Where to Find Free Groceries

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Are you struggling to fit groceries into your budget right now? There are many places where free groceries can be found if you know where to look!

Are you struggling to fit groceries into your budget right now? There are many places where free groceries can be found if you know where to look!

Where to Find Free Groceries

Food is an expensive part of any budget, especially if you have a large family or if your family has any food allergies.

I’m always looking for good ways to save money on groceries and over the years, I’ve come up with many tips that we ourselves use every time we go shopping. Things like Buying in Bulk, Utilizing a Food Coop, Saving Money on Healthy Foods, and these other Ways to Save on Groceries. Just because we have to eat doesn’t mean we need to pay a lot of money to do it!

Today I thought it would be fun to put together a different kind of list. Not just ways to save money on food, but where to find free food. There are so many resources for free food out there but oftentimes we underuse them because of lack of time or by just not knowing which resources to use.

If you need to drastically cut your food budget, hopefully, these ideas on where to find free food will be helpful.

Use Weeds

There are many types of common weeds such as dandelions and purslane that we pass off as something annoying in our yard, but really, these can be a great source of nutrients and extra food to grace your table.

If you aren’t sure what, how, or where to start foraging for “weeds” or other edible plants, I recommend reading about How to Start Foraging or getting some books from the library about plants that you can forage in your local area.


Collect Nuts or Berries

Nuts and berries are a little easier to forage than grasses or leaves but they still are an underused method of getting free food.

What you are able to gather will depend on what grows in your local area. Here in South Dakota, I’m able to gather wild raspberries, grapes, asparagus, and chokecherries without trying too hard to find them. Your local area might have blueberries, blackberries, walnuts, or other berries and nuts growing wild. Since both berries and nuts are usually quite expensive at the grocery store, this can be a great way to save money on these foods.

A good book on local foraging will also be helpful here if you want to find free nuts and berries where you live.

Barter for Food

We like to barter and do it quite often so this is one of my favorite methods of getting free food. Is there something you can do for someone you know that grows fruits or veggies? Perhaps you can work on their car in exchange for a box of tomatoes or maybe you can help them weed their garden in exchange for a box of fresh vegetables?

Brainstorm anyone you know that might be growing extra food and then think of what you could offer in exchange for it.

–Learn all about how to barter here.

Go Fishing

Want free food but need to have meat in your diet? Fishing is a great way to do this! While not 100% free since you will have to get a fishing license for your state, it’s still only a few dollars in exchange for something that could potentially fill up your freezer if you work at it. Plus fishing can be a fun relaxing way to spend the day with your children!

If you have the equipment, you could also hunt for deer, turkey, elk, or other wild game in your area as well. Even though you need a license to hunt for these as well, it will still save you a great deal of money on meat.


If you’ve ever wanted to raise your own fruit trees or berry plants in your backyard, you will know just how expensive the little plants can be to buy from the store. Check around to find someone who already grows what you are looking to grow and see if you can transplant some of their runners or new growth from the roots onto your property.

Transplants will take at least a year to start growing, but down the road, you will be able to utilize the free food they will have.


Grow a Garden

Of course, we had to have growing a garden on this list! While planting the garden itself isn’t always free (although it can be very cheap, read these Ways to Save Money Gardening), it will almost always produce more food for less money than you would ever pay at the grocery store, especially if you are careful to choose very productive plants such as zucchini or tomatoes.

If you save your seeds (or get them from someone else) and simply use the dirt in your backyard with a few Homemade Weed Killers and Homemade Pest Sprays, you will be able to grow a garden for very very cheap if not free.

Grow Your Own Herbs

This goes along with the tip above but always seems to get forgotten. When we think of growing a garden, we usually think of growing vegetables or maybe fruits, but a garden can be for growing anything!

Herbs can really dress up a frugal meal and they grow very easily, sometimes even very prolifically so it makes sense to grow them in your backyard.

You can even grow them inside in a well-lit window as well so that you can grow them year-round. Pick up a few seeds packets at the dollar store or see if a friend has extras and start that herb garden today.

–Read about Growing an Herb Garden here.

grocery coupons

Grocery Store Coupon Apps

While this might not be a major source of free food, it definitely works! I get free groceries on a weekly basis by using this tip. Just download the coupon app for your favorite local store or you can also download the Ibotta app as well. Look for coupons that are good for “any product” or for a dollar amount that is good for any product in a certain category, then use the coupon at your local store!


In the above pic you can see a pack of bagels that I found marked down for $0.99 at Safeway. I had $1 off any Bakery item coupon in my Safeway coupon app so I ended up getting the 6 pack of bagels for free. Free breakfast for my hubby for a week!

Food Pantries

If you don’t have the money for food, there is no shame in getting help from your local food pantry so that you can get food for free. Most food pantries have some rules such as you can only utilize them once a month, but it can be a good resource to have if you are struggling with food insecurity.

Find your local food pantry here.

Restaurant Freebies

Our family doesn’t personally go out to eat because of food allergies but I know there are plenty of freebies out there that are offered by restaurants all the time! My friend Kristie has a big list of Restuarant Birthday Freebies you will want to check out and get signed up for.



