Dumpster diving for groceries is a more viable prospect than many people may think. Supermarkets, delis, and bakeries all across the developed world throw out perfectly edible food every night. This food is not necessarily thrown out because it is rotten, but simply because the store is unable to sell it in a timely enough manner.

That means bruised fruits and vegetables that are otherwise fine wind up in the trash, alongside day-old baked goods, and packaged goods with sell-by dates. Sell-by dates are distinct from expiration dates, and merely represent a company's expectation of when the food may begin to taste less fresh. They are also a way to encourage stores to churn through inventory, instead of hanging on to old stocks. This ensures that stores are buying new stocks more often.

If you live in an urban center, you can easily take advantage of these wasteful practices by dropping by stores after hours and rummaging through their trash. Some stores have formal dumpsters, but others merely put their trash to the curb. Others have trash compactors, which are dangerous to enter and not a very good prospect for rescuing the trash at all. Finally, some stores keep their garbage under lock and key, behind a gate or inside a locked dumpster.

In certain jurisdictions, entering a locked dumpster can be considered trespassing, because you are on the store's land, and the dumpster itself is private property owned by the garbage disposal company. Although many stores would not be interested in alerting the authorities concerning such a petty activity., it is not worth the risk

If you decide to go dumpster diving, you should bring along some plastic bags to carry the food and a flashlight to inspect inside the dumpster/trash bags. You may also want to bring along plastic gloves, hand sanitizer, and clothes that you don't mind getting dirty, as sometimes diving can get messy.

Edible food may be mixed in with scraps, or you may not be immediately able to identify an item as you go through the bag, and not be sure if it is tainted. If you plan on bringing home a week's worth of groceries in a single dive, you should bring along a rolling cart or wheeled luggage to carry the food in if you do not have a vehicle. Even carrying the food two-handed in a milk crate will be easier on your back, knees, and arms than lugging heavy bags along.

It is also advisable to respect the stores that you are dumpster diving from. This means tying up all bags after you are done, and cleaning up any litter. This helps keep you out of trouble, because stores may be fined if garbage is found littered in the street out front.

It is also important to consider your own safety. Only dive in neighborhoods that you know well and feel safe in. Also, strongly consider going with a partner or a group. Whether or not you are in fact homeless, people on the street are likely to view a dumpster diver as an unfortunate, and you may be vulnerable to violence.