Friday 1 May 2015

Shopping all done and dusted

Hello. I went to work last night, clocked on at 7.30pm, clocked off at 9pm. My job? Foraging for reduced food, generally know as Yellow Stickers. My place of work, Tesco. Every so often I invest some of my time on searching out the best bargains, usually once a month at the big supermarket, and times in between at the discount stores, the Cash and Carry, the market, and other smaller supermarkets I happen to be passing. Ten minutes here and there can give me 75% of my total spend on food. With 90% off on most of these items, it is a significant saving, and well worth the effort. This is where I manage to save the most money on my day to day living expenses. 
Thursday night is usually quite busy, but I was pleasantly surprised last night, only me and one other person was waiting for the final reductions to be applied, and there was lots on offer. Someone must have misjudged how much stock to order, not good for the supermarket but very good for my purse. Fair do's though, my Tesco has a policy of passing on the cheap food to the shoppers, instead of binning it, so I thank them for that. It helps my budget enormously, and makes my shopping experience a fun activity rather than a boring mundane task. I am always looking for ways to beat the system, and to come out of the shop with a big grin on my face gives me a buzz.

A few more happy shoppers joined us, but there was more than enough for everyone, so no fighting. The mood was quite relaxed as everyone went away happy with their haul. Carol did a good job of scanning the items and stickering up, we waited patiently and got what we wanted.

This morning I have given some of my veg to Barry up the road, he helps me so I help him. This was gratefully received as I know he likes to do all his meals from scratch. I have a few items for my neighbour across the road, she has three hungry men to feed and is good enough to give me the excess apples from her tree that they can't manage to eat.

I'll do you a run down of my shopping list, I also had £5.20 off in vouchers, some of them on the reduced items, so that took the price below what I paid for them. I went for the yellow stickers first, and as I needed to reach £30 to use a £4 off voucher I put some full price items in the trolley, but they are what I normally buy and have a long shelf life. I had two treats, a bottle of wine for £5, and a pack of five donuts for 33p.

2 boxes Value Bran Flakes, 750grm 88p each
4 packets Tesco Cream Crackers 27p each
1 large tub Value yogurt 45p
1 bottle chardonnay £4.99
1 packet wholewheat pasta 75p
1 Pack of 6 FR eggs 89p
2 packs soft cheese with garlic 60p each
1 pack of 6 small flavoured yogurts £1
1 bag Value prunes £1.19
1 small fresh single cream 55p
7 loose bananas 75p
2 jars pickled onions 30p each
1 pack chicken slices for Bugsy £1.35
3 jars Value lemon curd 22p each
Various cat food and treats for 3 fussy cats £10.54

3 packs baby brussel sprouts 10p each
4 bags loose brussel sprouts 36p total
1 swede 10p
1 bag carrots 10p
1 bag 3 large leeks 10p
1 punnet organic mushrooms 10p
4 bags cauliflower/broccoli 10p each
1 large pot coleslaw/potato salad 16p
2 packs prepared white onions 9p each
2 packs prepared red onions 10p each
1 bag prepared carrots and peas mix 13p
1 pack of red and green grapes 20p
1 shredded iceberg lettuce 13p
2 packs of crispy sliced potatoes 15p each
1 pack tomatoes 15p
1 pack carrots 9p
1 bag potatoes 18p
2 packs baby courgettes 14p each
1 Value macaroni cheese 24p
1 pack 5 donuts 33p
1 pack square wraps 40p
3 packs prepared fruit 20p each
1 pack of 4 peach yogurts 28p

Total £32.85, with vouchers off £27.65. I also saved 32p with a 3 for 2 offer.

Now I am fully stocked up, don't need to go shopping for a while. Pet food is fully stocked as well, so we are all happy bunnies. Now I can have a nice weekend knowing that job is done. I shall be hanging around here, no plans to go anywhere. I hope your weekend is good.

