Friday, 28 March 2014

Worth a look if you are passing

Good morning, it's raining so I will get on with this post and maybe go out later if it stops. Someone asked for more information about finding reductions when food shopping, or as it's widely known, yellow sticker shopping. Not all reductions have yellow stickers on, different stores have their own way of doing things. Some go through their shelves of short dated stock and stick a blank label on and hand write the new price. Tesco have big yellow stickers, Sainsbury's have small yellow stickers, Spar shops use a large hand written sticker.

Where in the store do you look for reductions? For a start you need to get to know the layout of the store. Fruit and vegetables are often near the entrance, or close to the back door to the store room. These shelves need replenishing regularly so easy access for large trolleys is important. If there is an instore bakery the bread and cakes will be in the middle towards the back, so they can wheel out the freshly made loaves as they come out of the oven. The meat needs to be put out on the shelves pretty quickly as it is packaged up, so an aisle with access from the butchery department in the back is usually chosen.

Some stores will set aside a section in a chiller cabinet to gather all the reductions together in one place. Others will leave their yellow stickers with the rest of the same stock, so customers can take the cheaper item first. Some people will bypass the cheaper one and reach to the back of the pile to get a longer date. I think that's a bit daft. I have pointed out to people that the one at the front is cheaper, they answer, I don't want to use it straight away. We all know that the dates are a guide, but some folks are funny and will chuck out food on the actual last date.

When I walk in a shop/store, my eyes are programmed to search out bigger stickers than normal, be it yellow, plain with a red edge, hand written, or small yellow. I ignore everything else. I skim along the shelf edge looking for any labels which say REDUCED. Anything that catches my eye, or jumps out at me is worthy of a second glance. I go around the store like this when I first go in. When I have satisfied myself that I have found all the bargains, and picked out what I want, I then go around again, picking up a few must have items which I know are never going to be reduced. So, priority is, what is cheap, buy reduced first and base my meals around the bargains I can find.

Some of the discount stores, Poundstretcher, Home Bargains, B & M, Pound shops, have a trolley near the checkouts with half price of reduced dated stock. Have a look there first before you go round the rest of the store. There won't be any fresh produce there, but sometimes you will find tins and packets about to go out of date. Beware though, there is a lot of junk, cake, biscuits, fizzy drinks, sweets, which you don't really want if you are trying to follow a healthy diet. You have to be disciplined not to pick it up, even though it is cheap. I usually walk away from it, but I am not perfect and sometimes get a little treat for myself.

When picking up yellow stickers in a supermarket. put them in your trolley with the sticker face down. It has been known that other savvy shoppers will take things out of your trolley when you are not looking. If there is a bit of a scramble around the lady with the ticket machine, chat to her, be friendly, and make it like a game. No point in being nasty. Tempers can be lost and yellow sticker shopping becomes a misery. Make it fun, so what if you didn't get that small cauliflower with wilty leaves, go for the sprouts or the broccoli instead. If there are several of the same item available, don't grab the lot, say, I'd like two of those, and point out something else that the other person might like instead. I have had people hand me something from their own trolley, when I said, ooh dear I missed those. Of course, the level of niceness might vary depending on where the store is located. My Tesco is on the edge of the town, to shop at night you need a car to get to it, so not a lot of competition. If it is a store close to town or a housing estate, there will be more people looking for bargains, so there will be some grabbing going on. Not very pleasant, but there's ways of getting to the front without the pushing. I have been known to get down on my knees to get to the bottom of the chiller cabinet.

So, when is the best time to look? Anytime between 2pm up to 9pm. The meat usually comes out first, because it's got to be shifted quickly. The supermarkets start with a small markdown first, then later a second and a third markdown. The later it is the cheaper you will find it. Saying that, you may be unlucky and find nothing left if you go in at 7.30pm, because some people are satisfied with a 50% reduction. I like to take a gamble and go later to get 90% off. Of course I may be unlucky and find there is nothing left. It all depends on how much the management have over ordered the stock by, and how much people are prepared to pay for it. Supply and demand.

Do not waste time and petrol going from shop to shop, that is daft. Always combine journeys, if you are going out somewhere time it that you are passing a supermarket on your way back. It could be worth stopping for ten minutes to check out if there is anything to be had.

