatons of food. It's fucking shameful. But their asswipery is your gold. Lots of info on the web.

12. Surplus Food – Ask restaurants, bakeries, donut shops, grocery stores, etc. for food they’re going to throw out. Get it before the dumpster does.

13. Party Leftovers – Don’t be shy about taking leftovers from parties and other events at work, friends’ houses, church, wherever.

14. Grocery Stores – Default option. Look for generics, sales, and clearances.

15. Big Box Stores – Stock up on bulk staples, if you have room to carry them.

16. Ethnic Grocers – Indian and East Asian grocery stores often have amazing deals and cheap, fresh vegetables.

17. Farmers’ Markets – These aren’t always cheaper, and sometimes the “local” produce is really off the wholesale truck. But it’s worth looking. Some states have programs for SNAP to get 2-for-1 on fresh produce at farmers' markets!

18. Farmer Direct
– Buy fresh eggs and produce from side of the road. Consider buying meat, even a whole animals direct; you can always dry excess meat into jerky over a campfire.

19. Samples
– Visit food stores on the days they have free samples, then fill up!

20. Scamming – Lots of info online about how to scam restaurants into giving you free meals. Just saying …

21. Mooching – You *can* always mooch meals off your friends and family. At least till they get tired of you.

How’s that for a goddamn list of alternative food sources?! Vanholio miss any?

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