How Craigslist Can Help Your Real Food Lifestyle

How to use Craigslist to find real food stuff and save money!

Do you ever kind of wonder how in the WORLD we ever managed to function as a society without Craigslist? The free classified ad service is used for everything now — from finding a job, to buying a house, to hiring a handyman, to hosting a never-ending virtual garage sale of stuff we don’t want — Craigslist has become the source for connecting with our communities in ways we never could with ads in the Sunday paper.

But have you realized yet how helpful Craigslist can be in transitioning to and living a Real Food lifestyle? I’ve been able to find so much of what I need for traditional cooking and living through the magic of Craigslist, so I thought I should pass along my tips for using it to further my foodie ways.

Craigslist Tips & Tricks:

  • The most useful sections to search and browse through are “Farm & Garden,” “Garage Sales,” “Household Items” and even checking the “Free Stuff” can be great for finding real-food-related goodies. You can even check and post in the “Barter” section if you’d like to try your hand at an exchange.
  • If you can’t find what you’re looking for already listed, try posting a “wanted” ad yourself, explaining what items you’re after and providing your contact information. You can also write posts in the “Community” sections to connect with others who might be able to help you.
  • When posting for something you’re searching for, sometimes a post in the “For Sale” sections (like Farm & Garden) for something that’s “wanted” (rather than for sale) can get you flagged and deleted, so I often try posting in the “Items Wanted” to avoid that.
  • Don’t be afraid to haggle! It’s more than common to offer a lower price for an item than what it was listed at. Although, people don’t really appreciate low-ball offers, so try to be reasonable, or else the seller may dismiss you entirely and move on to someone willing to pay more.
  • Be aware that it’s expected to pay for items in cash. Bring enough to cover the price you’re expecting to pay, but be sure to make some of it in smaller bills, so you can do some last-minute price negotiating!

A word on safety

Although the vast majority of Craigslist users are honest, safe, upstanding citizens, please be aware that any creep, criminal, scammer or serial killer is just as free to post and communicate on Craigslist as you are. Always be extra cautious when meeting up or making arrangements with people you don’t know. I never allow anyone to come to our property, or go over to someone else’s, unless Pre-Hubs is with me. The safest way is to meet up with someone in a public place to do business with them. And always be aware that there are plenty of scams floating around Craigslist, so please don’t go wiring your hard-earned savings via Western Union to some poor widow with a dying mother who needs $4,000 sent to her in Nigeria, okay?!

Happy Craigslisting!

Glass Jars

Check out my LOOT! There are two 3 GALLON jugs in there!

If you’re a Real Fooder, you know how essential having glass jars in all shapes and sizes is. We need them for fermentation, food storage, brewing drinks, and sometimes even use them for drinking and decor. Collecting glass jars and repurposing them from purchased goods is great, but think about how many people out there just throw them away! Most are more than willing to let you take them off their hands, rather than feel guilty about throwing them out or having the hassle of hauling them off to a recycling center.

I posted an ad in the “Items Wanted” section on my local Craigslist, asking for either unwanted (free) or inexpensive glass jars people would like to sell. Several responses came in, and I ended up getting what’s pictured above for an absolute steal (most were just given to us, but the large jugs we paid for), from just one family that responded. Now I have plenty of those big glass jars I needed for brewing kombucha, and I can have my large glass mixing bowl back for other purposes (like, mixing stuff)!

Kitchen Gadgets

This KitchenAid mixer is selling for only $75!

How many people do you know who have bought, say, a bread machine, only to leave it sitting in their cabinet collecting dust? Unless you’re very dedicated to home cooking, most people who buy kitchen gadgets such as these end up not using them, and frequently list them for sale on Craigslist.

You can search the “Household Items” for ice cream machines, food dehydrators, blenders (some of the old-fashioned kinds are much more sturdy than what they make today!), stand mixers (KitchenAid!), slow cookers/crock pots, waffle makers, rice cookers, cutlery and cookware, the list goes on — for cheap, cheap, cheap compared to buying them new! And much of the time, the items are in like-new condition — sometimes they’re still in the box! I would even look to Craigslist for finding a chest freezer — buying meat and other whole foods in bulk saves money, but you need the space to store it!

Starter Cultures

I now have TONS of these kombucha ‘shrooms!

Once you start fermenting with heirloom cultures which multiply as you use them, you soon find yourself with more than you know what to do with. Every time I make a batch of kombucha, for example, I’m left with a brand-new and usable “baby” grown from my mother SCOBY. When I run out of people I know personally to give my extra mothers to, I’ll definitely be posting on Craigslist to either sell them or give them away to anyone willing to pick them up.

Kefir grains, sourdough starters, even cultures for making dairy products (yogurt, buttermilk, etc.) are all examples of other reusable cultures which you can sell or give away once you have an excess of them — so find someone on Craigslist who does if you’re in need!

