Civil servant, 40, who cut her weekly grocery bill from £50 to £10 by buying reduced yellow sticker items claims she’s saved £19,000 nine years – and now has no outstanding debts, loans or overdrafts
- Laura Gaga, 40, from London, claims she’s saved £19,000 in nine years
- Says the key is looking for reduced yellow sticker items while grocery shopping
- Now she saves even more by using a food app that connects her to neighbours
- Allows her to collect hauls of free food that would otherwise be thrown away
A civil servant has revealed how she has saved £19,000 in nine years by becoming a master supermarket bargain hunter.
Laura Gaga, 40, from London, began cutting down on costs in 2011, when a colleague introduced her to reduced yellow sticker groceries.
She slashed her weekly grocery bill from £50 to just £10 by and says the extra money she has means she no longer has an overdraft, or any outstanding debts or loans.
More recently she has started to save even more money on food by using app Olio, which connects her to neighbours who have food that would otherwise go to waste.
She said it has allowed her to go more than two months without stepping inside a supermarket.
Laura Gaga, 40, from London, has saved £19,000 in nine years by cutting down on food shopping ans favouring food on offer
Laura’s well-stocked fridge. The super-saver even managed to spend two months without spending anything on groceries thanks to an app connecting neighbours giving away food too good to waste
Laura has developed an eagle-eye for yellow stickers for reduced food and promotions in order to save
‘Money used to burn a hole in my pocket as a child, and as a student I was forever in my overdraft,’ Laura said. ‘I ran up credit and store cards on clothes, shoes and socialising, then take out loans to repay my overdraft.
‘I became more responsible with money as I matured and settled into full-time employment, but with food I was still spending £50 a week on groceries.’
This changed nine years ago when she was introduced to the yellow sticker food items in supermarkets.
‘In 2011, a work friend brought a yellow sticker meal into the office for his lunch. I’d never really noticed reduced priced foods before, but after that I started looking for them,’ she explained.
‘As soon as I started spotting them, I was on a huge high. I felt ecstatic and even a bit giddy to grab a bargain. I loved working out how much it should have cost and comparing the difference in price.
‘I was constantly telling everyone about my bargains and thinking about what meals I could make with them.’
Laura’s saving journey started in 2011 when a coworker brought some food with a yellow sticker at the office (pictured: one of Laura’s reduction hauls)
Not compromising on the quality of what she eats, Laura buys vegetables, fruits, and dairy-replacement products to her heart’s content
If Laura doesn’t know a shop’s schedule for reducing food, she keeps track of staff with the yellow sticker guns, keeps an eye on customers loitering in the aisle and asks staff members to ensure she doesn’t miss out on a bargain.
Laura, who became vegan in January 2018, said it has also helped her become more experimental in what she eats because she is restricted to reduced items.
One supermarket reduced haul of fruit, yoghurt, houmous, sausages, cakes, Pukka pies and more should have cost more than £50, but Laura paid just £13.29.
She continued: ‘I am partial to a holiday and take up any chance to travel – and with the money I’ve saved, I can. Aside from my mortgage, I have no outstanding debts, no loans, overdrafts, and no balance on my credit card.
Thanks to all the money she’s saved, Laura can afford to go out and enjoy holidays, something she could not manage before
Condiments are also part of Laura’s impressive food hauls. She explained she froze some of her purchases as well as buying fresh ingredients
Mindful Laura often prefers home cooking with the ingredients in her cupboards rather than ordering takeaways
On top of managing her spending, Laura is also always on the look out for budget-friendly recipes, like this bolognese bowl
‘This is a way of life for me now. It’s become the norm, so I even take it for granted at times. When I see other people’s responses to my hauls I’m reminded of how impressive the savings are.’
Two months ago, Laura became even more frugal when she started using food app Olio, which connects her with people who have food they are planning to throw away.
She collected three large bags of food from a woman moving house and found them to be filled with packets of spices, pasta, lentils, beans, and tinned tomatoes.
Inspired by the amount of food, Laura decided to see how long she could go without food shopping.
Laura would spend £50 on food a week, but managed to cut it down to £40, saving herself a fortune per year. As a student, she was not so-budget savvy and would rely on foods such as noodles
The yellow-sticker-hunter has also made the best use of a friend’s vegetable allotment, pictured, in order to save
‘I was amazed at what I collected from the app. There was so much that I knew I couldn’t justify shopping for the time being,’ Laura said.
She has since supplemented her supply with other collections of items through Olio, food given to her by friends and family, and has even picked grapes and fallen apples at a local vineyard and orchard, but has not been into a shop.
Laura says the key is to not be fussy and not have a specific shopping list, instead, she keeps staples like fruit and vegetables in the house, often freezing them to make them last longer, and chooses her meals around what freebies she picks up.
Now, she enjoys bending recipes to suit what she has at home, making treats like chocolate brownies using chickpea water, peanut butter and dairy-free chocolate spread and experimenting with new flavours.
Another creation was a potato, lentil and green bean curry made using surplus foods from Olio, including a tin of green beans with a best before date of 2018.
She added: ‘I decided to see how long I could go for and I’m now in my third month.
‘Some of it is from supermarkets at the end of the day, and other items are local people who have unwanted food that they don’t want to chuck. I also get surplus food from family and friends.’
Laura has estimate she’s saved herself a small fortune of close to £20,000, using different means to cut on food spending
Now, Laura, who used to be spending-prone, can juggle her budget as easily as she does those oranges
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