A mum has revealed how she has been living on “five-star meals” while saving £2,000 a year – spending £30 or less each week on “posh groceries” from M&S.
The mum-of-one has shared her top tips on how she saves the huge sum on food every year by scouring Marks and Spencer for yellow sticker items.
Kay So, 37, who lives in London but is originally from the US, was blown away by British food standards when she moved to the UK.
In her home country, discounted items translate to damaged or defective products were packing has been dented or broken, and she claims the produce is sometimes even mouldy.
Comparatively, the mum says that she was stunned to find heavily discounted food in near perfect condition in Britain – and she now uses a special yellow sticker system to save thousands of pounds on her weekly shop.
“I was always looking for ways to save and this practice of buying “yellow-stickers” on perfectly good items was a perfect fit,” Kay, a project manager, said.
“It was pure joy to discover that yellow sticker discounts are common practice even in the most elite/posh UK grocery stores, like M&S and Waitrose.
“I purposefully shop at M&S for yellow sticker deals because their food is of the highest quality and tends to be way more expensive than other high-street brands like Tesco, Morrison’s, or Sainsbury’s.
“Finding and buying a yellow sticker item at M&S is even more special because of this.
“It’s five-star fine-dining on a budget.
“With Covid-19 lockdown limiting our choices to hit or miss takeaway, why even bother paying full price for posh groceries to get a five-star foodie experience at-home?”
Kay spends between £15 and £30 a week on food weekly, which covers all of the meals she, partner Roy 43, and daughter KP, eight, will consume during that time.
She said: “I can get top quality groceries discounted for 30-65% off retail price – especially with posh meats, fresh fish, produce and other food items that can be easily frozen for future use.
“I would spend £50 a week before but at a lower quality grade grocery store like Tesco or Sainsbury’s.
“I save about over £2000+ quid a year buying M&S groceries at discount (vs full price).
“In addition, yellow stickers are always a fun surprise.
“You never know what you are going to get as a yellow-sticker deal that day you shop.
“It opens your eyes to different food and meals to try out or plan throughout the week, solely because the food is discounted.”
Some of her greatest bargains to date include a Pork Crackling Leg Joint: Before (originally £9.22, discounted to £3.27), Halibut Fillet (originally £13.03, discounted to £5.25) and Frites (Originally £2.30, discounted to £0.25).
Kay recommends shopping at set times during the week when supermarkets often begin slashing prices.
She said: “It depends on the M&S location.
“The Oxford Street M&S Food hall is a goldmine on Saturday afternoons and Monday mornings.
“While the Greenwich location is prime for yellow deals at 1.30pm on weekdays.
“Sometimes you’ll see M&S employees going yellow sticker shopping themselves or putting items aside for their own shop too.”
Since becoming a savvy shopper eight years ago, Kay has even encouraged her husband and family members to get involved.
She said: “My friends and family love it – especially in the US where this is totally unheard of.
“Often, my husband and I will grab separate trolleys and grab as many yellow sticker items as we can.
“At the end of our shop, we compare our finds and see who got the best deals. It becomes a mini supermarket sweep for us.”
Kay has been placing the money she saves on her weekly shop into an ISA account.
THE MUM’S TYPICAL GROCERY LIST
Stone-baked Double Cheese & Ham Pizza: Original price £4.25, Discounted £1.70
Chaource Cheese: Original price £4.25, Discounted £1.53
Indian Favourites Meal Box: Original price £10.00, Discounted £6.70
Organic Spinach: Original price £2.10, Discounted £1.41
Broccolini: Original price £2.10, Discounted £0.76
Wild Rocket: Original price £0.90, Discounted £0.22
Soft White Bread: Original price £0.65, Discounted £0.41
Albacore Tuna Steaks: Original price £5.50, Discounted £2.75
Veal Breaded Escalopes: Original price £6.00, Discounted £3.36
Beef Filled Yorkshire Pudding: Original price £3.70, Discounted £1.33
Free Range Whole Chicken: Original price £3.00, Discounted £2.02
Hot & Spicy Chicken Tenders: Original price £4.00, Discounted £2.24
Raspberries: Original price £2.00, Discounted £0.50
Milk: Original price £0.85, Discounted £0.56