Food — Meats, Eggs, Raw Milk and More

I wrote a Craigslist post looking for chicken farmers selling pasture-raised broilers for meat, and found someone willing to sell them for comparable prices to what I’d have to pay for crappy CAFO chickens from the grocery store! I have also found people selling pastured eggs in my community for better prices than you’d pay at the farmers’ market. Next, I’m going to try to find people who hunt the wild pigs here to buy myself some fresh pork!

Milk is another staple you might look for on Craigslist. Though RealMilk.com is the best resource for finding great raw milk farms in your state, if you’re looking for herd shares, you may need to dig a little deeper, especially if you live in a red state where farmers may not want to publicly advertise their herd shares. Craigslist is great for finding them. You can also turn to Craigslist to find someone who may want to go in on purchasing a cow or other dairy animal, and start a mini herd share of your own!

 

Homesteading Animals and Supplies

Y’all. We bought a sheep in the parking lot of a Target store, thanks to Craigslist. I searched the “Farm & Garden” section to find if there were any sheep farmers here, and sure enough, a nice family on the other side of the island had a field full of hair sheep mixes, several who were likely pregnant and would be able to be used as milkers.

I’m now using Craigslist to look for a dairy goat to join our herd. I haven’t had much luck yet, but I know eventually I’ll connect with someone who has a pregnant doe for me. I also posted an ad looking for a chicken coop, which I’ve gotten responses from, and will be getting some laying hens soon. Although, I already found someone offering them for free!

You can also easily find inexpensive supplies and materials you may need for keeping animals on your property. Water troughs, steel buckets for milking, fencing material and scrap wood for building shelters — you should always try to keep an eye on Craigslist for animal stuff before going to the feed or hardware store where prices are much higher.

Gardening Starts, Plants, and Supplies

I found these potted green onion plants for $3 each on Craigslist!

Just like with glass jars and starter cultures, people often have an overabundance of something growing in their garden (out-of-control mint plants, anyone?) that they may be willing to let you take off their hands. Craigslist is also great for finding seeds, starters, and other potted plants at prices cheaper than your local nursery or hardware store.

You can also find things like used gardening tools, decorative pots and planters, fertilizer (people with horses love to give manure away!) worms and other composting supplies, and much more. Dig around the “Farm & Garden” section, and if you don’t find what you’re looking for, make an “Item Wanted” posting!

Community Support and Networking

Though Craigslist does have some sketchy ways to… uhh…”encounter” other people in your area, it’s also easy to post in the community sections and forums to find platonic friends and people with common interests. I met a great friend just by posting about raw milk on Craigslist — she was also interested in finding out if there were herd shares in our area, and though we didn’t find any, we kept in touch and now do all kinds of fun real-food stuff together. Carpooling to the farm to pick up grass-fed beef, exchanging recipes, getting together for barbecues and venting about food politics — it’s so nice to have a friend with all that in common!

In addition to meeting new friends, you’re likely to find people willing to help you out with what you’re looking for, even if they don’t have it themselves. I have had plenty of responses to posts I’ve listed where people simply contacted me to point me in the right direction. I think it’s rather amazing how willing people are to help others out in their community by emailing a quick tip or a phone number to help them find what they need. All thanks to the power of Craigslist!

 

 

How have you used Craigslist to make your Real Food life easier? Do you have any good tips to share that I missed?

 

{This post is being shared with Monday Mania at the Healthy Home Economist, Fat Tuesday at Real Food Forager, Traditional Tuesdays, Real Food Wednesday at Kelly the Kitchen Kop, Simple Lives ThursdayFight Back Friday at Food Renegade, The Homestead Barn Hop at The Prairie Homestead, and Freaky Friday at Real Food Freaks!}

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MEDICAL DISCLOSURE: Your health is between you and your health care practitioner. Nothing in this blog is intended for the treatment or prevention of disease, nor as a substitute for medical treatment, nor as an alternative to medical advice. Use of recommendations is at the choice and risk of the reader.

32 Responses to How Craigslist Can Help Your Real Food Lifestyle
  1. Molly says:

    Great ideas. Thank you. I have not really ventured onto Craigsist since you hear such creey things about it. But I will now.

  2. I have recently been using Craigslist for a few helpful finds, too! I’ve scored a bunch of jars, an apple peeler/corer/slicer, and a brand new Cuisinart food processor still in the box. I definitely plan on searching craigslist first before paying retail for all of those handy kitchen gadgets I’d like to own!

  3. Susan W says:

    Craigslist is great if you live in the boonies or in a small town. But if you live outside a large metropolitan area, it can be downright scary!

  4. jill says:

    HI,
    This is such a cool post I hope ou share it at FAT TUESDAY!

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/09/fat-tuesday-september-27-2011/

  5. I have to admit I haven’t tried much with Craigslist where I am, but the occasions when I check I feel disappointed. Maybe I do need to poke around there for food! Certainly would not mind someone wanting to home a SCOBY.

