In this post, I am going to present some options to get food cheap or free. In addition to going to the grocery store Meny and try all the free samples. Many other methods might fill your belly even more.
Before I would recommend two good investments:
- Freezer – This will allow you to cook a lot of food and to freeze down the food in portion sizes for later.
- Toaster – If you like to eat bread, you can slice it in the store and freeze. From there you can take up slices as you need and put them in the toaster.
Go to finn.no or a second-hand market to find this cheap.
I also recommend to cook all the food yourself, it is cheaper and healthier. Bake your own bread, it is a lot easier than what you think!
Buying cheap food
Buy the cheap brands
Especially when considering unprocessed food (like fruit and vegetables), there is little to no difference between cheaper brands and more expensive brands. Often the difference is that expensive brands spend more money on marketing. You can also look at the ingredient list to get an idea of the quality of the product. For example, when buying jam, it is smart to look at the percentage of berry/fruit in the ingredients list.
Look at the price per kilo/unit
Always compare the price per kilo, compare buying in bulk vs a ready package. The grocery stores often have promotions on packages that would still be cheaper in bulk.
Buy at discount
A lot of stores put products that are about to expire on a discount to avoid throwing the product away. Here you can do a real bargain! Freeze what you are not going to use immediately
Buy all your spices, beans, canned food, rice and noodles here. They often are cheaper than the grocery stores. Warning: The spices from the Asian stores often have higher quality and are a lot more potent, you may want to use fewer spices than what you usually do to achieve the same taste.
Surplus food stores
When there is an overproduction of food or a store goes bankrupt, or there are minor damages the food and stuff that are still good get bought up by these surplus food stores. These stores will sell out the stuff for a very friendly price. There are local stores and online stores. Some online stores are lavpriskurven, havaristen and holdbart, these also have actual stores to visit that has a greater variety of food (refrigerated food is not that common to buy online).
When in season, a lot of farmers open their fields for you to pick your own berries for a lower price than the grocery store – and it is also quite fun!
Too good to go – An app that lets restaurants and cafés sell their surplus food very cheap instead of throwing it away, you only need to pick it up at their closing hours. However, they do not have active sellers in all cities.
Mattilbud – An app that gives you an overview of all the different special offers in the grocery stores in your region.
Bring from abroad
Do you miss that special cheese or sausage from home? And the Norwegian copy doesn’t exist or is really expensive? Whenever you are abroad, make sure to bring with you those delicious treats! If you have a friend that is coming for a visit, make them bring all your favourite foods!
Events with free food
Especially around universities and volunteer activities, there is a lot of opportunities to get free food. We are often talking about free pizza, baguettes, cheap hot dogs and hamburgers. It can be openings of museums and public events.
Asking the store for the food, they throw away / Dumpster diving
Norwegian stores throw away tons of perfectly good food every single day. It can be food that has expired, close to expired, or not even close to the expiry date that they do not manage to sell before getting a new delivery or the package is broken (imagine a pack of egg, with one egg broken).
If you are not picky about expiration date, and don’t mind the food being “imperfect” (you know the veggies that are in perfect condition, but they don’t like the best) you can go to the grocery store and ask if you could get some of the food they are planning to through away.
If you do not want to ask, you can always go to the store’s dumpster after closing hours and pick up the food from the dumpster. This is not considered illegal; however, nobody has defined it as legal either. To avoid problems, always leave the site cleaner than what you found it, do not break any locks or break entry into an area where you are not supposed to be. The amount of high-quality food you can get is massive and can drastically reduce your food budget. There is also a dumpster diving community on facebook.
Grow your own food!
Do you have a little balcony or access to a bit of a garden? – Try growing your own vegetables!