Foraging is a great and inexpensive way to add to your food budget. Note that I did not say it was free. While the actual food is free, there is some cost involved in driving to where the food is and having equipment to forage. For me, my equipment is a plastic bucket leftover from a gallon of ice cream. I share rides and other equipment such as clippers and gloves. What you need will relate to what you can forage.
Time is another expense that you add to foraging but I justify much of my foraging as entertainment. We drive out to beautiful places as a family and with friends, what more fun can you ask for. Sometimes foraging is not as successful as other times.
What exactly is foraging? It's collecting edible vegetation, basically. This past week or so, we have foraged for crabapples, elderberries and mushrooms. Our mushrooms were the least successful but still got us 8 that I will dry for future use.
Foraging often coincides with preservation. I can, dry or freeze the foods we forage.
It's not hard to learn to forage but some individual foods can be difficult. When it comes to berries and mushrooms - you must only pick what you absolutely know. There are a large variety out there and many are poisonous.
If you are uncertain what you can forage in your area, do a quick internet search. There are many foraging websites out there and many are area specific. They may not tell you where you can find the plants but they will tell you what's available. Plants on public lands are open for foraging, private lands you will want to get permission.
Don't hesitate to join a group or take a class if you really want to learn about foraging. It is an expense but as I said I justify our foraging expenses as entertainment. We do fishing and foraging vacations. I go to mushroom forays (groups that go searching for mushrooms together) - so far they have not cost me anything and I have learned about 2 mushrooms we can pick (there are more but so far I know 2).
Ask questions. If you find a group but can't afford to join or take a class, ask them if they know of someone who would be willing to help you. Look for online groups. Mary Janes Farm has foraging discussions and tons of friendly ladies who are always helpful.
I know this is not a long detailed post on foraging and that's because a new project is in the works to teach people to forage and fish (and whatnot) and as soon as that is up and running I will share.
Please ask me questions if you have some. Here in the Palouse during this month of September there are blackberries, crabapples (so many crabapples), elderberries, chestnuts, and pears. Mushrooms are just starting but it's been on the dry side so watch for more rain to bring out more mushrooms. I hear there might still be peaches as well due to the late summer. We found a few thimbleberries as well but not enough to call it foraging (more like taste testing).