I'm a dumpster diver – I only spend £70 a YEAR on groceries

I’m a dumpster diver and do my weekly shop in supermarket skips – I only spend £70 a YEAR on groceries

  • Sofie Juel-Andersen, 29, from Denmark, spends just £70 per year on groceries 
  • Read more: How ordinary Brits are cutting back as the cost of living crisis bites 

Meet the woman who says she spends just £70 a year on food – by getting all of her meals from supermarket bins.

Sofie Juel-Andersen, 29, from Denmark, started ‘dumpster diving’ three years ago – and hasn’t looked back since.

She started out by getting just fresh produce from designated bins – but soon realised she could get an entire weekly shop.

And Sofia reckons she now saves thousands of pounds annually.

The restaurant manager, originally from Aarhus, Denmark, said: ‘Dumpster diving became like a rescue mission for me.

Sofie Juel-Andersen (pictured), 29, from Denmark, says she spends just £70 a year on food – by getting all of her meals from supermarket bins

The thrifty restaurant manager began ‘dumpster diving’ three years ago and hasn’t looked back since

‘So much good food is being wasted – and supermarkets know there are people out there who can’t afford to eat.

‘When I was living in Aarhus, I knew of dumpster diving, but I’d never seen it as an option to put food on the table.

‘But in 2019, I moved to Sydney, and my sister sent me a photo of some hidden treasures she’d found dumpster diving.

‘I thought it was pretty wild – and I wondered if I could do this around Australia.’

Even though Sofie has always been able to afford to eat, she realised this could be a more cost-effective way of grocery shopping.

She went with a friend to scout some supermarket skips around Sydney in the daylight – and kept a note of which ones she’d visit after dark.

‘It was always supermarket dumpsters,’ she said. ‘Never round the back of restaurants or private homes – depending on where you live, it could actually be illegal to do that.

‘I called my friend back and she came out with me in the evening.

‘We went to look in a supermarket dumpster and we found a lot of veggies.

‘As it was our first time, we didn’t take a lot – but we took the vegetables we thought looked okay to eat.’

Sofie wondered where the rest of the thrown-out food was kept.

Sofie’s top tips for first-time dumpster divers

1. In the beginning, it might be nice to take a friend with you

2. Check the law first – is dumpster diving legal in your area?

3. You may not always strike gold first time – but keep going!

4. Always bring wet wipes and sanitiser to keep yourself clean

5. Be kind and respectful – always stay friendly to employees, even if they ask you to leave

6. If you find a good stash, share it around – you never know who really needs it

Sofie says she’s always been able to afford food, but quickly realised the bizarre method could be a more cost-effective way of grocery shopping

Her handy tips for ‘first-time’ dumpster pickers includes bringing along wet wipes and liquid sanitiser to keep yourself clean 

Bread rolls and mozzarella cheese (both items pictured) are just some of the goodies Sofie finds while out dumpster diving

The next time she went dumpster diving, she found a general waste bin – which was used to dispose of all sorts of packaged food.

She added: ‘I was truly blown away by the amount of waste in these dumpsters.

‘There would literally be two dumpsters round the back of a supermarket, filled with packaged food: whole chickens, candy, drinks – we once found 300 cans of Diet Coke still in their boxes.

‘They’d be thrown out for different reasons – we saw an entire box of kombucha bottles which had been thrown out because one of the cans was damaged.

‘Wonky vegetables, goods one-day expired and damaged packaging are all reasons for things being thrown into the dumpster.

‘Mainly, though, it’s usually food which expired one or two days ago.’

Despite sending lots of photos to her friends, and posting on her Instagram, Sofie’s friends still believed dumpster diving was ‘gross’.

She said: ‘My friends and colleagues in Sydney had no knowledge of dumpster diving – they thought it was super gross and just didn’t understand.

However Sofie’s friends think dumpster diving is ‘gross’ and say they don’t understand it

‘But when I showed them the photos and videos, they were blown away.

‘They said it was just like food they’d buy at the supermarket!’

When she first started dumpster diving, Sofie would still spend around £50 a week to supplement her meals.

Now, she rarely spends money on food – and lives entirely on food she finds in supermarket skips.

She said: ‘It evolved from a curious treasure hunt to a lifestyle choice – and it reduces food pollution, so it’s like everyday activism.

‘I don’t spend money on food at all anymore – and I feel like I don’t crave things anywhere near as much as I used to.

‘The other day, I did actually go to buy some salt – and I got completely lost in the supermarket because it’d been so long since I last went!

‘I also make sure I use up every last bit of food I retrieve from dumpsters – why would I rescue wasted food just to waste it?

‘So I like to cook fun things – experimental recipes you won’t find in any book.

‘I once found 10, fully-packaged margarita pizzas, an avocado, a red pepper and some parsley, combined the ingredients and served it to my friends at a dinner party.’

With the money she saves on grocery shopping, Sofie can afford to work a four-day week.

She said: ‘Dumpster diving allows me to work less. I only have a four-day work week, with one of the days only being four hours long.

‘It brings me so much financial and personal freedom.’

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