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Wish we lived closer, Soli! I’d give you a SCOBY from my kitchen. :) I hope you have some luck on Craigslist, though!

  6. jill says:

    Thanks for linking your great post to FAT TUESDAY. Hope to see you next week! Be sure to visit RealFoodForager.com on Sunday for
    Sunday Snippets – your post from Fat Tuesday may be featured there!

    http://realfoodforager.com/2011/09/fat-tuesday-september-27-2011/

  7. Leslie says:

    Wow!! I am inspired to start searching for a few desired kitchen items this week… and if I could find food or cultures as well? Bonus!

  8. Awesome post! This is so true – what would we do without Craigslist? Besides being a source of awesome cheap stuff, and a great way to sell stuff that’s no longer needed, I love that it keeps all the commerce local and second-hand. So not only is it helping you eat and prepare local, real food, it’s also supporting local friends and keeping money out of the huge worldwide conglomerates.

  9. Carolyn says:

    Craigslist is where I aquired my chickens for free in a Target parking lot. What a blessing and such beautiful Orpingtons, Cochins and Black Copper Marans. Don’t know what we would do without Craigslist and Freecycle. But, as you say most folks are honest, but there is a bad apple in every bunch. I don’t meet anyone without hubby.

    • ButterBeliever says:

      A fellow Target parking lot livestock shopper?! No way! Haha! That’s so great that you were able to get some free chickens. Craigslist is the best!

  10. Paula says:

    I’ve had good luck with Craigslist. I met a wonderful couple when I inquired after their pastured eggs. We are really good friends now and I’ve learned so much from them.

    I’ve had success buying chickens, except for the guy who sold me 3 roosters when I wanted hens. More than likely, it was just too difficult to tell as they were young. I sold those same three roosters plus another I had to an Asian man who was going to butcher them that night and cook them! Craigslist is a great reasource.

    • ButterBeliever says:

      That’s so great, Paula! I love that you’ve had such good successes with Craigslist! Even the roosters, haha — I might have been tempted to buy them right back from the butcher!

  11. Bob says:

    I have had pretty good luck on craigslist. I would caution any women to be extra safe, travel in pairs, take a hubby or BF with you.

  12. michelle says:

    Love this post! I’ve been working on one about the great experiences I’ve had through CL recently. May I link back to this post?

  13. JanaC2 says:

    I was incredibly unsuccessful in my attempts to find canning supplies, but I have renewed motivation to try Craigslist after reading this post! WOW! I have have been desperate to find good quality eggs and meat at a cheaper price, but never thought of checking Craigslist! What a fabulous idea! THANKS!

  14. [...] eggs: Just as with your meat, you want to get the best quality possible. Check your local Craigslist for pastured eggs. Keep in mind that store-bought “free-range” eggs are often anything [...]

  15. I’ve used Craigslist quite a bit when I was planning my wedding in 2008/2009, and of course to find a place to live (and furniture) when we moved. Also used it to find a couple of freelancing gigs in the past … But, wow – never thought to look through Craigslist for ‘real food’ finds and traditional kitchen supplies. And farm animals too?! (Maybe when/if I ever have some land, I can think about looking for those ;))

    You know what I wish Craigslist had though? A feature like Amazon Wishlist — where you can add keywords for things you’re looking for, and then you get a daily/weekly digest with some options. Or maybe that already exists? Anyway, that would be much easier than having to refresh or search word combinations every few days …

    • ButterBeliever says:

      Yes!! That is SO crazy that you mention that — I literally was just thinking the other day the same thing, that there really needs to be an email notification service for keywords you’re searching for. If it doesn’t exist yet, I think I need to build a site for it! Too bad I know nothing about programming. Lol.

      • Melanie says:

        It does exist! I’m not sure where it’s at, but my husband has the Craigslist app and it notifies you when someone posts something with one of your keywords :)

  16. Melanie says:

    I’ve looked at Craigslist a couple of times, but never in depth for this kind of stuff. Awesome :) And…if you ever need to find a home for a SCOBY and are on the west side, let me know ;)

  17. NicoleW says:

    I love the glass jars idea! Brilliant. Going to go search Craigslist now!

  18. We LOOOOOVE CraigsList for all kinds of things. Have scored glass jars, starters, goats, chickens, ducks, a chicken coop, farm tools, hay, milk, eggs and located local farms. I also get stuff for the house- a like-new wing back chair for $20 was one find- and I got my VitaMix on CL about 5 years ago, and it’s still going strong! Now we sell our organic, pasture-raised soy-free eggs (and chickens, duck and rabbits) and kombucha and kefir starters on CL. It’s the best! Have you seen the movie “Craigslist Joe”? It’s so inspiring!

  19. Wence says:

    Have you tried freecycle.org? We’ve found some cool stuff there like an aquarium and also gave away what we didn’t need to people who could really use it like a mattress.

  20. [...] Craigslist! See how I’ve managed to use CL to help me in my real-fooding ways here. [...]

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