I love getting a great deal, and we've found that one of the best ways to keep our food shopping spending down is to visit the yellow label shelf. Every day, supermarkets reduce items that are either discontinued, damaged or going out of date soon. Visiting the reduced shelves can yield anything and everything, so I make it a habit to go regularly. I could reel off a long list of my best bargains, but you just need to take a scroll through my Instagram to see how much we save by purchasing reduced items.
When looking through the cheap shelf, look for items that can be frozen easily (milk, bread, cheese and meat are prime examples), as well as things that can be used up straight away – squishy fruit can be used to cook, bake or make jam with. Vegetables don't automatically go bad once the clock strikes midnight on their best before date – I've bought a 10p bag of carrots two months ago, and there are still some in our fridge now. There are also loads of ways that you can freeze potatoes.
Each store will have their own system – we've got a Co-op just a 3 minute walk away, and if I visit every night around 7pm then I'm sure to find something for 10p on the reduced shelf. There's always bread reduced to 10p (and bread freezes well), and usually there are potatoes, mushrooms, yoghurts and freshly baked baguettes. And there are usually different reduced sections dotted around the store. Our local Sainsbury's is very good for damaged boxes of cereal being half price or cheaper. The damage is only to the cardboard box, and the packet inside remains sealed and undamaged.
Another great thing about supermarket reduced shelves is that you might find yourself trying new things that you've never looked at before. I've recently discovered some delicious peri peri sausages, which at £2 for 4, I wouldn't normally even consider. However, they were reduced to 50p. It also means that sometimes we can eat above what our monthly budget allows – allowing us to get finest cuts of steak for a fraction of the usual cost. It also inspires me to come up with new meal plans based around what I've found reduced.
Top tips for getting a bargain at the reduced shelves:
- Find out the best times for visiting the supermarket to maximise reduced bargains. This varies between stores.
- Make sure the items you want to buy are actually decent – there's no point buying something reduced if you have to throw it out once you get home. If one tomato in a pack is rotten then you can wash the rest. But if all but one of the tomatoes are rotten, is it really worth it?
- Make sure you're actually getting a bargain. Something may be reduced from £6 to £3, but if it is currently on offer elsewhere in the store for £3, you're better off getting a newer or undamaged one. If you do spot something like this, you can always point out the discrepancy to a member of staff and they may make a further reduction on the item.
- Do you actually need it, and can you think of a use for it? Again, there is no point buying something because it is cheap and then having to throw it out because you haven't been able to use it.
- If you are really gutsy (aka me!) and you see a member of staff making final reductions then go ahead and ask them what they're doing! A lot of the time they're happy to tell you what they're doing and ask if there is anything on the shelf (or even in your trolley) that you'd like to be marked down to the final reductions.
- Look for items on multibuy offers. Sometimes, not always, the till will automatically take off the multibuy offer.
I find it a challenge every month to see what I can get reduced and to see how much money I can save. Are you a “yellow label” shopper? Let me know some of the best deals you've found! If you post them to Instagram or Twitter and I'm not currently following you then let me know and I'll rectify that straight away!