Your food supply is essential for survival. When money is tight, we have to find alternate ways to build a stockpile.
With grocery prices continuing to rise in Canada, spare money is hard to find unless you supplement your income.
There are many ways you can earn extra cash but for those who aren’t interested or can’t I’ve got you covered.
Today, I want to share with you all the ways I found where you can find free food when money is tight.
How To Supplement A Food Supply When Money Is Tight
Your food supply is vital for survival and although the first place most people go to is the supermarket.
However, there are other ways to get food without spending money at the grocery store.
Since moving to Canada from the UK over ten years ago, I’ve had to learn about a country that I wasn’t too familiar with.
I had no idea about farmland ,and the seasons in Canada certainly threw me for a loop. If you’d lived in the UK, then you know what I mean.
Since becoming a permanent fixture in this glorious land,, I’ve learned the most critical survival tipsfor food supply from my wife and father-in-law.
Most of all,, exploring Ontario by going on nature walks and educating myself about what grows in Ontario has undoubtedly increased my knowledge on the topic.
I’m not a pro,, but I’ve had my fair share of experience in the woods, on farms and processing and growing gardens from seed.
I know it’s one of the easiest ways to supplement food supply shortgage when in need.
It may not be a fast fix but most certainly one to explore if you don’t mind getting out and about in the Spring, Summer and Fall months.
If you live in a community with like-minded people like you want to learn about nature and what grows in your community.
Perhaps starting a local Facebook group or creating an ad on Kijiji seeking people who want to forage and learn together is a brilliant idea.
One thing I do know for sure is that most foragers don’t like to give up their source of food supply as it likely will show up year after year in the same area.
Educating yourself is the best way and if you have a knowledgeable friend who doesn’t mind taking you along, go for it.
Strengthen Your Food Supply For Free
This post is not just about foraging because I plan to explore this topic in-depth in a future post but all the ways you can enrich your food supply without adding to your grocery budget costs.
Let’s explore all the ways I can think of, and perhaps if you have some ideas to share, please leave me comments below!
Just recently, Mrs. CBB and I had a chat about what to do with all the fruit growing on my in-law’s property.
My mother-in-law has no interest in the fruit and won’t pick it.
We did find out that there are groups and organizations in the city that will come to the house and choose the fruit for free.
There are also groups on Facebook where homeowners have excess fruits and vegetables on their property and offer them to the group members.
It’s a beautiful way to allow people to pick what you won’t be able to use, which eliminates food waste.
Having a group of people on the same food supply and savings wavelength also allows you to make friends so come the following season they know who to call.
On our property,, we have a massive mulberry tree, crab apple tree and a massive rhubarb bush.
We can’t possibly pick and eat all of this fruit, so we offer it for free to those in the public who want to come and pick it themselves.
Grow A Garden In Pots, Raised Beds Or InThe Ground
Growing a garden is probably one the easiest ways to supplement your grocery budget, although there are a few expenses you will need to consider.
Unless you hook up a rain barrel which I highly suggest you will pay for watering costs.
Related: How to start your garden from seed
Both Mrs. CBB and I were taught how to remove and dry the seeds from peppers and tomatoes to use the following growing season.
Also, there are hebs that will come back over and over such as mint and parsley along with many others.
It was amazing to see all of the vegetables that were growing in my father-in-law’s garden considering he did not plant the garden since he passed away in 2018.
You may also find lettuce and tomatoes popping up in areas where you had plants growing at one time.
Again seeds from pepper and tomatoes that rot and make their way into the soil can germinate the following season.
Seeds blow and sometimes plant under the soil and when Spring comes around, poof they come up for sunshine.
Apart from sowing the garden, starting your seedlings, fertilizer and water, if you plan it out right you can supplement your grocery budget nicely throughout the Spring and summer.
If you grow enough you can also process the food and keep it for the winter months.
Foraging To Build Your Food Supply
My father-in-law was a huge into foraging and taught Mrs. CBB from a young age how to forage for many foods and herbs.
- Wild mint
- Wild leeks
- Crab Apples
- Wild Strawberries
- Wild mushrooms
I nearly lost my mind when I saw the size asparagus which can grow in the wild.
There were many times he’d come home with wild mushrooms specifically Chicken of the Woods also known as a sulphur shelf mushroom.
The chicken mushroom grows around the world mainly at the bottom of an oak tree or throughout.
Look up and look down beause mushrooms can hide in places you least expect them.
One year he even bet us that we wouldn’t find asparagus because he picked them all.
Laetiporus is a genus of edible mushrooms found throughout much of the world. Some species, especially Laetiporus sulphureus, are commonly known as sulphur shelf, chicken of the woods, the chicken mushroom, or the chicken fungus because many think they taste like chicken.
I’m sure he foraged for many other things but these are some of the common foods we’d see him bring home from his walks or during his hunting expeditions.
There are also local farmers in Ontario who have farmland and forests which allow foraging so that food does not go to waste.
Food Supply Is Available As You Know Where To Look
I know that in some parts of Ontario you can find wild asparagus growing in ditches and on farmland.
If you spot it or if the farmers want it gone, they may allow you to pick it for free thus helping you to increase your food supply without cost.