Don't be embarrassed about foraging in shops, the markdowns are there for everyone to buy. You are being savvy to search them out. Some people will say, oooh, I couldn't do that, and look down on those who do. Well bully for them if they can pay full price, let them. I have to make ends meet on my pension. I don't load my trolley with expensive crap. I look in their trolleys and think Jeez, what awful food you eat, then watch them hand over the plastic for a £100 bill. They are subsidizing my food bill, it makes me smile.

Are you going to become a savvy shopper? You don't need to go to the extremes I do. It would be more difficult to shop like this if you had some picky family members, it's easy if you only have yourself to please. Also, work can get in the way, and your time may be limited, but can you call in a supermarket on the way home. Worth a look if you are passing. I picked up a few items yesterday on the way back from my walk. Another £2.94 spent, listed on the page above.
Off out now, it's stopped raining. Toodle pip        

26 comments:

  1. It doesn't bother me buying reduced to clear items. I don't care if people look down on me - it's more money in my pocket for the same food! And I don't throw food out on the use by date. I use my eyes and my nose and also taste it to see if it's ok. I notice they're teaching our children in schools all about the dangers of eating food after the use by date. Filling their heads full of nonsense sometimes, I think.

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  2. Blimey SusanM. Do people really look down on people buying the reduced items. Now there was me thinking that I was being clever! x

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  3. Thanks for all your thrifty enthusiasm and advice. Didn't need it when first started reading your blog a few weeks ago but due to a sudden change in our circumstances will be depending not only on your inspiration but positive approach too!Vicki

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  4. I buy marked down foods when I can, actually marked down anything, clearance tables call my name and I pick up a lot of gifts from them. Here in my town in Australia, not much seems to get marked down though, and never to 90%.

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  5. I very rarely buy meat that isn't reduced, it either goes in the freezer, or in the fridge for use in the next couple of days. And if I buy meat that isn't yellow stickered it has to be on special offer,and good value at that. My local supermarket doesn't seem to have a lot of reduced fruit and veg so I shop at Aldi for those items. If its not a good price I don't buy it, we used to manage with in season produce years ago and I prefer the taste of fresh, in season strawberries, tomatoes etc.
    We don't eat a lot of bread or pastries, but I still only buy yellow sticker items and put them in the freezer. Last night's scoop was a packet of crumpets of the pricely sum of 8p!
    Thanks for all your good advice, I don't know why people turn their noses up at reduced food, but all the more for the rest of us!

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  6. I've never really got the idea YS shopping is embarrassing. I didn't even realise that it was embarrassing until I made some friends laugh when I told them about my freezer full of bargains. I also have never seen the riots or punch ups that are supposed to happen around the chiller, the worst I've seen is someone being greedy and taking the lot whilst others are waiting. Neither has anyone taken anything out of my trolley before, though I have heard that it happens, I find it hard to believe. I sometimes wonder if these stories go around the net because people like to look down on others. I think you are fantastic for what you get for your money. I love to see your bargains. Good for you. Debbie

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  7. I love yellow sticker shopping you never know what you are going to find! It's fun I would do it even if I weren't a pensioner on a limited income. I like to hear of your exploits being frugal is not just about food. I see you getting on with stuff and it inspires me. How is George the cat getting on in his new home?

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    1. Hi. George is fine. Sue went to see him the other day because she knows the lady who adopted him. He was lying on her bed. He has dropped lucky there.

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  8. We LOVE yellow stickers. I come home and lay them all out on the table saying 'look at these, Ilona would be proud of me!'
    By the way, we are loving your recent walks with the lovely photos.
    Wendy (Wales)

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  9. Yesterday I saw a yellow sticker on meant $9.99 marked down to $9.79. What was the point!? Bloomin' Australians!

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    1. Hi, I read your site but i can't sign up. I'd like to ask you how you accumulated and then donated so many things. How can someone have 75 towels and face washers, or about 300 excess clothing items. Please write about how many things you gave away from the donated page, and how the hell you ended up with so many things. I added up the clothing- how did you come to buy so many things? Perhaps do subtotals of your excesses, there are so many, it's amazing!! Thanks.