Toodle pip


  1. I don't think the groceries here in the states offer these last minute deals as a regular thing. They reduce prices, but we are so paranoid of outdated foods. As I looked through your list, I was wondering about the shelf life of some, but I guess the freezer will keep them from deteriorating. Good for you for your savings and your frugal shopping experience. So glad you left with a smile!.

  2. Hi Linda. The question of freshness is often asked when buying and eating out of date food. It can have a sell by date, or a use by date, or a best before date. The use by date should be taken seriously because it is telling you to use it before that date. Supermarkets have to take food off their shelves by the sell by date, but that does not mean it is going to be inedible a minute past midnight. The best before date, which is mostly what I buy, also does not become unsafe to eat after that date.

    Common sense is needed, smell it, look at it, check it often. I monitor what needs eating first, what can be cooked into a meal and frozen, and what can be frozen by itself. Keep checking is the key. I would say though that you have to be more careful with meat products, as they can poison you if eaten when they are off.

    1. Yes but common sense isn't so common anymore.

  3. Yep, I do the same - check everything by eye and hooter. Natalie.

  4. Fantastic bargains, I am a bit of a bargain hunter but we live rural and have to travel 25 miles to go shopping, we are moving to the Cotswolds in the summer, nearer the shops.

    When you work hard to get the bargains you do, you can afford to treat yourself to that bottle of Chardonnay, cheers x

  5. I don't know of any stores in the states that mark down much food like that. I wonder if they just trash it? We can be very wasteful in the US. I can occasionally buy reduced baked goods where I shop but I never see reduced produce. I know I could find better bargains if I put more effort into it though.

    1. Our stores here (WA) generally give them to the Food Bank or to the Mission which serves hundreds of free meals daily. A nice solution I think. JanF

    2. Independents and small chains here in the US tend to do more on the reduced produce than the big chains is my observation. Like JanF mentioned, in Kansas the stores also give to the local food banks, children's home, and homeless shelters.

  6. Our local Tesco reduce very little and only by a small amount, Asda does have the bigger reductions but is further away, I would waste petrol if I did the journey for nothing much. I do keep my eyes open though and manage to pick up a few bargains.

  7. You`ve done so well with your shopping. Our local Tesco never ever reduces prices far enough to find a true bargain even on the bargain shelf. I do a lot of my shopping now at Aldi and only pick two or three items from Tesco now and again.

  8. What an amazing shopping trip! I wondered how your bills compare with the 5 day Living Below the Line project many people are doing- my guess is that every day of your life you are already doing that! JanF

    1. You're right there Jan. I do live very cheaply. I don't know what the rules are for Living Below the Line, if you are allowed to buy yellow sticker food or if you have to think up cheap meals using normal price ingredients.

      Tonight I am eating a bowl of stew made with two packs of ready chopped onions and a pack of prepared carrots and peas, total 32p, and a piece of bread 3p. I shall freeze three more portions in margarine tubs for future ready meals. Can't get cheaper than that.

    2. The rules are simply that that you should buy full packs of things. I managed to get four items with yellow stickers, bringing the cost of my shopping down nicely but your haul would have meant I would have eaten brilliantly for the five days.

      It's my last day today, thank goodness, as I am about to run out of food.

    3. Hi Sue. That must mean you might have half a packet of something left at the end of the five days. Well done on your achievement.

  9. You always get some really good bargains. I have a large supermarket around the corner but they never have such good deals. X

    1. Hi have you tried going at different times? Or different days? 7pm onwards if it is open late. 3pm on a Sunday afternoon, they close at 4pm. It depends what the store's policy is, sometimes the manager decides what course of action to take. They may be offering it to staff first, or sending it to a food bank.

  10. Hi.Gosh, you have done very well and it's great you have a sharing and bartering neighbourly co-op going on.I know someone who lives in an apartment and several of her neighbours and she get together and share and cook frugal weekly meals,with the left overs sent home to go in the freezer.They are on a limited income,pensions etc.and it's fun, social and supportive.I do a round of bargain hunting too, at the varied stores here.Some stores do not reduce but instead throw out the food.So wasteful-but that's the policy.Anything that is fresh and at best before date I will use on the day or freeze right away.I try to save money by cooking large batches and freezing and using all leftovers and buying what's cheapest if it's at full price.I pack lunches etc.Homeade is tastier and lots cheaper.Finding things at low prices,getting creative with simple, nutritious,easy meals and snacks is an enjoyable challenge for me not a chore.A treat is nice now and again,hope you enjoy the wine,bye for now, D.

