Forage your fridge full

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Groceries are, and have been, pretty scarce around here. A $25-50 a week food budget isn’t much to go on. Really, it’s not enough to go on.

Food banks were my best friend in college. I’ve avoided going back, but it takes a lot of work to find food from alternative sources.

Foraging

Gardens are obviously a great place to find food, but food is growing all around us.

Did you know that dandelions make a delicious and healthy snack?

In Winnipeg, raspberry bushes, chives and rhubarb plants grow in some parks. Chickweed, purslane and goosefoot—fairly common weeds—can bulk up (or make) a salad.

Spend an afternoon wandering a park near you and taking photos of plants you suspect might be edible. Or maybe do a little research before heading out and have some in mind to look for.

Lucky for me, a good friend of mine is in greenspace management and joins me for hikes. He frequently stops to look at plants and I frequently ask, “Can I eat that?”

While foraging in urban settings will help reduce your grocery bill, it’s also fun and a great way to get into nature.

Trading

I’m pretty lucky to have a ton of friends who love me a lot. I could ask for handouts, but that’s not a very friendly thing to do.

Instead, I’ve been offering to trade work I can do for their food. A hand knit hat for vegan lasagne here, helping in the garden for fresh produce there. Maybe a ride to the vet in exchange for a burger.

Doing favours for friends is so nice, but if they can afford to give back and you can’t afford to eat, ask how they feel about filling your belly.

Preserving

Canning is a skill of mine and I’m lucky enough to own a dehydrator. If a friend has an apple tree and not enough freezer space for pie, I’ll offer to make apple sauce or chips in exchange for a cut of their haul.

For a couple years, I signed-up for Fruit Share. Basically, some folks sign-up to pick, others sign-up to have food on their property picked. Pickers do their job, leave a percentage for the home-dweller, give a percentage to charity and then take the rest. I usually missed sign-up for everything except crab apples, but that meant I had enough apple chips to last me a full year.

There are so many other ways to get free food! Dumpster diving, joining a community garden and starting your own garden are a few other ways.

Do you have any tips on filling the fridge without blowing the budget?

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