Student spends £0 on food for 3 weeks, reveals how

A student has revealed how he manages to save a hell of a lot of money on food whilst at uni. He even managed to go a whole three weeks at uni without spending a penny on food.

"If you like creeping around at night and the smell of rotting vegetables, this is for you."

24 year old UWE student Jos Banham manages to save money on food by eating the food waste produced by supermarkets.

"If your cupboards are barer than Old Mother Hubbard’s and you’re in more debt than Greece I have two words for you: skip diving." He wrote in student newspaper The Tab.

"If you’ve never heard of skip diving [...] it’s basically eating out of bins, but in a cool, trendy, hipster way – just make sure you don’t get bin juice in your beard."

Through regularly skip diving for his food, he regularly manages to spend £0 on his weekly shop.

"You can get some really nice shit out of some supermarket bins"

Jos says he recently went a full three weeks without spending any money whatsoever on food, purely by looking for food wasted by supermarkets. Good stuff too. Recently he managed to get 50 boxes of chocolates from the bins outside Waitrose.

"Eating out of bins isn’t as trampy as most people imagine it to be – you can get some really nice shit out of some supermarket bins and the classier the shop, the classier the waste."

Technically illegal

"Skip diving" is technically illegal in the UK, as the binned food is actually still seen as the property of the supermarket that disposed of it (even though you could argue the real crime here is the amount being wasted by the supermarkets themselves).

As a result, Jos warns that if you do go skip diving, you might have to "run, Forest, run" away from the occasional security guard.

"But in my experience you mostly get dirty looks and a bit of good old British tutting."

If you can endure a jog every now and then, and some tutting, you can find a lot of food, as well as other essentials. He's also found underwear in the bins. His favourite finds include:

"Underwear, a wicker basket, a Lego mini figure, a squeaky pig dog toy, houseplants, shampoo, baby wipes and a green fluffy notebook with googley eyes."

How to do it yourself

Jos advises that if you want to get into skip diving, the first time will be easier if you do it with a friend first.

"If you don’t know any current divers, maybe you can convert some – going with a friend is always more fun and less scary for your first time."

"Once you’ve found your partner in crime (not crime, well kind of crime…) you need to prepare your kit."

He then suggests you need the usual things you'd use for shopping - a rucksack, a few carrier bags - and some less usual items - a torch you can strap to your head like a miner (you'll be doing this in the dead of night) and a triangular key used to unlock bins.

Make sure you're wearing clothes and rucksacks you don't use for uni, however.

"Bin juice doesn’t do you any favours when you’re chatting up people in the SU bar."

You then need to find your bins.

"The better shops have better waste, but any free food is good free food [...] Obviously it’s better not to go in broad daylight and if you’re climbing fences and ignoring big red warning signs, you’re more likely to get caught and less likely to be let off.

"Try doing some online research, contact freegan forums or just go and talk to your local hippies."

Once you have found the best bins, you need to treat them with respect. If you make a mess, security will keep a better eye on them and you will ruin it for other skip divers (who desperately need the food).

One haul of food by another student skip diver, Dan Bloom.

Have fun, stay safe and don’t die

Jos and other skip divers agree that you should be careful with what you eat.

One skip diver advises:

"Unless you know for certain that perishable foods have been out of the fridge for less than one hour (30 minutes, to be on the safe side), avoid them. Of course, foods that have any sort of “off” smell also should be left behind."

"Foods that tend to be particularly safe include bread/bagels/baked goods, packaged products (chips, cookies), boxed juices, canned goods (avoid bulging or dented cans) and fresh fruits and vegetables."

Wikihow suggest that if you do "skip" or "dumpster dive" you should be extremely careful:

Whilst Jos himself says:

"Don’t get food poisoning. I rarely take meat from the bins and when I do I make sure the best before date was very recent and it smells normal, and then I cook it that night and eat it the next day.

"Have fun, stay safe and don’t die."

And if you do have to go inside a supermarket at any point, try to stick to the "have fun" rule.

Like this? Check out Jos's full (brilliant) article on the Tab or how this student pays just £150 a month for rent and food in central London.