My food shop has been made up of ‘Yellow Stickers’ for the last decade; the food reduced by stores on its best before, use by, date, to avoid it being wasted. Food products can also be reduced to manage stock, because of faulty packaging, changes in products; reductions can be as big as 90% off!
When I’m not knee deep in supermarket reduced crates, I’m scrolling through food sharing, food waste, apps and will eat, cook, with whatever surplus I have. Experimenting with recipes based on what I have has increased my confidence in the kitchen; I am a reformed can’t cook, won’t cook. I’ve been introduced to a range of new foods; I am a fussy eater no more.
Massive savings on my grocery bill has also meant that I have become choosier and more conscientious of how and where I am prepared to spend my money. Transitioning to a vegan diet, being more mindful of food waste, sustainability, food poverty and volunteering with charities such as The Felix Project, making more of a concerted effort to recycle, compost, reuse jars, bottles, and less plastic.
The following are my top tips for eating well for less:
1. Shop from your cupboards
Before you go anywhere check your cupboards, fridge, freezers, pantries, for which foods you already have at home. Not only will this stop you from buying another 4 tins of Baked Beans, forgetting that you already have a fair few hiding in the back of the cupboard, but it will also give you the opportunity to be creative and make use of foods that you already. Can your leftovers be revamped into a new meal, do you have ample flour to get your bake on and make bread, biscuits, pies. I recently made a hummus vegetable pasta dish simply because I had some dried pasta in the cupboard, and an open pot of hummus in the fridge I wanted to use up.
2. Check the reduced sections each and every time
Supermarkets will reduce early in the day, sometimes the night before, at say 25%, this will increase throughout the day and final reductions can be between 75-90%, with 7-8pm being the optimal time but this does vary depending on the store. Get into the habit of checking the reduced sections irrespective of which store you are in, including petrol stations, metro stores, and what time it is. There is usually an allocated crate in the fruit/veg aisle, dairy, meat, bakery and look out for dry goods; this will normally be damaged products such as a dented tin or when a store needs to clear a line.
3. Adopt a waste not want not attitude
Olio is a food sharing app where users can advertise food that they no longer want for whatever reason; moving home, change of dietary requirements etc. Businesses such as Tesco and Pret a Manger also distribute food on there which would otherwise be wasted. They remained operational throughout all of the lockdowns by implementing COVID measures such as no contact collections; certainly, had me visiting the shops less! There are other ways to share food, make use of surplus; local allotments, a neighbour with an apple tree, family and friends, community fridges. Be the one who is open to trying new foods, recipes, meals. Take my word for it, talk about food waste, and being able to make meals with what you have for long enough, people will just give you food just to shut you up ha!
4. Research food storage
I had no clue that cheese could be frozen and have been guilty in the past of binning it as soon as I spotted mould. Milk, bread, dairy, meat, fish, fruit, vegetables, tofu, herbs, cooked meals can all be frozen. Simply by making use of what you have, and wasting less, you will instantly save money. Remember shop from your cupboards, dine from your freezer.
5. Try out a new recipe
Rather than sticking to the same shopping list, meals, religiously, have a go at making something new, different. I love simply googling 2 – 3 ingredients that I have, and seeing what recipes come up online. For example, at home I currently have chard, potatoes, risotto rice, put those in the internet search engine and multiple recipes for Sweet Potato and Risotto Rice are listed. Now I’d stick with the white potatoes as I don’t want to go out and buy sweet when I already have a variation which needs using, but it’s great inspiration for a meal, and I can look into how I can tweak the recipe further, substitute ingredients as I need to. Recipes are just a guide, and sometimes that’s all we need, someone, something to help show us the way!
Be Curious and follow Laura Gaga the Reduction Raider
@Reduction_raider1 on Instagram
Her blog can be found here
Find her podcast by searching “Alright Raiders” on Spotify, Apple Podcasts, or wherever you usually download your podcasts!