Gleaning is something that has been going on for centuries. The concept is that when a farmer has harvested their crops, people can be allowed to “glean” the fields to pick up anything that has fallen or is leftover. Although the concept is old, it’s still something that can be utilized today. Know a friend that has a garden full of tomatoes (or rhubarb or zucchini!) but they just don’t want to can up anymore? Ask if you can glean the fruit from the plants.

Don’t be shy! Plenty of food goes to waste every year if it’s left to sit in gardens and fields once the farmer or gardener is done tending to it for the year.

Just Ask

If you need food and can’t find any at any of the resources listed above, just ask! Facebook or Facebook groups can be a great way to ask for free groceries. When I’ve seen posts asking for free food, I’ve always seen a wonderful response from the local community to help meet the need.

If you are still unable to find food using all of the resources above, please email me and we will try our best to help you find resources in your local area.

I hope this article gives you some ideas on where you can start looking for free groceries. I know that it can be such a struggle when your family needs food. You can feel helpless and frustrated that you aren’t able to provide like you want to, but please remember that everyone goes through hard times and no one is looking down on you for your struggles.

My husband and I had a period in the beginning of our marriage where we could not afford food either. We ended up going to a food pantry and finally asking strangers for food. The kindness of one stranger led me to ultimately start this website and I always want to be sure that I’m sharing the best tips and information with you if you are struggling as I can.

Where are some places that you have gotten free groceries?

Merissa Bio

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  1. You are beautiful Marissa inside and out. I’m a disabled senior citizen. I have Lupus and 5yrs ago got Shingles in my left eye and life has been hell ever since. Deep corneal scars are not going to go away. The visual impairment, seeing at night and generally just trying to do my best one day at a time is difficult but better than being dead. I’m trying to learn gardening on my own and I bought some things waiting to plant as the weather will allow. I stopped eating meat years ago and I feel best on a almost total plant based diet. I do eat cheese and I call myself the “dirty vegan” because I will not eat a grilled cheese with fake rubber cheese. I wish I had a reasonable resource for organic Vege in my city as I’m 76 and on Social Security only . Any suggestions or recipes or cookbooks you can suggest would be so very much appreciated. Thank you and Lord Bless you.
    Sincerely, Diane Varlesi

    1. Hmmm, that’s a good question. I’m definitely not an expert on vegan recipes but if it were me I would just try and focus on whole foods and experimenting with what I have. Try new combinations of veggies mixed with different combos of fresh herbs (easy to grow in a windowsill) and see what tasty dishes you can make! 🙂

    2. There is a great cookbook by Mennonites called more with less cookbook by Doris Longacre. Many vegan recipes. Very frugal.

  2. The little grocery stores in tiny towns (population 100-10,000) in western Texas often have boxes and bags of damaged mixed produce for 2 $ and less. Usually 85% or more has been useable. They also have about to expire milk product. Go in the morning before 10 am or earlier. I bring it home and chop, freeze, cook it or share it around the same day.

    1. I lived in a town that had a ‘scratch and dent’ store. While I was not a fan of dented cans, got good deals on crushed boxes and label-less cans.

      1. scratch and dent stores are great. Some stuff is either expired or close to it, but still very useable (mostly packaged goods for me). It’s like a scavenger hunt!
        Also, I have seen local greenhouses throw vegetable plants out at the end of the season. Possibly ask if they would allow one to forage through their compost pile and see if anything is salvageable. If they say no, well, it is worth a try.

  3. We started getting a few groceries from “Imperfect Foods” delivered. If you qualify for “SNAP”, you can get your groceries free from them, or nearly free. You can find them online. They have lots of organic and vegan foods available, as well as meat and dairy. They have herbs, too.

    1. It states on their website they only give 33% discount for SNAP-eligible people and they are not allowed to charge your SNAP account so that is nice they give a discount, but when your entire food budget is on your SNAP dollars and you cannot afford to utilize any of your cash resources this doesn’t really help a person in my situation. Spending $100 plus of my cash would cause other budgeting issues. Good idea though… to bad the government wouldn’t allow SNAP recipients to get this program.

    2. SNAP may still be used for seeds. Otherwise, there are many fresh foods that come with their own seeds. For instance – grapes, corn, peas in the pod, melons. The list is endless. For pots you can use one of those can openers that also punch triangular holes. Make a couple on the bottom of a tin can, like what veggies come in. Line the bottom with a piece of newspaper. This will let excess water drain without the dirt washing out. For dirt, use what’s in the yard, with out making a hole to China, just a little here and there. Used tea bags and coffee grounds can be added for mulch and added nutrients. The plant will eventually need a bigger pot or be planted directly in the ground. Be on the look out for the pots at yard sales and thrift stores. Also, some dollar stores will have pots and seeds.