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    2. I will comment here as I don’t have gmail.
      I read back over your blog to try to understand why someone buys so many clothes etc. At first I felt a bit dizzy with the ups and downs of shopping and credit debt, which you get. But I do get anxious at sales, so I thought I could relate to some things. Plus your weight changes, they can be related to by most women. It seems that your moods play into shopping, and weight issues.
      You motivated me to clean up my wardrobe today, so thanks. I had some excess internet order clothes items, and I sorted out what is excess and what I will keep as extras I want. Still some sorting to do, but a big improvement.
      I thought that perhaps you could hang up in your wardrobe what you want to wear, iron and wash it nicely. Then box up EVERYTHING else and put it, labeled, re what’s in the box, taped and sealed, in a garage or something. You seem to have a huge walk in wardrobe, so why not take everything out, then put in your half (not all of it!) your stuff, what you like. Then box up all the rest, tape it up, date it, then put it in the shed or garage. Clean the closet, then let yr hubby fill up his half.
      You sound like a nice wife and friend and family person.
      Why not try that wardrobe idea? Give yourself a clothes holiday- put it on holiday for a month. Detail what’s in every box ie “32 singlets”. Then box the stuff away.
      And maybe talk to someone about the moods which play into the shopping and eating etc. I just noticed that when I read your blog, as I was trying to understand your habit.
      Anyway, thanks for helping me. I have what I like and need hanging up, and I’ve allowed myself a certain amount of reserve items to be boxed in the wardrobe, and the rest is to be given to family and friends. And I mopped the wooden floor of the wardrobe for the first time in ages.
      Good luck. But I think the behaviour could repeat if you don’t get help to understand why it happens. You mention shopping as a crutch, and the anxiety of sales. I hope you get some long term help to sort that out, so it does not reoccur. Best Wishes.

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    3. The two comments from Anon above are in reply to Tasmanian Minimalist, they have nothing to do with my blog here. To Anon, please don't reply here to posts on other people's blog. It is confusing to my readers. I have copied and pasted your comments onto T M's blog. Thank you. Ilona

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    4. My apologies. I will try to organise gmail. Sorry.

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  10. Our meals are based exclusively round the yellow stickered items, there's not much we pay normal price for, except items that are never reduced because there's no sell-by; stuff like toilet rolls, washing powder, wash-up liquid, plus porridge and coffee which never appear on the final reduction shelf; even then I look for offers and stock up.
    Agree the later you go the cheaper but less choice, there seems to be a lot more people looking for reductions who are happy to pay half price, but there's still some good bargains to be had, you sometimes have to be lucky.
    Some stores also have a bent tin shelf, with not only bent tins but cereals and biccies in battered packets etc, a good source of basics like beans and peas, the only things we buy in tins.
    I've got 3 stores in a 2-mile circuit, so easy to visit any evening, Morrisons, Tesco and Asda, and on first name terms with the staff who wield the reduced sticker gun and printer, they're usually nice girls and boys who seem to appreciate a friendly word and a big thank you when you score a particularly good bargain, they've often drawn my attention to bargains I've over-looked.
    As you say you need to know the lay-out and location of the reduced shelves, there's usually more than one; fruit & veg, meat & fish, chiller & dairy, bakery and deli are the usual ones, and it's surprising what can turn up on them.
    There's quite a few regulars on the yellow sticker trail here, it's sometimes like a little club as we often have a chat as we wait for the final reductions, mostly reasonable people who are happy to share the bargains, but a few that we call gannets who can be quite pushy and even aggressive, they seem to want everything. I've never seen people come to blows, but if looks could kill there'd be a few corpses in some of the stores; I have seen stuff lifted from somebodys basket, and actually had an item snatched from my hand. I've also had things given, and offered items to another person who missed the best bargains, these little courtesies are usually returned.
    Yes, there's a few people who seem to look down on yellow sticker hunters, I don't know why, it's never bothered me in the least, we eat very well and never suffer any effects from eating things past their recommended dates.
    And I have seen a lot of people with piled-high trolleys and 3' long till rolls with 3-figure totals, usually paid for on a plastic card, like you i just smile and think 'Yes, carry on, you're subsidising my little basket'.

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    1. Thank you for your detailed comment, sounds like you have your shopping organised.