  11. Brilliant, I've never personally witnessed such good reductions.

  12. Wow - I wish they did that where I live. They never do though. I would be in that store every week! You got some great bargains.

  13. Ilona I live in Southern California and am constantly amazed at how inexpensive food is in the UK compared to here. The lowest yellow stickers here go for not more than 50 percent off and that's rare. Hard to believe that in a major agricultural state we pay so much. Hats off to you for eating so frugally and healthfully!

  14. Our local 'big' stores don't normally have yellow stickers like you do. But, i did notice that a health food store was putting out items at reduced rates. I'll be driving near it every week, starting Monday, so you can be sure i'll be checking! Love your deals!

    1. Yes, definitely check, even if you save a few pennies. Don't reject something because it's not what you normally eat. Try it, you might like it.

  15. Do you freeze some of the "perishables?". I can see how you can save money on dry goods cos they will keep. If I were to buy this amount of fresh food I know I would end up throwing quite a bit of it away.

  16. I like how you phrase it in going to work. A former frugal queen in the US used to figure out her earnings per hour on the tasks to save miney. I wonder what your earnings would be. For fun I calculated that walking into the gas station to use a .05 coupon takes about a minute without a long line so my hour savings for a fill up is $42 payroll tax free.

  17. The best bargains were at my Co-op. I've had to move now - if it's not reduced, I simply don't get it. I only buy tinned tomatoes from a supermarket - everything else comes loose. The produce from the garden will come into play soon - I freeze and freeze and eke it out in the winter. Also, as the weather warms up, I swap to foods that don't need power to prepare them (eg salad grown in simple pots in the garden). People should take a leaf out of your book and your readers, Ilona. Natalie

    1. Hi Natalie. I don't think people realize the cost of cooking a meal, and electric cooking is more expensive than gas. An hour in the oven ! What a waste when you can make something for ten minutes on the hob.

  18. Hi Ilona, I have just come back from the supermarket and I'm reading your blog now and am so jealous! I've spent $75 on food that doesn't really look like much. It's terrible how much it costs to eat here. Good for you that you can get those really good bargains where you are.

  19. Hi Ilona - I rarely find any bargains that come close to the prices you pay, but having started the majority of my shopping at Aldis, find I am able to save a lot more on the bottom line. Even though my groceries cost more, I still apply the same methods for cooking. The fresh fruit and veg gets used in such an order that none goes to waste. If something is borderline and can be frozen, will pop into the freezer until can be properly used. If I end up with odd bits and pieces of leftovers, I try to find new ways to re-purpose in a curry or soup to stretch a bit more. When I do use the oven try to cook various things to utilize space and electricity. We do a lot less actual cooking when it gets hot and the humidity starts to rise - lots of fresh salads and fresh cut up fruits etc and a bit of stove top cooking or grilling when needed. Still trying to decide if it will be worth investing into potting soil and tomato and herb plants to put on our patio or to just try to purchase local from the farmers market. Still have a bit more time to decide. Last worry for frost in area of Minnesota I live in is about May 15th or so. Hard to believe when temps are expected to be in 80's for next several days. (degrees F) Still enjoy the inspiration that you give when you share your meals. Helps give me ideas when I get stumped. I love your posts and like Judy, read all of yours posts from the beginning. Sometimes I still re-read previous posts. Thanks for everything - your creativity - your shopping experiences - your walks - etc etc etc. Love it all! Ranee

  20. You did great on your latest grocery shopping trip! As another of your readers (henrysmom) commented, 50% off on close to date of expiry food is the best I can find here, in So. Calif. Usually on baked goods and yogurt, hardly ever on fresh produce.


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