It’s worth becoming friends with your local farmers for this reason and of course to help each other out.
Foraging is a great way to supplement your food supply but remember to only forage what you know and where you are allowed to go.
Most local cities have a foraging Facebook page so also look into that to collborate with like-minded people.
Do Not Tresspass On Someone’s Property
Trespassing on private property or picking what you are not allowed for because it is on a covered nature trail may land you with a fine if caught.
You should never forage what you don’t know or eat what you don’t know especially wild mushrooms as they can cause illness and potentially be fatal.
Although I plan to create an Ultimate Guide for Foraging in Ontario however it will take me time to put together.
If you’d like to contribute or know someone please have them contact me.
Barter and Trade Food
Hunting On Farmland In Trade Of Food Supply
Over the years my father-in-law got to know many farmers in the area many of whom grew vegetables and fruits to sell during the spring and summer months.
A couple of farmers, in particular, he became friends with over the years allowed him to barter his hunting services to help legally control the animal population on the farm.
By doing this, one farmer allowed him to grow a massive garden on a section of their land and the other to pick fruits and vegetables for free or deeply discounted depending on what it was.
It was a great way to get the family out to learn about farming and picking produce fresh rather than buying it from the grocery store.
I’m certain this is why Mrs. CBB feels so strongly about getting our son out for nature trail walks to explore what Ontario has to offer plus picking fruits at the local farms.
Just recently we picked strawberries and he had a blast doing so.
Get to know the egg farmers and pork farmers in your area and you may be able to barter your services for free eggs and bacon.
A friend of ours who owns Ontario farmland supplements their food supply by trading their goods with other farmers in the area.
Food Bank Donations
The most obvious way to supplement your food supply is to visit the food bank if your pantry is looking slim and you are in need.
Almost every community in Ontario has a food bank or community centre that will offer singles and families free food when they are in need.
We’ve visited our local food bank a couple of times with a friend who needed to stock up her kitchen and it was interesting to see how the food bank operates.
It’s always a learning experience especially if you aren’t familiar with the process but it also opens your eyes to the needs of the community. \
You may also find that volunteering at your local food bank is a great way to give back to your community.
Consider donating if you have food you won’t use at home or while grocery shopping; there are bins in most stores for food bank donations.
Shopping Smarter With Coupons and Apps
Being an informed shopper means you know the ins and outs of how to save money and get free food along the way.
There are free product coupons offered from many Canadian companies via
- social media
- coupon websites
- in-store displays
- coupon apps
- QR codes
- Mobile device
- Promotions and Marketing Days
- Scanning Code of Practice
Sometimes using coupons means you get products for free because the coupon is the same amount as the product is selling for so certainly something to watch out for.
- Mystery Food Shopper
- Collecting rewards points
- Free Product Coupons
Bulk Your Food Supply Collecting and Using Rewards
Collecting rewards can add extra food to your grocery cart when collected carefully which means following the rewards program, and loading promotions via your app or online.
With over 3 million PC Optimum Points Mrs. CBB and I can spend around $3000 to get free food at PC stores or just about anything at Shoppers Drug Mart.
How I Got A Free Refrigerator With Rewards Points
By doing so you get points which you can redeem for free stuff from their catalogue.
I used to do this when I lived in the UK and bought myself a new refrigerator.
My refrigerator broke and with points I got it for free so I didn’t have to store my food on the back porch in a cooler.
I also redeemed points for gift cards, which allowed me to get free food at the grocery store.
If you need to bump up your food supply there are ways you can make it happen so no one has to go hungry.
Discussion: What other ways can you supplement your food supply in Canada?
Please leave me a comment below with your other ideas or suggestions.
July 2018 Grocery Game Challenge
- Last shop June- 12 Cold Supper Recipes That Are Budget Friendly
- Strawberry Picking Tips Fun For The Entire Family – July 2018 Shop #1
- How to Pack Food for a Theme Park Visit – July Shop #2
2018 Grocery Shop Results
Yearly grocery budget for two + 1 Toddler 2018: $3600 or $300/month (The above total does not include the stockpile budget of $300/year or $25/month.
Points Overview (add any other sections you need to show us your savings or that you would like to track on your own)
- Total Grocery Budget for this Month: $300
- Total Grocery Budget with any carry-overs $300-$13.63=$286.37
- Total Gift Cards used to date: $0
- Total Rewards Points redeemed this week: $0
- Total Rewards Points used to date: $0
- Scanning Code of Practice (SCOP) to date $0
Coupon Apps (add any other apps you use to save money)
- Checkout51- $1.50
CBB Weekly Grocery Shop
Food Basics Canada
- Ontario Strawberries 1lb $2.50
- 2 x White Mushrooms 1lb $5.00 2/$5
- Case of 24 Coke Zero $6.35
- Kale $2.99
- Radishes $2.49
- Bananas $0.73
- Iceberg lettuce $1.99
- 2 x Spring Onion bunches $1.96
- Romaine Lettuce $1.48
- Olymel Pepperoni $3.99
Total Out-of-Pocket $29.48
Note: All totals below already have tax factored into them.