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    2. Yes, my yellow sticker trail started about 7 years ago when it was a case of "needs must where the devil drives", but has has now developed into a routine that's become part of our everyday life. We really couldn't afford to eat well if we had to pay the original price for things, I don't know how some people manage.
      Also developed an appreciation of why and how previous generations preserved things, I've learned to make things like chutney, piccalilli, pickles and lemon curd to take advantage of rock-bottom least-minute bargains, as well as my wine-making hobby. Even tried cheese once, made from a gallon of milk @ 9p per 4-pint carton, turned out OK if a bit bland, if I manage any more milk at that price I'll try again and add chopped spring onion or something to give it a bit of taste.

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  11. No yellow stickers here, sadly. We've been here three years and i think i've found meat marked down twice. I don't eat it, so i really try to find bargains for The Mr. I buy the bulk of my vegetables from the farmer's market during the Summer/Fall months, (and grow a few), and bulk food from our little c0-op. We all have to do what we can with what we have. Too bad that some people feel the need to be on the nasty side.

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  12. Hi Ilona, I was on my way into a small supermarket the other day and went in the back door (it's not a major supermarket) and there were bags and bags of reduced veg and frui t on stands outside the door. I looked at a few of them and they all seemed to have fruit and veg going bad in the bags. They looked very unappetizing. This is what they mark down here! Stuff that people can't eat! Never is meat ever reduced and the fruit and veg inside the store is good quality but high priced. So you are very lucky to have stores where you can find yellow sticker food that is worth buying and eating. This is just one example but other supermarkets do the same thing here. It's almost like they're saying "for those who can't afford to buy the good stuff, here is some rotten food for you". What do you think of that?

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  13. I always look at the reduced section and often find some real bargains. Food is so expensive now that any saving is well worth it.

    X x

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  14. I usually spend Christmas in Spain so buy me christmas mince meat in July when it is reduced to 20 odd pence

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  15. i work in manchester city centre on thursday and friday the manchester evening news city edition is free its a great read i also get the metro newspaper everyday free traveling on the train, i get in the city centre at around 7-15 am there was a pile of the evening news papers stacked as usual on the pavement one thursday but next to them was a big box of free samples of special k porridge myself and a few other people just helped ourselves and dipped in a many samples as we wanted some people wanted them to take to work, i got about FIFTY of these samples i have been having free breakfast for many days now, my view is why pass up any opportunity when you are not in any position to do so, i am always on the lookout for a deal and now think twice before i purchase anything, im also lucky as where i work we get access to free garments as the buyers give the samples away when they have finished with them , i would love to yellow sticker shop but dont get the opportunity very often so i moslty buy everyday value unless i find a product in that range that really is awful then i just go for the cheapest alternative tescos have introduced a lot of new veggie everyday value products which look great and im looking forward to trying .

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  16. I use credit,but always pay it off in full. So no subsidy from me!
    I only use cards that give me vouchers, so Tesco give me something for shopping there. I'm not daft!
    Rosemary

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  17. Ah, a kindred spirit at heart! I tell my hubbin that I married him for his money, then we both laugh, cause we have learned to make-do, although it's been a hard lesson. Found you through Pinterest. Do any crafts?

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    1. Hello. Yes I do crafts. To find them on the blog, click on the label 'crafty stuff' on the sidebar.

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  18. Beverley here: We do eat meat (but not a lot and not at every meal) so I scour the orange or red stickers depending on the store I am at. I can hoestly say all of the meat items in my freezer all have these stickers. I also discovered that one of the stores has a shelf in the back for marked down produce. I have bought as much as five pounds for $1.50. Since berries are in season here I have been buying large tubs of them on sale and freezing most to have during the winter months for our smoothies.
    At the back of a couple of stores are shelves with misc, canned and packaged foods marked down. I buy those as well. I have a nice supply of coffee and cranberry sauce I have bought at reduced prices. I also look for discontinued items and have really scored on discontinued coffee especially.
    We did have a Fresh and Easy store (owned by Tesco's) here for awhile and yep Iii made quite a few hauls of yellow stickered items. All types of things, produce, meats, bread items. Sadly some of our Fresh and Easy stores have closed. I hope my yellow sticker shopping was not the cause of their demise :( There are still Fresh and Easy stores in southern Calif. where my brother lives. He and my SIL score on reduced items all the time.

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