Free Groceries and What I Did With Them

When I was putting these groceries on my counter to photograph them, my kid asked me why I was doing that, why I'm putting free things I'm given, because not everyone is able to get free things like this, and what am I teaching people by posting these things?

So I wanted to address that in this post.

First off, I do sometimes get free food from charity. I'm very thankful for that, but I would not post those things here. Getting something from charity isn't a "frugal strategy" even if it is helpful for low income families.

However, these items are from a charity. Just not one I'm a recipient of. And honestly, it's more akin to trash picking than anything else. 

Locally there are a few organizations that give food items to people in need. Often, though, it is food that is near its expiration date, or produce mixed in with yucky produce so you need to pick out the good ones. They set a time to get everyone to come get food. Many times, by the time the food is distributed to everyone that comes, there is a lot left over. It will end up in the trash if not taken.

Often my friend Eva, who lives near the location of one of these charity distribution points will post on our local giveaway group when all their recipients have gone and there are leftovers, open for anyone to take before the rest gets tossed. This usually happens at about 11 pm. In the past I sometimes walked over to get things if they seemed worth the trip late at night. But now with a car I can go much more easily, just hop in the car and get stuff, very low energy. When it's just produce I don't usually make the effort because I don't like picking through often yucky produce to find good stuff, especially since the intended recipients already picked through it and took out most of the better produce. But when things like dairy, they're usually just close to the expiration date so they don't need to be picked through.

Tofu is a thing I often find at these giveaways and it freezes wonderfully (changes texture then but it works even better for some recipes after freezing). This time it was a lot of containers of a yoghurt type soft cheese and many bottles of goat milk. 

I don't usually buy goat milk, but free is the best price. I didn't have so much freezer room this time (I usually put such finds in there) but I knew I could make it into yogurt and it would then last longer. I now have two pots of goat milk yogurt sitting in my fridge and I've been using them for so many things. Yogurt works wonderfully in pancakes, and also in mac and cheese (my daughter was upset that I made only a bit of that as an experiment since she loved it so much), but we've been having smoothies most of all.

I'm not the biggest grapefruit eater (I find it is too time consuming to eat them and removing the membranes) but I decided to make grapefruit juice with them and have been enjoying that.

There were amazing sweetie fruit that I've been snacking on (they are more enjoyable to eat than grapefruits!). Because they were surrounded by yucky fruit they had mold and other germs on their peel which would cause them to spoil more quickly. So I made sure to wash them (and the grapefruits) with soap and water and let them dry completely before putting them away.

There were packages of mint that at first looked good and I didn't understand why people didn't take them. Then I looked closer and saw there was lots of dark discolored mint within each package. I decided to take some anyhow and just take off the bad mint and save the rest. Once home I realized that the discolored mint wasn't spoiled at all, but was just accidentally frozen (probably in the back of a fridge) and totally fine. I used the mint in a bunch of recipes, including a few batches of this cucumber mint agua fresca  and also froze mint for future use in recipes.

Ooo and how could I forget the kohlrabi? I don't usually buy them because I can't eat them and my kids won't take them on their own to eat so I forget about them... But these I turned into crudites for the kids to eat and put them on the table and they were gone.

And I realized that I never actually answered the question about why I post about these freebies.

The reasons are many:
  • There are local people who read my blog that do see these announcements of free stuff, and I am encouraging them to go and take stuff and rescue these things from going to trash, even if it is at 11 pm. That a little bit of effort goes a long way.
  • I'm giving ideas to these people about what to do with this food to help it last longer that they might not have thought of.
  • There are other places where you can get similar foods, definitely all over my country, as leftovers after charity distributions.
  • This is similar to what you can do when you trash pick outside grocery stores and at open air markets.
But probably the biggest reason that keeps me post these things-
  • A friend told me that she loves reading my blog and posts like this, since even if she doesn't actually do what I'm writing about, it makes her more concious about adding more frugal strategies to her life.
Hope that answers the question if you, too, were wondering the same.

Have you gotten any free food or other things lately? What were they?
Do you appreciate this type of post? What do you gain from it?

Penniless Parenting

Mommy, wife, writer, baker, chef, crafter, sewer, teacher, babysitter, cleaning lady, penny pincher, frugal gal

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