Those of us with lower end incomes - in my case, my second job isworking at a dead end restaurant job - don't have the income to get a real 'retreat' where we'll prepare for what will come in a future collapse. We're too busy living too close to a personal la vida collapse now.
However, that doesn't mean that we can't glean things from the not-yet collapsed world out there.
My mother in law, who worked as a waitress for years and years, is often quoted as having said that "A hungry waitress is a stupid waitress'. She wasn't talking about being hungry making you stupid - tho' that can certainly happen. Nor was she talking about either stealing stuff from work, or about eating what customers left on their plates (yuk!), but about maximizing opportunities.
And restaurant work gives you a lot of opportunities.
Let's start with one of the basic necessities of life - coffee. I work closing shift at a restaurant, as a prep cook. I've trained the servers to let me know when they are going to dump the leftover coffee, so I can fill a container and bring some home for my morning coffee. No, it's not fresh Starbucks coffee, but it will give me my morning caffeine the next day.
Many days I'm the person who chops scallions to top soup and salads with. The green onions we use are the same green onions that grow into regular old white bulb onions. I chop off the ends with the roots, and bring those home to plant, using them as onion sets. Free onions, for very little effort. You have to plant those ends very shallowly, or they won't form bulbs, just so you know - I had to learn that the hard way. OTOH, I found a lot of recipes that use green onions as a major ingredient with those first batch of 'failures'. By the way, onions were vital in England during WWII, both because there weren't many other things to flavor food with and because they add a lot of vitamin C and such to the diet. They are easy to grow here ... if you have sets.
Often I'm the person who slices the lemons so folks can use them in their tea/water/add them to their lemonade. The ends are cut off of the lemon first, so customers get more of the 'good stuff'. I take those ends home, zest them, and have lemon zest for cooking. Adding the zest to cakes, some cookies, and even to pancake batter is a wonderful thing. And, again, free. Zest might not be useful for bartering after a full collapse, when just getting calories is going to be an issue, but right now it means one less things I have to buy in a store for the home-cooking that we live on. Work in a bar? Many of them just use the peels of lemons in their drinks. A friend's uncle who works in a bar takes the peel-free lemons home. Lemonade! Lemon juice! Marinades! A good source of vitamin C that you don't have to go out and forage
Sometimes restaurants over order things. I noted that three gallons of milk were at their 'sell by' date yesterday. Restaurant policy is that they don't serve things after that date. I'm going to see if the manager will let me take one of those gallons home tonight, rather than just dumping it. (Update - she did!)
The cooked carrots on the grill line steam table ... well, at the end of the day they are often nasty. OTOH, the back up ones I occassional have in the prep hot-box are going to be in good shape. But mine, too, will be dumped at the end of the day, unless I bring them home and add them to some leftover beef from a previous roast I made, add some potatoes, and call it stew.
Or - we start dinner shift with 5 or 6 pot pies made and ready to go. They can't be saved and served the next day. That is, they can't be served to paying customers. OTOH, they are fine leftovers for my family. Since they will be thrown out anyway, the managers don't mind me bringing ones left at the end of the day home.
More to come ...