  4. Dialing 211 will put you in touch with a knowledgeable person on the other end who will be able to help you to all benefits available to senior citizens in your position.
    IE: seniors are eligible for fresh produce during a growing season; through vouchers; fuel in winter months; rides to grocery stores, doctor visits, etc. There is also MEALS ON WHEELS in most communities. For a small fee, volunteers deliver food to the home at least 5 days/week. Living on SSecurity gives you the right to senior housing.

    1. Thank you for sharing that! I completely forgot about Meals on Wheels and I didn’t know about the fresh produce for seniors. Do you know who that is through? I’d like to add the info into the post in case anyone else is looking for it.

      1. The fresh veggies vary by location but calling your local department of human services/ SNAP office can get you that info. In Texas and Oklahoma SNAP can be redeemed at local farmers markets. This is has started in the last few years I think. Such a blessing.

        Thanks for the wonderful tips!

      2. Look for Farm Shares or Second Harvest deliveries in your area.It’s all free. It often includes fresh veggie & fruit and organic food and drinks.

    2. Also, many local senior centers offer lunches/dinners at a greatly reduced price. A relative gets them for $2 a meal and she said that as her appetite has dwindled as she has aged, it is enough for more than one meal for her.

    3. YMMV with 211. Awhile back, I called 3 times, got no information I didn’t get in a 5-minute internet search, and never received a call back or an email. For a lot of folks, finding help means legwork. Reading, calling, asking around. In my county, there’s a good number of food and clothing banks, but most do not advertise at all. If a basic internet search doesn’t turn up something, I highly suggest calling local churches-if they don’t have such programs, they probably know who does. Good luck, everyone.

  5. Thanks a lot for this helpful blog. Another great resource for free groceries is family. You visit extended family members and pretty often they will give you something

  6. The reply mentioning SNAP is correct. This is available nationwide and the vouchers given are redeemable at all farm stands in your particular area. I have advised all seniors who do not like to make meals for just themselves to invest in Meals on Wheels. A diabetic or Regular menu is provided each week.

    Also, in Southern maine, there are free luncheons and/or dinners provided on various days of the week; no questions asked. These are posted online and/or local free newspapers. Some churches post it outside their buildings that they are serving a free mean on any given day and give the time.

    1. Hi, our farmers markets in our area offer $2 farmers market dollars for every $1 of SNAP dollars. This is a win-win for our area. Other areslas likely do this too, but if they don’t try to talk with a farmers market board member to see if this is something they would consider.

  7. For fishing-
    You don’t always need a lot of tackle to catch a little food. Research the following terms; Bush Hooks, Limb Lines, Trot Lines, Slat Traps, Cast Nets. Now, be VERY careful about the laws and regulations in your area-they can vary significantly from one body of water to the next. For example, my state has rules for game fish and non-game fish, and that extends to the gear in your possession when you catch one or the other! Being disabled, or elderly, or fishing in your county of residence may exempt you from the license requirement, but be careful with this, too.

    Please harvest no more than you can use.

    Here’s a YT video demonstrating a Bucket Trap anyone can make. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UJRjHyX27PU

    For food banks-
    Note that food banks often get fresh produce, dairy, and other perishables, and don’t have methods for storing such things. Don’t feel guilty about getting help, like you’re taking from someone else. If that’s a concern, be last in line. Don’t go hungry when there’s people working to help you.

    1. The Trump administration delivered at least 3 shipments of 25lb boxes of food to food banks across the country to help families and individuals during the pandemic. The boxes had cheese, milk, potatoes, onion, chicken, fruit and other food items.

      The boxes were part of a Farmers to Families Food Boxes initiative that delivered more than 50 million pounds of food.

      1. Mentioning Trump is not really necessary. Food banks had been in existence for many years and under different administrations, way before Trump came into the picture. Please… let’s not politicize anything that is good in this country or this website.

  8. Getting to know your area farmers and trading work in the field for food is a great idea too. Not necessarily gleaning because it can be done anytime they need work done.

    Also, at the end of a farmers market day, vendors may want to sell or give left over produce so they do that have to bring it home.

    If a friend or neighbor brings us extras from their garden or fruit trees, I make something out of what they share to give back to them as “payment”. This encourages them to bring more so they get some tasty jam, jelly, pickles, pie filling….

  9. I have another free food ideal just go dumpster diving but first check with your local city hall and local police department to see if it’s legal in your state or town. And also check out discount grocery stores there is a whole community for dumpster diving on youtube and there are groups on Facebook that you can get tips.

  10. Watch your local paper and You Tube for notices..in my area a number of churches have entire truckloads of boxes of dairy, canned, and fresh foods for giving out on a routine basis. They load up for you! Some of us do pickup for several families.

  11. I recently signed my folks up for meals on wheels. If you are unable to pay they will bring it free of charge. There is a lot of help out there. We volunteer at the local mission weekly. We have a list of local and area help.

  12. The local food shelf contacted me and asked if I would take all their “farm food” every week. We receive so much produce, dairy and bread. I Separate what we can use and Re-box up the rest for our pigs, chickens, goats and cows. I discovered cows will literally go anywhere when a loaf of bread is in front of them.